The Iron Law Of Friendship
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
“Business as usual, then.”
The resentment Joss has for me in this moment couldn’t be more clear.
We’re playing FIFA. I’ve just beaten him 5-0 and I have this new thing I do where if I thrash someone, I’ll turn to them, shrug my shoulders, and say, “Business as usual, then.”
It’s infuriating for the other person, but I don’t have a lot else going on in my life, so I really cherish the moments when I temporarily feel like I’m better than someone.
Joe is waiting outside, and as I sit bathing in glory, Joss goes to let him in. When Joe comes in he says he’s so hungry he could ride a horse; I tell him he’s got that phrase wrong and we move on quite swiftly.
Joss has just been through a bad break-up and has presumably invited us round so that we can make him feel better. It’s a bit awkward – he’s cried four times since I’ve been here, and my FIFA-gloating can’t be helping the situation. It’s a shame it’s such a funny bit.
I find it difficult to empathise with people going through break-ups. The truth is I resented Joss when he had a nice girlfriend; probably because I’ve never had one. I think I view people in relationships as privileged, so when someone tells me they’ve split up with their partner, it’s a bit like telling me your moat’s just been vandalised*. I can’t relate, mate.
“Have you got any food, Joss?” Joe mumbles.
“Have I had many poos?” Joss replies.
“Have you got any food?” Joe says, this time more clearly and less like a dickhead.
Joss says he hasn’t got anything in, and that he doesn’t really wanna order anything because we already ate a big fuck-off curry before Joe arrived. Joe looks sad. I feel kinda sad as well. There’s a weird atmosphere in the room, a vague sense that none of us are really getting what we want out of this get-together.
“When did you last eat, Joe?” I say.
“Like two days ago,” he says.
Joss and I are both baffled. When we ask him why he’s not eaten in so long, he says it doesn’t matter because it’s a long story and he’s only really a sub-character in this blog anyway.
Joss puts some music on Spotify, and I try and think of funny things to say so I can be the life and soul of the party instead of sad.
I’ve been attempting to reprogram myself to be more positive and enthusiastic recently, but it’s hard to know if you’re just lying to everyone sometimes – like when someone sends me something funny on Facebook I’ve started replying “Genuinely LOLed at this” when really I’ve barely even smirked.
I ask Joe if he wants a game of FIFA.
“No because you’ll just win me,” he says.
“Don’t you mean ‘beat’?” I reply, absolutely astounded at an adult-human making this kind of error. “Did you go to school when you were a kid, mate?”
“I don’t really like to think about my childhood,” he says.
“Is it because your dad used to ‘win’ you all the time?” I say.
I’m feeling quite pleased with my clever joke about child abuse, but then Joe replies by saying, “Yeah, me and my brother lived in constant fear” and it kinda ruins it a bit.
As the banter subsides, that sense of sadness creeps back in. Spending time with friends feels artificial to me in some way. Why am I here? I don’t care about Joss’s break-up, not really. Deep down, I only really care about helping people when it benefits me as well. It needs to be advantageous to both of us, our interests need to intersect, otherwise what’s the point?
Joss is heartbroken and Joe is hungry for some reason, but solving either of those problems won’t do anything for me. I might as well just go home and do what I want to do i.e. lie in bed, eat Oreos and watch YouTube videos about politics.
I was watching this well interesting one the other day about the Iron Law of Institutions. This is the idea that people in institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself, which explains why Theresa May is desperately clinging on to being the Prime Minister, rather than doing what’s best for the country as a whole and killing herself.
I think it also might have had something to do with cats playing pianos, but maybe that was another video. Everything’s kinda fuzzy the next day when I’ve eaten too many Oreos.
Anyway, what I’m saying is that I like being at home by myself. I have no responsibilities, and I’m free from the baggage of friendships. It’s pretty sick – also I have no financial obligations at the moment. I’m like the opposite of LunchMoney Lewis**.
