Too Close for Comfort
Sometimes, the more you get to know someone, the less you like them.
My previous post, Slow Start, was about a college classmate who did not act very friendly for years, but in the end became a great friend.
This blog is about a contrasting situation.
Larry was a receiver on the football team. We were both freshmen. We talked as we worked out in the weight room. (My freshman year I went from 178 lbs to 195 lbs — Don’t ask about my substantial progress since then). We talked as we walked together to the cafeteria. Larry was very earnest and sincere about being a good athlete.
Larry was eager to show what he could do. And to tell how well he played in high school. Larry exuded confidence.
We pledged the same fraternity. Other guys in our pledge class started calling Larry “Superman,” but with some sarcasm. (Put me in, Coach, I can do it!).
Very early on, as we hung out together, Larry told me personal stuff about his childhood and troubles at home. I could not reciprocate because I came from a secure family and had no tales of troubles. However, I thought he must consider me his new best friend to share so much personal, normally private, information.
He also told me about his relations with girls, including how to unsnap a bra with one hand and what the number of hooks signified concerning, eh, voluptuousness. Again, I could not reciprocate. I had no skills to teach him. I had no skills in that department period. Or experience. I certainly did not have any good stories about that topic or even knowledge.
As time went on, I started doubting some of the big talk. I started seeing that Larry told many people the same personal stories. I suspect he recited them like an actor might give many performances of the same part. Anyway, I was not special, I realized. I was probably not even a friend. I was more like a member of the audience. We audience members were just not in the theatre at the same time, but we were witnessing the same performance.
One thing that happened that year is that Larry did get a new college girlfriend who reportedly had lots of hooks on her bra. He told me more than I cared to know about, you know, intimacy with her. Again, I only listened. And really, if a guy cares about a girl, the locker room is not the place to talk about her.
Our sophomore year, Larry did not go out for football. I guess the coach had not listened carefully enough about how good Larry was. Our quarterback had to be content with some other, perhaps lesser, receivers. (The QB became a SuperBowl MVP a few years later, which is especially impressive because he did it without Larry. Come to think of it, he did it without me either — amazing!).
I contrast my experience with Larry to my experience with Mark, described in my previous post. Mark was hard to get to know. Larry was too easy to get to know — on the surface. I am reminded of the tortoise and the hare. Maybe that fable applies to friendships too.
Truisms: Big hat, few cows. Big smoke, little fire. Actions speak louder than words. Seeing is believing. If you tell everybody a secret, it is not a secret.