You’ve Got a Friend


By Neil Offen

In these days of endless COVID, we are not alone in sometimes feeling alone. Frequently stuck at home by ourselves, reluctant to venture outside, many of us are spending most of our waking hours chatting with Alexa and Siri about Tony Orlando and Dawn.

That’s not good. A lack of social connectedness can be harmful to our physical and mental health, and ultimately lead to an increased risk of dementia, heart disease and an inability to correctly identify kohlrabi. But how do you get connected if you’re just sitting around all day waiting for the clothes washer beep signaling the end of the spin cycle and worrying that you’re just sitting around all day waiting for the clothes washer beep signaling the end of the spin cycle?

I have some suggestions.

Join a book club. For an hour or so, you’ll spend time discussing the last book you’ve read and how the movie was better. Then, you’ll spend the next hour or so arguing about the next book you should all read before ultimately agreeing on a book nobody likes and nobody will finish in time for the next book club meeting.

Enroll in a class. Continuing education is not just important for your cognitive health and keeping your mind sharp; it’s also an opportunity to meet other like-minded people with curious minds, even if some have purple hair.

For instance, go take a calculus class at the local university. You will not understand a single word spoken by the instructor, of course, but can feel reassured that none of your younger classmates will either. However, they are likely to take you under their wing and anoint you as their mascot and ask you to pledge Beta Kappa Feta, one of the cheesiest fraternities.

Sign up for an online dating service if you’re single. First, carefully build your online dating profile, being sure to mention your Olympic gold medal and your Purple Heart. And just remember that if you feel slightly awkward about your embellishments, the persons you meet online will almost assuredly not really look like the picture they used and also not have won multiple Nobel Peace Prizes.

Attend a protest. Political activism is a great way to meet people with similar views and commitments in your area. Plus, there’s a serious sense of camaraderie at protests and you’ll have lots of time to talk and get to know fellow protestors while waiting to be bailed out by your kids. In addition, you may finally be able to use some of the signs you inexplicably saved in the back of the upstairs closet from that 1974 anti-war march.

Get a dog. Having a dog helps lower your blood pressure, reduces your cholesterol—and a dog rarely argues with you over whether the designated hitter rule is an abomination. In addition, having a dog is also a good way to make new friends.

You have to walk a dog, which means you will have to get out of the house and likely come in contact with other people out walking who will admire the dog’s coat, ask you about the dog’s breed, the age of the dog and why are you letting it poop on their lawn?

You also will meet other people out with dogs who are equally pissed off that they had to go out in the rain and sleet twice that day for the dog that their kids promised they would be responsible for and take care of. And a snarling, aggressive dog that bites complete strangers is always a good conversation starter that may lead to a lasting friendship or at least a long-running legal case.

Strike up a conversation with a stranger. When you’re out for a walk and get mugged, see if the mugger is interested in joining a book club, taking a class or adopting a dog.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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1 Comment on "You’ve Got a Friend"

  1. Neil is so freakin’ funny.

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