Friends evolve over time

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We all grow up, whether we like it or not. It’s interesting now to see the people I knew in high school — to remember the people they were, and to see the people they’ve become.

I was never really one for “social networking” Web sites — until my fiancée made me sign up for one. Through one of them, I reconnected with many friends from high school and college. It’s been very interesting to say the least.

What do you do when you receive a “friend request” from someone you weren’t that fond of in high school or college? I had that dilemma early on, when a guy I knew found me on Facebook.

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I had to think about it long and hard before I added him.

Frankly, we’d been too alike in high school and college — both smart-alecks who enjoyed the spotlight maybe a little too much. We were often at odds with one another, and often our best effort was simply to tolerate one another.

One of his favorite jokes, which I almost immediately appropriated: Stand in the middle of a large crowd of people and yell: “Excuse me — excuse me! Can I have your attention, please?” Then, when everyone turns toward you, simply say, “Thanks. I love attention.”

Hey, I grew up in the 80s. If you think the joke was lame, remember what the hairstyles were like.

I clicked on the “Add” button, however, and I found something out: My old classmate and I had both mellowed out a lot. We’d both grown a great deal. He’s a teacher now, married, with beautiful daughters. I’m writing a novel. He’s teaching English. I lost my hair. He kept his. He has tattoos. I have scars. We have both been honed in the fires of life. It’s made us different people, with much more respect for one another.

Recently, there was a small reunion of people that we both knew. I wasn’t able to make it — work and all that. He was, and made a point to call me and say that the group of our friends had missed me and they all hoped to see me soon.

That meant a lot to me; First that a group of people that I love dearly had thought enough of me to miss me on the occasion of their gathering, but also that my old classmate thought enough of me to call and say that he, personally, wished I had been there.

We all grow up. We all change. If I didn’t know that before, I certainly learned it from a former classmate, who I now call a friend.

Bobby Mathews is managing editor of The Times. Contact him at or (334) 289.4017.