A recent study into ‘the ten friends every woman has’ claimed that the fairer sex can divide all their pals into ten basic personality types, from the ‘agony aunt’ to the ‘cry baby’ to the (gulp) ‘all seeing eye’.
Naturally, we were skeptical that the complexity and breath of human friendship can really be reduced to a troupe of recognisable character types.
Until, that is, we started thinking about the ten friends all men have, too…
This is your favourite friend to go on a night out with – providing the night out doesn’t involve being around your family, work colleagues or anyone you want to impress. You laugh guiltily at his outrageous behavior, bask in the reflected glory of his ability to talk to strangers and giddily ride the rollercoaster of his one-man-party routine – until, at some point in the night, you have to talk someone out of beating him up.
You have zero in common besides one deep spiritual connection: a shared love of sport and, more often than not, the same team. Getting together happens exclusively at the stadium or the pub and lasts only for the duration of the match in hand. If conversation strays too far from the pitch and into the personal, things get a little shaky – but all it takes is another criminally mistimed pass to get you back on track.
The guy who prizes sexual conquest over all else – including you. He’ll happily steam roll over the repertoire you've established with a girl you’ve just met, whether it's by trying to out charm you, stink bombing the conversation with clumsy put downs, or simply physically inserting himself between you and the object of your desire. Anything – anything – to stop you going home with the girl while he leaves alone.
You can see it, even if no one else can. For some reason this guy – usually a bit of an odd ball, by all accounts – is the funniest human being you have ever encountered. Hanging out with him in public means navigating an assault course of misanthropic tendencies and social awkwardness, but it’s all worth it because he tickles you like no other thing on this earth – even if he doesn’t mean to.
Deciding where to meet, when to do it and what to talk about when you get there is easy with this chum: it’s where he wants, when he wants, and whatever subjects he wants to chew your ear off about. Any deviation from this preferred course will poison the atmosphere quicker than a bad joke at a funeral, so for everyone’s sake, you best comply.
At school he was always the smartest, but it didn’t matter – he was crap at football and you could beat him in an arm wrestle. Now, you’ve both grown up, and guess who’s having the last laugh? The Sorted One has his shit together – great job, great house, great wife, pension plan – in a way that makes you feel like you’re still a silly little boy. When you’re not feeling irrationally jealous of him, he’s inspiring you to do and be better, but the whole thing is underpinned by the knowledge that while you need him, he needs no one.
An eternal pessimist, getting this pal out for a drink is more tense and complicated than a terrorist negotiation. Needing constant reassurance that a simple night in the pub ‘won’t be shit’, he’s likely to pull the plug at the last minute or throw the towel in the second the conversation dips. And yet, like a disapproving Father, you can’t shake the need to try and win him over.
For years now you’ve shared the same piece of carpet from 9 til 5, shooting the shit, winding each other up and making the weary toil of work considerably more bearable. But it’s never occurred to you to have him over, hang out at the weekend or socialise at all beyond the odd after work drink. Which begs the question when one of you eventually leaves: will we see each other again? Was this real? Or was the whole relationship just an act of convenience? Chances are, you'll never really know.
Having never got the memo about men being the stoic heroes of their own inner sadness, The Crisis has bought into the idea of sharing his feelings and bought into it hard. Every drinking session with him casts you as the confidante, counsellor and wise old man – an enjoyable (if tiring) role to play, until you remember he’s not taking in a word of your advice.
This is the man who has survived every crash and bump your relationship has endured, and somehow still managed to get things back on track: the countless pissed arguments, the time one of you moved abroad for five years, even stealing your girlfriend when you were in High School. He’s a living link to your past, the man who knows you better than anyone, your best friend. And the most infuriating bastard in the world.
This article was originally published in 2014.