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January 20, 2020

bouncy puppy, 'Isn't this relaxing', & groupless


Even before I knew what I was going to write about, I knew I had to include this video.  Thanks YouTube, and thanks to whoever the brilliant man is that wrote the lyrics to this . . . it makes me giggle uncontrollably. 

So this is a tough topic to write about, not because it is life altering or jarring in any way, but because it is hard to articulate.  The gist:  it is hard to find friends as an adult, am I wrong?  And even harder, perhaps, to find friends as a couple.  Seinfeld was not wrong, people.  

Long story summed up (OK, I tried to be brief but that did not work out really well - shock):  Coach and I have been married for 23 years.  Our first group of friends were couples that we met through his physical therapy graduate school program.  Lots of fun, but then people scattered and moved to different areas/states to start their careers, etc.  I was working as a nanny so I was not harvesting any work friends for myself and certainly not stumbling across any couples to hang with.  

We moved to a house from our one bedroom condo when Lad was 15 months.  Imagine my disappointment when we were surrounded by original owners (houses were built in the late 60's).  We managed to find the one geriatric corner of the neighborhood.  

Back when I only had Lad and Ed, and less so when I had Tank, and more sporadically when I had Mini (you get the idea), I attended daily morning mass.  Yes, I swear a lot, but I do have a strong faith and I did enjoy starting out my day with a good message and time to pray and time to reflect and be centered.  The more kids I dragged to church, the less centered I felt as I attempted to get to 9 am mass on time (and honestly I was probably cussing under my breath at an alarmingly increasing rate - nowadays, the gloves are off - or the concern that my kids hear me cuss ranks low on my list of concerns -  so swearing is my bitch.  I still attend mass and pray - not daily, but four-letter words seem to manage my stress level just fine.  Amen).  

Anyway, I met another young mom at mass who had a son Eddie's age.  I invited her over for a play date.  It went fine.  She was quiet.  I am not.  Good balance, right?  Then I invited Ms. Quiet, her sight-unseen husband, and their one year old over for dinner.  To our home.  Epic fail.  Sight-unseen was all about computers and didn't follow sports.  Nothing in common AT ALL with Coach.  

For reasons I cannot explain other than I WANTED US TO HAVE FRIENDS, we decided to meet them out for dinner without kids.  I am chuckling just thinking about this.  In the middle of dinner when the only sounds were Coach and I scraping our plates because THERE WAS NOTHING TO SAY and we wished for more food to eat to pass the time and fill our wordless mouths - Sight-unseen says:  'Well, isn't this relaxing.'  I guess that was code for 'well, since this sucks so bad I will count it as relaxing.'  

Honestly, it was a glorious cringe-worthy moment that we now share anytime we are with friends.  Lesson learned.  No more hanging with those two.

I ended up meeting young mom friends at the pool or the library story time or the park, etc.  One couple had a girl born days before Lad and a son born days after Ed.  We hit it off and had a blast with them until they moved away.  

Fast forward a few years to when our family included the first 3 boys:  I don't remember how I met Cranky- I think the pool, but let's just say our kids lined up age wise and we got along great.  Our husbands clicked.  We had many fun times, but gradually I started to see the light.  I already have two sisters who like to boss me around or sneer at the way I keep my house, and how I speak my mind, etc.  Let's just say I didn't need a 3rd sister to get in my face.  

Cranky is the most controlling, self-righteous person alive.  (I could dedicate an entire post to evidence, but I will limit myself to a few examples) . . . Cranky went out of town once and asked me to pick up her son, Lil Macho, for his soccer game.  My kids played soccer too, so most likely I was headed to a nearby field.  I got to the house and her brother told me Lil Macho had already been picked up by someone.  I was steamed.  I asked her about it when she returned.  

Cranky:  Oh, I had a couple of different people lined up to give my kids rides places just to be sure they got where they were going.  (*^%*#@#!)

When we put our house on the market, she told me that she doubted our house would sell since we hadn't really 'done much to it.'  I then listed all of the improvements we made.  *I do recognize that she was most likely annoyed that we were moving from the neighborhood.  They had elected to continue to remain in that same neighborhood a year prior when they put an addition on their house.

Over the phone one day, I was chatting with her about how I had yet to get an email from Lad's upcoming little league coach.

