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Alison Rosen Headshot

My Imaginary Cape Friends

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The person I wish I was is far more social than the person it seems I am. I say "it seems" because I still hold out hope that one day I'll wake up a completely different person -- one who prefers Capri pants to sweats and who summers at a beachfront cottage on some sort of cape with several other witty and charming couples.

Nights at this balmy locale would be spent drinking wine and playing Bunco or bridge, neither of which I know how to play. Days would involve gaiety of some sort on or near a pier and perhaps a sumptuous stroll into town. Everything would be breezy and glamorous and fun save for that lively disagreement -- the kind we'd reference for years after -- over how to prepare fresh lobster.

Perhaps it would turn into an annual vacation, and I'd have a whole wardrobe of sarongs and hats. I'd probably keep them in a steamer trunk with a label that said, "For the Cape" along with other precious keepsakes.

In this alternate universe -- inspired by a J.Crew catalog -- I'm living a fabulous life made rich and meaningful through dazzling get-togethers, galas, social outings, tennis matches, heart-to-hearts, laughter and great friendship; like something in between The Great Gatsby and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

In real life I mostly hang out alone or with my fiance and stay loosely connected to all my friends via Facebook, Twitter and email. Some days I decide that I really must make the time to get together with this or that person, as they are an old friend, the kind you can just pick up with after time has passed and it feels exactly the same. Then I'll blink and two years will have gone by and I'll realize I haven't done it. Which is fine, sort of, except I'm afraid this is how it could go for the rest of my life: Putting off seeing friends in two year increments until one day I die. It's depressing.

So then, I say to myself, I should just have a party and invite all the friends I haven't seen in forever and catch up with all of them at once. I do long to be the party hosting kind. But when is the last time you had meaningful conversation with anyone at a party? Somehow you end up saying hi and bye to the people you want to talk to and spending the rest of the time buttonholed by Sheila's cousin who just left a big agency to open a boutique PR firm, and can she connect with you on LinkedIn?

It's gotten to the point where, as I'm putting on my bra to leave the house, an act which I regard as a gift I give to the world and a sign I'm playing by their rules since, left to my own devices, I'd shuffle around in an oversized t-shirt and sweatpants, I soothe my mounting anxiety by telling myself that in a few short, sweet hours I will be able to return home to my comfortable state of braless torpitude.

There are extroverts and there are introverts and then there's me, someone who is folding in on herself, that's how much I don't feel like leaving the house to make small talk.

Granted I have my moments -- as well as a career that involves stretches of extreme extroverted activity. But the vast majority of the time I feel like my batteries are drained, I need a nap and so help me if the phone rings I'm sending that fucker to voicemail faster than you can say, "I actually enjoy talking to that person, but now is a bad time."

In this alternate universe though, when the phone rings I jump on it because it could be Sue or Karen or Millie or any of my many, many friends from the cape. I don't hear from my cape friends very often, because we're all living such dynamic and fulfilling busy lives, but when I do, I seize upon the opportunity to catch up. Hours pass in a reverie of laughter and memories and sometimes even tears of joy. Of course, there goes the afternoon! It looks like someone won't be playing croquet, but that's just what happens when you're reminiscing about clambakes with Karen.

Incidentally, her full name is TedandKaren. All my cape friends are one half of a dynamic couple. There's DougAndSue, TedandKaren and BiffandMillie. There's also ArtandArlene but they're dead to me ever since Arlene ripped the last haddock right from my hands at the local fishmonger. I mean, have you ever? I never have.

In this universe though, I not only don't hang out with these couples, I don't even know anyone with these names. I've got a real shortage of one and two syllable '70s names but a surplus of Mikes. If anyone needs a Mike, I'll trade you for a Karen, Ted or Sue.

I want to say the reason I'm not living this extended montage of a life -- like the one I think my parents lived at my age -- is that today we get our fill of fellow human beings at our jobs. The way we live and work now -- putting career before just about everything, being connected to our jobs around the clock (by connected to our jobs I mean always looking at Twitter) -- leaves very little left for clambakes and the like. I want it to be that and not my own shortcoming.

Now if you'll excuse me, Millie's cousin Tilly is in town and my presence is requested on the pier.