Sadder than Charlie Brown |

Sadder than Charlie Brown

Barry Smith

I’m in the market for a best friend. Since my friends seem to keep moving away, I find myself going through a friend dry spell lately, and I hope my desperation doesn’t cause me to do anything stupid, like buddying around with someone I’ll regret later on.I don’t make friends all that easily, at least not close friends. I’m generally very particular about who I spend my time with, and most of the time would prefer to just be alone. Unless I meet the right person, of course. I guess I’ve just been hurt one time too many.But where do you meet a best friend? I’ve tried the bars and it’s always the same old scene … EVERYBODY’S your best friend when the alcohol starts flowing; you meet someone you think is pretty cool and you make plans to hang out or go for a hike, you exchange numbers, e-mail addresses, myspaces, shake hands firmly while exchanging a sincere glance, or, if things are really going well, high-fives. Then the next morning … nothing. The phone never rings, the plans never gel, and the next time you run into each other it’s a little uncomfortable.”Dude, we should totally get together.””Yeah, totally.””OK, then – later.””Yep.”My wife has tried setting me up with potential best friends in the past. She’ll announce that we’re having a dinner party and make a big deal about the fact that “Bill” or somebody that she met at work is coming over and that she thinks the two of us will really hit it off. All day long she’s talking up this Bill guy – Bill’s a writer, too, Bill just got a new mountain bike, Bill has a great sense of humor, Bill, Bill, Bill. It’s always a strained situation, trying to be casual and enjoy dinner while my wife throws out little conversation starters … “So, Bill, tell us that story about that time you saw The Ramones play CBGBs back in ’76. Barry loves the Ramones.”I’ve tried community events in my search for best friends. Events like weed pulls, task forces, disease-curing recreational events, disaster training drills … plenty of potential best friends around, but I guess I’m just too shy to make that first move. And yes, I’ve gone the newspaper personal ad route before, too: “MWM, seeking guy to pal around with, exchange anecdotes that my wife doesn’t appreciate, e-mail interesting YouTube URLs, hang out and drink beer while playing the same blues riff over and over on our respective instruments.” It only attracted a bunch of creepy losers who thought my “respective instruments” remark was some sort of double-entendre.The online equivalent has been even less fruitful. My craigslist ad just got me a bunch of spam.I guess I can come clean with the fact that I once broke down and called one of those “Best Friend Hotlines.” You’ve seen the commercials, the ones late at night with the guy in the baseball hat and the jersey, drinking a Fat Tire- “Hey, Dude, looking for somebody to talk smack with? Me and my buds are just kickin’ it here for a while until we head out to go drinking, and we’d love to hear from you. Why don’t you pick up the phone now? We’re at 1-900-TALK-CRAP. Later, Brah.” The guy I talked to, “Tom,” seemed genuinely interested in my stories, but ultimately the whole experience was expensive and unsatisfying and made me want to shower.The thing is, you don’t want to seem desperate when searching for a best friend, because that neediness is glaringly obvious to prospective pals. You have to project that air of “my life is whole and complete and I’m just looking for someone to discuss obscure late 80’s punk bands and dead blues guys with.” You have to be secure with yourself, otherwise you will attract others that just enable your insecurity. Or scare people away.So, with all of this in mind, I’ve decided to approach my search with a formal, business-like manner. On my blog I’ve posted a best friend application form – If you think you have what it takes to be my best friend, then fill out the form and send it in. After I’ve weeded out the weirdos, I’ll begin the interview process.May the best man win. And after he does, may God have mercy on his soul.