MUSINGS: Best to hang with a few friends

By Jennifer Hearn
The Scene staff

Hip-hop group Whodini asked a very important question in its classic 1984 song “Friends.”

How many of us have them?
The ones we can depend on.”

I know people who have elaborate birthday parties every year. You can’t go out to dinner with them without their phones lighting up. Every weekend, they’re invited to all kinds of events. They seem to have tons of friends.

However, it’s amazing how many times these same people tell you they don’t have many friends and that the last time they were in a jam, they had no one to call.

Personally, I believe a person doesn’t need many friends. Being a good friend takes a lot of time and effort.

There are birthdays, holidays and milestones to celebrate. There are break-ups, family crises and random meltdowns to endure. Then you have to take time to just stay connected and up to date with a friend.

If you ask me, there isn’t enough time to have many friends. It’s better to have a small circle of dependable friends, people who always will be there for you, not just when you’re throwing a birthday extravaganza.

On the other hand, it’s good to have different kinds of friends. No two people are alike. No one is built to handle every situation. You can’t take your friend who hates science fiction to see a “Star Wars” movie.

Best to have a roster of friends to call on, depending on what’s happening in your life.

The friend in a cool place

Anyone who has ever had a pen pal knows that you don’t have to live near someone to be friends. Internet tools such as Skype to Facebook have made long-distance friendships easier than ever.

You definitely want to keep up with a friend who has relocated to an exciting city.

You don’t have to figure out what to do when you visit her, as she will know all the hot spots. She will explain that the restaurant you saw online isn’t worth the crowd or money and take you to a better place favored by locals.

Even if you can’t visit your long-distance friend often, it is always great to talk to someone who lives in a completely different place. You can compare and contrast experiences. A phone conversation can feel like a getaway.

The older, wiser friend

I’m in my late 20s, and most days, when it comes to navigating life, I have a lot more questions than answers. Everyone needs an older friend who is wiser.

Maybe she is a “mentor.” She has been where you are and currently is in a place you hope to be one day. She can provide advice, encouragement and support.

Quarter-life crises are real, but they aren’t as serious as they seem at the time. Someone significantly older can help you stay calm and keep things in perspective.

Sometimes people feel like they will never recover from the blows of life. Trust me, someone out there has dealt with dating disasters, failed relationships, student loans and bad credit, and she’s doing just fine.

The friend who backs out

I don’t know how many times I have been pumped to go to an event with my friends, only to not feel up to it when the big day comes. Thank goodness I have a friend who feels the same way.

We aren’t lazy or flaky. We are practical. We both work and go to school. Some weekends, we like to get out and have fun. Other weekends, neither of us has the energy to deal with large groups and nightlife.

It’s great to have a friend like this because there’s no pressure to party when you’re not up to it. Plus, you don’t feel left out when all your friends are out having a good time.

The friend who gets you

You need very little verbal communication with the friend who just “gets” you. At a party, all she needs to see is a facial expression to know you are ready to go.

This friend may not know everything about you, but she understands you. Often, you have the same beliefs, values and even pet peeves.

My friend and I hate to see a couple at a restaurant sit next to each other on the same side of the table. We don’t have to discuss it. When we see it, there is an immediate eye-roll followed by a giggle.

This friend usually has the same tastes in music, movies and clothes. Just recently, I was reading an article when my friend tagged me in the same article on Facebook.

On really good days, when you are just too giddy to explain it all, and on those exhausting days when you are just too tired to talk about it, your friend knows just what to say or do.

The friend who’s a relative

The holidays are right around the corner, and for most of us, that means spending a lot of time with family.

It can be fun to catch up with loved ones you haven’t seen in a year or more. Or it can be stressful, irritating and overwhelming. You will need a friend to be there through it all.

The “blood-related friend” has known you all your life. She understands the uniqueness of your family because it’s her family, too.

It’s great to have someone in your corner when your aunt starts asking you about your hair or piercings. This friend can explain to your cousin that your “strange diet” is pescatarianism. And, of course, you will need a partner for all those card and board games.

Technology has given us more opportunities for connecting than people had in 1984, but I don’t think it makes Whodini’s question any less important.

Everyone needs friends … Just not too many.