eNewsChannels BOOK SERIAL: “Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G: Chapter 42 – “True Friends, Few Friends.”
You may have a ton of acquaintances who use the f-word to describe each other (the word is friend; what were you thinking?) but at any given time you have only one or two real friends, no more, and you’re lucky to have that many.
Actual friendship is something special that does not happen very often, and many are the ways that acquaintance friends differ from true friends. The term “acquaintance friends” being nicer than “fake friends,” of which there are legion.
Fake friends come in lots of categories. Work associates, for example. You say hi, you talk about your weekend, you discuss movies and TV shows or maybe sporting events, and every now and then you get some work done together. But the minute you both are no longer employed at the same place, those people are gone. I can count on the fingers of one finger the number of people who keep in touch with me from my days at ad agency after ad agency, PR firm after PR firm, magazine after magazine, and so on. All of these people were fake friends. Although we must not overlook the possibility that I’m a total asshole because that, too, would account for their actions.
The First Timer
At one point during one of my writing gigs at an ad agency, the need for a new art director became a major issue. Since whoever was hired would work with me, there was a lot of interest on my part in the resumes, portfolios, and interviews of the applicants.
I lobbied long and hard on behalf of one guy whose work was unique and fresh, probably because he was right out of school and thus completely new to the industry. Unfortunately, agency bigwigs frequently shy away from hiring a tyro.
“We don’t need a newbie,” was one way they put it.
“But you take on interns,” I pointed out.
“Sure,” came the reply, “but we don’t pay them.”
My persistence against their resistance paid off and this guy got the job. He was quite pleased. “Wait ’til you see the paycheck,” I said to him, but we both grinned and shared a beer after work. Four years later, when I was once again freelancing and he had become a senior art director at a different agency, I couldn’t get one single assignment from him despite my having gotten him his first job in a tightly-knit industry. Clearly, one of us has asshole tendencies.
My years as an ad agency producer were fun but there were dispiriting episodes. Just by way of background, an agency producer doesn’t actually produce the commercials but is the person who will be blamed if anything goes wrong during the production of the commercials. Like if you go over budget. Or if the child actor doesn’t have a tutor on set. Or if the City cites the agency for shooting somewhere without a permit. Or any one of a thousand things.
It’s an interesting job and one gets through it with a constant feeling of panic and lots of muttering of phrases like “Oh for the love of God” and screaming things like “Are you fucking kidding me?”
The young woman who was our creative department manager wanted to become an agency producer. She was repeatedly denied the opportunity by the agency’s Board, which she thought was chauvinism because every one of those guys was a guy.
“It’s not necessarily chauvinism,” I told her. “It could be that you’re too good at your current job and they don’t want to have to go back to the lame-brains they frequently have in your position.”
“You mean I should start screwing up?” she asked.
“Nope, then they’d just replace you.”
“Shit,” she said, which she knew from observing me was the correct agency producer comment.
This stalemate continued for a while until I shared an elevator down to the parking lot one night with a couple of the Board members. Turns out they were denying her the chance to produce because, as one of them put it, “Ya can’t have a pretty little piece like that trying to take charge of a film crew.”
Which overlooked the fact that she often was functionally in charge of an entire creative department. Whenever the executive creative director (my boss) or the associate creative director (me) wanted to have something happen, that cute gal sometimes saved our collective ass by making sure it happened. She got everybody to do what had to be done when it had to be done and at the price we needed to pay to get it done. And that, my friends, is as good a description of agency producer as you’ll ever see.
So I went to her and said, “We’ve got a simple spot coming up. Why don’t you produce it but run everything by me. Whenever any Board member has to see what’s going on, I’ll step in so they’ll assume I’m doing it. If things start to go off the rails, I’ll be right here and we can work it out. If it all goes smoothly, we’ll tell the Board you produced it because I was busy keeping the budget down on one of the other spots. Then they’ll know you can handle the job.”
Which is what we did. And she began producing spots. In a couple years, she switched agencies. And once again, when I was freelancing . . . well, you probably can guess the result. Not only was there never an assignment, she never even returned my phone calls.
