Have you ever seen a former friend standing at the end of the cereal aisle at Harmon’s, and then immediately re-routed your path to the orange juice just so you wouldn't have to make an awkward entrance and catch up on old times with him?
What about seven minutes later when you’re standing next to the glass display of dead meat getting a 12 oz. cup of Oriental Chicken Salad scooped up for you and you see him again. Walking toward you. Wearing a green t-shirt and flat-brimmed Boston Red Sox hat like he always did. You brace yourself for an uncomfortable encounter by staring down the ginger-skinned sophomore dishing up your soon to be lunch, when at the last minute that buddy you don’t want to talk to makes a split-second look your way, and then blatantly walks the other direction, hoping you didn’t see him make eye contact.
This is when you come to the realization that your relationship really didn’t mean anything at all.
For full effect, download “Coin-Operated Boy” by the Dresden Dolls and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.
The above experience may or may not have occurred yesterday when two former “friends” did or did not want to rekindle the flames of an eh…so-so bromance. We did have some decent times, nothing special by any means. A few late-night Denny’s runs here and there, a couple of double dates, but nothing journal and/or blog worthy. And that’s exactly why when both of us were in the same grocery store during lunchtime, we wanted to be as far apart from each other as humanly possible.
You all know what I’m talking about, a meeting like that has the same clumsy feeling that a wedding reception line or a ten-year high school reunion carries, and there are plenty of us who have suffered through a few of those in our lives.
Unnamed class officer: “So uh…what are you up to these days?”
Swamp Thing: “Oh uh…you know…same old, same old. Work, school, paying the bills. How about you?”
Unnamed class officer: “Pretty much the same. Just had our second kid. She’s a beauty.”
Swamp Thing: “I’m sure she is…”
Cue uncomfortable three and a half second pause.
Unnamed class officer: “So you remember that one time…when we uh…”
Swamp Thing: “Yep, sure do…”
Unnamed class officer: “Yeah…”
But the thing is, you don’t remember that one time, you’ve forgotten it completely; erased it from your memory to stock your conscious full of dirty diaper changes, Modern Family episodes on DVR, and brainstorming sessions with your boss. Those are the memories that are now being shown in the display cases of your mental mall. You don’t want to remember the times you had with your old roommate, which then make any interaction with him as bad as a blind date who hasn’t been taught how to floss.
The relationships we have with one another are controlled by our smart phones and iPads. We don’t care about the intricate details of what is really going on in each other’s lives. Heck, this blog is the only way you’ll ever know anything about me anyway, admit it. All we want to know about each other is whatever status comes up on our feeds every morning, nothing more. We stick to communicating through Facebook so we don’t have to have those awkward conversations; it’s our surrogate protection from any form of actual interpersonal connection.
The sad thing is, we’re all happy with that.
And so I kept my head glued to the ground and self-checked out as fast as I could, pulling out my cell phone and conveniently calling my Grandma, (you know, so if by some slim chance I did actually bump into him, I had an excuse to catch up with him some other time). We have both gone our separate ways since our glory days, and I’m sure that neither one of us would have given ten seconds worth of airtime to hear how the other was doing, and actually cared for that matter.
But I’m ok with that. And I’m sure he was too. And no doubt all of you have those same shallow holds on people that you once enjoyed a few solid hours with, but don’t want to permanently delete from your Internet persona. Just keep your fingers crossed that you both don’t make eye contact at the same time in Harmons and are then forced to endure an awkward scripted conversation.
That only ruins those memories that you don’t want to remember.