Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why it was never just Larry and Darryl

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..."


  1. OK three in a row is good luck
    If I weren't moving today sorta I would begin a conversation about how you so aptly hit on subjects that girls have danced around for years

    It is so awkward when the friend in common goes to the bathroom.
    love ou would think we had just accidentally touched hands and now neither one of us knows what to say.
    And so much more

  2. That would have been like LJ going to the bathroom for two hours.

    I can't say exactly what it is about that phrase, but for some reason, that struck me as the funniest line in this entire post. I certainly do hope that if he's ever gone that long ya'll check on him ;)

    I've often felt the "friend-of-a-friend" conundrum. My friend Judge is awesome at including groups of friends together, which can be great, but it also leads to moments of awkwardness. I've tried to be open to more things though, so this past summer, I actually attended an event one of her friends was having - without her. Shockingly enough, I enjoyed myself. It can be hard to make that first move, but it's usually rewarding.

    Still, don't rush things. You and Wolfgang take your time. It's your relationship, no one elses, and only you can decide what's right.

    Oh yeah, and it's Carly for sure.

  3. Ya know, I don't think that I've had a Friend-in-law relationship since highschool. And yes if the friendship between the first two parties ends up in a divorce then the friend-in-law relationship is also dissolved. It just happens.

    and if I remember correctly Jerry started getting jealous when George & Elaine started hanging out more.

  4. Good questionHere'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.

  5. Shouldn't you and Wolfgang get together to talk about the fact that you have nothing to talk about?

  6. I have a 'friend set' just like this! The three of us meet monthly to catch up on our lives...I always cancel or reschedule if only the 'in-law' can make it. I never really thought too much about this until your post! I need the other friend as a buffer or else it's just too awkward. Very interesting, Bone! Thanks for pointing out this weird dynamic between :~)

  7. this is SO true of me and my friend Gary! love him! but he is SUCH a friend-in-law.

    thank you for discussing whether Sam or Carly is hotter. and Sam's character annoys me so much that she is SO out of that fight.

  8. Pia - Thanks. The accidental brushing of hands is the single most awkward moment in the relationship of two heterosexual males. It truly deserves a post to itself.

    TC - Oh don't worry. We would. And then when he assured us he was OK or fell asleep, we would let ourselves out. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

    Wow, so are you saying you've successfully gone from friends-in-law to friends?

    Renee - Yes, I believe it's the same principle as break-up-by-association.

    I remember he was jealous when Elaine started seeing Keith Hernandez, but he wasn't sure which one he was jealous of. lol

    NoStrokes - Thanks. I believe that it's a relevant sociological question.

    Susan - Eh, he already knows there's nothing to talk about.

    (That comment made me laugh out loud.)

    Fledgling Poet - Well, I wasn't for sure it happened with girls, too. But apparently it does, judging from some of the comments :)

    Buffer, yes. That's a word that belonged somewhere in this post.

    Cami - You're welcome. I definitely side with Wolfgang (Carly) in that discussion. Though personally, I think Claudia has them both beat :)

  9. I know that relationship well, though I've never had a name for it. Actually, I sort of thought it was just me being socially awkward, so I'm quite comforted to know that it probably isn't!

    You've phrased this really eloquently and it makes a lot of sense. Good post!

  10. friends-in-laws - I have a few of those. and you are right- to take it slow, good idea, incase of friend Divorce. :)

    Oh and I have to tell you, I am going to Destin next week! I'll have breakfast at the Donut hole if we can get in-Darn spring breakers!

  11. I absolutely know what you mean. This was just too funny a post because it is completely true. Right now, I am the friend-in-law to my friend's relatives, and when my friend leaves the room, those relatives and I come to a halt instantly.

    I laughed out loud so many times. You truly are so observant in your commentaries on life.

  12. Hahaha, great post. I have more friends-in-law than friends, being the quieter part of the couple:)

  13. J Adamthwaite - Well, if it is social awkwardness, then you're in good company. Or at least, company :)


    Daily Panic - Cool! Have a key lime donut for me. I plan on heading down in a month or so. After spring break, but before summertime rates.

    Zeus - Thank you. I have plenty of time to be observant during the awkward silences, I suppose :) Good to see you back around these parts.

    Actonbell - That's interesting. I prefer no less than a 1:1.5 ratio of friends to friends-in-law when hanging out. Does that make sense? I can't tell. It's late.

  14. the friend divorce question...

    I too often worry about such things.

  15. Bone I enjoyed your post. I missed the internet for the week I was in Yankee Land so I was happy to read your newest insight. Had never thought about it before. I don't think I have any friend-in-law. Do couple-in-lsws count?

  16. The stickiest issue in a friend divorce is who gets custody of all the good bars and coffee shops. It's just ugly.

  17. "That would have been like LJ going to the bathroom for two hours."

    I literally laughed out loud when I read that. :)

    Does Wolfgang read your blog?

  18. Nathan and I both have friends-in-law. Except his friends and I have a lot of stuff in common so if Nathan leaves, it's not awkward to talk to them.

  19. so are you saying you've successfully gone from friends-in-law to friends?

    Not exactly.

    I have successfully spent some time with just the friends-in-law and not the friend, but it's not something that happens with frequency, so I don't think it totally qualifies.

    For instance, one of my friends-in-law dropped off a book last night and picked up his iPod. He knocked, grab his iPod, handed me the book, and tossed a "let me know what you think about the book" as he hurried out the door like he'd forgotten to get a cootie shot.

    There are degrees to going from friends-in-law to friends, and clearly we aren't there yet.

  20. Shelby - It's the mutual friend who always gets caught in the middle. So sad.

    PennyCandy - Yes, I think couple-in-laws count. They're definitely a subset of friends-in-law. Or something.

    MamaZen - Oh, very good point. I hope I never have to go through that.

    R8chel - I don't think Wolfgang reads my blog. At least I hope not. Otherwise, this just got a whole lot weirder.

    Xinh - Sounds like you've dropped the in-law from your title and have become friends. Or at least are on the verge of doing so.

    TC - Ooo, there are degrees. Good point. I should anaylze those further in a future post.