Foulness Will Out
Over a period of several years, my writing and online publicity efforts helped hype one organization’s music industry events, programs, and projects. Well, I say “organization,” but it really was a one-person show with a bunch of volunteers and hourly-pay folks flitting in and out. My work helped make the little group seem like a much bigger group.
For much of the time the woman running the thing kept her Fascism and racism hidden but every once in a while her true colors would flash darkly across the landscape. In the face of this foulness, it was necessary to point out the odiousness of her positions and hope her hate-speech would dissipate. It’s a miracle we lasted as long as we did but one day it got to be too much and ka-blam, just like that, we were done. No more personal or professional interaction.
And you know what? It felt great to be rid of her! So I began purging my life of these tormented, twisted, and soulless human-seeming entities. And my life improved. I highly recommend this course of action to fellow decent people, especially progressive-minded people. Whenever you tire of the evil you encounter from your #GOPfail and #GOPtactics acquaintances and cohorts, expel them from your life.
Admittedly, it’s difficult to do. People often feel that they are unable to make the move. “It’s my brother,” they’ll say (or sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, in-law, etc.) Or “It’s my employer,” they’ll say (or client, business associate, holder of a marker, etc.) “I can’t get rid of them. I’m trapped.” Yup, that can be a big problem.
You probably know people whose brains cannot process information correctly. They suffer a synapse lapse on a daily or even hourly basis, often helped along by RWNJ propaganda on the airwaves and on the internet.
At first you may not know about an acquaintance being a secret worshipper of Mussolini but then, suddenly, there it is in all its filthiness. I am increasingly outspoken in my loathing for that kind of politics. And I have been dropping fake friends when it is no longer possible to tolerate their embrace of perfidy. A side benefit is that you receive fewer phone calls and e-mails (and anyone in business is seeking that!)
Take a look at how my circle of acquaintances, fiends, and friends has been contracting and expanding at the same time:
* An article of mine is published about greedwhores, neo-Fascists, and crypto-Nazis, otherwise known as the republican party and the result is: people who support those causes squawk and mewl. But since they self-identify as chowderheads and traitors, you’ll be able to rid yourself of them.
* A chapter in a book points out how many GOP governors, senators, representatives, and pontificators are racists, homophobes, misogynists, theocrats, plutocrats, and so forth and the result is: yapping and whining from the conservacons. But the people who protest are people you need to drop. Just as the earth will be a better place when they are no longer on it, your life will be better without them in it.
Putting things in perspective can really shake up people with twisted minds. It’s fun to do this shaking but it can be hard work: political perspective in this country is difficult to achieve because of the conservative media bias (all major news dissemination organizations in North America are owned by huge conservative corporations), not to mention the GOP FauxNews channel where they just make up crap. But people who don’t understand these things are not worthy of being in your life. Leave them to themselves. And if we’re all lucky, they’ll move to one of the 15 moron states of the old Confederacy, where we can more easily keep an eye on them.
The truth can get under your skin. Even my skin. For example, if you say to me, “John Scott, you’re an ugly, stupid, old, short, hack writer,” that would get me very upset because I am of average height.
Speaking of truth . . .
For a couple of years I was privileged to work with a musician who remixed songs in the Golosio publishing company catalog. All of the remixes were marvelous because the man was quite amazing as an artist. Everything was hunky-dory between us until one day we were discussing his life-partner, who was in prison for assault. (There’s a sentence one doesn’t normally get to write.) I made the mistake of mentioning one teeny tiny bit of truth: since the assault was against an elderly woman, the guy “isn’t ever getting out on parole.” Never heard from the musician again. Guess I should have refrained from making a candid observation. Treading on someone’s hopes is dangerous.
Another example: I was on the Board of an organization that was attempting to create a new revenue stream for musicians. A great cause, but the founder of this group was a terrible public speaker and an even worse writer. Pointing out these facts seemed important to the success of the group, but when I said his efforts were doomed to failure because of these problems, suddenly there was no more contact. Saved me some valuable time, but kind of funny to see how this deal went down.