Cranky:  Well, are any of the dads in his 2nd grade class coaching this year? 

Me:  Yes, Mr. D.

Cranky:  Oh, yeah, but Mr. D is very competitive.  He will probably only draft kids who have been ranked as #1's on his team.  Lad isn't that good.  He was probably ranked a #4.  You know what I mean?

Me:  (who now recognized that her 'you know what I mean' mantra was code for 'I am overstepping, but I am hoping you don't recognize it as such.')  No, I don't know what you mean.

*The little league teams forced coaches to comprise their teams of so many kids at each level.  No one got to pick all #1's.  

When we yanked the kids from Catholic grade school, we left Cranky behind.  I had already begun to allow space to grow between us anyway, but the school switch helped widen the gap.  Unfortunately switching schools also meant that we started to be left out of social events that we would have been included in if our kids still went to the school.

Mini asked me about this recently.  She wondered if people were mad at us when we changed schools.  Not at all.  It just happened naturally - out of sight, out of mind.  It stung a bit at the time, but I understand how it happens.  I was no longer milling with moms in the Catholic school parking lot and we were certainly not attending the big school fundraisers that served as the social peak of the school year.  It had been fun while it lasted, but now our kids were in the public school and we needed to branch out.  

Branch we did.  We were invited to some very fun Halloween parties, Superbowl parties, pool parties, etc.  We hosted a few hopping St. Patrick's day parties, too.  Ultimately though, we could not hang.  Coach and I are not big in the party scene.  We could not keep up with the drinking and the couples' weekend excursions.  Bit by bit those gatherings started to include younger, new-blood families whom we didn't know, and we often skipped them because we were busy with older kids' stuff like sports and dances and being home while our teens kids entertained their friends, etc.  

Moving out of geriatric land (which we did when Cranky got ticked 12 years ago after Curly was born) did us no favors (well, we love our newer/bigger house and we are in a much better grade school district), because we ended up with the world's worst neighbors.  For real.  The guy across the street is super fun and easy going.  His wife is a monster.  The mom with 3 boys the ages of my 3 middle kids cannot bring herself to say hello to me because 10 yrs ago her son's friend ended up becoming better friends with Tank - she called and screamed at me siting all kinds of weird insults for how I am a bad person.  She needs medication.  No joke.  People fear her wrath and everyone tells me they feel sorry for me that I fell in ill-favor with her because no one would want that.  Then there is the impossible Mary Ann.  Don't get me started.

Anyway, Coach and I both click really well with one other couple that we met after our switch to the public school.  We have remained tight with them over the years.  We have been invited to their lake house with ALL of our hoodlum children.  They are just as busy as we are (although they have more of a social calendar than we do) and we don't get together as often as we would like.  

We are also NOT great at planning.  We rarely arrange to meet another couple out for dinner in advance.  Instead we roll as last minute peeps.  How tired are we?  Who needs to be driven where tonight?  Are there any games we plan to attend?  By the time we think, hey let's invite someone over or out for dinner, etc. the 'someones' in our corner have already made plans.  

Some of the people who have kids our kids ages already had their set 'group' by the time we showed up to our new school.  Then by the time kids land in high school, forget it.  Parents of kids they meet in high school already have parent-friends from their grade schools or sports or whatever.  So that's kind of it really - we just don't have a 'group'.  

This is not for lack of trying.  I have invited other couples over for dinner, or drinks, or dessert - the kids have run around the house or played outside.  Remember the guy that asked Coach when his last facial was and then told me that my (FABULOUS) 7 layer taco dip might be better with jalapenos?  He was lucky not to wear my 7 layer dip facial-style by the end of the night.  

In summary:  we wasted too much time hanging with Cranky and company, we have CRAPPY neighbors (so long as we count the would-be-potential-social neighbors close to our age) - hello Mary Ann, and we missed our window when we switched schools midstream and people already had a solid 'group'.  

Most of the time Coach doesn't wish to be social, because he has been on his feet for an obscene number of hours all week treating patients and TALKING to them too.  (talking is definitely more my 'thing', but I am over here in toddler fun talking gibberish of all things).  

I should just be content to hang with my girlfriends, right?  Well, tune back in and I will share the background on that scene next.  I might even re-post that bouncy puppy video unless you want me to post a photo of Mary Ann.  Wait, that might be fun!

