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It's great when friends call, even if it's once in a year, but not when they have something else on their agenda.
So she called me. It's tough being in touch with friends, I understand. There's work, career, social life, kids, husbands, television, movies to catch, things to buy, status messages to update, maid politics to manage, inanities to tweet, people to poke, ping or whatever it is they do these days, pedicures to get (although I think a pedicure is the best time to make pending calls to friends), sex to think about but not have, gossip to spread. . . You sure need time and consistency of purpose to be in touch.
So I never complain when someone is not in touch or hasn't popped into my inbox in a while.
There are friends I talk to once a year;some who I meet once in five or ten. But that's okay. There's no pretence of trying, but not being able to make it, or feeling guilty about not trying.
What's not okay is someone who actually calls you when they need something. But they make it out to be about a bonding that never was. "I have been meaning to call, but just been so busy running around, " she explains. I never understand what that means, unless someone is getting married or house-hunting, in which case I do.
I am sure I am a target for such calls since I am a reservoir of information and contacts, or resourceful enough to get it even if I don't have it (and it started way before my media job). I don't have a problem with that. You need information. I have information. You call me. I give it to you. But then, don't disguise it as a chat call. Or a 'I called because I thought of you' call. Say it like it is - I called because I wanted a favour, a number, a pass to something, whatever. SHE : How have you been? How's R, D, your friend X, friend Y? ME : (giving her all the dope while wondering where this is going) SHE : It's been so long! We must meet up! ME : Sure. Say when, and I'll definitely show up. She: By the way, your friend Z? Isn't she a designer? ME : (Realising that there is surely an agenda to this) Yes, why? SHE : I wanted to talk to her because I wanted some information on a story I am working on.
Aha. So that was it. So much for thinking she was actually interested in how my little boy and my cats were doing.
Recently an ex-colleague called me, all chatty and chirpy, and asked me if I had a nanny. I presumed one of two things: a) She was pregnant and wanted one for herself b) She wanted to do a story on nannies.
It turned out to be b. But at least she didn't make it to be out about anything else, or pretend she wanted to do a movie or lunch or some such sacred metaphor for friendship.
There are many more such scams. 'Must do lunch', 'Have to catch up' or 'We must chat' come close. I have a quick detection programme for such scammers. I set a date. "How about Tuesday?" I ask. It's enough to sift the ones who really want to do the work from those that have no intention whatsoever and could spend the rest of their life 'liking' your posts on facebook, but never really wanting to meet you. For the former, I'd do anything. Cook up a storm, negotiate downpours, drive on second gear, climb potholes, anything. And they would return the favour in ample measure.
To me, food dates are sacrosanct. I find it easier to cancel on someone going clubbing than having lunch with them. And I would never suggest food and not mean it. It's just not on. It doesn't take much. Not a great table or silverware or French wine, just a desire to bond over food, which I find a great leveller.
I know there's all that traffic and work sucks and no one's getting laid, so more is the misery, but none of this is reason enough to not 'do lunch' if you have proposed it. So what if you had a nervous breakdown and are busy recuperating. You still have to eat, right? Or if your dog died. Or your cat gave birth, and you didn't know she was pregnant. Or if you have graduated from having bad hair days to having a bad hair life. So. If you really want to 'do lunch' with someone, well, you just have lunch with someone. So whether or not you pray or love, eat!
Now that I'm in possession of a child, it's graduated to 'Must do play-date'. But whiny moms are a different book altogether.
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