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Friend/unfriend 

If only real life was as simple as Facebook

I made 77 friends in one day last week, which makes me nervous. Like, are they going to start asking me for things? I seriously cannot deal if they start wanting me to be their bridesmaid, for example, or to help them move, or to give them lifts to the airport. I'm already a walking wad of disappointment wrapped up in excuses when it comes to my in-front-of-me friends -- Daniel, Grant and Lary -- the ones who actually sit across the café tables from me and complain about my recent penchant for pillbox hats, for example. It's damn daunting enough just to be friends with this collection of hermit crabs, but now I've got 77 more, and that was just in the one day. The meter on my Facebook page is still, like, clocking, or whatever it does when it counts your friends. Are they gonna need me to help them deal with bad breakups and their grandparents' deaths or anything? Because isn't that what friends do for each other? Good friends?

My good friend Daniel would be a good example, even though he thinks I'm not speaking to him lately -- probably because I haven't spoken to him lately. He missed the launch party of my third book, and even though the place was so packed you could hardly stand in there, his absence was felt, baby, yes it was. I am trying to stay mad at him, but I keep remembering what a good friend he's been, like the time he rocked me in his arms over a decade ago as I bawled my eyes out over a breakup. Lord, like that was any reason to cry -- since then I have had plenty of real reasons to cry, believe me, like the birth of my child, who was so big when she was born she practically came out holding car keys and a learner's permit. Daniel was there for that, not the actual bloody birth part, but close enough.

But where was he the night of my launch party, huh? Sure, I got the phone message saying he was sick, blah, blah. Ha! I say Daniel's sick ass should have been there even if he had to drag bags of intravenous fluids behind him. Sick! Like I haven't used that excuse a hundred times myself. I'm missing my deadline as I write this. "I'm sick," I muled pathetically to my editor. "Seriously."

So who needs Daniel when I have 77 friends on Facebook? On Facebook it's easy to "friend" people, you just kinda click and then you know all kinda crap about them. Yesterday my Facebook friend Kyle Keyser, for example, was reading porn to the blind. Kyle is a huge friend whore, it looks like, because he has, like, badillions of friends. I could learn from him. Grant, who is both my Facebook and in-front-of-me friend, ignores requests all the time. He actually asks people if he knows them before accepting their friend requests.

"Lord, how do you deny friends?" I asked. This is one of the reasons it took me so long to finally start surfing the wave (or ocean) of virtual friendships, because I knew I would never deny friend requests. But then my friend Rennie (in-front-of-me) lauded Facebook as different from MySpace, knowing I hated MySpace, and not just because someone who is not me created a MySpace space for me as though he were me, which freakin' mortified me. And what's worse is I got all these friend requests and I had no idea why or what for or how to handle them, meaning all these people were ignored by me but it wasn't me, it was some guy who they thought was me. See? Hate. MySpace.

But Rennie said Facebook is different. For one, you can "unfriend" people once they become burdensome. It's very easy. You just click. Unfriend. How great is that? So I can friend everyone at first and then turn around and unfriend all the retards, stalkers and child-molesting masturbators, not to mention the people who promise to come to my book-launch party and then don't show up.

But every time I try to unfriend Daniel in my head, I keep remembering all the friend things he's done for me in the dozen years I've known him, like when he held me when I cried over something he must have known was stupid but it wasn't stupid to me at the time. Like when I went and bought a house in a bad neighborhood and had a baby and stopped drinking and wrote books and got them published and followed my heart only to realize true dreams take lots of proper feeding and caring, and who was there helping me feed and care for them all these years? "Your sick ass should have been at my book-launch party!" I should shout at him, but then he would know I'm not really angry, and I don't want him to discover I've already forgiven him, that my head won't let me unfriend him. Ever. I can't just click.

Hollis is touring with the Shocking Real-Life Memoir-Writing Seminar and her latest book, Trailer Trashed (www.hollisgillespie.com).

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