A study came out in 2006 in the American Sociological Review that said Americans are suffering a loss of quantity and quality of friends. Friendships have been declining since 1985, and the article goes on to say that 25% of Americans have no close confidants. I think this is probably true and have a theory about why it is happening: it is hard to make friends. One reason why it is hard is people don’t meet face to face. You cannot get to know people unless you meet them. Either they have to leave their house, or you have to leave yours. This means someone has to get off the couch.
I have tried lots of different ways to make friends but usually when I meet someone I just talk too much and scare them away. I am excited and they are like, scared. I once thought that if I just spent more time alone, when the time came that I was around others, I could show more restraint. The only thing that happened was I started talking to myself. My husband once walked in on me having an argument while I was alone and apologized for interrupting me and then left the room. He doesn’t want to talk to me either.
When I became a mother I would go to parent co-op groups to meet other mothers. We all had kids, so we had something in common, but building a connection with them was harder than I thought it would be. I had to miss a meeting once and when I came back they had ‘voted me off the island’ survivor style. “The tribe has spoken,” as they put the top on my sippy-cup and told me to pack my diaper bag and go.
It was back to the search. I had to lower my expectations. I decided that not every friend is going to be a close one. It occurred to me that there are lots of different kinds of friends and different kinds of friendships. There is the fair-weather friend, the take-you-to-the-airport friend, the take-you-to-the-airport-and-wait-with-you-in-baggage-claim friend, and then there is the kind that will take you to the airport, get there early so that the two of you can sit the coffee shop and make fun of airline employees before you get on the plane friend. Those are the best kind.
Along with all the good versions of friends, there are some bad ones too: The diet sabotager, the flakey friend, the borrows-your-stuff-and-never-returns-it friend. Then there is the worst kind, the Amish Friendship Bread Friend otherwise known as the AFBF. This friend is not really a friend at all. They are a friend that hates you. My advice is to stay away from them.
You probably already have an AFBF in your life, if not; count yourself lucky. If you do not have an AFBF, or are not sure that you would recognize one, pay attention and I will describe them for you. It is easy to recognize an AFBF, they are typically overly cheerful with sunny dispositions, and they are nice, nice, nice. It is enough to make you sick. They are generous and sweet and so you know they have an ulterior motive, and it is to recruit you to Amish Friendship Bread hell.
The trick is to not be drawn in by their affability, they are ruthless and they mean business. If you see an AFBF at a PTA meeting, soccer game, charity event or at church, do not engage them in conversation or look them directly in the eye, turn sideways and slink away as quickly as possible. If you are caught talking to an AFBF unawares it may be necessary to sacrifice an acquaintance. That means grab someone close and say, “Hey, have you met Sally, she is new to the area. She loves to bake.” Then, run!
There may come a time in your life where it feels like everyone around you is an AFBF. You may receive five or more bags of glop at a time. Do not open them, do not squish them, do not add any ingredients. Just stop the cycle right now, and throw out your baggie of yeasty sludge. Do it now, and do not look back!
Now you may be thinking that I am overreacting, what could be so bad about the AFBF, you may ask yourself? Well, let me tell you. The AFBF is an Amish Friendship Bread maker. They are the ones responsible for the deadly and ever-powerful Amish Friendship bread starters otherwise known as the baggie of doom. Some have called it the Amish chain-letter, but I think it is much more sinister, I believe it is the Amish bid for world domination. Think about it, if they can get you to ferment, and then squish, a bag of poisonous slop on your kitchen counter for 10 days; and then scoop it into more bags and pass it out to your “friends,” and then make your slime into something to eat . . . they can get you to do anything.
It is a form of Amish mind-control. Don’t let the cute quilts and buggies fool you, those people are angry. It might be all of our electric ovens; I am not sure what they have against us, all I know is that if anyone brings me a bag of goo with a cutesy poem attached that says Amish Friendship Bread, I know that person has gone to the dark side. I am on to you Amish subversives!
Just remember what your mother told you about friends jumping off cliffs—if a “friend” told you to take a zip-top bag of tainted dough and then tells you to add more stuff, squeeze it every day, let the air out of it, and make it into something that when cooked looks like hazardous waste material--would you? Besides I always forget about my bags of slop and they ferment way past their due date, one even exploded on the counter while I was on vacation. Heed my warning and do not let this happen to you!
Trust me, make new friends, but keep one eye open for the AFBF. Call me paranoid, but I think I have seen black buggies circling my block . . .