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Bye Bye Besties and lose my number please

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Ufrieda Ho is a journalist.

My phone hasn’t stopped bleeping and ringing with texts and messages from my new-found friends, Mmusi and Cyril.

It was kinda cute in the beginning: My new bestie texted often. Sometimes he called my number speaking before I could even say a word – desperate to tell me again how much I mattered. He said I should meet his friends too. It was a party after all, Mmusi said.

There was this other guy too – Cyril, he also wanted to be friends. He believed in me, telling me that I counted and that I could seize the moment and act for the greater good. All that wind beneath my wings and nation saving stuff was pretty addictive. It was flattering too, because my new friend being a big cheese and all, called me by my first name. He signed off as Cyril, like we were already sharing Monday Motivation memes with each other. Cyril though never invited me to meet his friends. I suspect some of his mates are more like frenemies, but he never said.

It’s been that kind of autumn, my phone hasn’t stopped bleeping and ringing with these texts and messages. For a while it felt nice to be wanted to be included and for Mmusi and Cyril to pay me so much attention.

But the routine got tired fast. Mmusi’s started to feel a little needy. He called too much, texted till it became overkill. There’s nothing like clinginess to make friends feel like energy vampires. Cyril too, stopped feeling like the real deal pretty fast. He went from being that friend with the seemingly wise words at the right times to being a cardboard cut-out Yoda; definitely more Jedi-lite than Jedi knight.

It was disappointing too to find out that both of them have been trying to make friends with my friends and their friends too, spinning the exact same lines over and over again. And here I was thinking we could have had something special, something deeper.

My friends outed them on Facebook and they haven’t been kind about it. They’ve been posting those memes like the one with the split frame featuring an astronaut. In the top frame the astronaut’s speech bubble says “Alone at last”; in the bottom frame another astronaut has muscled in on the frame and this guy’s speech bubble reads: “Hello, it’s the DA!”

There’s the spoof Charlie Brown cartoon too with Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty under a tree. She asks: “Do all fairy tales begin with ‘once upon a time?”, and Charlie Brown replies: “No, many of them begin with ‘If I am elected, I promise …’.”

Twitter (which is of course is just the playground where the big kids hog the jungle gym), has been cruel about how my would-be besties have tried too hard to make play dates with everyone. They’ve called Mmusi “Mouseymane” and referred to Cyril’s impending reign as “Ramageddon”.

It’s made Cyril a bit like that friend who quit carbs, telling you there will no longer be room for fat cats and looting, but picks at the fries on your plate and expects you to pick up the bill. Mmusi’s the kind of friend who promises a proper coffee date catch-up and ends up dragging you to a club where the music is shocking and he’s invited a dozen other deadbeats who ignore you all night to join. Still, he passes it off as quality time and the coalition he’s gathered is just making the circle bigger. But the coalition led by Julius takes no interest in me, if my zero SMSes and calls from him are anything to go by. It’s like I’m just not cool enough to rock a red beret or something.

Clearly some friends you shouldn’t try to impress, they’ll always try to drown you out. Others you just grow apart from and some are so irritating you’re better off dumping. So bye-bye my would-be besties and please, don’t call again. DM

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