Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Old Man TAN: On Friends, Family, And Face-Farting

When I’m out and about sometimes people inquire about my age. This is always a regrettable juncture in the social festivities. Inevitably my silky smooth conversational styze is completely knocked off kilter. I start panting, sweat droplets race down the side of my body, occasionally I pass out on the floor right in front of the person.

I haven’t even really begun to touch upon my feelings about aging in this forum. I’ve mentioned my disdain, and perhaps how my skin blisters from the thought of turning 30. But honestly, I’m still trying to find the language that properly communicates my disgust. English, Swahili, Sanskrit all lack the vocabulary. But while words are no help, I do cry frequently (and vehemently) in front of old people. I just can’t contain the pain I feel for their plight.

Anyold, this is not a rant about aging and my mortality, it’s just a little prelude to something else. And that something else is how I try and see myself as Old Man TAN to get a different perspective on a particular subject.

One subject that has come up relatively frequently of late is friendship and friends. I’ve had a lot of convo on what qualifies someone as a “best friend.” Or how many friends are close friends, how many are just acquaintances. Or how close do you have to be to freely fart in a friend’s face without significant consequences.

And in reverting to Old Man TAN mode it made me wonder, do female friends ever fart in each other’s faces? Why do guys get a kick out of that? And what about male dogs? Are farts in the face a big problem in the dog world?

After that gripping tangent, I also wondered if people gain friends after say 25? You obviously gain people you know. You add to the network, and it’s not to say you have an unfriendly agenda with them in any, but it’s just… how do you make friend? No matter how many e-harmony questions you answer, or how many e-mails you share, you need that in-person time. You have to experience some things together, preferably some sort of challenge or obstacle. And the thing is, after 25, careers and family become so dominant in a person’s life there’s no time for making new friends. You go with what got you there.

And we talk about friends and family as different. But the only reason family has a special place is they get maximum time exposure. From birth on, they know what you’ve been through. Of course families that fall apart don’t know each other, so they’re like acquaintances, or strangers. But traditional families earn a different designation than “friend.” They have so much time invested they’re “family.” But family is more a product of time than blood, therefore they're really just “advanced” friends.

Do you know anyone now from when you were ten years old? They’re probably one of your best friends. You might even consider them family. Then you go through high school, college, etc. After that new friends in your life are largely circumstantial. Or bloggers. Stay at one job long enough, you’ll get some good friends probably. Grad school also. They have access to you. Time. But at a certain point, it’s hard to squeeze others in outside of work and school.

And if you need new friends cause you lost old ones, then the onus is on you to make the effort. You have to apply the pressure – wanna go to the movies?, wanna go out to dinner?, wanna go tip over some hobos? (hobo tipping is the urban version of cow tipping, and it’s not to be confused with giving them money/tip). If you’re over 25 you’ll probably have to spend money and buy yourself some life experience with this person, i.e. two tickets to a dangerous deserted island where you’ll need each other to survive.

If you do have friends, anyone trying to break into your inner circle is facing an uphill battle. People sabotage relationships in a lot of ways, for a lot of reasons, but mainly it’s because they have other relationships. Yours is not necessary. If you’re looking for new friends that is the challenge you face.

A little twist in this is in the romantic context. The idea in a marriage is your best friend is your partner, your wife. Maybe this is the actual foundation of love/romance. It’s not the sexual reproduction angle. That’s there, but even more than sex you need someone with whom you can share life experience. A man and a woman, who are both best friends and lovers, is ultimate synergy, the maximum use of all our faculties. Why do we have this conscious mind? It’s so girls and guys can play head games. Keeps us mentally sharp. All these arguments are just mental sparring sessions. Every guy knows after trying to win a fight with his lady, a meeting with the boss, or having to wrestle a bear for food is nothing.

I recently dated a girl and tried to communicate this in our relations. We immediately formed this extremely competitive dynamic and would bicker over every little thing like an old couple. I started keeping score. After one argument, I said TAN – 1, Girl – 0. Then we bickered over the scoring system and rules of the game. Anyways, at some point around TAN – 238 Girl – 4 I stopped keeping track (fyi – this didn’t mean 238 victories, you could get multiple points for BIG victories, 20 max). No one wants to be reminded of big blowouts. And besides the score began to reflect my waning interest. Like any game, you lose interest if one side is dominating the other.

