Friendship-making Deconstructed: Friday 13th February 2015

Making New Girlfriends At An Organized Social Event

Many of my friends have told me they are keen to hear how this affair panned out and I am so very happy to report that I did, indeed, make a new friend! Not, however, exactly as was intended…

Along with the meeting of my new friendship group came the collywobbles. The closer the event came, the more nervous I became and the more I doubted the sanity of accepting this invitation in the first place.

The day of our meeting dawned – if not bright and sunny, at least clear and crisp – specifically, without snow; i.e. no chance of it being cancelled. It was a late morning meeting and afterwards I was heading straight to the hospital for a scheduled dialysis appointment, so I for one, had a finite amount of time to spend on this project. An out, as it were.

I walked into the Human Bean at precisely eleven, the appointed time, and our group was easy to spot; there, towards the back, were six elegantly dressed, perfectly coiffed, well made-up women, making stilted conversation with each other and all with one eye on the door (the escape route). You know the look – deer in the headlights! I smiled and knew I’d enjoy this session, enjoy writing about it and ultimately be glad of the experience.

As I took off my coat, from behind me I heard: “Pam, what a nice surprise!” I turned around to find an acquaintance from my camera club also preparing to join the group. As the last to arrive, we took the last two chairs at the end of the table. Perfect! A friendly face and a kindred spirit; this day is definitely looking up and by now I am relaxed and positively beaming.

Note: Hereafter I will be referring to my Camera Club friend as “CG” – Camera Girl – because I did not seek her permission to divulge her real name prior to writing today.

In truth, the experience provided enough fodder to skewer the lot – the organization, the hostess, the very idea, in fact, of a planned girlfriend society. I could quite easily rattle off a few thousand words, sure to amuse, full of sarcasm and rife with snide commentary, but really, what would that prove? Instead, I will tell you about my delightful morning and my “new” friend.

Our hostess introduced herself (but no one else), welcomed and thanked us for coming, and read her carefully crafted opening remarks: “Today’s objective is to provide a quick and convenient means to meet and connect with like-minded women as friends or as hobby partners.”   We were encouraged to chat and to discover commonalities amongst ourselves that may eventually lead to friendship.

Shazam!

CG’s eyes and mine met across the table, huge grins on both faces because we knew, in that moment, we had had the makings of a lovely new friendship handed to us on the proverbial silver platter. Although we had only chatted very briefly at club meetings, although we had not been on many of the same club outings, we both love photography and thus the door was open, the conversation flowed easily and rapidly, there were no awkward silences and, happy as pigs in muck, we talked equipment, experiences and possible plans for photo walks around town together.

The girlfriend-making concept, however, had seemingly fallen flat with the rest of our group. The other women were very obviously forcing small talk – evidenced by their visibly anxious demeanours. Conversation seemed to be limited to the exchange of social niceties; I overheard way too many comments about the weather.  As promised with my RSVP, I worked my way around the table, introducing myself, telling the women a little bit about myself – my needle arts, my dogs, my photography and my book club – but no one seemed even remotely interested, were in fact, clearly happy when I moved along. Should I be upset? I wasn’t, merely increasingly amused by the entire dynamic – why attend such an event in the first place if one is not at least open to making new friends? Stymied!

Back again with Camera Girl, our coffees now cold, we decided to order fresh drinks and some lunch. Before our bagels were ready, more than half the group had left – including our hostess – the final two not far behind her.  At this point CG and I dissolved into a fit of the giggles, wondering how we had cleared the place out. We stayed (much longer, in fact, than I’d planned making me – again – late for dialysis) for second third cups of coffee and dessert (delicious huge cookies) and happy conversation. The time flew by, the seeds of friendship had not only been planted but had also sprouted and we left, each hoping this was merely a beginning for the two of us.

The take-away for me is that cultivating new friendships is a worthy idea but dipping into a pool of like-minded rather than random individuals seems much more likely to be fruitful and comfortable – for all involved. The notion that our poor hostess had paid to join this organization and that they had given such poor advice seems akin to fraud.

On the other hand, CG and I are now well on our way to having a lovely new friendship, we have plans for our first photo walk and plans for a lunch date – a perfect outcome from my perspective.

Note: Since the meeting I have contacted our hostess who was very embarrassed at the failure of the event and who is still without any new friends here in Cobourg. I have offered to take her out to lunch one day, to connect her to some friends in the hospital’s auxiliary who will undoubtedly immediately put her to work, and to introduce her to sorority. Whether or not she takes me up on any of those offers is yet to be seen; I hope she does, though, because through those two groups I have made the very best of friends, friends who will be mine for life, I am quite sure.

Information on professionally assisted friendship-making:

  • The theory? Women today are busy and preoccupied to the extent that friendships don’t ‘just happen’; and
  • At least four major magazines have on-going blogs dedicated to helping women connect with each other platonically; and
  • A quick perusal of on-line options revealed at least three professional groups available to help with the search for new girlfriends; and
  • These websites charge a subscription fee; and
  • Target demographic of these companies is women age 20 to 60, most of whom have moved a significant distance forcing them to leave behind their existing friends; and
  • On overcoming the shame of having to resort to such tactics: “You are busy, your schedule is jamb-packed so it’s okay to ask for help” and/or “Very soon, just like on-line dating, on-line friend-making will be customary and respected”; and
  •  Surprise: Looking quickly for an existing GTA group still accepting new members, I found that most groups limit their membership to women <30. I had assumed that the majority would be relocated retirees.
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Promise = Presqu’ile + Provender + Physics: Tuesday 3rd February 2015

“My dear, you are showing great promise.”

