In recent years, Wolfgang, LJ and I have hung out fairly often. To the point that I refer to them as Darryl and Darryl to my Larry. We've been to the beach, gone to ballgames and concerts. We've bowled, golfed, shot pool, and had many in-depth discussions about General Hospital.
Yet those activities have always had one key element in common: LJ.
Wolfgang and I have never, ever hung out just the two of us. Ever. This despite the fact I have known him roughly eighteen years.
We are, as I like to refer to it, friends-in-law.
I relate to him through LJ. If the three of us are together and LJ leaves the room--even just to go to the bathroom--there is instantly an air of awkwardness. You would think we had just accidentally touched hands and now neither one of us knows what to say.
If LJ is gone longer than a minute, we began to yell things like, "What are you doing in there? What's taking so long?" OK, we don't really, but we're thinking it. Or I'm thinking it.
If LJ has to work that night, we just don't go out. I remember one time we were planning to go bowling--LJ, Wolfgang, Jamie and I. LJ got sick and had to cancel at the last minute. When Wolfgang found out, he cancelled, too. Why? Well, I think it's obvious. That would have been like LJ going to the bathroom for two hours. Wolfgang wasn't ready for that, and frankly, neither was I.
If we ever do find ourselves alone, our conversation almost immediately turns to LJ. We start to make fun of him, dicussing his undiagnosed narcolepsy, his ex-girlfriends, how he has a top five list for every category imaginable, etc.
I cannot take credit for the term friends-in-law. I first heard it on "The Dog" episode of Seinfeld. Elaine used it to describe her relationship with George in explaining to Jerry why she and George couldn't go to the movies without him.
However, friends-in-law never quite caught fire and took what I feel is its proper place in popular culture like so many other classic Seinfeldian phrases: yada yada, no soup for you, low talker, close talker, high talker, regifter, germophobe, manhands, double dip, he took it out, not that there's anything wrong with that. I could go on.
Friends-in-law is as relevant as any of those. OK, maybe not as relevant as germophobe. Or double dip. Those are sanitary issues necessary for a healthy, happy existence. But I digress.
The friend-in-law concept is fairly simple. It's basically the friend of a friend. Someone you know through a mutual friend, and generally only see when said mutual friend is present. And for whatever reason, when said mutual friend is removed from this situation, things become weird.
I will now take a couple of reader questions.
Bone, what happens if LJ and Wolfgang get a friend divorce?
Ah, excellent question. This scenario has crossed my mind a time or two. Like when Wolfgang and LJ are arguing over who's better looking--Carly or Sam--and things get heated. If a friend divorce were to occur, it stands to reason that the friend-in-law relationship would be legally absolved as well. Of course, these are not hard and fast rules.
Here's our next question: Can you go from friends-in-law to just friends?
I probably get this as much as any question not involving catheters or my bread-eating habits. I would say that while it is possible, it probably doesn't happen often.
Coincidentally, Wolfgang actually IM'd me for the first time ever the other night. It was a little awkward at first, but it's bound to be when it's your first time. I'm planning to take things slow, but I could foresee us maybe having a phone conversation within six months or so. And who knows, we could be hanging out one on one by 2010.
OK, 2011. You can't rush these things.
"Friends, slowly drift apart. They give away their hearts. Maybe call you now and then. But you wanna be, just friends..."