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That’s a skull.

Friend of mine. When I say ‘friend’…

Last night I went and played some volleyball with a group of acquaintances. It was great fun. Afterward I came back and was lying in bed in the dark, wondering suddenly if they’re my friends. I had messaged one to ask what I needed to work on in volleyball, because I knew today I would be practicing with my sister and an eight-years-friend, but my question was ignored.

Well, fine, then, I thought to myself. To heck with you. To heck with everybody. I don’t need you people. All I needed, I felt, was a ball, a place, and friend to–

Where did that word come up again? Why can’t we ever do anything on our own? Surely I could go practice volleyball by myself, but it wouldn’t work nearly as well and I wouldn’t have enough motivation to really improve. But how well do I have to know someone before they’re considered a friend? I doubt any of my “friends” would practice with me if I asked them. And what is a friend, exactly?

Google definitions says this: “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” I know people, but not well. I couldn’t point at a person and tell you their favorite color, their hobbies, or really anything about them personally. And I definitely doubt the “mutual affection” part. I care about the people at my youth group (which are really the only people I’m ever around, to be perfectly honest), and there are four people in this world that I would do anything for, but I have absolutely no idea how they feel about me, and no way that I can see to find out.

The Free Dictionary is even less friendly: “a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts,” or “a person one knows; an acquaintance.” I trust the people I’m around. But there is always the question of how much.

The Free Dictionary also says where the word “friend” came from. “The relationship between Latin amīcus ‘friend’ and amō ‘I love’ is clear, as is the relationship between Greek philos ‘friend’ and phileō ‘I love.’ In English, though, we have to go back a millennium before we see the verb related to friend. At that time, frēond, the Old English word for ‘friend’ was simply the present participle of the verb frēon, ‘to love.’ The Germanic root behind this verb is *frī-, which meant ‘to like, love, be friendly to.'” No doubt people love their closest friends. They should. But is this meaning that a person is not your friend until you love them? Is that all that makes them your friend?

Then there’s the Urban Dictionary, of course: “people who are aware of how retarded you are and still manage to be seen in public with you. People who make you laugh till you pee your pants. People who cry for you when one of your special items disappear. When you don’t have enough money to get a ice cream, they chip in. Knows all of your internet passwords. Who would never make you cry just to be mean.” It’s also mentioned that a friend is someone “you’ll actually call up to do stuff.”

I know for sure that I do not have one of those. If I did, all of my brilliant ideas wouldn’t be going to waste. Come to think of it, that’s how I know I don’t have friends. Because if I did, they’d be all into doing those weird things I’ve thought up with me. I need a Watson to my Sherlock.

Good talk, guys. Glad we sorted this out.

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