Remember that episode of Friends when Joey, Chandler, Monica and Rachel have a contest over who gets the girls’ apartment, and Joey and Chandler have to name the number of categories of towels Monica has? If I remember correctly, she has 11, including everyday use, fancy, guest and fancy guest.
Much like Monica, I have categories, too. Not for towels — well, maybe three: home, swimming and emergency, which I think most people have — but for my friends. I like that my friends group is varied and I can call on different people when I’m in different moods. (If you’re reading this and you’re one of my friends, I love you dearly, and you are probably a combination of these types. Please don’t take offense!)
The cerebral one
You can discuss current affairs, politics, world peace, global warming, feminism, literature, opera and the best natural products to use — but steer clear of Celebrity Big Brother or a debate about McDonald’s versus Burger King, otherwise they may look at you a little differently. You feel intelligent and altruistic when you’re with them and leave feeling inspired and intelligent. I have a few of these friends, and it’s liberating to be able to discuss deep philosophical questions and explore the answers together, but I’d never dream of going to see the Chippendales with them whilst drowning in wine.
The fluffy one
We’re back to the towels again: You can paint your nails together, get them to straighten your hair and give you style tips or flop at their house eating crisps and cake while watching reality TV. Often younger than you, this friend is fiercely loyal, but don’t talk about anything above a certain comprehension level, and hold the big words. They’ll talk through problems with you and make you laugh your head off. They can occasionally make comments about current affairs and can surprise you now and again, but most of the time it’s restricted. I have such a friend who is a completely wonderful individual, but her Facebook feed is full of spelling mistakes I’d like to take a red marker to, and when I told her about my blog, she said, “What’s a blog?” They make you feel super intelligent and full of useful advice, but beware they can also make you feel old and out of touch!
The mum friend
These can be a combination of the above and are vital to anyone with children. We need each other to compare notes, sympathise, empathise and prop each other up when we’re so tired we can’t think straight. They also come in handy when you don’t have a clue what to do with your offspring, and if you meet up, at least the children can play together. Bonus if they like doing crafts, playing games and can throw a decent meal together.
The one you don’t see enough
Whenever you get together, you both want to see each other more, but your lives are so different it just doesn’t happen. They work full-time and have a busy schedule, and you just don’t move in the same circles. You occasionally meet up at a mutual friend’s event, but other than that it’s hit and miss.
The work colleague
They’re the only ones who will understand your career goals and the minutiae of what happens in your workday, and you can bounce ideas off them. They keep you going with endless cups of tea and listen to your complaints about your boss. They know the latest goings on at the company and — if you’re lucky — have biscuits. They will always have your back.
The virtual friend
While you’ve never met them, they’re always lending a friendly comment here and there and are a familiar presence in your life. They’re as real to you as ever, and you’d miss them if they weren’t there.
The TV friend
These fictional characters entertain you and keep you company, but it’s a little one-sided, and they have no clue who you are. I have a whole load of TV friends, mostly on Dave, and they keep me entertained with a comfort and regularity no one else comes close to.
Need help to get exercising? Run a marathon? Jump out of an airplane? Backpack in Nepal? She’s there to motivate you! You tell her about your latest harebrained scheme, and she’s always there with positivity unbridled and will convince you that no matter what, you can do it. Trouble is, you could find yourself running a marathon whilst wearing a chicken outfit and eating quinoa before you know it.
The true best friend
They make you laugh, they know you inside out, and they’ve known you for years. They’ve seen you throw up drunk, get your first job, meet your husband (in fact, they probably introduced you), at your best and worst — and they still love you. Even if you haven’t seen each other for a while, you instantly have that rapport again. You have little catchphrases only you two understand, and when you’re together at a social occasion, no one else comes close. They’re the best to get drunk with and you can talk about anything. The downside is they know you too well, and you can’t put anything past them!