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#17: My Friend Dropped His Pants
And so should you
An interesting thing happened to a friend of mine last night.
He went to a nightclub, where he was hanging with a bunch of people he’d met for the first time. One them, an attractive woman who had been drinking since brunch, grabbed his hand and insisted they go for a dance. Hell, why not? He went along with her and they danced for a bit. He got into it. He was in the groove, he sure knew how to move.
His awkwardness dissipated. He even forgot for a moment that his pants didn’t quite fit. He was in a phase of weight loss where his trousers were either too loose or too tight. If you tempt fate like that, fate succumbs.
His pants dropped to the floor.
One moment, his belt is caressing his sexy wiggling ass. The next, it is hanging out with his ankle.
My mortified friend bent and picked his pants up and put them in their place. He was too shocked to look around, worried that people might be laughing at him. The girl he was dancing with was cool, though — ‘Hey, that happened to me once!’
When my friend messaged his group of friends about it — I’m posting this with permission, of course — he said he was embarrassed. He did mention the saving grace — he wears ‘funky underwear’ — but was otherwise quite shook by this. I consoled him by saying that this was nothing to be embarrassed by. If anything, it made him endearing.
Now, at my age I am closer to misplacing artificial teeth than dropping my pants at a nightclub. But I got to thinking about this situation. What is a nightclub? It is a gathering of people with masks on. Not actual masks, but you know what I mean. Fifty people in a nightclub is fifty people projecting personas. No one is themselves — unless they are drunk, in which case, they may be too themselves. All in all, it is awkward.
Then pants drop, and the illusion is broken for just a moment. The victim of this tragic accident is humanised. And because everyone present has mirror neurons, everyone’s pants have dropped. There is empathy.
It was presumably this empathy that prompted the girl dancing with my friend to say that her pants had also dropped once. She was humanised too. For just a moment, the masks fell, and there was an opportunity for a real, human connection here. Hell, I’d start a film with this scene.
I’m not sure my friend got this kind lady’s number, though. When I asked him what he’d learnt from his adventure, he said, “I’m going to wear jeans next time.”
I wouldn’t. I’d wear those slightly-loose trousers and find a way to drop them.
That’s a metaphor, of course.
What is friendship?
My guest in the latest episode of The Seen and the Unseen is my dear friend, Chandrahas Choudhury. We discussed friendship at the start of our conversation, which was personal and, at least for me, a little moving. What was interesting to me was not that we had such a personal chat, but that we could have such a personal chat. A decade ago, I am not sure we would have the self-awareness to see or say the things we did. And men aren’t supposed to show feelings, so that would have been an added layer to get past.
I’ve been thinking about friendships recently: how they form, what they mean, how we define them. In case you are not an audio person, here’s my intro for this episode:
One of the lessons we learn in life is that we should not invest in things, but in experiences, knowledge and relationships. I’ve been thinking about one particular kind of relationship recently: friendships.
What is a friendship, what makes people friends? I was sitting the other day with a friend of mine, who comes over about once a year, and he said that to him, friendship meant that you could sit with someone for a long time, and neither of you felt the need to say anything. You were both, in that time, comfortable in your own skins – and comfortable in that shared space.
Another quality of friendship that I value is that you can be yourself with a friend. There are no filters – and this should apply for both people. I realised that with some friends, we could just say what we wanted to each other, no offence taken, no hidden narratives. But with others, I had the sense that they held back, that they weighed their words and actions, that they thought things about you that they wouldn’t actually say to you. And sometimes, they wouldn’t even assume goodwill, which is the cardinal rule of every conversation or relationship with me – that you assume the other person means well, unless you have concrete reason not to.
I decided to try to be less and less with this kind of person – it takes away too much mental energy to be calculating about friendships, to be getting meta behind what another person may be thinking.
Friendships are also different depending on gender. Men carry this burden of masculinity – you’re not supposed to express your emotions. And sometimes, that may even stop you from expressing your feelings to yourself.
Another question that strikes me about friendship is how it forms. Back in the days before the internet, you were restricted by geography to communities of circumstance. Today, we can form communities of choice. But can a friendship be virtual? Can you feel close to a person you have never met, and you may not even know what they look like? I’ve had reason to think about that as well.
I don’t have answers to all these questions, but I do know that I should not take friendships for granted, as perhaps I used to once. The material things in our life — they are cold and only there to serve a purpose. The people we surround ourselves with — they make all this worthwhile.
What are your thoughts on this? How many friends do you have? Has the meaning of friendship changed for you over time? Or are we all going to die and it doesn’t matter?
On that cheerful note, ta da for now. I know I haven’t newslettered for a long time, but I do want to be regular, and I will try and invade your inbox more often. If you’ve signed up for this, that is. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for, an invitation card and a box of mithai?
You have to put your email somewhere. Put it here.