The Boy-Girl Thing
Okay, guys, how many of you have been in a situation similar to this one: I’m on a date with a beautiful girl and we decide to kiss. To me, it’s delightful to begin with very light, very tender kisses, slowly building in intensity. But she wasn’t having it. She grabbed my head, pulled me to her and planted a hard deep one on my mouth. After a lovely few seconds (minutes? hours?) she pulled her head back a few inches and said, “When you kiss, go for it.”
Ohhhhhhh-kaaaaaaaaaay, so I kissed back in kind. Sure, it was a shame to miss the slow-building lead-up to the powerful osculation, but kissing a desirable woman is an amazingly wonderful thing so I followed her lead.
But here’s where it turns sicko. The very next time we went out, we got to the time-to-kiss part of the date and I followed her instructions. Her verbal and physical instructions. Her “go for it” game plan. And I received the pull-back, the push-away, the frown, the furrowed brow, the put-down, and an accusation that this was not acceptable behavior. Some girls just like to play a game with boys and the game is called mind-fucking. Needless to say, we have had no further contact. One must remove people like that from one’s life. Seem harsh? Not compared to the implied threat suggested by my Uncle Man (“Can’t live with ‘em, not allowed to shoot ‘em.”)
It’s Just Business
I had a two-decade-long business relationship with a guy who I thought was also a friend. But when he got involved with a lying musician running a dive bar, it put a severe strain on our interaction.
You have to choose your business relationships carefully. If you interact with lowlife scum, people might think you are also lowlife scum. And those of us who aspire to be known as mid-level scum just have to move on.
“I need you to loan me thirty-two hundred dollars,” the man said to me, “and let me tell you why.” The conversation lasted nearly an hour because the speaker was someone I considered a friend. And as a friend, he could certainly handle the truth from me, right? Wrong. When it was pointed out that there wasn’t a spare three thousand dollars in my budget, it ended up being the last time we spoke. I gave up calling and e-mailing him after a few months.
“The holy passion of friendship is so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring in nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.” –Mark Twain.
Gospel According to Michael
Just before bringing this chapter to a close let me give a tip o’ the hat to someone who is a friendly acquaintance. Michael Levine is the best public relations guy I know. He has devised and directed media communications efforts for a few folks ‘n’ firms you may have heard of over the past few decades. Like David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Prince, Nike, Barbra Streisand, Sandra Bullock, Sharp Electronics, Pizza Hut, Ozzy Osbourne.
Michael regularly gives lectures on life, success, work, and ethics (yup, ethics from a hype guy; go figure). He has strong words about friends. “Fire your fake friends,” he says. “The fake friends don’t want you to succeed and they’re a drag on your time.” Levine notes that if you are totally convinced of a true friendship with someone, fine, keep that person in your life. But if there is not a deep reciprocal relationship of respect and support, you’re wasting your time with a false friend.
How Do You Know?
Let’s say you’re in doubt about some of the people in your life. “How can you tell the true friend from the false friend?” some people ask me. It is surprisingly easy and you are now going to learn this important method for getting more control over your life. Just consider the following and you will have the answer you need:
A true friend is someone you are happy to see even if they show up on your doorstep at three in the morning and the first words out of their mouth are, “I need an alibi.”
• To be continued in next chapter (click link to subscribe via RSS) …. or, to read additional articles and some bits of ephemera by John Scott G, visit his story index here: http://enewschannels.com/author/scott-g-the-g-man .
“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G, is Copr. © 2011-2012 by JSG, all rights reserved under U.S. and international copyright conventions. Commercial use in any form is forbidden without express written permission of the author. Originally published on eNewsChannels.com with permission. Credits: Book cover design: Phil Hatten. Author photo credit: Brian Forest.
140-character version for Twitter: A true friend is someone you’re glad to see even at 3am when they tell you they need an alibi. #secretsex #books #johnscottg #writing