Hmmm I could save this for a separate post, I could call it SCOREBOARD DATING.



  1. I've been thinking about the friends question a lot too. Google "Rule of 150" sometime, it's fascinating stuff on the subject.

  2. I'm just one woman, but I can safely say I've never farted in a friend's face and never intend to, if I can avoid it.

    My two best friends are people I went to high school with, and are the only close friends from my HS set who went to the same college as me. But I made some damn good friends in grad school, too.

    By the way, 30s rock. What the fuck are you worried about? Especially as a man - You can just grow older and get "distinguished." Relax, TAN. 45 is the new 30, anyway.

  3. Anonymous5/30/2006

    nice piece TAN. Your writing is good enough that I barely notice your word count has been creeping high as of late. are you challenging our ADD culture?

  4. I don't fart in faces either. if i can help it i don't fart around either friends or family. and every guy I've been with wonders if I fart at all.

    hope that helps TAN, and stop crying in front of old people

  5. I wanted the rest of the post to be in Old Man Tan's writing style-- you, but grumpier. And maybe retired to Boca Raton or something. Also, I think it might be easier to make post-25 friends without the Robinson Crusoe angle if you're a girl. We just give out our phone numbers to each other like friendly handshakes.

  6. nice post TAN. but I like nor's idea, you should write in the Old Man TAN voice. that would be "hot like fire".

  7. I don't keep any best friends, thus I have no faces to pass wind on or around.

    I'm liking the Old Man Tan style. I agree with Nor - make it you but grumpier.

    Excellent writing. I find myself coming to this blog quite often.

  8. If you do become old and grumpy I suggest the following;

    The Assimilated Negro - Grumpy n Old


    Sorry that's awful but I couldn't resist!

  9. Anonymous5/30/2006

    it definitely seems weird seeing 25 as an age of demarcation. That might be enhanced by being in NYC. wait until 40 or 50 is on the horizon, your head will explode.

  10. i met my two best friends when they were both over 25...one was 27 and the other was 30...i think i may have been less than 25 or right at 25 when i met them.

    i think dynamic people keep acquiring friends as a necessity. or their old friends are equally dynamic folks that are changing right along with them and the relationshi is bonded by their mutual respect for constant evolution.

    i always find it strange when a person's best buddies were all acquired before 20, most likely before they had really developed and identity. of course we all need an old friend we have known forever, but the expansion of one's self almost always results in an expansion in one's friends.

    BTW, are you not good friends with any of the women you have dated since 25?

    mr. wilson

  11. My best friends are two guys I've known since 7th grade, and two guys I worked with for about 9 months during the dot com boom and subsequent bust. When you've known someone for 17 years there's such a deep bond and familairity that even if you don't talk with them very often you're always tight. Nothing can replace memories of chasing 7th graders and stealing 40's from the corner store. It might be a problem if the memories were only a year old.

  12. "i always find it strange when a person's best buddies were all acquired before 20, most likely before they had really developed and identity."

    -- interesting point. but it doesn't allow for a stopping point. There has to be some cutoff, otherwise you would get old and have a million friends. But I find the opposite to be more true. Older people have a handful of good friends. And usually they've known them for a long long time.

    still, definitely a wrinkle to think about ...

  13. I have one close friend (at least) from every big phase in my life: middle school and high school (same girls), undergrad, job, master's program. The trick is keeping them when you're not in the same place anymore. I've been away 10 months, so the jury's still out. I'll keep you posted!

  14. You don't have to have a cutoff for making friends. It all goes back to the rule of 150 I was talking about. Click here. Supposedly are brains are hard-wired to manage only 150 friends and acquaintances at a time. So as you make new ones, old ones fall to the wayside in order to keep your total from getting much larger than 150. As you get older you'll have old friends and you'll keep keep making new ones, but you'll never have a social circle much larger than 150 at a time. So don't worry about the million friends dilemma.

