Friday, 4 May 2012

A Focus on Friendship: Part II

You've been invited to a birthday dinner. You and the celebrant have no mutual friends so you'll probably be the glum plum who doesn't know anyone; an accomplice is therefore essential! You systematically troll through your phone book & BB contacts trying to find a suitable candidate. You acknowledge the fact the celebrant is rather reserved so inviting Hype-Hype Ken is probably a bad idea. Moaning Mark will probably jar you after 30 minutes, book-in-advance Ben stressed two weeks notice wasn't sufficient and Cheapskate Chris will be asking a million questions about how much the dinner will cost. 

Hopefully your scenario isn't as tasking as this but herein lies the gist of the second entry - looking closer at the assortment of characters that make-up ones complete circle (if of course it is). Which of these are in yours?

The Joker

Needless to say life without this character would be rather dull. Commercially known as the party-starter these individuals are an absolute must at birthday functions and gatherings to break the inevitable icy atmosphere etc. Loud, funny, outlandish, fearless flimflammers - experts in uplifting spirits, practically every circle should have one who possesses these traits. 

Their uncouth nature can make them unpopular figures amongst some as they tend to speak their mind so friendships with these character are usually ones that have spanned a few years – at least until one can handle and accept their crude ways. From experience they're not the best listeners (as they tend to be the ones who want you to listen) or ones you can confide in as their big mouths invariably leak news like a tabloid newspaper.


The Confider

When you need a listening ear and idiosyncratic advice on an issue you don't even need to think about who to call – it's automatically The Confider. Typically the more reserved character in the clique as they use the silence to simply sit and observe but not always. True, some prefer the sweet-talk consultants – those ones who will tell you what you want to hear but the certified Confiders put your feelings aside and tell you what you need to hear. Some even have this insatiable way of noticing when something isn't right even behind the front of 'all smiles, all good'.  

As a guy I've always found the best Confiders to be those of the opposite sex but same sex Confiders are just as prominent. 

Arguments with The Confider are rare but when they do occur it's usually quite serious. I've seen instances where friendships have collapsed after the recipient couldn't handle the Confiders truth but typically speaking these are essential friends for life. The ones who truly have your best interest at heart will always slap you with a dose of reality regardless of how it makes you feel. If you appreciate a true friend you'll appreciate the Confider. 


The Complainer

*Sigh* if they gave you £1 for the number of times you'd want to slap this character you'd be in the Forbes Rich List. If it's not their partner, it's work. If it's not work, it's the rising cost of patties at Bagel King. If it's not…errr...I think you get the gist. These characters are just programmed to see the adverse side of everything. 

As the analogy at the top of this entry would suggest you've probably got into a few scuffs with this one. Spent some time 'not talking to each other' over some pettiness that seems trivial when you both grow up and realise the silent treatment is pointless.

Despite their tiresome ways, you stay friends with these characters because 
1, you would've ditched they're arse a long time ago if you couldn't stomach them and
2, you've probably gone through more fights than Ike and Tina Turner but always seem to make-up so you just assume the idiot is meant to be a permanent fixture in your life.

Best thing about these characters is that on the rare occasion they're not complaining, they can possess traits of the Joker and the Confider – bittersweet I guess.


The Looker

This is the guy or girl in the circle who always gets the attention. Wherever you go in numbers – be it raving, chilling in a bar or at a birthday gathering they're the one your male or female friend will slyly enquire about during the post-event phone call. Not to limit them to just superficial characteristics as they can also be the Confider, Joker or Complainer too but their main contribution dwells in the aesthetics department. 

Ensure you have your jealousy in check around these characters. Many a time I've seen friends in the same circle begrudge The Looker's attendance at a function simply because 'he's gon' take all the chicks'.


The Connect

Not a lot of circles can boast of this character as they usually belong in the outer circle. These are the individuals who seem to know everybody, everywhere. Need gig tickets in LA? They've got a connect for that. Driving Licence in Lagos? They've got a connect for that. Cocaine in Columbia? They've got a connect for that. 

It's as if their links know no boundaries but the offset of this is that they usually don't have time to play the friend which is why relations with these characters rarely go past a phone call every couple months. Very useful but whether they're essential in terms of being a friend is questionable. 


The Excuse

Ah the excuse – the individual whose whole life revolves around blab and waffle. Not to be confused or compared with the Complainer. You need a lot of patience with these characters as their monotonous tendencies can get tedious. They're prone to alienating themselves and are soon left on the periphery of circular activities. 

Ask the Excuse whether they'd like to go out and you may be familiar with the following replies: "It's too hot", "It's too cold", "I'm broke", "It's too far", 'It's too expensive", "I don't have hair cream", "I have one or two things to do", "Who else is coming? *mentions names* Nah 'llow it", "I don’t know anyone", "you didn't give me enough notice". By the time you've heard the 11th excuse you're ready to hang up. 

Most annoying thing about these characters is that when they do come out they can make it entertaining but this is overshadowed by the 99.8% of the time they mutter flimsy excuses not to.


The Conscience

In some ways The Conscience and The Confider are similar with the only difference being The Conscience adds the religious element to proceedings. The Conscience is the character in your circle who frowns at anything remotely secular. The one who advises you to refrain from vices. You probably wouldn't invite them to a bar or gathering where after a few drinks the post-watershed topics start and their spirit gets edgy. 

Well-mannered and well to do, these individuals are a reliable addition. You may feel you can't act yourself around them at times as they can be quite condescending and judgmental from my experience anyway. The Conscience and The Joker (especially a secular one) may clash. If there isn't a like-mindedness between yourself and The Conscience you may find relations remain at surface level.


The Hot Mess

The Hot Mess is the baby of the circle. Living in their second childhood, they're attitude to taking responsibility for themselves, their duties and others leaves a lot to be desired. Unreliable, you'd be a fool to think they'll turn up on time or finally give you the money they've owed you for two years. 

The Hot Mess is the individual who is advised several times not to do something but will go ahead and do it anyway (yeah that!). A highly frustrating character, The Hot Mess will invariably get into altercations with anybody and everybody making promises to change that never materialise.  If this character is in your circle I'm pretty sure you've questioned their presence on several occasions but because they're your friend, you overlook their shortcomings rather than deserting them. Lord knows if you did they're finished. The ironic thing is these characters usually have great potential but they fail to exercise them.


The Organiser

Also known as the circle PA. Similar to The Connect but plays a more intricate role as a friend. The Organiser arranges the trips, nights out and such so when they're not available other circle members seem at a lost at what to do without them. Usually the high-flying type, ace in their academics, probably in a sturdy relationship too. They can get edgy when things don't go according to plan due to their synchronized nature but are usually cool-headed characters.


The All-Rounder

The All Rounder tends to be the utility character – one who can switch from mellow to monster in a minute. Their popularity plays a part in silently ordaining them with the leadership role. They possess a bit of every trait. One can come to them for advice like The Confider, has the ability to entertain like the Joker and generally acts as a link between all the members in the circle. 

I call these character the Iniesta’s (the pint-sized genius in the heart of FC Barca's midfield if you didn't know) of the friendship circle – stringing the passes to makes sure everyone's involved – the cogs of the clique. The first on everyone's list, there's usually a vacuum left when these characters are not present. Every group needs one who possesses these characteristics.


Missed any?

The Atomic Analogy

Proton, Neutrons & Electrons – remember that lesson. Not going into the academics of it but the analogy of the friendship circle bares similarities to the framework of atoms we were taught at school. So picture everyone you know being within an atom…ah forget all this, my brain is starved of oxygen. Let what I've written marinate first * collapses*

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