Thus began my dialysis session today. “Great promise”? I’m thinking: “For reals?” Despite being sick as a dog, despite my raging fever (105°), despite my oh-so-active cold (sparing you the gory) and despite the usual symptoms of kidney deficit (still sparing you) I’m “showing great promise”? Must be the fever, I’m thinking, because promise is…

Promise is Presqu’ile

Another en route “detour” to my beloved park on the way here, and… Drum roll please… My 2015 park pass is swinging merrily on L’Oeuf’s rear view mirror! Squee!!!  After my office visit and purchase, I’m meant to be leaving for PRHC, but the park is, as always, irresistible. Today Presqu’ile is very snowy, very icy, very windy and completely deserted. I drove all through the park, marveling at the tenacity of the many birds and water fowl who, faced with a virtual polar vortex of living conditions, seem to be thriving and happy. I am feeling a bit philosophical, and it occurs to me that here is a message for me: If these birds can survive and frolic faced with these seemingly intolerable conditions, perhaps I ought to try a little harder, given my oh-so-cushy conditions.

I’ve left the lighthouse behind (Ohmigosh!  Was it ever icily bitter out on the point!), I’m looking forward to seeing what’s happening in my lagoon, but, oh no! Atkins Lane, the road through the cow pasture to the lagoon is closed for winter – complete with construction barricade.  How could they!?!  Except that some kind soul has dragged aside the barricade and, with undoubtedly a four-wheel drive vehicle, worn a drivable path through the piled snow.  Thank you kind sir!  With a deep breath and many clenched muscles, L’Oeuf and I drove on through. I did not drive her down the final embankment to the lagoon as usual but walked down instead. I could see a few interesting species fishing and playing in the water at the mouth of the lagoon, but without my long lens, they were unrecognizable to me. I did enjoy their antics, but very quickly, the bitter wind and the bone-chilling cold drove me back to L’Oeuf and onward to my hospital (where, truth to be told, I was already meant to be).

I am well-aware that I gush on and on about Presqu’ile but the stripped-bare truth is that every visit is uplifting and completely enjoyable.

Promise is Provender

This being the OSNM’s Food Service Awareness Week, today’s Inculcator is the dietician; always a good day for us because our dietician, Sappha, is absolutely lovely, she is kind, always encouraging, never judgmental, and best, she always brings samples of the recipe she is flogging. Food is always good, non? Especially in here and most especially when it does not come from the hospital kitchen!!!

It seems that I haven’t had a personal session with Sappha in eons so I am to have some face time after her presentation. She has notes about me, and leaves them on my over-bed-table whilst she is doing her talk. On the folder cover is a notation “praebenda”. Curiosity aroused, I google this über-strange word and immediately dissolve into fits of giggles, disturbing the entire class and the lovely teacher. Still, and the more I try, I simply cannot stop laughing. “Praebenda” is the Latin term for provender which means animal fodder. I know I’ve become a selfish old cow, but animal fodder? A message to Pam? Or, is this their plan for my recovery? Yikesabee!

Yes, I did apologize, most profusely and sincerely, for the disruption and later again, when we were having our tête-à-tête complete with explanation. She too had a hearty chuckle at the result of my snooping. Turns out, “praebenda” refers, via the Latin, to meatless meals, not to cattle food; an inauspicious beginning for our session. My rat blood work has, it seems, betrayed me. Having been thoroughly analysed at Toronto General, the high levels of amino acids (animal protein) prove I have been eating meat more than once each day for some time now. Betrayed! But very true; it started innocently enough at Christmas with the leftover turkey. I mean seriously, who amongst us can resist a turkey sammie? Not me, for sure! It is a slippery slope that whole lunchtime sandwich thing…

The nuts and bolts of our discussion are that I may only consume animal protein once daily (this is a return to a former regimen, not a new one). Whilst chatting, though, Sappha revealed that most of us eat two to three times as much meat as is required for our bodies’ nourishment and as is good for our on-going health. We played around with the idea of increasing the number of meatless dinners in my diet and, voilà!  Practically without me realizing it was happening, my Meatless Mondays became Meatless Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays… Gives TGIF a whole new meaning! I have promised to give praebenda a fair chance and will keep you in the loop in future posts – promise.

Promise Is Physics

The physics of my plasma have been returned and the results are vastly improved over the past month. Squee! This, then, is me showing great promise. The changes are directly attributable to the elimination of the steroids, the elimination of the prophylactic antibiotics and the longer regular sessions on my machine. All brilliant. All thanks to Marcus. All combining to make me feel significantly better – physically and about life in general. Now, about this cold (yes, yes, still sparing y’all)…

Promise on Parting

Well friends, my machine is humming away, RiRi and Kanye are belting the amazing FourFive Seconds into my ear buds, the sun is shining through my window and I’m thinking about promise, and about how my doctor, my park and my physics have combined to make me truly feel that promise. Cool non? Until next time when the topic will be – friendship-making deconstructed.