In the meantime, do you have couples that you hang with?  Do you or your spouse tend to NOT want to be social after a long week at work?  Have you found that even though you no longer NEED a sitter, getting out of the house with other couples is tricky because of being busy with your kids' activities/games (insert the dreaded Irish dancing schedule here)?  Do tell.  

15 comments:

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love the bouncing puppy, but I need a picture of Maryann!
I’m trying to think back at the time when our kids lived at home and we had a lot of activities....it feels like eons ago, but I recall we still were social with other couples when time allowed. A good amount of our couple friends are the same ones we’ve had, for the last 30+ years. Even through our moves from FL to TX an AZ, then to the west coast of FL, mostly the same peeps. Most of them don’t live in out town though.
We’ve picked up several newer friends in our neck of the woods in the last five years too....I kinda blame it on the Coach, he’s very social and very loved. Lol! If it were up to me, I’d set a cap to the amount of friends we have. (The circle is closed, lol)
I think once your kids are grown and gone, you’ll meet and connect some more people.
Start a chant about Maryann moving away and a perfect friend couple moving in!

Charlie said...

I vote a pic of Maryann too!
We do have couple friends, but many of the our couples have split up over the years and while we’ve tried to remain friends with both, inevitably one of the partners has met someone else and moved on with their new crowd. We are always keen to make new couple pals and would love to invite you both out to dinner, it’s just you live about 4,000 miles from us!

Ernie said...

Suz - I am jealous that your Coach is super social and my Coach is less so. My Coach blames himself for the lack of having a 'full dance card' - he is lots of fun and easy to chat with, etc. but he isn't trying hard to set up dinners or get togethers either. I wish we had longtime friends who have known us forever, but we are just too damn good at falling asleep with a movie on in the family room surrounded by recently sorted loads of laundry. When you find something you're good at, then . . . ?! Maybe we will connect more with other peeps when we don't have 8 b-ball games to go to in a weekend.

I LOVE the chant idea! You know how they say to bury a statue of St. Joseph in your yard if you want to sell your house - maybe I should sneak over and bury one in her yard?

I kid you not - about 4 years ago we ended up at the same restaurant ironically seated at a table next to Mary Ann and her husband and maybe they were with another couple. I SWEAR they were talking about moving to a different house to be closer to her youngest kid's Catholic grade school. Not that I was eavesdropping or anything, but Mary Ann can be loud. :) Anyway, I kept waiting for the sign to go up, but nothin. Wishful thinking.

You might be disappointed by the pic of Mary Ann, bc it is blurry - but there is a story to accompany it which will be appalling, so there's that!

Ernie said...

Charlie - read above to Suz to prepare you for photo posting of Mary Ann. I have become more and more comfortable here though, and maybe I will get up my nerve and post a clear-as-day photo of her. What ya'll (who was just in Texas?) really need is a video clip of her barking at someone. She is quite the peach.

Friends splitting up is not easy. We know one couple who divorced. They remained on friendly terms, which is amazing. Their kids went to the Catholic school that we left, so we were kind of not in the same circle anymore. Still - very friendly when we see them. Just not the same as back in the day when I used to host a back to school bash every August. The divorced woman asked me once if I knew our party was the hottest ticket in town? We had probably 15 families or more here. So. Much. Fun. Ah, the good ole days.

Let me know what time we should show up for dinner - sounds wonderful!

Kara said...

We have one good couple friend, and it helps that we have the same interests- sports, drinking and terrible movies. We do camping trips together with our families. My husband runs races, and the other husband goes along with him just to get out of his house.

There are couple of other couple friends that we get together with for game nights once a month or every two months.

Most of the friends we've met have been through the kids- sports or school functions. Having kids the same ages helps a lot. We stopped hanging out with one couple because they decided to have two more kids once their older ones were teenagers. Not that we wanted to dump them, just that returning to the baby stage is all encompassing. My oldest babysits for them, and we do see them every 4-6 months, but getting out of the house is a lot for them right now.

Ernie said...

Kara- I do think we fall into the category of the couple that is too bogged down to get out. We don't have tiny kiddos anymore -but while other people were able to separate themselves a bit from a hectic kid schedule - we are still 'there.' Wouldn't trade having a big family for the world, but I suspect that between our exhaustion and the kids' activities we are not on anyone's social radar.

