Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot? Only if You’re a Situational Friend


paul2.jpgSo I was working on the blog when I got a call last night from my dear friend, Paul (pictured at left).

Paul was my editor at The Reflector student newspaper when we both were in school at Mississippi State University.

Engaging his adventurous spirit and his ability to speak Russian, Paul left for the far reaches of the world after school and has lived abroad for about 13 years. He is currently residing in Moscow.

He’s always been so good to stay in contact with old friends…me included. And he never holds it against me (well not too much) that I don’t return e-mails. (Sorry, Paul.) Anyway, I can usually expect a call from him when he returns to his home in West Point, MS, every so often to recharge his batteries and eat his mom’s good cookin’.

We were supposed to get together this week while he was in Mississippi, but schedules wouldn’t allow. However, I did get my annual call.

We chatted for nearly an hour…talking about work, mutual friends, family…whatever. Our friendship is one that has always just worked…whether we’re walking the grounds of Mississippi State or trying to ride down a snowy hill on a makeshift sled or getting lost in a wildlife refuge or working into the wee hours putting out a newspaper or whether a year has passed since we spoke last.

In other words…we’re more than just situational friends (to coin Paul’s phrase).

Situational Friend — Someone who you call friend while you are both in a situation you have no control over…project, work, school, etc.

I’ve had lots of situational friends in my lifetime. As a matter of fact, I subscribe to the train of thought that MOST people who pass through my life are situational friends. I rarely keep friends for more than a couple of years. It’s not that I’m being mean…just realistic.

I think we all change from year to year, job to job, residence to residence, age to age. During each phase in our lives we befriend people who share situations or environments. We befriend them only because of the commonality of shared experiences, and once those situations or environments change…the friendships usually fade out, too. It’s not like we sought out their friendship…rather, we gravitated toward them out of happenstance, routine, necessity, boredom, whatever. And they gravitated toward us for the same lackluster reasons.

Basically…we were both just there at the same time…and could stand each other…so…we became friends.

I’ve always wondered about people who have a ton of friends. It just doesn’t seem realistic to me. Truly, can you have a real connection with tons of people?

For me the answer is no.

I can count my number of friends like Paul on less than two hands…Cindy, Paul, Rhonda, Michelle, Tammy, and Jon.

I’ve known Cindy since 7th grade. We both are cut ups and pot stirrers.

Paul and Rhonda I’ve known since college. I’ve told y’all about Paul. Rhonda? Well, we could just talk and talk and talk…and not be encumbered by the world around us.

Michelle and I have been friends since my second job out of college (she was also my editor). We have the same since of humor and love of words.

Tammy has been my friend since my second to last job. Not only does she make me laugh…she fascinates me with her wit and philosophy on life.

And Jon…he’s another fellow writer (much more accomplished than I) and probably one of the most bitingly funny people I know. He’s also my pop culture twin.

Sure, I have other friends…friends I love dearly. But the six listed above are ones who I rarely or never talk to…but when I do, we can talk for hours. These are the six people I most feel myself around. And they all have had such an impact on me.

Anyway, back to my call from Paul. While on the phone, he told me he had visited Monkbot Talk (as did Michelle via e-mail before Christmas…my two little editors reading up on their little Shelley…how sweet…blush).

Paul said he enjoyed the blog and I told him I’d write about his call for today’s post…but only if he promised to visit and leave a comment.

So…to Paul…this post is dedicated to you…forever my non-situational friend.

Thanks for the call…and for your tenacity. For you, I’m spreading the love…such a beautiful thing.

And, in honor of your recent discovery of YouTube (he is without Internet in Moscow)…here’s a little Le Chic…as per your request.


38 Responses to “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot? Only if You’re a Situational Friend”

  1. leejolem Says:

    Welcome to Monkbot world, Paul! Doesn’t Shelley’s blog rawk??? It is a truly talented woman who can build a blog around a monkey with cymbals, a visor and and antennae. You are fortunate to have her as a non-situational friend!

    I’m dedicating this comment to my main non-situational friend–Christina who told me she never made friends at work, and I proved her wrong. 11 years and 2 jobs later and we’re still best friends.

