The Friendship Formerly Known as Prince

I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with friendship. I am a loyal and generally empathetic type of person but I do find maintaining friendships to be a lot of work. Friendship is a delicate flower, it needs the right sunlight and consistent watering to keep it from dying. My ideal friendship: a cactus; something that I don’t need to water and I can leave in the desert for months at a time, satisfied in the knowledge that this plant will survive without my input and be there when I need it next.

Like Jerry Seinfeld, my group of friends is relatively small and I like it that way. There are other people who orbit around this group of three or four friends and reside firmly in the acquaintance category. I have a friend who considers every single person he has ever met his close friend. I couldn’t deal with that. Maybe he needs to consider all of these people friends as a way to make him feel popular and therefore a person of worth. I don’t know. Perhaps he really likes that many people and leans on all of them when he needs a shoulder to cry on, and in return he gets to be the rock for so many others in their hour of need. But I highly doubt it.

I don’t have facebook. I have no need for it. I don’t care what you’re doing with your life, and if I care to know I’ll arrange to meet you and discuss it in person and have a human interaction. I have no need for social media because I am not social.

So this makes it difficult to cultivate and maintain friendships, but not so troublesome to make me consider singing up for an account with that company.

Being in a committed relationship, a lot of my social life is arranged for me by my wife. I have learned to not fight these social outings, as I find my protests fall on deaf ears anyway. Plus, I guess it is healthy to go out into the world occasionally and swap opinions with other humans. As a writer it can be beneficial to mix with people, take in their worldview and inject them into your stories as and when you see fit.

One such interaction happened just a few days ago. My wife warned me that we were to meet up with the Tomlinsons, a perfectly affable and harmless couple. The Tomlinson’s have just had a baby boy, their second child, and I was seeing him for the first time. We went to one of those gourmet burger joints that spring up about the place seemingly on a weekly basis these days. After paying twenty bucks for a thin strip of beef slapped between a soggy sourdough bun, I was left at the table with the male husband Tomlinson, who happens to be a former schoolmate of mine. We barely spoke to each other in high school, but we have mutual friends in common and for some unknown reason, his wife and mine have become close in recent years. So, as a result of this newfound friendship, this person that I’ve vaguely known for over twenty years is now relatively prominent in my life.

Here’s the thing: he is a nice guy. A very nice guy, in fact. Perfectly friendly. Funny, with a biting wit. My kind of person, truth be told.

But we struggle to find anything to talk about when we get together, and once the usual dull pleasantries are exchanged we’re at a loss for words with one another.

Yes, at this point we have two things in common: we know the same people and we both share an admiration for the Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. I believe he’s known as Prince again these days, though it is a Monday so who knows what moniker he’s going by today.

As far as musical fandom goes, you won’t find many that hold as much credibility as the Prince follower. He is a deeply respected artist with countless appreciators and imitators. His back catalog is a rich tapestry of remarkable musical genius. He’s had his off moments artistically speaking, but what great artists are immune to this?

I recently read that Prince has kissed and made up with Warner Bros., meaning a 30th anniversary edition of the sublime Purple Rain soundtrack will hit the shelves soon. This was welcome news on two levels: remastered work (plus b-sides and studio outtakes, with any luck) from one of the all-time greats, and three more minutes of conversation with someone who I have little common ground with, thereby stalling awkward and uncomfortable silence for a few more moments at least.

Sigh.

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