I’m not talking about friends during our childhoods, when we are young and have’t yet learnt the wisdom of giving as well as taking. I’m talking about those friends you have as adults. The ones that really should know better.
About 18 months ago I had such a friend, although I didn’t realise it at the time.
I’ll call him Percy, Percy and I met and became friends pretty much instantly. We got on well and enjoyed a lot of the same things. Percy was having some bad luck: he was unemployed, and then managed to break his leg so he was very limited in what he could do. His old friends were far too busy to visit him, so seeing how lonely he was, I made time for him.
This wasn’t always that easy for me. I was very short of money and he lived about an hour away from mine, but we began to spend time together, meeting up once, maybe twice a week. Because that’s what friends do.
We would go to the cinema; for a drink; have meals; and once went to a very dodgy gig!
Once Percy’s leg was better he would come to mine as well. It was a near-perfect friendship; we were both single and had too much free time, and we both enjoyed having company.
Once he was back in work he began visiting his old friends again. The ones who didn’t make the effort to see him when he needed them. Our meet-ups went down to once every couple of months – he had his friends back so was always too busy.
Then, he found a girlfriend, and you’ve guessed it: I’ve barely seen him since.
I’m not bitter. I’m just sad that our friendship wasn’t as important to him as it was to me. I wish I’d known at the time that I was just a stop-gap friend. That he was just biding his time until his ‘real’ friends had time for him, or someone better came along.
I really hope Percy is happy, because despite being unemployed for some time and desperately bored a lot of the time, I’m very happy and secure in the knowledge that I have some truly amazing friends around me who would never ditch me for somebody ‘better’.
And I know Percy hasn’t.