  15. Man so many things you addressed it makes my head hurt. I only have ONE girlfriend who farts in front of me and it's very awkward. I think she thinks she's getting away with it: I don't know. She's been doing it since we were kids. No, she doesn't comment on it or anything. And they're BRUTAL farts too. She doesn't even break converstation.

    I am a WASP and WASP women don't fart in front of each other as a rule (I know I know: you have tons of girlfriends who went to Vassar who let loose all the time...I know...). No, women aren't in love with our farts--in public.

  16. Age is just a number.

    Um, as a post 25 yr old trust me, 30 is fuck all. And you should get a handle on this or you will really stress out. I remember when I had this strange cocktail witressing job and I was a single mom single income. I felt so old. I was studying art at a west coast college and film...and taking care of a little one and trying to work in the middle of the night where the house band played Margeritaville three times a night. I felt so old and I felt like the women I worked with were so young, had their whole lives ahead of them. It wasn't till I was coming home from a nightclub a fcouple years later and I realized I AM YOUNG! I was an idiot to think I had been so old back THEN. I was 20 yrs old when I was the waitress, and my co-workers were 19!!!

    So, I was high on x, nightclubbing... and realized what an idiot I was and how I would never allow myself to be negative about age again. It's all perspective. My father says you don't know what old is until you enter the sixties.

    Um, Happy Birthday!

  17. 30's no big deal. 30 feels pretty much the same as 29.

    31 SUCKS.

    If possible, die at age 30.

    So far I'm really not a fan of this decade.

  18. The comment link opened immediately to comment box. It was a sign.

    What about when you're trying to make friends after having departed from your original friend circle geographically only? It sucks cause you already have these ridiculously tight friends and then suddenly they're days away from you (okay, lots of hours, not days) and you're sort of forced to either connect virtually (hence blogger friends) or else nonchalantly pay for drinks, make appropriately timed witty remarks, and impress people's significant others in asexual sorts of ways in order to start building brand new friendships. It gets expensive and exhausting. New "good friends" should be as available and accessible as sea monkeys. Or something like sea monkeys.

  19. T - I definitely don't keep track of the full 150 actively. I wouldn't be surprised tht it's about 150 I have in total. But the difference between a good friend and an acquaintance is the premise here. How do you tier/partition the 150?

  20. "How do you tier/partition the 150?"

    I think the whole thing is basically an unconscious process, I'd wager.

  21. natalie6/02/2006

    Just in case you're gathering statistics:
    I am a girl. I would never fart in another girl's face. If a boy farted in my face, it would be the last thing he ever did. My dog (also a girl) does fart in my face. Perhaps she has gender confusion because of the spaying, though.
    I'm 38, and I never really had any lasting friendships until I was about 30, because I moved around A LOT. I met my best friend when I was 30. I agree with Mr. Wilson; I don't think I could have formed the deep friendships I have now when I was younger. I was too self-centered.
    30 is no problem. 31 does indeed suck. That's when you realize you're closer to 40 than to 20. However, once you get past 31 it's smooth sailing. I love being 38 and am looking forward to getting older. Old people can get away with almost anything, and I intend to be as crotchety as possible.

  22. My in-laws are open farters, men and women alike. But not in anyone's face! That's just rude. Appreciation for a particularly sonorous fart, though, is a nice touch.

    My closest friends have been friends of mine since early high school—we're talking 25 years here. I do like having newer friends on the side, since they reach different sides of me.

    38 is a great age, at least if you're happy with your lot in life (as I am). That's why I'm going to celebrate my third 38th birthday this year. Everything from 30 to 38 was better than my 20s.

    I have a good friend who is deeply uncomfortable with bodily functions. She'll fart (silently), all right, but it would horrify her if I said anything about it. Like "Good lord, woman! A little warning would've been nice! Hoo-whee, that's a ferocious stink! Holy crap, what did you eat last night? I think it died another death in your bowels, judging from the smell of it. Where the hell's the room freshener? Man, that is ripe!"

  23. Well put. I think the lack of forced social interaction that comes with education plays a big factor as well.


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