Which friend are you?

Being back in Cologne for a while reminds me of last year before heading to the Commonwealth Games in India. Altogether unremarkably different from this year, except for the fact that I spent almost 2 months continually no more than 5 meters away from Joel Milburn. Joel and I talked about many things. 99% completely horse-shit, and I think the other 1% was when we were talking about the weather or what times we had run that weekend. Topics included; the best t-shirts to wear whilst DJ-ing, who would win in a fight between a ninja and a really cranky unicorn, the science behind why split shorts are faster than tights, what mischief we are going to get up to at the end of the aths season, and what angle is required to make it possible to climb a wall only using your legs and your face.

One of the memorable highly intellectual discussions we had, however, was on friendship. You may be picturing now Joel and I on our beds throwing malteasers at each other and telling stories about childhood mates and the people that shaped our complex and intricate personalities. But no. What we did was come up with a full-proof and completely reliable system to categorise our, your, anyone's friendships, based on what we share with that person. The more you are willing to share with this person, the more you hold them dear to you heart and are able to call them a true friend. Some shared things also dictate the type of relationship you have with them...

Lets start at the bottom and work our way up.

The Facebook Friend
Let's be honest here, you probably 'know' all the names on your facebook, but to say you actually have '1241' friends is complete crap. The Facebook Friend knows only your name, and maybe not even that. They are a number on a page you check every day and a source of amusement or annoyance when they pop into your news feed. Certainly a starting point in some cases to move up the friendship ladder, but they start where they should, at the bottom.

The Elevator Friend
You have a fairly passive relationship with Elevator Friend. Of course you may not have a choice most times. Or do you? You don't have to get on that elevator, do you now? The Elevator friend is neither visually or nasally offensive, may or may not be engaging in small talk, and you are probably not fussed whether they are there or not. You won't exchange anything physical with them, but that's fine. They don't make the trip awkward, but they haven't moved themselves up to any higher friendship group, and therefore remain appropriately where I am about to get off this lift.... the first floor!

The Pen Friend
Not to be mistaken for 'pen PAL' (that would be much higher on the friendship scale), The Pen Friend is someone who you would share a pen with. The great thing about The Pen Friend is that it's scope is all the way from primary school to Tuesday night Bingo at the RSL. This is the first of the physical exchange categories, as also a definite gateway to moving up the list, if that be your intention. They may not know your name, the pen offer may even be denied, but the intention was there, and that's important! The real key to the Pen Friend is the fact that you are happy to let that pen go. If you get it back, great! But if they forget, then that's just part of that ink-riddled connection you guys have going on.

The 4-X Friend
Again, not to be mislead (with 'XXXX' the beer brand), the 4-X Friend (short for 'four exchanges') is founded upon the no-less-than-four communicative exchanges with the person in almost all circumstances. For eg:
1. "Hey Chip!"
1. "Hey Dick!"
2. "How are you?"
2. "Oh, just peachy... And you?
3. "Grand, just grand. Say, don't you have Wednesdays off work?"
3. "Is today Wednesday? Well gol-ly, so it is! My wife is going to kill me!"
4. "Oh Chip! Hahahaha."
4. "Hahahahaha."
Four exchanges each. The 4-X Friend gets just enough information of the conversation to not make it awkward, but not too much to delve into anything too deep. The best thing about the 4-X Friend is you can validate the friendship without too much fuss; walking down the street without stopping, mutual comments on an FB status update, or a trolly run-in at the supermarket. You're friends on facebook, you'd happily share a pen or a lift with them, but you probably wouldn't say they are...

The High-5 Friend
Some blokes would say I have jumped too far here, and that the high-5 is both an ancient and sacred ritual reserved for the closest of close mates. I agreed with how special the high-5 is, but I also embrace it's more common use these days, and not only between guys, but between girls now also. There is certainly a high-5 etiquette, and some would say that they should read "The Art of the High-5" before attempting such an act, but that is not for me to say. The High-5 Friend is what I am talking about and they are a great friend to have around. They great thing about the High-5 Friend is that someone can easily enter the friendship ladder at this point, and with absolutely no words spoken... E.g: At a sport event, with a shared moment between fellow cheer squad members; in a social outing, when you have just revealed that you got the new job you were after; or at a music concert, where you agree with the stranger next to you that the track they are currently playing is 'kick-arse!' The High-5 Friend says:
"No. A handshake is just not enough. We need to rise up and smack our palms together in exaltation and celebration. We are High-5 Friends and we are awesome."

The Round Friend 
Again, not to be misunderstood. The Round Friend does not refer to their physical appearance, but to the ability to share a round of drink buying with them. Sometimes you can enter a Round Friend relationship against your will, but the fact that if that person is entering a Round Friend relationship with someone that you are also, then that trust extends to them also. A unique category, The Round Friend is not only a contract, but a test to the relationship. Entering into a round of drinks allows a certain amount of trust for those in it, and a failed round buy or a skipping off early can result in a catastrophic decline in the friendship status of those involved. However, with risk comes opportunity. Sharing a round is a clear intention of friendship and camaraderie for the evening, with its constant empathy as to the drinking status of the partakers; "Jim, you alright for that martini, mate?" "Sal, you're beer looks empty, babe. Refill?"

The Clothes Friend
As the names suggests, The Clothes Friend is someone in your life that you have the privilege of not only sharing a similar physical size (and probably gender) with, but also the ability to lend your clothes out to them. Initially with some risk involved, The Clothes Friend may be weary at first about the promptness and state of the garment when returned, but if this is passed then you have a friend for life. The only thing more pleasing than realising that you have obtained this sought-after mutual respect and friendship with someone in your life is doubling your wardrobe! The Clothes Friend is definitely a keeper.

The Straw Friend
There is a moment in some friendships when a new level is reached. It's usually not a conscious awareness of any new ground being broken like in the High-5, and sometimes it may not even register between the two friends. This happens when a milkshake is shared. I am not talking about 2 new lovers sitting opposite the booth seat in a diner sucking down on a vanilla choc at the same time, I am talking same milkshake, same straw. You are exchanging the same symbolic and physical attributes as a pash, but it's oh, so much more. When you kiss someone, your sexual intention clouds your judgement. Everyone knows someone who has pashed someone after a spew. This is what I am talking about. The Straw Friend reaches a level of mate-ship that supersedes a kiss, and brings two people closer together, by disease or by shared deliciousness.

The Toothbrush Friend

To share a toothbrush with someone willingly is the piece de resistance of the friendship world. It is the Enlightenment, the Mount Everest, the Olympic Gold, the Rachmaninoff's 3rd of friends. I can sense some people reading this and cringing at the idea of sharing a toothbrush with ANYONE, and all I can say is that I pity you. Many will never reach this level of friendship, never experience the letting go of inhibitions, never feel the true love or trust in someone letting them use their toothbrush. They have not lived. It's a state of connection that says, "You know what? I don't care if my special personal mouth cleaning device goes in your mouth as well. I'm not attracted to you, but I am ok with us sharing DNA in the way of saliva.... I'M OK!!" And in the case of a life  partner..."Do you take your groom to be your lawfully wedded husband, and do you promise before these witnesses, to love him, comfort him, honor and allow him to use your toothbrushin sickness and health?".... I do.


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