  2. bamaborntxbred Says:

    (Hi Paul! Cool specs!)

    Hmmm…I guess I’m one of those peeps that has had/or has tons of situational friends and I have a handful of “best friends”.

    I think I might be a little more optimistic about friendship than you are though, b/c of this statement of yours: “Basically…we were both just there at the same time…and could stand each other…so…we became friends”. Each of my friends I did actually seek out and work hard on our relationship, even the situational ones. The people that might enter my life as someone “I could stand” wouldn’t be a friend…just a friendly acquaintence.

    I am a very emotionally open person, and I will share very personal things w/a person I consider a friend. Over the years, this has really served to teach me about myself…either through their counsel or shared experiences. It has also deepend what might’ve been a more superficial realationship.

    As far as these friends moving in and out of my life b/c of the situation, you’re right, they do. But, I don’t find that to lessen to true nature of our friendship. I think if I ran into any one of these people, I could spend hours and hours talking as if no time had passed.

    I cherish every second that I have spent w/these situational friends. I am a better, more generous and caring person for them all. I could never negate all the time enjoyed and all the things learned with them by “demoting” them to something less than a true friend.

  3. double d Says:

    Bama said: As far as these friends moving in and out of my life b/c of the situation, you’re right, they do. But, I don’t find that to lessen to true nature of our friendship. I think if I ran into any one of these people, I could spend hours and hours talking as if no time had passed.

    I agree. I’ve lived in 4 different cities over the last 20 years and in each still have GREAT friends that I don’t see often but we exchange Xmas cards and talk via email every so often.

    I have one friend that is like my little brother and he always will be. When we do talk, it’s like we are still working side by side each day, me teaching him about how to “work”.

    I have another that’s like a big brother who basically did the same thing for me that I did for my “little brother”. Again, when we talk, it’s like no time has passed.

    My BFF has been since we were 7 on my first day of second grade. She is closer to me than my own sister and many days I’ll be thinking of her and she calls to say she was thinking of me. We’re the same yet very different. I’ll be in her second wedding in a few weeks even though I’m a little old for the “bridesmaid’s dress”. heh. She doesn’t care. She wants me there with her and that makes me feel good.

    I know what you mean about acquaintances. I have many of those but unlike Bama, I’m pretty picky about who I “show” myself to, so usually there is a distinct line (for me) between friends and acquaintances.

    Having said that, it is so dern weird for me that you all are my friends and I’ve never met you in person. (except NOLAgirl).

  4. shelley Says:

    I think it’s amazing and wonderful that y’all have so many friends…from over the years.

    I guess I’m just not wired that way.

    For me, my family has, and probably will always, provide my closest friendships.

    Until I find a husband (and, please, I pray that happens soon), my brothers and parents are the ones closest to me.

  5. Paul Says:

    It was great speaking to Shelley last night, and as usual we began our conversation right in the middle of a thought. She was searching for some 70s pop song to download for her iPod. She asked me if I knew the words. I did and began singing … although I can’t remember the name of the song other than it begins, “I love the night life. I want to boogie…”

    Anyway, I say to Shelley, “If you are downloading that, you absolutely must download the quintessential disco song “Freak Out” by Le Chic. Add to this comment the discussion that ensued 10 seconds later about my discovery of YouTube, and you get the video on today’s blog entry. (BTW, We do have Internet in Moscow; I just don’t have a computer at home or a high-speed connection at work.)

    Random Thoughts
    Shell, I’m getting old and cannot remember ever sledding with you! I know it had to be at MSU sometime between 1990-92 … was it behind the Post Office?

    OOOOOOOh, and by the way, I found it very coincidental that our conversation ended just moments before a Mr. Taylor Hicks performed at halftime at some football game… Coincidence or something more? You decide.

    Anyhoo, will wrap this up now. I wish you all health and happiness in 2007.

  6. shelley Says:

    Sorry, Paul…I should have clarified about the Internet.

