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2005-10-10 @ 5:25 p.m.
my new best friend...by the hour (no sex though)



I am just sitting at my desk right now, looking down in the street where there are two people hugging. Its very heartwarming and I am just sitting here wishing it was me. Why? Because I donít get many hugs in real life. In fact the only hugs I get, are brief shoulder hugs from ďAĒ after my appointment each week.

Is it weird that my shrink hugs me after my appointment? Yeah, perhaps. In fact, when he first asked me if he could hug me, way back ten years ago, I was like WTF. Umm..Well. Ummm. I donít know. Isnít that kind of inappropriate? A male therapist hugging their female clients? I thought so at the time, although this whole conversation took place in my head because I didnít want to screw up our fledgling patient/therapist relationship by telling him, so I graciously just declined his offer. But then when he asked again about 4 weeks later, I realized what a kind soul he was, and that I was in no imminent danger by some perv, and man, I sure NEEDED a hug, we lightly hugged and it was nice and then I started looking forward to them, because I sure wasnít getting any other hugs in real life....I mean, until Married Guy came along.

The truth is, my hug deficit is so massive, that I would need to have someone hug me non-stop for about the next 3 years to catch up on all the hugging Iíve missed over the last 47 years. And this even reaches back into my childhood. My Dad hugged me whenever he was home, but he traveled extensively, which left me with my mom who rarely ever hugged me. She just wasnít the huggy type. The only time hugs were ever administered in our house, was if SHE needed a hug. Not if I needed one. See how that works?

So when I saw an article on CNNMoney.com entitled: ďMy new best friend...for $150/hourĒ, I was immediately excited. Not that I could afford $150/hour. I canít even afford the co-payments on Aís appointments. But gee...to be able to pay someone to be your friend. Hey! Kinda like when my Dad bought the filipino mail order whore! No matter how much they dislike you, they have to pretend like they liked you and put their feelings aside and make you feel like youíre their bestest friend ever, because THEYíRE GETTING PAID. Its really a sweet deal for both of you, if you think about it, because The Paid Friend gets Paid and You get to feel like somebody likes you and everbody wins! Woo hoo! Can you imagine?

And yet while I was reading the article, there was a small part of me that momentarily imagined how fun it would be to act like a total asshole, so that the person making the $150/hour would really have to EARN their money. I mean I make $8/hour and I have to deal with assholes anyways and thatís only $8/hour. For $150/hour, they should at least have to listen to me whine about my car and how I was done wrong by Married Guy and how my jeans shrunk in the dryer when in reality I really gained 9 pounds in the last month by eating so much freakin' chocolate. Of course they could never discuss my eating habits or weight gain or mention that that roll of fat hanging over my waistband looks kinda gross and offensive. Oh no. They would have to tell me how sexy women with a few extra pounds are and how the tight clothes I insist on wearing, actually look quite ridiculous great, because after all thatís what friends would tell you, right? Paid friends that is.

These paid friends, according to the CNN.com article, are also supposed to help you overhaul your wardrobe, arrange for sessions with hair and make-up professionals, give advice on what type of car to buy, what music to listen to, even what plastic surgeon to use. "People are more receptive of the idea of having one person in their life they can trust." Biondo said. At $150 an hour, or a $1,000 a day, Biondo says his rates are reasonable. But costs can quickly escalate, "I have spent 20 hours coordinating one outfit," he admits.

Image is everything.

Oh, how totally true. And I know how I have always totally depended on what my friends have told me about my clothing selection. Yeah, right. But maybe thatís where Iíve gone wrong. My clothing selection. My hair. My make-up. Iíve never been a slave to fashion. Iíve actually always been more of a slave to comedy. Iíd rather be funny than sexy. But I suppose if pressed, I could probably throw an ensemble together somehow. I mean I couldnít really dress anyone cool down in New York City or anything, but I could probably surreptitiously creep over to the yuppy grocery store or the Target store in the Village and take notes on what the yuppie soccer moms were wearing. Or what their goth kids were wearing. Or even what the Docker Dads were wearing and come up with some kind of decent outfit to go to a PTA meeting or a peace rally in. I mean I did just score a Banana Republic hoodie over at the Next-to-New store the other day.

