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Making New Friends Was Never Easy:Try It With A Mask On

Making new friends was never easy, and the older you get, the less you care. I thought I was All Growed Up until I hit my second childhood. My hands don’t have enough fingers to hold up to show how old I am, but I’m in my sixth decade.

(I stopped saying I’m in “midlife”. I don’t know how long I’m going to live, but unless it’s to 120, I am past the midlife point.)

Everyone I know is retiring, becoming grandparents, even graduating to the Afterlife. It makes me wonder if I need to make new friends (which usually entails actually talking to people) if they’re only going to disappear somewhere. Or, I might. One never knows.

It’s rarely beneficial to converse with anyone. They invariably say something stupid, by which I mean something I disagree with passionately. Like whether butter is good for you or not. My stance is, if it comes from a grocery store, eat it. If they don’t agree with my basic values, where are we? Not having toast, that’s for sure.

Making new friends is a future filled with arguments over the environment, politics, or whether we really need a multiple vitamin. I take multiple vitamins and supplements, so there’s another argument.

And what if I like someone better than they like me? This seems impossible, but stranger things have happened. I regularly pretend to be fun, cool, and hip, but eventually someone will see through the facade and realize I don’t watch the news, or Mad Men or Game of Thrones–whatever the latest flavor is–and I don’t want to volunteer for anything, unless I get paid.

To go through this over and over in an effort to Make New Friends is exhausting.

(Memo to self: Start a non-profit for the Egregiously Cantankerous that would work like EHarmony, only for finding friends exactly like ourselves.)

Which begs the question: would I even like a person who is so hard to please she needs an organization to find new friends?

I already have the friend who doesn’t want to sight see or eat new foods when traveling; I have the friend who can’t do anything without her husband (and this is voluntary!); the friend who feels guilty if she leaves her home for more than three hours; the caustic friend, the lazy friend, the friend who criticizes, or snores, talks too much and only about herself, or never calls, and on and on.

The biggest pitfall: If they don’t think the same things are funny that you do, or don’t hate the same people.

Insurmountable. Everyone knows mutual dislike of someone else is the cement that seals a friendship. And wearing a mask will just make all this harder.

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I’m not so picky that I can only hang out with the perfect, but it is tiresome to overlook everyone’s faults. How much longer can this go on? My list doesn’t even include bigots or religious extremists, or those who blame the Jews for everything.

My problem is that I relate better to seventh-graders. This is because I know more than they do, and they can still be intimidated. (The ones who can’t, are the ones I leave alone as I back slooowly out of the room.)

Parents, this is something you need to watch for when checking out the teachers who are partially responsible for whether your kid grows up to become a multi-level marketer. That kid will rope you into selling a device that cools the patio furniture so you can sit down on it without third degree burns. (Wait. I could use something like that.)

Especially watch for an older teacher who has reached her second childhood, thinks old jokes are funny, and challenges the boys to arm wrestling. (Well, they have skinny arms and I can beat them, hands down. So to speak.) You need to Keep an Eye on her, because she will tell them things just to screw with their heads.

No one else can be fooled as easily, so middle-schoolers are up to bat.

When you hit your sixties, you start relaxing the old internal barriers that kept you from sticking your foot in the aisle to trip someone. I haven’t done that yet, but I am hardly ever in an aisle. You also begin to flirt with everyone, including five year-olds and attractive trees. (Hey, it was dark out, and I didn’t have my glasses, and anyway, I’m Not Ashamed of Loving Trees.)

You are less likely to have a filter. For example, my 90 year old great-aunt told my sister in-law that her dress was way too short and she could see her crotch. She told her this in front of everyone (well, everyone who was present in the room), and was blithely unaware she’d said anything amiss. Actually, that’s pretty bad, and I would never do anything like that–at least not before I am officially Admitted to the Home.

One thing I have discovered by now is that I need very little to make me happy and contented, which makes me feel sorry for those still obsessed with Buying Things, or impressing others.

At sixty something, we should be Growed Up enough to know that money doesn’t Buy Happiness or friends. It does put a down payment on it, though.


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6 thoughts on “Making New Friends Was Never Easy:Try It With A Mask On

  • May 24, 2020 at 12:49 am

    Ah ha! You are getting to the point where you Don’t Care What Other People Think.

    I’m mostly there. I agree it can be taken a bit far, but it is fun.

    • May 25, 2020 at 12:07 am

      I’m not sure I’m there completely, but you are right–it is fun AND freeing!

  • May 24, 2020 at 12:59 am

    🙂 You mean we haven’t been wearing masks all these years?

    Loved it, and the gift of being happy with what is cannot be overvalued. Loved hearing a story like that.

    Reminds me of the exchange from “Paint Your Wagon”, which I think is in a conversation about sending off for mail-order brides for the mining town:
    “What? You get buy a woman with money!”
    “You just try and get one without it.”

    • May 25, 2020 at 12:07 am

      Hahaha! That had to be Lee Marvin. That movie was great, though Jean Seberg came to a sad end within ten years. Too young. But I loved that movie!

      As for “wearing masks,” how would that old expression go now? Get to know a man when his mask is on, or off? Can’t remember.

  • May 26, 2020 at 9:11 am

    I think making new friends is actually easier than it was pre-internet, but the “quality” of the friendship is different. I play some online games, mostly digital versions of old board games (e.g. Risk). I’ve made a few friends in the game forums or chat areas. I’ve learned a little about them — where they live; maybe how old they are; what they look like if they’re on Facebook and accept my “friend” request; maybe their gender if it’s obvious). I don’t do any voice chat or video talk. It’s all text.

    I got to know a guy in Portugal to the point that we exchanged a few regular emails, but then it tapered off. I know a guy in the Philippines and several in Europe. I know an older married couple in Canada who both like to play Risk. Some of the people are on Facebook like me, but usually all we do is “like” each other’s posts. I met a few on Quora (like you, Gigi). I know them well enough that I’d love to meet them in person, but that’s not likely to happen.

    The thing is, we almost never discuss anything other than the game itself. Once we get past our single shared interest, there isn’t much to talk about. This is especially true when they don’t know my age (I’m old enough to remember Kennedy’s assassination). I’m sure a lot of my gaming friends are in high school or college. They would be shocked to see me on Zoom! Also, I avoid talking politics with any of them — I keep that sort of chat six feet away.

    So, these people are acquaintances more than real friends — but for a near-recluse like me, it’s nice to have even that. So, I have 3 or 4 IRL friends, my relatives, a few “old friends” from school, and a dozen gaming/internet friends. That’s enough for me!

    • June 4, 2020 at 11:57 pm

      I know exactly what you mean, Craig. I have trouble keeping up with the handful I know in real life, and the ones I’ve met online. If you don’t keep up with internet friends, they do tend to slip away. Real life ones, not as much. It’s very satisfying for the most part, but since people really have trouble shying away from things like the riots, for example, it’s difficult not to discuss current events to some extent. My young Indian friend in London was worried about us, but I told him I’ve been all over Vegas in the last couple of days, and people are out, peacefully coexisting. But that doesn’t make for good copy.


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