In a monumentally important series of essays, writer Tim Mattingly will be breaking down and analyzing some of the universe's most difficult hypothetical questions. So put your thinking caps on. This one is about friendship. And beavers. Mostly beavers really...
Friendly acquaintances suck. I choose beaver friends. The initial reaction to the second option may often be, "Well, I don't want to be friends with a beaver," but let's consider the confines of this hypothetical situation. In this scenario, you are friends with beavers. The fact that you cannot envision yourself having a good set of beaver friends isn't important. They are your good friends, you enjoy being around them, and the feeling is mutual. This is a given.
If you reject option two, it may not be that you don't want to be friends with beavers, but that you simply don't want other people to know that you're friends with beavers. You don't want to be "the guy that is friends with beavers." If this is what makes you choose option one, then you should reflect on your decision a little bit. You would rather have no good friends and be considered normal than have a good set of friends and be considered strange.
It's sort of an exaggerated version of high school cliques. One kid, despite being very interested in music, might not want to hang out with the band geeks who have similar interests because he is afraid the popular kids will make fun of him. In my hypothetical, the band geeks are just substituted with beavers and the popular kids are society in general.
So I guess the real question is, "How much does your appearance to the rest of society matter to you?" mixed with "How much do you value a good friend?" For me, if I am happy with my beaver friends, then no one else really matters. Why should I care what other people think? My good friends like me. They're beavers. But they like me.
Still, there is a valid point to choosing option one. In option two, the majority of the world finds you strange and difficult to talk to. You are avoided. This is not good. This is considerably worse than everyone merely considering you a friendly acquaintance. When not hanging out with your beaver friends, you may feel lonely and unwanted. Granted, you could find solace in the fact that you are always welcome at the beaver dam, but for a large portion of the day (assuming you have a job that doesn't involve being around beavers) you will be with people who don't like you. That would suck.
But really, you could feel just as lonely in option one, if not more so. People may like you a little bit more, but none of them will become good friends. And you won't have the comfort of knowing that after work, you can go hang out with your best beavers. And consider this: You won't ever fall in love. In option one, you can never get married (assuming people don't get married to friendly acquaintances). In option two, you have a good set of beaver friends. Maybe one of those friendships will develop into something more. You could fall in love. It would be with a beaver, but hey. That's love.
I, for one, would find a job where I could hang out with my beaver friends all day. Or I would just adopt the lifestyle of a wild beaver and live at the dam. Or I would build my own dam next to them. No matter how good a friend is, they still probably don't want you to come live with them, especially if they have a family.
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