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Yesterday a friend phoned me at the Geist office to make a date to meet for coffee and when I hung up the phone I said, to my office mates in general, “Oh my God, a man just phoned to arrange something. Men never do that.” Our publishing assistant Michal, who was working at a nearby desk, turned to me and said “You know, you are so right,” and then Ryan, one of our web geeks, who was working in an out-of-the way cubbyhole, rolled into view on his office chair and said, “I wait for my partner to arrange everything."
Within a few minutes of my phone call, Michal and Ryan came up with a Theory of Proximity: men socialize together only when they’re already in the proximity of each other. For instance, Michal will go out with his buddies on Tuesday nights after soccer because they’re already together. Later that day a woman from down the hall told me that she runs her and her husband’s social life and if it was up to him, they’d never do anything.
This reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with my then-boyfriend. A girlfriend and I were going to a play and since our partners were also friends I suggested to my boyfriend that he call my girlfriend's boyfriend (are you still with me?) and go for a beer or something and my then-boyfriend said to me, “That seems kind of contrived, doesn’t it?”
So how do you keep a friendship going if you never make a date and you never run into each other? Hmmm. Maybe you don’t. Maybe friendships don’t need to be maintained—maybe they just sit out there in space waiting to be run into. That would explain how you can meet up with someone you haven’t seen for thirty years and start talking like you saw each other yesterday. This happened to me a few years ago and the first thing my old friend and I said to each other was “You haven’t changed a bit!” On the other hand, we never would have met up again if I hadn’t found my old friend’s contact info while I was surfing the net and then made a plan to meet up with her in L.A.
That got me thinking about the small twinge of guilt that I feel when I’m too busy to call a friend—it would be nice to live without that and maybe the way to do it is to, as the old saying goes "Be Here Now" and just see friends that I happen to run into.