Gigi said...

I agree, finding friends as adults can be difficult. We have our friends two doors down but we don't get together as often as we'd like mainly because their kids are younger and in many different activities.

Some of our other friends - well...I mean we do enjoy our wine but aren't party hearty and they well...do. So we see them much less often.

The Husband is the outgoing, social one in this relationship and is always banging on about how we need to meet new people. I am pretty content with the way things are.

Gigi said...

Oh! And I loved that video!! So fun.

Bibliomama said...

I think it can be really hard to make friends as an adult. We were just stupid lucky, considering we're a pair of introverts with hermitting tendencies. We've also been married 23 years, and we moved here right after we got married and became friends with a group of people that my husband worked with. A couple years later the company shrank drastically and my husband was the only one left, but by then we had all had kids together so we were pretty much locked in for life. We don't plan a lot either, but we have a regular Tuesday bar night at a nearby Broadway's (that I'm often tired and cranky dragging myself out to, but I'm always glad I did), we take turns hosting a Halloween party, Christmas party, NY party, Robbie Burns night etc. There are four couples and a couple of singles, and we're all sort of the same with enough differences that we always have stuff to argue about. I never forget how lucky we are. But being happy to just hang with your family and fall asleep to the same movies is not the worst thing in the world either.

Ernie said...

Bibliomama - You ARE lucky - sounds so great!!! I know I have said it before, but wish we lived in your neighborhood. I could write a book about my crazy bad luck with neighbors alone. Like, full length book. Not sure it would make your 4 star list or anything - might fall under horror even! We do enjoy hanging out with our kids though, too. And when they don't have plans with their friends they typically like to hang with us, except Tank - he is only happy to be in our presence if I give him junk food. Non-negotiable.

Ernie said...

Gigi - well, this is out of order but your comments snuck in there somehow unnoticed till I looked up from typing Bibliomama's response. yes - I hear you on the friends who can drink deal. We cannot keep up physically - don't want to try and we cannot afford to even if we wanted to. Friends with kids in different activities have a different schedule than we do, but I think mostly people our age no longer have the younger set of kids so they have a bit more freedom. Coach still works some Saturdays so he doesn't want to do stuff late on those Friday nights, but he will when something crops up - but rarely does anything crop up. There are people we know who are super nice and friendly and I would LOVE to socialize with them regularly, but we missed the boat. They had 'their people' by the time we showed up at this school. As friendly as they are, they don't think to include us. I do understand, but dang it stinks.

Kari Wagner said...

It is HARD to find couple friends. We have two couples we love to get together with but with Mike's hours, it's hard to get together. Our neighbors are cool for the most part but it's winter so we never see anyone. You know how that is in Chicagoland....

That puppy I could watch on autorepeat.

Suzanne said...

It is so hard to find couple friends!

One problem for me and my husband is that we are both introverts, and so we tend to want to just be at home by ourselves. I have to force us to make plans, otherwise we would never get out of the house! (I giggled at your quiet date -- it is possible the other guy was an introvert and really DID find dinner relaxing!!! Hahahaha!) We have a couple of couples we get together with "regularly," but that's maybe three or four times a year.






Ernie said...

Kari - Coach works long hours and he is tired by the end of the week. So am I, just because. I agree - it is hard. No one tells you that when you are young and enjoying hanging with friends. It is sooo easy then. Of course it does not help that I do not work outside of the house. Although I have worked with some wacky types, so maybe I would not want to socialize with work peeps, if I had them. Between my neighbors and my former work experience, do I sound really intolerable? Cause I don't think I am. But hell, at my age - I don't waste time with nutty types.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - I could not agree more. Just because the other mom and I click is not a guarantee that the other dad and Coach are gonna be on the same page. That one couple that I tried to death to make it work, positively laughable. Like Coach and I kicking each other under the table - could not get out of the restaurant fast enough. The first time when they came to our house, Coach eventually put on our favorite show at the time 'Fugitive' with Tim Daly. We are talking 18 years ago. It was based off the movie Fugitive and we used to tape it if we were going to miss it, but he was like shit, we may as well watch it since THERE IS NO CONVERSATION HERE. I was embarrassed but also relieved to have the TV on!