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The Writer's Page July 31st, 2008

A new page in The Paper that offers a forum for area writers to display their work, to offer commentary, and/or criticism. Submit work by email, photo art will be considered (we prefer jpg). This will be an occasional feature, scheduled when the editor feels there is sufficent material with which to work and sufficient space to publish. No phone calls, please.



Maybe Friends Aren't Supposed To Be Forever
By Jim Wheyland©

photoFriendships and relationship are complicated, even strange at times. You figure that they will always be there. You take them for granted. God forbid they ever change or tire of you. That's why it comes as a shock when one you have counted on lo these many years begins to shine you on. It's as if you have become old news, not quite measuring up. Oh yea, still glad to see you, cordial, accommodating, but different. There is a change in attitude.

The thing about the friendship you enjoyed most is consistency. Just being there is comfortable. Its like a pair of old boots, familiar, reliable, something that you can count on, foibles and all. Sure, being over there can be noisy at times, even rude. I know there have been times when the mindless chatter and exuberance was just too much, not only couldn't you think, but even talk. Yet, even when so many competed for attention and you felt like part of a herd, you still felt wanted and special.

Imagine how it begins, walking in, realizing that your friend has decided to be reinvented. No hint, no discussion, just bang! First the surroundings; how are you to feel? Is this change supposed to make you feel comfortable? Or is it a pointed way of saying, you can still be my friend, but things are going to be different. I'm more interested in someone that fits in better, you know, younger, trendy, someone that is more like I want to become.

All of a sudden the whole relationship is changed, beginning with the surroundings. The big television that hung on the wall to the right of the gaping entry is gone, and with it the flashing images of college football and basketball games or an auto race. Only the chalkboard is there, now oddly out of place. The welcoming array of tables and simple wooden chairs, the ones that were often pulled together to make a long table to accommodate a gaggle of friends and colleagues have been replaced with a tight arrangement of polished rectangular tables with chairs upholstered with an odd color of faded lavender. The décor, at once distinctive and functional, is gone, and with it the grand old pool table, where more than money was lost. Of course the Mexican guys that shoot pool at noon followed wherever it went. I guess the worst is the pictures on the wall. No more clever beer ads touting the benefits of Stone or Coors Light. Now there are faux paintings of landscapes. Maybe they are Switzerland; more likely generic stylized places, out of place, kind of like it feels being there. There are still other old friends that drop by. But I haven't seen Debbie or Virgil or the gang from Century 21 that used to be great friends.

With some reluctance I could accept getting rid of the pool table so a small stage could be squeezed into the corner. I guess karaoke is fun and helps meet new friends. My friendship was taxed when the French fries were switched from crispy thin to those soggy plump ones; even accepting that there was no more two dollar beer of the month. But when they quit taking my American Express and filled the menu with chicken instead of beef I knew my favorite neighborhood bar, The Comstock, was gone.

 

 

 

 


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