These thoughts are racing through my mind, when suddenly Joss is racing through on goal. He has to score.
It’s one of the worst misses on FIFA that I’ve ever seen. The face Joss pulls when he realises what he’s done is hard to explain. It’s like, imagine Kevin James’ facial expression if he was in a car accident and lost most of his adult memories and then someone showed him Paul Blart Mall Cop. It’s a mixture of horror, confusion, and pure shame.
“No wonder she left you,” I say, seizing the opportunity for some banter and personal glory.
Joss starts crying again. Maybe I was a bit harsh, especially since I know full-well that the reason she broke up with him has far more to do with his fear of commitment than his shooting accuracy.
Over Joss’s crying, I can hear Joe’s stomach rumbling; the sounds harmonize and something hopefully metaphorical starts to penetrate me. I guess It’s the realisation I’m being a prick. Just because I’m not hungry or heartbroken, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be empathetic.
All night I’ve been firing off cruel, albeit hilarious, banter. Just to make myself seem important and funny, with little regard for the damage I’m doing.
Maybe this is the Iron Law of Friendship – I care more about my power within friendships than the power of the friendships as a whole. I am Theresa May.
I need to be better.
“Hey Joss, I’m sor—“
There’s a loud crashing noise. Something has crashed. It’s Joe. He’s on the floor passed out. I guess the hunger thing was serious.
Joss and I look at each other and simultaneously say something like “what do we do now?” but less cliché although I haven’t thought what the line should be yet and if this placeholder paragraph has got beyond the first draft then I’ve failed and I’m so sorry to everyone I’ve let down xxxxxxx
I start panicking.
Fuck me. Fuck this situation. Fuck Joe.
I look at Joe and it seems as though he’s dying – the life is draining from his face. I remember the realisation that I just had. The one that penetrated me deeply and left me sore. I can’t be selfish; I need to help him.
I immediately run for the door, leaving the building and rushing down the street. But I’m not running for Oreos and the comfort of my bed. I’m running for food. I’m running for friendship. I’m running for Joe’s life.
“Emergency! Four Big Macs please!” I scream, slamming open the doors of McDonald’s.
10 minutes and a lot of obnoxious McDonald’s queue-jumping later, I’m back outside Joss’s.
“Eric, he’s nearly gone,” he says, opening the door.
I remain calm and we get down to work. I load the Big Macs into Joe’s mouth while Joss pushes and pulls on his jaw in order to help him chew. His throat is trying to swallow but is struggling, so I pour some strawberry milkshake in there to add lubrication.
It’s working. The colour starts to return to Joe’s face. He coughs.
“I’m alive!” he says.
We did it.
I look at Joss. We hug each other. We hug Joe. We laugh. We cry. But not sad “ooh why did she dump me” tears like Joss was crying earlier. Happy tears.
I look at Joss and finish what I was trying to say earlier.
“Hey Joss, I’m sorry I’m a prick sometimes. I hope you’re doing okay mate.”
“No worries, I’ve had a great time tonight. Thanks so much for coming round.”
I feel euphoric. I feel like I’ve done something good. Like I’ve learned something I couldn’t have learned from YouTube, no matter how many Oreos I have. I’ve learned the value of helping friends, of being less selfish. Everyone benefits when you’re kind – I feel happy, Joss hopefully feels less alone, and Joe has finally eaten for the first time in days for some reason. We’ve all achieved something we couldn’t have done alone.
That’s what friendship is about.
While Joe eats his McFlurry, Joss and I get back to FIFA.
10 minutes later. 5-0. Full time.
“Business as usual, then.”
Anyway, that’s about it.
*Such a strange analogy. How do you even vandalise a moat? Drain it and fill it with mud, I reckon. It’s a big job, sure. But imagine the look on the face of the moat-owner when they realise what you’ve done. Serves you right, Mr. Moat – you posh prick.
**Genuinely LOLed when I thought of this reference.
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