    And sledding…yes…behind the Post Office. I think it was a garbage bag or piece of cardboard. We went exactly 10 feet and gave up. It was pretty pathetic…but fun.

    If you don’t remember that…please tell me you remember my potato salad and how your roommate (Kostas?) said it tasted like dirt.


  7. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Shelley, we’ve had this conversation before….I don’t have a close relationship with any of my siblings…so I’ve replaced that need with my friends. You are extremely lucky in the fact that you can call your brothers your friends.

    DD- there is a distinct line between friends and acquaintences for me too…I share my “self” with friends, and I just share shallow pleasantries w/acquaintences. I just have a lot of room for friends in my life/heart…

    Those few that are labled “best” friends in my life are those that either seem to be carved from the same soul material, or have persevered through some dark, heavy times. Truly, coming from my familial background, I am sometimes stunned that these people love me and want nothing from me in return but the same love.

    Paul- Seriously? Le Freak? I’m thinking I Will Survive has to be the quintessential disco song…maybe it’s a chick thing.

  8. nolagirl Says:

    *waves to Paul*

    Y’all are getting so deep on me with this friend thing! I always had a core group of girlfriends. They changed getting into high school and some through high school, but by junior year, we had our “group.” Bad thing is, the majority of the group didn’t go to LSU like so many people in our class did. So it was a bit of a challenge to not share the college experience with some of my closest friends.(especially when they go to an SEC rival school like Alabama – grrrr.)

    But, we’ve managed to stay in touch, not as much as I’d like but still a fair amount. One is back in NOLA now in med school, one was back here, but was relocated to San Diego for work after Katrina, etc. So things are still in flux as we all figure out our lives’ next step.

    And of course there have been new close friends added to the bunch and some “lost” (this one girl kinda disappeared off the face of the earth – we even called her parents but they wouldn’t return the calls either – it is so freaky! We googled her too – nada).

    But all in all, since I don’t get to see them that much, my family provides close relationships for me, much like Shelley. And thankfully one brother married an awesome girl and another is seriously dating one, so it’s kinda like a built-in girlfriend for me. 🙂

  9. Shelley Says:

    Bama…I know. I’m truly happy you have those friendships to fill whatever holes are left by lack of strong family ties.

    Actually…I think we’re all saying the same thing.

    “Those few that are labled “best” friends in my life are those that either seem to be carved from the same soul material, or have persevered through some dark, heavy times.” — Bama

    I really never use the word “best” friend…except when talking about members of my family. That’s just how the cards play for me. They know me best…and best accept me for ALL my faults…I don’t have to hide even the crappy side of myself (trust me…they’ve seen me at my worst).

    But then, on the other end of the spectrum, I only apply acquaintance to those people I rarely speak with…except for the occasional pleasantries.

    “Friends” is such a broad term. I have friends that I made a long time ago…who, if I saw today, would enjoy visiting with. But they are still…more than likely…friends I made because of the time and situation and environment I met them in. So, they don’t stay on my heart…in my heart, yes…but not on my heart. Does that compute?

    The non-situational friends, I guess, are those y’all are describing as “best friends.” Except…in my case…we rarely talk…we keep up with each other maybe once a year…but when we do…it’s like time has never passed. I don’t know if I would call any of the seven friends I listed my BFFs…just because that term doesn’t seem to apply.

    They are just…my friends.

  10. leejolem Says:

    Wow, this is a deep one today. I too am fortunate to have best friends in my family–my mom, my sisters, my daughters and my husband. I have my best friend from 7th grade on that I email, write or phone 1-2 times/years, and Christina who I referenced above. I have to say I find it a great challenge to keep in touch with people. I have a great friend who saw me through a rough patch around 10 years ago, and I haven’t been in contact w/her in appx 3 years. I misplace email addresses, phone #’s , etc…., find myself thinking “oh , I should call so and so”. I’m not proud of that part of myself that lets people fade out of my life. With 2 jobs I find it challenging to keep well connected w/my 2 daughters and hubby, and sometimes am too drained to reach out to any outside that family nucleus. Does that make sense?
    Enough soul searching for today.