The Next-to-New Store is my new favorite location in the Village. And what is funny is that I used to live directly behind it 4 years ago, and I only went there once. But now, since Iíve moved back to the Village 6 weeks ago, Iíve already been there 4 times. As in, uh oh....Iím addicted. The Next-to-New is a Church Thrift Store which sells clothes. Now donít get me wrong. Itís not like they sell old pilled up polyester sundresses from J.C. Penneyís or anything. This store is in a big old 2 story Victorian house jammed full of designer cast offs from all the rich people in the Village. And its volunteer run by a bunch of rich deeply tanned, botoxed women whose husbands are doctors and lawyers. And Iím always amazed when I walk by there at how many Porches, Jaguars and huge shiny SUVs are lining the streets and driveway. And then once you get into the store, you can hear all the Botoxians squawking together back into the kitchen like a bunch of caffeinated terriers, because I guess they donít have their own $150/hour friends quite yet. But I love the place because they have really nice clothing, in good condition, most of which are $5. I bought a brand new wool winter coat, which my mom is in love with...$10. They also have some household items like framed artwork, pillows, comforters, candles. My mom also bought a brand new comforter for $10. I bought two reversible chair pads which in the store probably would have cost about $25 for $2/each. Gold earrings $2. I lurvve this store. And what a place to suggest, if I were a $150/hour friend.

So yes, I maybe I should be a $150/hour friend. I already give the people I work with all kinds of various advice for the extremely cut rate of $8/hour and here I have this huge market available where I could start telling people what to wear, where to go, what color to paint their rooms, what artwork to buy (MINE!!) for $150/hour. I could even do a little feng shui with them. Tell them which way to turn their bed (the direction where your neighbors canít see you doing the nasty preferably). Of course, I might have to lie a little when they start trying on certain clothes together, like say an orange caftan with purple strappy roman sandals and white socks. I would just have to nod my head with a fixed smile and say, ďYouíve created a whole new genre, Freddy! You look fabulous! Fabulous, I say!Ē Because thatís what a $150/hour friend would say.

The only element of the $150/hour friend I donít quite get is the emotional element. Are you supposed to like the person? Or pat them on the back? Or give them a hug? Because even at the job I have right now, weíre only supposed to be clientís ďprofessionalĒ friend and that concept really bothers me. I canít turn my feelings on and off about a person. I canít say, ďOh, I only work with you, so I can only like you because they pay me toĒ. That is so cold and calculating and I think people can feel that. I even go through that with ďAĒ. Iíve known him for 10 years now and I sometimes wonder...does he like me for me, or does he only see me because of my occasional measly payment. I know that isnít fair to him, and I DO think he likes me personally because of all the kind things heís done for me over the years, but there is still no doubt that there is a huge invisible glass wall between his professional persona and the people he deals with, because thatís just the nature of psychotherapy.

So I think perhaps the same thing would apply to the $150/hour friend. They may stand there and help you pick out an outfit or help you with color swatches for your kitchen, but what about emotional closeness? I would want to have something in common with them. I would want to feel a kinship with them. I would want to have some kind of inside joke with them....something we could both just look at each other and start laughing. Because I donít have that with anyone right now. And I miss that. And its lonely. And I donít think having 100 $150/hour friends could ever really fix that. The wanting closeness with someone thing. Because unfortunately, Iím afraid to stick my little feelers out. Because we all know how delicate feelers are and how easily they can be crushed. So Iím kind of stuck. Watching lovers hug down on the street. Singing ďIím in the mood for loveĒ to my cat. Wishing with all my heart that someone would notice how great I am and give me a chance. Because I just donít think you can charge an hourly rate for ďfriendshipĒ. Because, real friendship is truly priceless.

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