A month or so ago I was sitting at a very empty bar enjoying an easygoing conversation between my boyfriend, a girlfriend, and the bartender. It’s rare you can steal those intimate moments so I’m always anticipating who will intrude first.
*Enter an unfamiliar face.*
A sweet young woman with a gentle spirit walked in and scanned the room to get her bearings. Though there were a plethora of seats for her to call her own, she pulled up and parked one chair away from us — a surefire sign that silence wouldn’t follow.
She ordered a whiskey on the rocks and exchanged a few quiet glances between sips, smiling ever-so-slightly as to not come across as eavesdropping.
“Maybe she’s an exception to the rule,” I thought, but then 3… 2… 1… and out comes some version of, ”I just put in my two weeks notice so I needed a drink,” followed by a nervous chuckle, almost as if there was a slow air leak coming out of a tire. Consider the ice broken.
After that, we learned that she was new to Charlotte and was having trouble making new friends. She had even tried Bumble BFF to no avail.
You read that right; there’s a Bumble app “mode” specifically created for people to find a “BFF,” aka a platonic relationship not built around our incessant, can’t-fight-the-urge-to-find-a-soulmate culture. And it was released in 2016, 14 years post-Meetup shenanigans?! What’s the definition of insanity again…?
This poor woman wasn’t the only one. In recalling the events of her own experience making new friends with the app — which came to a lightweight-induced, abrupt end — another table bystander said, “Oh no, wait, I have that too!”
Thankfully, she pointed this out before my foot (read: complete and utter confusion on who is partaking in this friendship “dating”) went all the way into my mouth. I quickly pivoted and replied with an embarrassed chuckle and questions around her success stories, to which her response was also … bleak.
Spoiler alert: I did not download Bumble BFF. Maybe you were hoping I would, but my bucket list for 2022 is not littered with excursions featuring new acquaintances.
It may sound broody or condescending, but I promise it’s not; I’m a Taurean introverted extrovert which makes me turtle slow at trusting and making new friends.
After a visit to Hydrate Medical for a “reset” and serious contemplation of “Dry Rest of January” spurred by lengthy, empty conversations with drunken patrons too eager to accelerate the traditional arc of friendship development, you can imagine why Bumble BFF is my literal nightmare.
If the “damndemic” has taught me anything, it’s how truly weird we humans are. As if we weren’t weird enough already, now we’re upended in a moment where we’re not just struggling to navigate how to not be awkward with new platonic relations IRL, but also online!?
Case in point.
“Imma call you kitchen,” I heard someone state, presumably in my direction, while I was enjoying some solitude on the Connolly’s patio.
I lifted my eyes from my phone, which I had been studying so earnestly in an attempt to avoid a certain tipsy stranger, only to find him staring right at me with a grin that conjured a memory of Shrek attempting to woo Fiona.
I sighed, knowing he was referring to the kinky state of the typical bun in my hair #rude.
Prepared to fully continue to ignore him as my boyfriend tried distraction tactics to divert his attention away from me, this lovely creature continued with, “I want to get to know you. You are so interesting. What’s your story? Let me do your hair.”
It seemed a platonic series of statements but when I stared back at him in disbelief thinking this could not be happening in real life, his facial expression remained unchanged as if his backhanded ass compliment with a hint of shade would lead to a budding friendship.
I cannot. I simply fail to can.
And I can’t even begin to describe another couple I encountered years ago who I actually “fell for” in platonic terms.
They were funny, witty, wild, and often downright outrageously honest, which in small doses, always made for an entertaining night. Oh boy, was I bamboozled. The next thing I know, their relationship was publicly devolving into a cross-street yelling match that involved every innocent bystander in sight and earshot.
Needless to say, we broke up and that relationship confirmed that not every person should be a friend, but a mere acquaintance.
All that to say, given our current flux of social interaction completely dominated by COVID, are y’all making new friends online right now? Success stories? Because it’s a hard pass from me, dog.