I have here a letter from a young man who I will call David. David is feeling isolated due to the coronavirus quarantine. He writes:
“Hey Sean, I see all these people doing Zoom calls and Face-timing and stuff, and nobody wants to do a video chat with me or whatever. I’m realizing how truly alone I am.
“Since my school cancelled I have been social distancing and you know how everybody’s always saying it’s so hard and how they miss their friends and stuff? Well, I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me, it’s just hard because I don’t think anybody’s worried about me.”
David, you don’t have to tell me about having no friends. I understand this issue all too well. Probably everyone reading this understands you, too.
Personally, I’ve been through many different friend-phases of life. I’ve been through a phase where I had no pals. I’ve also been through phases when I had buddies crawling out of the cracks, always wanting to borrow 200 bucks.
Friends always want to borrow 200 bucks. I know you think it’s glamorous to have lots of friends, but it’s actually pretty expensive, and non-tax-deductible. When you have tons of friends you are bound to have many who are flat broke.
FRIEND: I’m broke.
YOU: How broke?
FRIEND: For dinner my family goes to KFC to lick other people’s fingers. Can I have 200 bucks?
So we can see that having too many friends is not necessarily a blessing.
I am not making the following anecdote up when I tell you that I was once at a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, celebrating a friend’s birthday when THIS SAME friend looked at me and said, “I can’t afford to pay my rent this month.”
This was said during the exact moment I was breaking the leg off an Alaskan snow crab that was the size of a Buick Roadmaster on the buffet. My friend asked me and our mutual pal, Dean, for 500 bucks. What do you think Dean and I did as committed friends? That’s right, we did what all good friends would do, we drowned him in the clarified butter sauce.
The thing is, I don’t know if you know this, but you don’t need many friends. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to have many “close” friends. Neither would it be possible to have tons of wives, mothers, or IRS auditors. No, a close friend is a rare thing, David. Sometimes you only get a few in this lifetime. So the fact that tons of people aren’t asking you to video chat means nothing.
Besides, what’s the big deal about video phone calls anyway? I’ve never met anyone who looks attractive on those tiny selfie cellphone cameras.
Whenever my cellphone camera turns on, I look like a giant Vienna sausage without a chin on the screen. You’re not missing anything special.
Even so, I might be going out on a limb here, but I think what’s really bothering you is popularity. Very few of us were popular growing up. But after all these years I’ve discovered something I wish I would have known. There’s no difference between popular kids and the other kind of kids.
Sure, popular kids might have more video calls, and more attendees at their birthday parties, but they certainly don’t have any more fun than we unpopular kids have.
I once knew a kid named Alan who would’ve given his eye teeth to be a popular kid. In fact, he would’ve given his eye teeth just to be standing within body-odor-smelling distance of a popular kid. He was always tagging along with them. That’s how desperate he was.
But one year, when he had his 13th birthday party, he invited all the popular kids to his shindig and (guess what?) none of them came. Do you know who attended his party? Us dweebs.
That’s right, we dweeb-meisters were all standing around wearing little pointy hats while Alan’s mother made us play Twister, which is a game that should not be played at the birthday party of a 13-year-old boy. It’s just plain weird. Especially when Alan’s older sister, Melanie, got involved.
What I’m getting at is that there are lots of shallow folks who care too much about popularity and having tons of friends and they miss out on the little stuff in life.
These people will do anything to fit in. If all the popular kids, for instance, are listening to a band called the Metal Death Scum Suck Project, they will listen, too. They will even listen if the band sounds like a pack of dying hamsters caught in the conveyor belt of a manure spreader.
Folks with hordes of friends can be just as lonely as guys with only one or two friends. You will find that, as you get older, real friends are hard to come by. And by hard, I mean HARD.
Furthermore, popular kids might seem great, but they miss out on many of the joyous rites of passage that we unpopular kids are fortunate enough to experience. Wonderful things like:
—Getting snapped with towels in the locker room.
—Asking your own aunt to prom.
I promise you, there will come a day when you’ll remember that you wrote me this letter, and you will laugh about it. You will reread my response and you’ll think to yourself: “Wow, I can’t believe I was so worried! I have a great life, a family, and great friends!”
Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is: This quarantine sucks. If you’re not busy this afternoon, let’s do a video call. I’m free whenever you are.
Also, I need 200 bucks.