The older I get, the fewer the friends I have. In fact, I can't think of a single person I could call right now to ask to go grab a bite for lunch or to go see a movie. Much less, think of anyone who would call me with such an invitation.
I'm not sure why this is the case. Are we all so wrapped up in our jobs or children's sports teams that we don't have time for anyone else? Have I worn out my welcome? Does Facebook satisfy everyone's need for Drago? Come to think of it, even those friends have fallen off. I'd have to announce something dreadful has happened to get more than 50 likes on a post right now, as opposed to those who can garner a 100 likes for re-posting the latest meme. Possibly a clip of a well-trained parrot feeding a dog off the kitchen counter. Adorable.
Maybe this is just a part of getting old. I used to have friends. Plenty of them. I don't remember much about Brooklyn, but when we moved to Staten Island, my older brother and I ran around with scores of kids. We played stickball, king tag, kick the can, and a bunch of other shit. My best friend lived on the other end of Gold Avenue (I think his parents still do), and we slept over one another's house almost every weekend. We harbored a secret stash of chocolates. We were stealthy. He liked Twix, if I recall. I preferred Whatchamacallits. Those days are gone. I can't even eat chocolate anymore without getting an upset stomach.
We moved to Phoenix while I was in junior high school (they called it middle school). I fell in with a bunch of D&D nerds and played football, basketball, and baseball for the school leagues. I always had someone to hang out with. My best friend's dad was a retired schoolteacher who sold appliances at Montgomery Ward and died of bladder cancer while we were young. I was asked to be his pallbearer. I carried his body with his sons. Do you know how good a friend would have to be for me to ask him to carry my dad's fucking coffin? I don't have those kinds of friends anymore. I did.
My crew expanded in high school. I added the theatre geeks and the brainiacs. A fringe benefit of being (kind of) smart and (somewhat) talented, I guess. Think Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club. My best friend played football, which kept me in line with the jocks. Well, at least I could attend their parties on the weekends. Their girls only looked at me for a chuckle. I played Eugene in our school's production of Grease, after all. The highlight was dancing with the senior cast as Patty Simcox. She was runner-up for Miss Teen Arizona. So beautiful. She went on to be a popular news anchor. I wonder if she has friends.
More of the same in college. I had plenty of buddies. And from all walks of life. We had fun and kept busy. Even as a young teacher, I had a group of colleagues who got together and played poker or made midnight runs to Las Vegas. This was when Seinfeld reigned supreme. I was our Jerry. Single. Neat. Even-Steven. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) I'm George now. Cranky. Bald.
You might think you know where this is going. Marriage ruined my friendships. Not true. I had plenty of friends when we first moved to North Carolina almost 15 years ago. Most I met while teaching or producing community theatre. This lack of friends is recent. The last three years or so. I've shut myself off somehow. I don't know how to turn myself back on. If nothing else, friends would relieve some of the pressure my wife must be feeling from my constant companionship. It's unfair, really. Getting a life was much easier when I was younger. What will I do when my kids go off to college? Don't even want to think about it. At least they give me a reason to get off my recliner and yell about something.