Friday, July 15, 2005

Wanted: Friend

When you’ve got a well-established group of friends as I do--well-established in the sense that for the last ten years, we’ve gone through a lot together, lied and backstabbed each other--you realize how empty your life would be without them. Just think: no Friday night movies; no Saturday night drinking binges; no Sunday morning calls to a bail bondsman. We’re friends through thick and thin--but mostly thin because I only have a sub-compact car.

As a good friend I try to look after them as much as I can, because if I neglect them, that naked picture they took of me could wind up on the internet. I was skinny-dipping in a very, very cold Lake Michigan and my mighty ‘bamboo shoot’ looked more like a puny ‘rice stick.’ I've a reputation to maintain.

I think finding a lover is significantly easier than finding true friends. With a lover, there’s always the promise of sex to lure them in. And if that doesn’t work, you can always slip them a roofie. You don’t have that kind of luxury with potential friends. You actually have to make them like you, not your clothes, your a-list status, or if you’re a lesbian, your flatbed truck.

Short of joining a religious cult, there’s no real easy way to make friends. It’s not like you can go door-to-door, hold out a pamphlet and say, “Hey, would you like to be my friend?” The pamphlet would have to be two $20 bills taped together.

We’re a very picky bunch. It’s not easy to get into our inner circle. You’ve got to have the right type of personality, sardonic humor and raving psychosis to fit in. It helps if you’re on some kind of medication, so that we can bum your prescriptions.

Han, a grad student from Korea had started hanging around our little group, unexpectedly showing up at places that we usually hang out: under the Walgreens sign, at the local Starbucks, in the alley behind Einstein’s where they throw out the day-old bagels.

We were standing in the alley one Saturday morning, Starbucks cups in hand, tongues hanging like dogs, waiting for Einstein’s to open the back door and start throwing out the day-old bagels. We would jump up in the air and grab them with our mouths and then walk casually to the street corner, munching and sipping, watching the people in the gayborhood.

That’s when we first noticed Han, who also had a bagel in hand. From his sidebag, he pulled out some lox he kept in a baggie and kindly offered it to us, along with some cream cheese (I declined--the dairy thing).

For the next few weeks, he doggedly stalked us. The others started to warm up to him, but I think it was the A/X sweaters he gave them for Christmas.

I resisted, of course.

I mean, the Asian quota in this group is used up. Everybody knows that according to very strict boy band rules that there shouldn’t be two overlapping “types.” There’s the Rebel, the Cute One, the Kleptomaniac. So, Han had a huge obstacle to overcome to get into our group. And if I had to give the obstacle a name, it would be Joey Fatone.

I was already the resident Asian, that’s my thing. We can’t have two people who make Chinese take-out impressions:

“Phone numba? Ok. Wat would you rike? Ok. Ok. Ok. You rike egg loll wit daat? Ok. Ten minute.” Click.

Or the Dude, Where’s My Car? drive-thru version:

“And then? And then? And theeeeeen? And theeeeen...” NO AND THEN!!!

But I had the upper hand, I could also do the classic “Suckee fuckee five dollah me love you loooong time!”

Everybody knows that if you put two Asians in a group, they would have to fight to the death, or at least until somebody loses a slipper. I refuse to be sidekicked. I mean, I shake my head sadly when I see some of the all-gay Asian groups (or the ‘Gaysians,’ as I call them). It’s like there’s the Lady Thiang and her attendants in The King and I. It can’t work. Just throw a Rice Queen into their midst and watch them implode.

But my concern was unwarranted. Han was open and honest, totally lacking in attitude. He won us over one by one. I’m not really sure how he did it with the others, but with me, it was the 20G iPod complete with carrying case.

Han is moving to Amherst in a few weeks to pursue his Ph.d. In the past year, he had become an integral part of our group.

We had jokingly said we would have to put up a want ad and hold auditions for people to replace him. Even though he laughed along with us, I sensed that he felt a bit hurt. I think he felt that we had already moved on, even while he was still here. But he cannot be replaced. Making jokes, that’s just our way of dealing with pain--and we are a very jokey bunch.

If we did write a want ad, I think it would say:*

* Wanted: Friend. Must have eclectic taste in movies and own White Chicks on DVD. Able to order bulgogi, kimchi jigae and mandoo in a Korean restaurant convincingly. MUST BE ABLE to get side dishes only reserved for locals. Can solve moderate-to-difficult Sudoku puzzles. Most of all, wanted: a friend--honest, loyal and true.


My Einstein's bagel sandwich story

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