    Shelley, potato salad that tasted like dirt? You must share the recipe–lol!!!

    I’m still trying to wipe the smile off my face from watching TH at 1/2 time last night w/Gladys Knight. I thought it was awesome!

  11. bamaborntxbred Says:

    It’s all semantics really. We all define “words” differently.

    I think another factor that shaped my “friendship personality” was the fact that I moved so often as a child. I can’t count the number of grade schools I was in…but I went to three high schools. I grew up developing deep relationships quickly. And, moving helped me to adapt to new situations, new people more easily.

    Nola- that would weird me out about your MIA friend too. Very strange. I hope nothing bad happened!

    P.S. I like that we are having a “deep” discussion. I think we have some very profound thinkers among the Monkbots and I love the insight gained into other’s lives.

  12. shelley Says:

    Bama…like you…I really like discussions like this. They help me to learn about how different folks approach various topics, relationships, emotions…whatever. I feel fortunate to have such a great group as my Monkbots to share with!

    It’s funny about you moving a lot when you were a kid (Not funnny ha ha…funny as in situational).

    Anyway…I grew up in the same city all my years as a kid and young adult. But (and this is the funny part) I lived next to Keesler Air Force Base…so I got used to making friends and having them LEAVE! Talk about friendship abandonment issues.

    Maybe that’s why I feel the way I do and you feel the way you do!

    I saw all the effort of getting to know someone closely as pointless…as they would usually move away and then rarely stay in touch. You saw your moves as opportunities to make new friends.

    I can think of at least two friends whom I still think of now and wish more than anything I had been able to keep in touch with them.

    Felecia Lane…Cindy Schaffer…if y’all are out there…I MISS YOU.

  13. bamaborntxbred Says:

    That is funny (even ha-ha sorta) about our different upbringings and subsequent approaches to relationships.

    One of the most signifigant childhood friendships I had was with my foster sister, Shannon. She and her brother Charlie (who was best friends w/my brother) and their little sisters came to live w/us while we were in SC. (This was prior to adopting the 5 kids that became my siblings.) I don’t really know how long we were together…maybe a year or two. I loved her so much. When they went back to their mother, I was crushed. I always thought of her and Charlie. They were always in my heart and on my mind…and through the years I tried finding her in various ways, w/no success. Last year (’06) around my birthday, I recieved an email from her! She found me on Classmates. She had been looking for me too. This was at least 25 years since I’d last seen her. Heartbreakingly, Charlie was killed in a car accident in the early 90’s.

    I might’ve told you this story before, I don’t know…but basically, I’m telling it again b/c I want to encourage anyone and everyone to find their childhood friends. Shannon has grown into a beautiful woman and mother…she and her family also foster children now too. We email every few months to catch up and hopefully I’ll get to visit with her sometime too!

  14. shelley Says:

    Bama…that is truly beautiful.

    I’m sorry about Charlie. What a tragic loss.

    I’m so happy, though, that you and Shannon have reconnected.

    What a testament it is to the fond memories she had of her time with you to not only seek you out but to become a foster parent now that she’s an adult.

  15. Jax Says:

    I count myself as one of the blessed in that I am married to my best friend… This May we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary … Just like most friendships it has it’s ups & downs. There are days I could pinch his head off his shoulders but let one thing go really wrong or really right & he is the 1st I want to see or talk too..

    My family was different than most of the kids I went to school with… My parents were divorced when I was 4 and my father raised 3 girls by himself (my 2 oldest sisters had already left home)… I am the youngest by 6 years.. By the time I was 13 my sisters were all over the country from CA to VA. We have only all been together a handful of times over the years but we always pick up where we left off… usually laughing too loud & hard some place in public… We lost our oldest sister in 2006 .. it was tough.

    My true friends are the people … aside from family … that I know I can call.. or they can call me anytime of the day or night and we are there for each other… 3 are women .. one is a guy…. lol I refer to him as the only man my husband doesn’t mind if I spend the night with… When I go home to visit I usually stay at his house lol. I consider these wonderful people as members of my family … they were with me when my children were little & at my side when I buried my parents. I was there at their marriages & the birth of their children … these bonds are not dimished one bit by time .. distance.. or any other factor.

