By Tyler Merrels
Out of all the varieties of relationships people have, friendship is unique in both variety and degree. Romance is confined to a few types (dating, engaged, married, etc.) and it isn’t possible for your brother to be “more sibling” or to have a “sometimes cousin”. Due to an undiagnosed mental condition, I can only relate to my world through pop culture analogies and references. Without further filler, I present the Seven Types of Friends we all have.
Constantly arguing, pouncing on each other’s verbal slip-ups, lots of “love pats” on the arm, you each diligently serve as the Library of Congress for the embarrassing moments from the other’s life. People frequently assume you hate each other and are shocked to find out you’ve been best friends for years. You’re more like siblings than friends, torturing each other without end until a third party wrongs one of you and your Wonder Twin powers of verbal abuse activate. They’ll be by your side when you get married, laughing uproariously when you mess up your vows.
2) The Green Ranger
You have a core group of friends who you do everything with, but every now and then this person tags along and right away you know it’s going to be a good time. As a matter of fact, their presence is usually advertised as the highlight of the evening. Everyone in the group likes and respects them, they just do their own thing most of the time. They might have another group of friends you don’t know about, a serious relationship, or just a busy schedule that prevents them from saving Angel Grove every time. They’re almost always cooler than the rest of your friends, leading everyone to try to show off when they’re around.
3) The Venn Diagram
The Venn Diagram of the differences in your personalities is a stormy ocean and the overlap is the flotsam the two of you desperately cling to when having a conversation. This could be a casual friend from class or work, the quarter of a double date you just met, or just a member of a large group that you rarely interact with one on one. Either way, you share one common interest that neither of you ever strays from, even if there really isn’t enough material to fill more than a ten minute conversation. There might not have been another Packers game since the last time you interacted, but by God you are going to go through the play by play again as if your life depended on it. This is how I picture 99% of grown-up friendships.
4) The Nelson Muntz
The writers on The Simpsons constantly change the nature of Bart and Nelson’s relationship depending on what the episode calls for. Sometimes he’s his bully who he runs from, other times they are shown as allies, hanging out as if it’s perfectly normal. Similarly, the Nelson Muntz is a friend you can never quite size up. Sometimes you’re hanging out and getting along fine when another friend comes over and they give you crap the rest of the night. You try to keep your distance because it gets old but they are always inviting you to things. You think they don’t like you from the way they act but then they’re constantly planning trips with you and inviting you to their parties. It sends mixed signals to say the least.
5) The Theoretical
Much like scientific theories, your friendship can’t really be proven, only disproven. You haven’t spoken to them in months and it has been even longer since you’ve hung out more than ten minutes, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t friends. Does it? This is really more of a stage in the decline of one of the other friendships, a close one that unravels for a variety of reasons: distance, running in different circles, busy schedules. They get grandfathered in and you continue to classify them as a friend, but you slowly realize you don’t actually do friend things anymore. On the rare occasion you do hang out they act like a divorced parent on visitation putting in the court-ordered amount of “quality time” before bailing. When you have big news you often forget to let them know, whereas before they would have known first. It’s sad, but like the law of gravity, you really have no choice but to accept it.
6) The Cherished Childhood Show
I loved Rocko’s Modern Life as a kid and last summer I rewatched the whole show on Netflix. Not only was it every bit as good as I remembered, but there were tons of jokes that I didn’t get as a kid that made sense now that I’m corrupted. This is your best friend from childhood. When you were kids you saw you each other everyday but as adults you regularly go months apart. It doesn’t matter though, because when you do finally see each other you always pick up exactly where you left off as though no time passed. You always lose track of time with them, much like how sitting down for one episode will easily turn into half of a season in a night. Both force you to act twelve again and lead to weird looks from your parents and siblings. You can almost feel the weight of millions of memories that come rushing back, much like how revisiting the show brought back memories of summer and your childhood home and the horrible 90s decor of the living room where you watched on Saturday morning. All the jokes are the same ones you’ve heard many times before and the references to the Clinton Administration/your 8th grade home room teacher aren’t exactly timely but they sure are timeless. However, like the dirty jokes hidden in Rocko, you can still be surprised and the friendship can mean different things to you at different stages in your life. The show you zoned out to over a bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch later reveals quality animation and clever writing while the guy you got in trouble with at church evolves into your drinking buddy in high school and then your brother as an adult.
7) The Cherished Childhood Show (that really doesn’t hold up)
Ever watch an episode of Saved by the Bell now? I know people love to talk about it with nostalgia dust in their eyes, but I don’t think they’ve actually re-watched an episode. I thought my spine was going to break from all the douche chills. Same goes for other shows like Boy Meets World, The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island. I loved them all as a kid but now I can’t get over the bad acting, the dumb and formulaic scripts, etc. This is that friend who was your pal in elementary or middle school but who you would walk twenty minutes out of your way to avoid now. As a kid, you don’t have much choice in who your friends are so this is usually someone who lived in your neighborhood or played sports with you but as soon as you grew a little older and had a license, you kept your distance. You also don’t have a lot of choice in what shows your parents will let you watch and all the above are “kid friendly”, a synonym for brain dead. You see their racist Facebook statuses and photo albums that lead you to believe they might actually live at a bar that’s established itself as the hangout for failed TapOut fighters and start to feel like they owe you for the calories burned riding your bike to their house. You also wonder if they look at you and think the same thing, like maybe they have a real grudge against success and handsome late-bloomers.