Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I’ve been confused a lot lately. Well, I’m almost always confused (just ask Robin) but these days I’m more mixed up about the fundamentals rather than just the random every day.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mean people. Bullies, bitches and bad apples. Why are they here? What good purpose could they possibly serve? I know it’s almost too existential to tackle (I might as well ask what is the meaning of life) but somehow I feel the need to pound this one out. Or at least pick at one type of mean people: the frenemy.

Because this is a new addition to the English language it has yet to be found in Webster’s Dictionary. Instead you can find a variety of definitions online but essentially the easiest way to sum it up is to say that frenemies are the same as false friends. They are people who will always bring you down, are completely without redemption but are integral to your life or they are people that you have to be nice to (such as colleagues) even though you are at war. They’re a pretty complex group of people.

I know the concept of a frenemy is not new but the term certainly is, at least to me anyway. It’s kind of stunning to be able to put a name on what they are and helps to somehow understand the whole dynamic. Still, mean people who are friends? It’s somewhat of a contradiction in terms.

Like most people I would imagine, there are a few frenemies in my past. There was the girl who I was friendly with in college but when it came to class and grades we were clearly competing for the higher mark. For example, I would do well, and she would say something to cut me down. Then there are the people, though not many, who were my friends but every time I was with them I felt awful; criticism, snide remarks and subversive behavior took the place of where kind words, relaxed conversation and companionship should have been. I look back and find that moving on from them was much like procrastinating about taking out the trash. Before you know it the mess is overflowing and causing a stink and you wonder why you just didn’t do it sooner. I know that sounds harsh but it’s really how my brain looks at it.

However, I should point out people aren’t perfect. You could have a friend who is going through a rough time and for the moment they might ‘vent’ on you. Or you could simply have a friend in your life who is just a perpetually cranky person. The difference between a true friend who is just persnickety and a frenemy is found when cruelty rears its ugly head. Instead of dealing with the competition, poor attitudes or just plain cranky behavior this other person is intentionally causing you harm.

But, for me at least, the trash has been taken out and I’m certainly better for it. Life is good. Life is one giant joyful playground. And we’re not here all that long, so with all the wonderful things to do and fabulous people to meet, why on earth would we waste our time with people who are bad for us?

In the meantime, I will wish them well (really—I mean that) and move on.

No comments: