I have had many friends in my life. Some go back as far as college, high school, and even elementary school. Other came into my life through jobs or social connections. Many of these people remain in my life, if not in person, through technology or thoughts. I also have people I wish were my friends; Barbra Streisand tops my list. Seattle Seahawk Doug Baldwin is on it. So are Anderson Cooper, the Obamas, John Legend, and Kevin Bacon, who I have loved since his 2002 hilarious, self-deprecating appearance on Will & Grace. But those are fantasy friends. Let’s talk about real friends.
As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to develop new friendships that match the depth of our older, often lifelong, ones. I, however, made a new friend, a new best friend, a life-changing friend when I retired.
His name is Facebook. I call him FB.
I had heard about FB long before we became acquainted. He had quite a reputation as a result of beating up a guy named My Space. As I understand it, it was a brutal beating and My Space ran away with his tail tucked into his “space.” I have to admit I was frightened by Facebook’s actions, so I purposely, avoided him. What he had done to My Space would have been bad enough, but then I heard he was a bit of a gossip, troublemaker, namedropper, and demanding friend. Instinctively, I knew FB was not an appropriate friend for me. But then people I genuinely respected became friends with him and it became tempting to allow an introduction. Yet, I stuck to my guns. I avoided this possibly dangerous relationship, this potentially demanding friendship because, I felt, as a high school employee it was important that my friends were not gossipy troublemakers who beat up the weak and to keep my personal friends and life separate from my professional relationships.
But once retired, I was free to become friends with Facebook. I no longer had to worry about students reading shocking things about me like my use of the “F” word once while driving or seeing pictures of me wearing obscene T-shirts or gyrating in G-strings as the lead stripper in the Stallion Revue or flashing my tits for beads at New Orleans’ Mardi Gras.
And, likewise, I no longer had to worry about seeing images of former students drunk or stoned at parties or posing inappropriately for FB’s camera or gratifying themselves as they ogled pics of the lead stripper in the Stallion Revue.
When I met Facebook… I introduced myself to him…he greeted me warmly, asking questions about my work, family, friends, and even my birthday. He genuinely seemed interested in me and welcomed me into his social circle. And faster than James Taylor can sing “You’ve Got a Friend” or Bette Midler can warble “Friends,” people from my past started contacting me. People I had known from past jobs, college, high school, pre-school, the Providence Hospital delivery room, the Warren G. Harding presidential campaign, the Renaissance, and the Garden of Eden were coming out of the woodwork and asking if we could be friends. Well, I already thought we were friends or at least had been, so I excitedly accepted their requests.
Exhausted by all of this sudden socializing Facebook provided me, I sat down to watch a rerun of Friends, the one in which Joey said something stupid. By the time the first commercial interrupted this compelling program, my new friend Facebook had allowed many of the people from my past to send me pictures of their family members and pets. In some cases I was confused as to which were which.
Well, more and more people started asking my friend FB if they could be friends with me. Many of them were strangers. I told him it was OK because one can never have too many friends. That was something I learned in high school when I was unanimously voted by my classmates as Person Most Likely to be Forgotten by Everyone by the Five-Year Reunion. I didn’t go to the reunion, however, because I never got my invitation. I think it got lost because I moved to a different unit in the eight-unit apartment house.
But before I knew it, I had accumulated 125 friends because of my new BFF FB. Now, I’ll be honest. I don’t know all of them. I am not close to many of them. I haven’t seen at least 70 of them since the bicentennial. And there are about 30 who I have never met. I think they are friends of some of my closer friends, like the ones I haven’t seen since the bicentennial. But all these people constantly send me wonderful messages, pictures, and videos. A lot of them are very inspirational. Like the short prayers. Or the pictures of the three-legged dogs forming a canine pyramid. Or the videos of Sean Spicer frantically trying to turn lemons into lemonade. But, to be honest, I don’t really need all that inspirational stuff because the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is watch Live with Kelly and Ryan. I am so inspired by Kelly who so bravely struggled for months to find the perfect permanent co-host. I would think having to reject Jerry O’Connell, John Leguizamo and Cedric the Entertainer must have been heartbreaking. Ryan Seacrest has inspired me since Season 4 of American Idol when Taylor Hicks inexplicably won and became the household name he is today. The courage it has taken for Seacrest to go out in public since that tragedy inspires me daily.
A lot of people send stuff they think is cute or appealing, so they think everyone else will like it and will think it is cute, too. Pictures of babies, puppies, kittens, sunsets, garden flowers, bloody kitchen mishaps. But these are things I don’t find particularly cute. My idea of cute is pictures of me at two. Pictures of me at three. Pictures of Nick Jonas at 24. Pictures of Brad Pitt at any age. Pictures of the dancers at the Stallion Revue.
Many of the friends FB has introduced me to send jokes and cartoons. Apparently, they think since they thought they are funny, I will too. But I usually don’t. Humor is a personal thing and I haven’t been able to really laugh since my two favorite funny people died, Tammy Faye Bakker and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. What? He’s still alive? Oh, he just looks dead. So, in that case, I hope one of the people FB introduced me to sends me a picture of him. I’m pretty sure that’ll make me laugh. Or as me and my FB friends say, “LOL.”
Sometimes my friends, the ones I don’t know, send me pictures of their entire families. It’s odd, because I occasionally think I recognize a few of the people, which is more than I can say about the competing “celebrities” on Dancing With the Stars. It is also common for people to send an “updated” pic for their personal page and I wonder why they think this new photograph is an improvement over the previous one. And I wonder why it has 27 “likes.” I personally gave it 27 “yikes.”
Many people have sent me pictures of food. I don’t know why they think I am so stupid I don’t know what food looks like, but I ruined a whole bunch of forks trying to eat them. Which brings me to an urgent request. Does anyone know how to get scratch marks off and punctures out of a computer screen?
A great service my friend Facebook provides is suggesting people you may know. I believe it is based on my list of friends or lists of their friends or a government “watch list” or FB’s use of the Michigan lottery drum or voodoo. Nevertheless, I will once in a while see someone I do know. Well, I don’t really know them. I know someone who worked with them and that person knows someone who went to school with a person who shares a prison cell with someone who has a cousin who works in craft services in Hollywood and has met Kevin Bacon.
I wonder if Facebook knows Kevin Bacon. Because if he does, that means I’m just Six Degrees From Kevin Bacon.