In the story that I'm working on right now, two women who have been friends for many years start to realize that their differences, which they'd pretended to overlook all that time, are driving them apart. It's made me think about the differences between friends and frenemies.
A few years ago, I started socializing with a group of people that I'd recently met. One night we went out to dinner, and most of the others said they weren't hungry and just ordered drinks for themselves. I, on the other hand, had thought that "going out to eat" meant that we actually would eat, so I ordered an appetizer for myself. Maybe I shouldn't have thought that eating food in front of other people who weren't eating was a good idea, but I don't think I deserved what happened next. When the food arrived, everyone helped themselves to my food without even asking me if they could have some.
It bothered me that they did that, especially since I was paying for that food, I had specifically stated that I was ordering it for myself, and I literally only got two bites of it. (They didn't offer to help pay for it either, and it wasn't cheap.) They were all "young professionals" and had salaries that dwarfed the paltry wages I earned from working as an adjunct and from my job at the Expensive Clothing Store, where I managed not to strangle my retail supervisors with scarves when they made me refold clothes until they were perfect. I hardly ever got to eat in restaurants, because I couldn't afford to go. I should have said something to them, but they immediately started eating my dinner before I could stop them.
I suddenly wanted to transform into Ms. Pac-Man, so that my mouth would suddenly become huge and I could eat all of my food really quickly before anyone else got to it, or perhaps those cheap moochers would become so frightened of my enormous mouth that they would run away from me and pay for their own food next time.
It also made me come to this conclusion: frenemies mooch off of you. Friends do not take advantage of each other. I continued to socialize with those people after that incident, but I didn't tell them that it bothered me.
In college, I was friends with two girls who told me about a homeless man they'd seen on the train; the man was begging for money. They suddenly started imitating the way he was begging, and they mocked his voice. They laughed about it, as if it was hilarious that a man would become so desperate that he would ask complete strangers for money. Their "joke" made me see them for what they really were, and I didn't want to be friends with them after that. I am ashamed to say that I didn't call them on their insensitive, disgusting behavior. I wish I had said something like, "You should pack some sunscreen with you, because you're going to need it in hell."
In college I was also friends with a girl who came with me to the oral surgeon when I was getting my wisdom teeth taken out. I was so scared that it was going to hurt, and she came with me so that I wouldn't have to be alone. It helped to have her there, even though the oral surgeon told me that I shouldn't flail my arms around so much because I might accidentally smack him in the face. (I tend to thrash around when I get emotional.)
I've also been thinking of other things that make some people your friends and other people your frenemies. Friends make an effort to stay in touch with each other. Frenemies only call you when their other friends aren't available. Friends are able to tell you the truth without hurting you. Frenemies will pretend they're not insulting you even though that is exactly what they are doing. Friends are people you can order dessert in front of without worrying that they're going to judge you because they claim that their salads made them too full to eat dessert. Frenemies pretend that they're not hungry but will eat all of your food and expect you to pay for it.
Here's another video by my favorite vlogger, Kevjumba, who has his own take on what it means to be a true friend.
What about you? What do you think makes someone a friend? What makes someone a frenemy?
Interview with… Adam Byatt - Today it’s the turn of Adam Byatt to sit down and share his writing with us. This is my 13th interview, and there are still some wonderful authors to come!...
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