I recently made a new friend, an occurrence that is unfailingly gratifying for the middle-aged, since the constant friction of life has an unfortunate way of robbing us of the old ones. People are forever dying or moving away or getting married, having children, and withdrawing into the increasingly private sphere of family life, and if you don’t continually replenish your reserve of friends, you’re likely to look up one day and find that you haven’t any.
In addition, it’s useful for all sorts of reciprocal reasons when those no longer young befriend those who still are. My quick-witted young friend (whom I first met, amazingly enough, on Twitter) happens to be exactly half my age, thus providing me with a window into the ever-mysterious world of Things as They Are Right Now, while I in turn give her case-hardened counsel on the ins and outs of the writer’s life.
We sealed our friendship yesterday over lunch at a downtown restaurant to which I hadn’t gone for years and years. “This is very nostalgic for me,” I told her. “I had my first editorial lunch in Manhattan at this place, back when I worked at Harper’s. It would have been in…oh, 1985. That was when you were in kindergarten.”
“That was when I was in diapers,” she retorted instantly, which turned out to be all the more embarrassing because it was true.
Speaking of embarrassment, my friend and I decided that one of the most effective ways to cement a friendship is by swapping embarrassing confidences, which we proceeded to do while waiting for the check to arrive. (I think we came out roughly even.) After I returned home, we exchanged the following messages via Twitter:
SHE The most positive relationships in my life are built on foundations of voluntarily disclosed humiliation.
ME It’s like exchanging hostages.
SHE Aaaaaaaaaaaand I just laughed out loud at my desk like a little nimrod. Terry, for the win.
I felt positively sprightly, as though I’d done a figure-eight in my wheelchair.