Mixing friends together can be a complicated recipe. You have to have the right ratio of wit, sarcasm, craziness and intelligence.
Try rounding up a group for a movie. It’s like herding cats. I don’t like horror. Another friend doesn’t like comedies. My friend Ryan sees about three movies a year. I can coax him into seeing movies set in Pittsburgh, though. As a Pittsburgher he felt that viewing “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Perks of Being a Wallflower” was mandatory.
Coordinating the times can be just as daunting. I needed Mussolini to get everyone to the Cinemark at the same time. There just aren’t enough Fascists willing to organize the outing for me.
You always have to go with a controlled group. It’s important not to mix certain friends with other friends if you’re planning a night out. Friends are a lot like the five secret ingredients on an episode of “Chopped.” Oh, Ted Allen and friends could probably make something tasty with vanilla bean ice cream, cilantro, pork butt, habaneros and kumquats, but I can’t. Some friends just don’t mix. I have to see them separately. Others have to be added in slowly, one at a time. Set up meetings of two, somewhere neutral like Panera, Starbucks or Crazy Mocha. Plan an exit strategy. I like to sit by the door. If it goes horribly wrong, I get the hell out of there.
Then, a weird thing happens when you introduce two friends to each other over dinner or drinks. The only thing they have in common is the mutual friend, i.e., you. They delight in telling off-color stories about you to each other. The stories are never about your generosity, your kindness or your intelligence. No. Every story is about how you look like a dumbass. Maybe it’s just me.
One friend said, “We’re walking down Market Street in San Francisco. Mike was the only one who was sober. Guess who tripped on the curb and face-planted?”
The other friend countered with, “Did he ever tell you about tripping in the street in Paris? He rolled out of the way of an oncoming bus.”
They both turned to me and announced, “Klutz.”
It became a competition. The category was who had the most embarrassing story about Mike. I was the only loser in this contest.
I become the butt of every joke. I call it a Super Villain Team-Up. The idea is based on an old comic book I had where Dr. Doom and the Red Skull join forces to fight Captain America. Of course, I cast myself in the Captain America role, probably because I often get mistaken for looking like Chris Evans. Um. Not once. Not ever. Sad face.
Things didn’t go well for Dr. Doom and the Red Skull. Cap was able to play them off each other. He got them to fight each other instead of him. With a few choice words, I could have probably done that to my friends. My heart wasn’t in it. After all, they weren’t trying to rule the world; they just wanted to see a movie.