    Thank you Shelley for this wonderful post today…. I will go now… I have a few phone calls to make.

    BTW 48 days!

  16. claire Says:

    Ah, friendships. I have friends. I have acquaintances. But I can also drop a person from my life without a backward glance if I feel it is necessary. By necessary I mean if they lie to me, make me feel inadequate, or just make no effort to reciprocate my efforts to maintain contact.

    Between the ages of 17 and 29, I lived in almost 30 different places in a few different parts of the country. Am I still in contact with ANY of the people I lived with in those houses? No. And I only regret not maintaining contact with one of them (I lost his number when I lost my old cellphone. Gareth, if you’re reading-call me!!)While it is absolutely necessary for many reasons to have other people in your life, I am not one of those people who needs to surround myself with “friends” 24/7. If my phone doesn’t ring for a couple of days, I’m fine with that. Maybe it was my transient ways during my 20’s that has made me this way….my oldest friend that I am in very regular contact with, I have known for 20 years. I was her bridesmaid and she recently asked me to read at the christening of her second child. I treasure our friendship as it has been a “constant” in my life. Plus, she’s a hoot!!!

    I didn’t enjoy my college experience for many reasons. Suffice it to say I’m in loose contact with one person from college, and even that is “fizzling out” (copyright Some Guy.) I do have friends I call, hang out with out, socialise with. I have acquaintances that I pay courtesy visits/phone calls/text messages to. But I go for quality rather than quantity. Hey, look at the gals from Sex in The City. Did ANYONE exist outside their little circle? 🙂

    My older brother, on the other hand, is 35 and has had the same best friend since he was 4 years old. All of his closest friends are people he went to school and college with. And cleverly he brought his different groups of friends into one big group – now they’re all friends with each other as well as him.

  17. shelley Says:

    Wow…Claire…I’m so glad you shared that.

    I feel so much the same as you.

    Jax…I’m so sorry about the passing of your sister. The idea of loosing a sibling terrifies me and to know that you went through that pains me for you. (Seriously, I’m tearing up right now as I type…if I could hug you…I would.)

  18. Jax Says:

    Thank you Shelley…

    I take much comfort in this … Delois was very very ill towards the end of her life… she is now free of pain & illness… the resides in a far better place… She has the peace in her life now that she deserves.

  19. claire Says:

    Jax – )))hugs(((

    PS: Paul had a great smile!!

  20. claire Says:

    Paul HAS a great smile, HAS – sheesh!!!!

  21. Paul Says:

    So, to continue a few thoughts:

    1. To get technical, the definitive disco song would have to be Donna Summer’s Bad Girls.

    2. I love the Russian language for its various words to define friends, a word never casually used. Here they are:
    a. drug (droog)- Your close friends fall into this category.
    b. priyatel (PRE-ya-tyel)- Not as close as your inner circle, but closer than a casual acquaintance.
    c. znakomy (zna-KOH-me)-An acquaintance, but not really close

    3. My orthodontist will be very pleased with the comments on my smile (as am I!)

  22. shelley Says:

    Brilliant, Paul!

    Note to self: Learn Russian

    (and, Paul, your teeth are very nice)

  23. Paul Says:

    Okay, I’m totally off the subject now, but I just have to say, I found a much better version of Bad Girls. This one’s done by Anastacia & Jamiroquai

  24. shelley Says:

    That was awesome, Paul.

    I think you need to visit Monkbot more often, brother.

  25. Jax Says:

    Ya know having said all of that about friends… I am sorely missing my Monkbot friends ..

  26. shelley Says:


    We loves ya! 😉

  27. Libby Says:

    Paul, welcome !

    Shelley — as usual you always bring it home. Such nice remembrances and music here at New Years time.

    I have 2 special best gal friends that I have known and talked/shared with — incessantly since we were 12 and 14. We all live in different cities — Atlanta, GA(me), Charlotte, NC and Cincinnati, OH. Distance makes no difference.

