Ok, brace yourself. I am going to talk about Scott Baio again. Wait! Before you click away from here! Hear me out! I assure you, this post will have relevance. Who knew that Scott Baio would lead to not one, but TWO blog posts? Thanks, Chach. I owe you one, even if you are kind of a hoochie. Or, as you would have us believe, you were a hoochie. Past tense. The artist formerly known as Skankbomb. Whatevers.
So on his show last season, Scott took a long hard look at his friends. Most of them are ok. There’s a guy who lets everyone call him “Cooch” which, although he seems like a nice enough fellow, the fact that he would allow this makes me look at him askance. Scott’s other best friend is Wayne from the Wonder Years, who I cannot help but think of as “Scrote” because wasn’t that what he always used to call Kevin? So yeah. Cooch and Scrote. Kind of an unfortunate pair. But really, they seem ok, despite the names. Then, there’s Johnny V. Johnny V. needs to be re-named Johnny V.D. and that’s all I have to say about him. So in this episode, Scott decides that he needs to “break up” with Johnny V. It is his most toxic friendship, and so he has to get rid of him. And he does.
Getting out of a bad friendship is hard. Have you ever done it? Have you ever had it done to you? Breaking up with a romantic partner is so much easier. We have social conventions on how to do this. We have words to describe it. We have ways to talk about it. But breaking up with a friend? No one really talks about how to do that, do they?
Well, I’d like to offer you all a way to think about the friendship break up. See, back in my homeland, not only do we have turquoise ocean waters and coconuts falling from the trees, we also value a friend just as much as we value a husband, a wife, a girlfriend or a boyfriend. And when you place that much love and care into these friendships, getting rid of a friend is on the same level as getting a divorce. It’s yooge. And when something is yooge, as a concept, you have a name for it. So in the South Sea land where I come from, we call friendship divorce: friendcutting. Friendcutting can be a noun or a verb. “We had a fight and then we had a friendcut.” “She totally friendcutted me!” “I’m going to friendcut him for that.” Friendcut. It’s the perfect word for when you have to say that the bonds of friendship are done broke.
I have taken this concept of friendcutting and I have added some terms of my own. Because there is more than one way to get the Cut.
1. You can get the Chop. This is a severe form of Friendcutting, where the Cutter tells the Cuttee that it is over. Balls out. It’s when someone tells you in no uncertain terms that you suck as a friend and that it is over. Pros: There’s no confusion. Everyone knows where you stand. Cons: It’s way harsh.
2. The FriendSlice. This is when you tell the person straight out that you don’t want to be their friend any more, but you try to be nice about it. It’s kind of like the “it’s not you, it’s me” method of break ups. It’s like “I’m glad we had our time together as friends, but it’s just not working for me any more. Still love you.” Pros: You can kick someone out of your life without having to feel like as much of an ass. Cons: It can be kind of passive aggressive. “I don’t like you any more. Now let’s hug it out.”
3. The Cold Cut. This is when you just totally freeze someone out and don’t give them any indication that you were even friends in the first place. It’s all “who are you again? I don’t believe we’ve met.” Pros: It’s over and no one has to ever speak of it again. Cons: Ice, ice baby.
4. Indirect drift. This is when you just drift away from someone, not even intentionally. Time passes, you don’t do a good job of keeping up with that person. You feel kind of bad about it, but let’s face it, if you felt REALLY bad about it you would do something about it. So away you drift, and they drift, until you can’t see each other across the miles. Pros: No confrontation! And you don’t have to feel like the bad guy. Cons: You’ll probably feel guilt, because you’ve fooled yourself into thinking that you didn’t mean for this to happen. Will you try and change it though? Prolly not.
5. Directed Drift. This is when you intentionally drift away from someone in a pre-meditated manner. The exact same thing as #4 up there, except you totally mean to do it. Oops, forgot to return that call. Huh? What? Your friend stopped by? I’ll get back to them another time…or not. Oh, there they are, across the grocery store…I’ll just pretend that I didn’t see them. They’ll never know. Pros: Again, no confrontation necessary. Cons: If the other person doesn’t take the hint, this can be a long, drawn out process.
6. Statue of Liberty Non-Cuts. This is for you folks out there who have no boundaries whatsoever and will take on just about anyone as a friend and keep them no matter what. Bring me your tired, your hungry, your annoying masses, yearning to breathe in the air of clingy friendship, even though I hate you I will endure being around you, just because. Pros: You’ll never be at a loss for company, as you will accept anyone. Cons: No standards friendship is a dangerous, soul-sucking thing. It’s akin to the loveless marriage.
7. Chop Chop Salad: This is when you keep trying to break up with a friend, but they keep coming back and you keep trying to make it work. The cycle of breaking up and getting back together makes the chopping happen over and over until your life is like a shredded up salad. This usually has an endgame of someone finally doing a successful chop and puking out the friendship like a big old Salad Shooter. Pros: You can keep the hope alive for a little while, and who knows? You could save the friendship. Cons: Did I mention that one or both of you ends up shredded in this situation? It’s brutal.
8. The Friendship Whittle: This is when you don’t actual cut someone out, but you re-configure the friendship to make it better. You mold something nice out of something dysfunctional. You work it out. You make a piece of wood into a nice tobaccy pipe.
Really, the Art of the Friendcut is multifaceted, much like the breaking off of a romantic relationship. But I am a firm believer that sometimes, this has to be done. And having a name for it is the first step in making it easier to think about. So that’s my present to you.
I have to admit to you that I have done every single one of the above Friendcutting techniques. Some of these I am proud of (like the FriendSlice and the Whittle) and others I am not (like the Cold Cut).
And you know what else? If you feel like you made a FriendCut in error, you can attempt to woo your friend back to you. Repair the damage. I call this The Friendship Suture. It is, out of everything that I have outlined here, the most delicate and difficult to do. I can only think of two times where I have successfully Sutured.
Next time you have a dysfunctional friendship, consider your options. There is a way out.