Friday, September 5, 2008

Will you be my friend?

It has occurred to me that I tend to play more solo sports, primarily because it's my alone time but also because I would prefer that my friends didn't see me sweat and grunt in pain. However, I've had to change that tendency after getting attached to a girlfriend who primarily plays team and social sports, such as volleyball and climbing. Being a social person myself, I've found it refreshing to have my two worlds collide; participating in good conversation seems to be wonderful distraction from physical pain. So now I'm on a mission to expand our sports circle, particularly our climbing one. Unfortunately, this has proven to be a more difficult task than I originally thought.

Raquel and I have decided we'd like to befriend a group of women who frequent our climbing gym at least twice a week. Occasionally, they bring their husbands along, but for the most part they seem to climb with just each other. After several attempts to engage them in conversation, and instead receiving a cold brush-off, I've given up. Even our "divide and conquer" method didn't work. Undeterred, we set our sights on two new girls, who were admiring Raquel's climbing form last night. Using that as an opening, I tried to start small talk with them, but they ended up wandering off. What is wrong with us? Do we smell? Is there spinach between our teeth? Have we forgotten how to make friends?

I've begun to think about how making friends has evolved a lot over the years for me. When I was in kindergarten, I met my best friend when she introduced herself by the swings. I vaguely remember that my return gesture was to offer her some of my recess snack, which I think was pudding or popcorn (I'm sure she doesn't remember any of this). Those were simpler times, when making friends invoked the barter system, whether it would be a trade in food or protection from the bully. As I grew older, I found that finding a friend became more complicated and involved making a deeper connection through ideas, life experience, or personality.

The best way for me to discover that deeper connection is through small talk, which leads to joking, which leads to an invitation to continue the conversation over another activity (probably coffee). To me, it's pretty much like dating. And in the case of my recent encounters with climbers at our gym, we keep striking out. Well, I'm nothing if not persistent and Raquel and I plan to woo other bay area climbers at the Pine Mountain Bouldering Competition this weekend. Since we'll be camping there all weekend, we do run the risk of smelling, so I did pack soap. Anyway, if that event doesn't work out, we're going back to trying to make friends at the gym again. Perhaps next time I should bring pudding.


Michelle said...

i remember you telling me that's how it went down, but i *so* wish i actually remember it happening. sorry, i'm more forgetful than a goldfish (which actually aren't as forgetful as people think, so i shouldn't perpetuate the notion). was pudding even one of the options? i'm a sucker for popcorn or arare so i wouldn't be surprised if you won me over with one of those. protection from the bully? that was me too, wasn't it? man, two for one. i totally lucked out. ;)

sidewalk monkey said...

If you go through with the pudding plan, I think it's only fair that you send your existing friends pudding. My favorite flavor is pistachio.

SurfRunner said...

Michelle - Yeah, I gave you a good "two for one" deal. I think it was because you said hi to me first, so i cut you some slack. =) my mom did give me pudding for a snack before in elementary, and i bought the popcorn/arare mix at recess sometimes too. that's why i don't remember what i gave you.

Sidewalk Monkey - uh...i wasn't actually going to make the pudding myself. do they sell pistachio pudding? That's funny, it's one of Raquel's favorite ice cream flavors.