    Jax — you are living my dream. I love to hear stories like yours where you did marry your best friend. What a blessing !

    Love my Monkbot friends here !!

  28. Rowan Says:

    Here I am, late to post, as usual!

    I have a couple of good but lapsed childhood friends who I never see, having moved a long distance away, but know, if I did meet them again, or talk to them, we would have fun reminiscing. I made situational friends at work, quite a few, and one or two email now and then – but again, I have moved away across the length of the country. the connection is still there, with both the childhood and work friends who I had a good rapport with.

    Blogverse has brought me my great friend MindDoc. I guess we are situational friends who have also become non-situational. (She makes me laugh until abdominal muscles I didn’t know I had cry out for mercy.) We went on our trip to London and Edinburgh, and discovered a mutual ability to schlep for miles. I was impressed – I thought Americans drove everywhere, and that there legs would be kind of withered. It was me who ended up coming home and having my kneeecaps fitted for a pair of custom DMs.

    The core of a good friendship is appreciating the person’s endearing qualities, a mutual sense of humour, and an ability to tolerate and roll eyes at one another’s foibles. I am still feeling guilty that MindDoc came three thousand miles to see, amongst other things, Holyrood Palace, and instead of going there, i dragged her round charity shops…a major foible of mine. (Blush.) She only made one small meep noise about missing the history-fest, and I did find her a fab-tastic pair of boots. Just sayin. I don’t know if they quite made up for not seeing Holyrood Palace, though!

    We did see a lot of very cool places and had lots of laughs. As friends from different cultures, we made many a wry and friendly observation on our different habits and quirks. So we don’t use napkins in Scotland? We are haaard. I have learned to travel light, drink coffee on the hoof and smile ruefully at my inability to haggle in second-hand bookshops. I have also picked-up some great new words, like “meep” and “sheesh” and “schlep.” MindDoc is good on onomatopoeia.

    Monkbot sister friends are cool in any situation.

    $–{:8)} £–{:8)}

  29. Anonymous Says:

    I’m so glad Rowan chimed in! I waited all day to hear from you!

    Now we just need to hear from your great drug (see Paul’s Russian lesson from above) Mind Doc. Oh, and Shrew! I miss Shrew!

  30. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Uh…that was me.

  31. Rowan Says:

    Hey Bama! Thanks. 🙂

    (Raises remains of Slim Fast smoothie in a toast to all the Monkbot troupe.)

    Here’s tae us, wha’s like us!

    (They say this stuff is filling. Can I sue?)

    I am chagrined, as a syntax geek, and former teacher, to notice that I have used “there” instead of “their” in my post. This don’t jive well with me, and will teach me to preview every time, and to wear my glasses, which are exactly like the ones on the Short Story graphic. They are about 15 years old, but I always lose the new ones, and those, somehow remain. Even then, the shop made me sign a disclaimer, as they were so out of fashion they could not recommend them. I loved them, though. Hee hee. Rebel at the gates of dawn.

    Filling breakfasts and brunches to all my Monkbot pals.

  32. Mind Doc Says:

    Hey Shelley! Great post. I was hesitant to write, because I did not want to sound weird. Because I think I am a little weird in the friendship department. First off, I have the luxury of being married to my best friend. We have been friends since the eleventh grade. He is the constant in my friendship universe. He is the person that I go to with a situation. And I am singularly blessed in having great sisters. My sister, Melissa, is someone that I would have as a best friend, even if we were not related. These two have me somewhat spoiled.

    All that being said, I think I am overly self-sufficient. When I was growing up, we moved. A lot. Sometimes twice a year, but it averaged out to 12 schools in 12 years. I remember some people with fondness and I am still in fleeting contact with my best friend from 4th grade, despite the really large difference between us. Mostly, however, I just did not bother to make friends. There was no point. I would go to the school library, be nice to the librarian, sit quietly in the back of the class and wait for the year to pass. Maybe that is why I love books. When I went to the library and saw an old favorite, it was like seeing a friend.

