Curly scratches her scalp hard, as she tends to do when someone is talking sense into her.
“But do you really think he would fit in here?” She nods her head over to the center of my living room. “Could you see him chilling with us??”
This time I turn. My body hangs halfway off the couch, an errant beer bottle cap imprinting my back. An ice tray filled with green specks, remnants of our jello shots, a mere memory. One overturned Rasheed Wallace sneaker with a gleaming white sock still in it. A pack of Newports that won’t see the light of day inside my crib. Three dudes huddled, tossing dice against a wall of my school books.
“Drink the CARD-eye (Bacardi…they have a nickname for every fcuking thing), son.”
“Yo B. Ali.cia Keys…you’d eat the box straight no chase?”
“Yessir. Roota AND toota, kid. No question.”
I turn back to Curly, my contemplation complete.
“Does ANYONE fit in with us besides us??”
We’ve all done it before and it just doesn’t work. I mean, I LOVE these kids. Couldn’t get rid of them if I tried. And at one time or another we’ve all figured that this MUST mean that EVERYONE will love us.
So we bring the occasion signif other around. Introduce them in the flesh to the names they’ve heard in countless stories. They already know the faces bec they’ve stared back from photos that dot all of our cribs. Not to mention our distinct differences and personalities make it impossible not to know who’s who.
And it usually looks the same. We’re all together, cooking, eating, drinking, smoking, laughing. If we’re feeling particularly nostalgic the yearbooks come out, or better yet the video from Greekfreak ’96, or a yellowing invitation from the party at Club Baja in ’99, or the cups stolen from the dining hall, or the orange traffic cones copped that one night after…"wait, when WAS that??”
And the signif other, sitting dutifully beside their respective mate, does just that. They sit. And listen. And probably yawn a million bored yawns. But we never notice.
Every once in a while someone will engage them. But 9 times out of 10, and not even out of spite or rudeness, just out of sheer urgent hilarity, someone will interrupt with another inane inquiry. Even my ex, who went to high school with us, and knows these kids well, was overwhelmed every time.
So without discussion or consensus, we all just one day stopped bringing outsiders around. For no other reason than that it’s painfully obvious that without having lived our history it’s just not nearly as comical or heartwarming or entertaining to hear us recall it, no matter how animated and Oscar-worthy the re-enactment.
“I think the days of rating a potential mate based on compatibility with our friends are long gone. I mean, it’s one thing to get your friends’ opinions of the person, but that’s about it.”
“You guys told me not to fcuk with Peter.”
“I shoulda listened.”
“Should have. But I’m sure every one of us would tell you the same thing about 8 Mile. He just doesn’t necessarily need to be dragged kicking and screaming to hang with us when we all get together.”
“Weazy, feel this beat! You aint freestyle all night, ngga!” My attention, again, pulled to the center.
“You beg me to get with it/to spit it/I stay committed/and get more head than Coop’s fitted”
“Ayyyyy! Wise, remember that time I walked in on you and…”
Is this a universal misconception? That your friends and your mate must be compatible or all bets are off?
Some people have Mate-Friendly friendships. You know, the kind of friends who are multipurpose. You can effortlessly bring around a mate, a boss, whoever.
Others, like me, have a core group of friends who are perfectly suitable and welcoming one on one, but impossibly (but never intentionally) exclusive in a group.
Or maybe no friends at all.
What say you? Do you bring your SO around your friends? Is it a litmus test of sorts?
What about when around theirs? Do you feel alienated?
Does it even matter??