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AARP Bulletin


The Considerably Older Guy's Advice on Friendship

Funny wisdom on the best kinds of friends to have in your life

Heavy hitters

Think twice about having a friend who occupies some high and influential station. There will always be the feeling that you're taking up his precious time. That he's just come from a meeting with Warren Buffett. And that he's on his way to another with Roger Ailes. This can only lead to feelings of inadequacy on your part. As a Considerably Older Guy, you have enough of that in your life.

Youthful friends

Instead of being jealous of his youth, admire his vitality. And don't expect a young friend to remember David Niven. Or even Eisenhower. Consider yourself lucky if he remembers the first Bush.

Some other guidelines on friendship:

  • Limit contact with a friend who greets you with a yawn and says: "It won't be long now, right fella?"
  • In matters of friendship, try to steer away from financial matters. Asking for a loan, for example, is not a good idea. A friend, no matter how wealthy, might grant you such a loan and then resent it bitterly for the rest of his days.
  • If you're pressed to the wall and in desperate need of a loan, make sure it's for a substantial figure. Don't ask for $18 and blow what might be your one opportunity. (And once you have the loan, don't lie awake riddled with guilt, or worse, return the loan immediately, which defeats the whole purpose.)

There is no such thing as a perfect friend. Someone you've known for years might suddenly curse and even spit at you for not having invited him to a party 30 or 40 years back. Be accepting of such behavior. If the friend continues to behave in such a rude way, you might want to give some thought to ending the friendship.

Finally, it's of great importance to have at least one friend who is in worse shape than you are.

Bruce Jay Friedman is a novelist, playwright, short-story writer and screenwriter. He sold his first short story to the New Yorker at age 23. Friedman published his debut novel, Stern, in 1962. He's best known for his 1978 book, The Lonely Guy's Book of Life. Friedman has published eight novels and wrote the Oscar-nominated Splash (1984). His memoir, Lucky Bruce, appeared in 2011.

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