How are you in the best friend department?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

“So, Dan – what are you doing tonight?”

After 40-plus years, I can still hear one of my best friends from college asking that dreaded question.

No matter how many homework assignments, romantic entanglements and writing deadlines occupied my plate, Jack would invariably cajole me into some series of nerdy antics.

I have felt guilty over the decades. Family responsibilities and work responsibilities (and let’s face it – channel-surfing responsibilities) ensured that (a) I drifted away from Jack after college and (b) I failed to visit him before his premature death.

(I’m not so overwrought about high school friends who escaped from my orbit. If they failed to “stay cool” and “always remember French class,” they voided the warranty!)

But, ironically enough, I see I have plenty of company in my isolation.

According to figures cited by the Wall Street Journal, 40 percent of Americans say they don’t have a best friend at all – up from 25 percent in 1990.

I understand competitor USA Today attributed this statistic to (a) spontaneous combustion from climate change and (b) white supremacists declaring, “I’m so supreme I don’t even need other white people, although I would like to borrow a skill saw, and the occasional six-pack would be appreciated”; but I’ll try to focus on my original source.

(Speaking of which, the Journal conveniently failed to quote anyone admitting, “After spending thirty bucks a week on the Journal, I don’t have any MONEY for tagging along to the @%^& gun-and-knife show!”)

Frankly, I feel unworthy of being the recipient of the sort of devotion described in James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” I don’t want someone dropping everything to come to my rescue – especially if they’re directing airplanes onto a landing strip. (“Winter, spring, summer or fall…you’ll keep working until you pay for airplane and all.”)

In a perfect world, it’s healthy to have a confidante you can use as a sounding board. But considering the news sources some people rely on, your sounding board might be crawling with termites.

Society’s mixed signals exacerbate the BFF shortage. “A dog is man’s best friend.” “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” “Your spouse should be your best friend.” “People, let me tell you ‘bout my best friend. He’s a one-boy cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy.” And so forth. Apparently, best friends don’t roam solo across the hedge; they come in a bulk container from Costco!

The problem may accelerate as people learn to outsource friend duties. I call it the Dirty Dozen strategy. If you can bust a bunch of people out of prison in return for their wearing hideous bridesmaid gowns, what’s the point of harassing sorority sisters?

Our culture still offers opportunities for wing men, alibis and designated drivers; but many guys feel awkward and homophobic about the “Do you want to be my best friend – check ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” step. (“Sure, I’ll keep you company at the DMV – but only, um, if there’s a hot tub filled with babes displaying Big American Breasts!”)

Make an honest assessment of your own life. Maybe you’ll continue muddling through as a loner, or perhaps you’ll treasure a co-conspirator who texts you, “What are you doing tonight?”

“Oh, I’m about to touch down after my flight from Little Rock and – where are the lights??? AIIIIEEEE!”

C’mon – Jack would have laughed.

Copyright 2023 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”