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Five shades of friend

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"I’d rather have two good friends than 500,000 admirers."

— e.e. cummings

 

"We love those who can lead us to a place we will never reach without them."

— Norman Mailer

 

"Hold a true friend with both your hands."

— Nigerian proverb

 

The odd time that a pre-read copy of the Globe and Mail, Canada’s "national" newspaper, shows up in the coffee shop, I make a point of perusing it. I always find something interesting on the Facts and Arguments page. It happened again this week.

A clip item referred to a website www.thoughtcatalog.com and gave as an example of its content — The Five Types of Friends Everyone Should Have by Ryan O’Connell. Ryan is the self-described ‘brat" who writes and edits Thought Catalog. He encourages writers and thinkers to submit "fun stuff."

I like anything that gives me a new perspective on myself and/or my life, teaches me something new and/or shines a light into a dark place and/or gives me numerous opportunities to use and/or, which I will stop using immediately. Anyway, the ‘five friends’ idea captured my attention. As I read through Ryan’s list, I reckoned if I have each kind of friend in my life. I’ll tell you what I found after you read the list. See if you have such friends.

 

Abridged and in no particular order:

❚ A friend who is always down for whatever whenever, a spur-of-the-moment friend who you don’t have to book weeks in advance;

❚ A friend who is slightly cooler than you so you get to go to wild parties and have unexpected encounters;

❚ A friend whom you truly admire, for whatever reasons;

❚ A friend who doesn’t know any of your other friends, your under-the-counter friend, maybe;

❚ A friend whom you’ve known all your life.

How did you do with the list? Got a friend for every occasion?

Luckily, I can claim to have a person in my life who fulfils each of those roles. I won’t name them, but they are all solid to the list and special to me in their own ways. If I were in dire straits and needed any of these friends, they would be there for me in a flash. Every day I am grateful for this boon.

I’d like to add three other kinds of friends to Ryan’s list that we would all benefit from having:

❚ A family member who becomes a friend, someone with whom you have a relationship that goes beyond familial requirements, you truly and easily like each other;

❚ A friend who becomes family, someone who truly and easily creates the warmth and conviviality of a loving family without any blood relationship;

❚ A friend you haven’t seen in over 30 years but you’d feel comfortable calling out of the blue.

Again, I am fortunate to have such people in my life.

 

I want to elaborate a little on that last friend type. Also attending the Radio and Television Arts course I took at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto in the late 1960s was a guy named Ted Barris. He was bright, curious, a people person and a lot like me. We hit it off right away. I was familiar with his family name from Canadian TV. His dad was Alex Barris — think the panel on Front Page Challenge.

The last time I saw Ted, he was passing through Winnipeg in the early 1980s on his first book tour. He stayed with Linda and myself and we had a fine time. A few decades passed, life happened and a week or two ago I suddenly thought of Ted, wondering how he was doing. Quick Google search and there was his website and contact. Quick email and we were in touch again.

I called Ted last night and we gabbed for half an hour. He told me about his family. His daughter, Whitney, will be appearing in MTC’s Assassins in January. He teaches at Centennial College in Toronto and writes every day, currently working on his 17th book. Our conversation was easy and casual even after so many years having passed since we spoke. Ted is also the kind of friend you can blog about and he doesn’t mind.

I am rich with friendship in its many forms. The richness has shown me that the underlying pulse common to every important friendship is love, a basic human response to another being, a caring understanding that persists no matter what happens.

In the recent movie The Master (go see it!) there is a scene where they show the album cover to the soundtrack for a 1973 Lindsay Anderson film called O Lucky Man starring Malcolm McDowell. Alan Price, original keyboardist with the Animals, wrote and performed terrific songs for the movie. The title track lyric leads with, "If you have a friend on whom you think you can rely you are a lucky man." By this definition I humbly acknowledge my luck once again. (There is a link on my blog for you to hear and see Alan Price sing the song in the opening scene of the movie. For another take on friendship, there is also a link so you can watch poet Henry Gibson recite his verse on Laugh-In.)

 

"Yes. I have a truck. No. I’m not helping you move."

— T-shirt at On the Run in west Winnipeg defining the edges of friendship.

Coda: There is also the kind of friend who names their child after you but that’s a whole other post!!

 

Reid Dickie is a Winnipeg freelance writer and videographer who is trying to retire but that’s hopeless. He writes about local heritage, architecture, music and spirituality on his blog www.readreidread.com and about Shoal Lake, his hometown, on www.shoallakehistory.com .

Over 160 original videos run on his YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/DickToolCo .

Currently he is finishing a video feature called The Lonesomes: Sixteen Prairie Stories.

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