The lengths to which Salon.com will go to trumpet their shallowness were never better demonstrated than a piece from last Wednesday titled, “The proposal that ended a friendship.” What was the proposal? The author, Marilyn Friedman, from the hip Silverlake area of Los Angeles, who runs a creative writing school, lamented that the husband of a couple she and her husband considered close friends propositioned Friedman’s husband about masturbating together. The propositioner, “August,” asked Friedman’s husband, “Want to jack off together some time? It’s not a gay thing. It’s an Indian blood brothers thing.”
This comes as news to Native Americans.
Friedman’s husband told her, “August made me promise not to tell you, but I didn’t think it was right to keep it from you.”
Our couples friendship with August and Dana had been going so well. The night before the phone call that changed everything, the four of us feasted on Chinese soup dumplings in the San Gabriel neighborhood of Los Angeles and laughed so hard that tears dribbled down our cheeks. A month before that, we toasted our friendship over glasses of almond champagne in Temecula … We saw August and Dana often, cooked meals for each other, and had long, meaningful conversations. Finally, I thought we’d found our people in L.A. I was devastated that we were going to lose these dear friends. We had so much in common. August and Dana were an artistic couple like us. He was a writer and music lover. She was passionate about 1950s vintage kitchenware and interior design. Like us, they loved subtitled movies and didn’t mind driving to the hinterlands of L.A. for mind-blowing enchiladas with three moles. After almost a year of spending time with them, I’d assumed that we both had closed marriages, but maybe August and Dana didn’t. I didn’t judge anyone’s sexual preferences or peccadilloes. I just didn’t want them threatening my marriage.
This doesn’t sound too self-centered, does it? Oh, wait:
As a childless, married couple in our mid-30’s, it was hard to find other DINKS (double income, no kids) to spend time with. We’d already lost three sets of couple friends when they had kids. In spite of our offers to baby-sit, Mommy and Me clubs and play dates took priority over our friendship.
Those selfish parents, choosing their children over the fascinating Friedman couple.
And yet the Friedman couple’s relationship is redolent with trust:
When Jeff went out with the boys, they tried to convert him to bachelorhood. They kept him out late and made him their wingman. When he crawled into bed at 2 a.m., I worried about what he’d been doing. Did his bar flirtations lead him to cheat on me?
And interest in each other:
I didn’t want to go back to weekends alone, the two of us shuffling around on our Berber carpet preoccupied with our stressful jobs, trying to ignore the screechy sounds of aspiring opera singers practicing scales outside our windows. I couldn’t stand another friendless brunch at the 101 Café.
No, they’re not shallow:
The brunches would inevitably include joint self-loathing discussions where we’d explore how our unsavory traits had caused our social leprosy. Were our noses too big? Maybe we were ugly and that’s why no one wanted to talk to us. Was it because we were professional failures? The MBA that I’d hoped would lead to a corner office had instead produced endless menial tasks under an abusive boss. Jeff had abandoned his dreams of becoming the next Picasso for a steady paycheck as a 3-D artist. Maybe if Jeff was an important director and I was a producer, people would want to be our friends. These conversations never produced any helpful insights, and at the end of brunch, I felt more depressed than I had when I woke up.
Friedman obviously has a deep spiritual side:
How can we spend so much time searching for the perfect person to share our lives with, then so quickly tire of him? The exhilarating part of finding your soul mate is wondering whether he’ll want to hang out with you the next time and the next time. Marriage is great, but once you’re legally committed to hang out forever, the simple act of not getting a divorce every day isn’t exciting. August got his kicks by daring a friend to participate in something illicit. Dana found adventure by marrying a bisexual man who could end up playing for the other team at any moment. We all crave excitement. Those who don’t acknowledge it end up having affairs.
Friedman concludes she’s glad to be with her husband, and one salient reason is that he “has a cute butt.”