Friends wanted for playdates and coffee

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Paris Hilton needs a new best friend. Nicole Richie, former faithful sidekick, has gone and selfishly had a baby. So what’s a celebrity to do when looking for Miss Right by her side?

Someone to club-hop with, appear drunken and half-naked in public with, and play not-quite-as-pretty second fiddle to her fawning adoration of herself?

Why, create a reality TV show, of course!

According to Us magazine, Paris will star in a reality show depicting her grueling search for her former best friend’s replacement. What better way to find a trustworthy and sincere individual than put out an open casting call?

The program is promoted as depicting “a side of Paris not previously seen.”

Seriously? She parades around half naked most of the time. I can’t imagine that there is much of Paris we’ve missed.

Figures. I’ve never been the trendy sort and once again, I’ve completely missed the boat on making friends the new-fashioned way. I had to make-do with making friends the way of commoners and people without publicists do. I had to be friendly.

Plan

That is not to say that we didn’t go through a dry spell. There is a weird little thing that happens if, like us, you marry and have children in your mid-20s. Suddenly, overnight, some of your friends have children, and some of your friends — have not. This line between the haves and have nots seems invisible at first, but virtually every adult I know admits that eventually, yes, the kids come between you.

You and your childless friends, I mean. There you are, cast adrift on a sea of disposable diapers and sippy cups while your friends are still checking out the newest nightclubs and seeing movies in actual theaters (and nonanimated ones at that!)

If you move, like we did, to a home an hour in any direction from people who already know and like you, the isolation can be almost crippling. Sometimes, trying to find parent friends is like trying to find a niche in high school — the social strata are so rigid.

Post-high school, prekids, I have had little trouble making friends. I had a bright red Firebird and a charge account at the fashionable(ish) clothing store of the moment. I was in!

As parents meeting “other parents” for the first time, I feel like people judge us by: Do we share parenting philosophies? Are our kids complementary? Do we share the exact same views on working vs. staying home? Is our “look” sufficient? Do they seem prone to sue for libel if I go rogue and write something about them as I’m prone to do?

Nonetheless, a reality television show never occurred to me. I made my friends the old-fashioned way. I had my kids do it for me.

Coattails

I’m not above riding a 5-year-old’s coattails. In the nearly five years since our children started school, I’ve found that there is a rich, full world out there ripe with people willing to hang out with me if only I stalk, er, apply myself to the task of MAKING THEM LOVE ME (or at least tolerate me).

I find that a nice mix of good listener, fierce loyalty and an ability to feign an interest in whatever sport their child is involved in (particularly if my child is involved in the same one) works wonders.

I am also willing to meet for coffee at virtually any hour of the day. I think it’s important to be accessible and many people really value having a friend who is a slacker and willing to drop everything and come out and play. That, my friends, is what I bring to life’s party.

If I did run an ad for new friends, it would read something like this: “Friends needed for playdates and possible friendship. Must like coffee and kids (but not necessarily in that order).”

I have friends who are soccer moms (and dads). Cheer parents. Preschool parents. PTO parents and the super-fun types known only as “other.” I have hippie friends and banker friends and parent friends with more experience in their left little finger than I’ll have in a lifetime, parenting-wise.

Without exception, we’d like to think that they’re our kind of “peeps” — pretty hip, joke-cracking and creative people — the only exception being that they dress better and actually return telephone calls.

I’ve made friendships that lasted a season and friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. I’ve laughed until I’ve cried, and sometimes cried until we could laugh again. Come to think about it, I don’t think I need a reality show.

Reality is the best show there is.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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