I have a friend. Let’s call it F. The beady eyed amongst you must have noticed that I used it instead of she or he. And this because I would like to hide the age, sex, race and nationality of this person. Why this secrecy? You have to read on to know.
F and I meet twice a year. I look forward to those meetings. F says the feeling is mutual. I like to believe F is not being merely kind.
F and I are very different people.
To start with F drinks milky tea. At least I find them too milky. And the list goes on. F loves to eat meat while I endeavour to avoid it. F looks forward to indulgent luxurious holidays whereas I feel guilty and endure them. F enjoys running and I would rather die. Taking of dying, I would like to do so youngish but F wishes for eternal life. F likes to surf the world created by science fiction while I relish being stewed in the reality of the literary fiction. I articulate and F talks. F incriminates me of being posh and I accuse F of being decadent. F is an eternal optimist and I a Cassandra of doom. F claims the ability to kill if necessary and I doubt it. I am sure if I could never kill but F supposes I would do anything if I felt it was the right thing to do.
If we are so different then why do we meet and and what do we talk about?
We will often start with the political events of the recent past. I will excitedly introduce a new found political hero and indulge in hyperbole to describe my awe for what this person has achieved irrespective of their background. F will be on the other side of the table, listening with curiosity and nodding in agreement. Only when I say “Have you heard about this person? What do you think? F will dissect the character with surgical precision and lay bare the guts of their actions for me to reflect whether they truly are worthy of my worship. I lose another hero and the world looks worse.
Metaphorically speaking F and I are both blind. My blindness is often driven by ideology while F is totally blind to the identity and background of a person. F is one of the very few people I know who can judge a person purely by the verities of their ideas. And now you know why F deserves this secrecy of identity.
Half way through a bottle of wine F and I will enquire about our parents. We will express our deep sadness for not living with them. F will very honestly describe how it keeps F awake at night and I will use the word guilt many times. We will stop talking and reflect. Cannot speak about F but I will probably explore my inadequacies as a child. And then one of us, and sometimes both, will say “You know what. I would be miserable if I did live with them.” It will give me the courage to say that “My parents are probably better off without me.” F will say “Probably is probably redundant.” And we both laugh out loudly.
The writing has been sitting in my draft for a while. Written in the heat of Covid, when we were feeling grateful for our friends, it felt very necessary but once the jab was in the arm it came across as indulgent and frivolous. However, F always tells me “Be careful. That Conscience of yours is going to kill you.” There is no vaccine for that one yet and hence I can claim that the urgency still remains. I thereby release this forgotten draft to the ocean of published blogs fairly confident in the knowledge that it will remain obscure in the vastness of its noise; yet equally hopeful that some day F may get to read it and know that those meetings were not completely in vain.