    I had some very dear friends in graduate school and sometimes we keep in touch. I am blessed beyond measure to have good friends at work. I work with really great people but the relationship does not extend much outside the walls of the hospital. I know them and love them, but if I quit my job, I know that we will not make the effort to see each other. That is just how it is, and it is slightly melancholy, but that is reality.

    Rowan and I have become friends, and that is odd for me, because we had no work or school context to get to know each other in. It is a good friendship, nonetheless.

    I am used to people coming and going. I try to be as good a friend as I can be while the relationship is going on, but I know that the nature of the world is that relationships are transient. I don’t think that they are any less valuable for that. However, I am trying to be less insular and to be more sociable.

  33. Mind Doc Says:

    Yikes! Forgot to say “Hi, Paul”. I hear that Russian is cool. It is supposed to be one of the most beautiful languages.

  34. bamaborntxbred Says:

    See, that’s funny Mind Doc about how we approached moving a lot as kids. I remember I would be a little sad to move, but more overwhelmingly excited for the new school, house, friends, etc. And I wasn’t really a secure little kid. As a matter of fact I was terrified most of the time….but still, outgoing in a weird way.

    I think I’m just so curious about other people that I can’t help but to probe every person I meet in hopes of knowing them better. (I even will sit in traffic and look at the people in cars next to me and imagine what their lives are like…I just want to know so bad!)

  35. Mind Doc Says:

    Ugh. I haaated moving. Hated, hated, hated it. It is funny, but I love to travel.

    Bama, I applaud your interest in other people. I had not thought about it before, but maybe that is why I chose my profession — I get to hear all about people’s lives. Innnteresting parallel.

  36. Rowan Says:

    Paul – Hi from the UK too!

    I studied Russian for a couple of semesters when I first went to University, but lost my nerve when The year in Minsk was looming. I was just too shy and retiring, though I loved the literature – Gogol and Tolstoy and Turgenyev in particular. I read them in translation, though. My Russian is limited to “Where’s the nearest chocolate” and “I cannot play chess” (though I can.) Perhaps that would have stood me well for the year in Minsk, I do not know. I am wondering about the word tavareesh (excuse my phonetics) as a word for friend. is it purely a historical word now,as in “comrade?”

    Bama – I’m with you on the wondering about other people’s lives thing. I don’t drive, but I ponder on buses!

    I don’t think I had a really good friend until I was about eleven – we moved into a tiny village, and incomers weren’t really accepted very well. over time, I got to know people who had been in my school class from age five, but I was painfully shy. I am still quite shy, but also outgoing in some ways – or I have the odd little burst of extraversion now and again. I haven’t found being shy a barrier to making good friends – I would always prefer a few good ones to lots of aquaintances. I am not very good at keeping up with people, in general, though. If i make the effort, it is because the person makes me laugh or is thoughtful, warm-hearted and interesting, and I feel a kinship with them on some level. I am generally a pretty loyal friend in that case. it is lovely to come here, and meet my Monkbot buddies!

    MindDoc – that is very cool about having such very dear friends in your husband and sisters. I have two siblings who I get on well with, but who I rarely see.

    When I went back and watched the David Bowie video I posted on the other thread, I was kinda worried that Bowie reminded me a lot of my ex-husband when we first met. He did do a passable impression of Bowie’s singing too. I am leaving this thought in the air as a lesson that a girl’s head ought not to be turned by someone who looks like her favourite singer. (Makes mental note to ignore all grey-haired men who have soulful eyes and hang about in music stores.) o-{:8D}

  37. Paul Says:

    Hi. Back in Moscow now. To answer the question of tovareesh (comrade) vs. komrad (comrade):

    Both are associated with the Communist era, as is the word grazhdanin (citizen). Whereas you almost will never hear komrad or grazhdanin used as a form of address (akin to our Mr. and Ms.), you still will encounter tovarish, especially within the context of someone addressing a group of co-workers. For example, “Okay, tovarishy, who is going to be responsible for organizing the office pot-luck supper?” Synonyms include “friend” and “guys” (when used in the plural).

  38. shelley Says:

    Glad you made it back safe, Paul.

    Thanks for following up on the questions.

    Very interesting.

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