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I got into a fight with a friend.

Which is strange because I don't fight with my friends. My best friend in the world has been my friend for almost 12 years and to both our memory, we haven't fought once.

This was a bad fight. It escalated to shouting and I ended it by hanging up the phone.

It hurt. It was scary.

Not because it was a fight. This particular friendship has been full of ups and downs, arguments and make-ups, with turbulence cutting into things every few months. What was scary was that this was a friendship that was already recently bruised and battered, one that beneath the solidity of association and length, was getting to be a very tenuous thing.

I don't know. This fight was bad.

If it was somebody else, I would advise them to call or send flowers or just do something to patch things up. But I don't think either of us feels we've done anything wrong. Or maybe it's not about fault at all. It's just very wrong that the phone call, originally an effort at reconnecting during the holidays, could go so badly so quickly.

These guys are friends.

I wish I knew what's going to happen, but it's very likely things might just stay this way for a long while.

I got to thinking about the friendships in my life.

Moving around was what my family did while I was growing up. We never stayed in one place more than a few years, and kids in military families tend to develop self-defense mechanisms for making friends quickly. They can also be very devoted to staying in touch through letters, phone calls and now, through the Net.

I cling to friends I connect with. I'll still visit Oklahoma because I miss my high school/college buddies. I spend lots of time e-mailing people I don't get to see.

Which makes it that much harder to imagine a friendship ending in any other way than simply drifting out in the natural way that acquaintanceships tend to peter out over time. For something to end abruptly, on purpose... that's something I'm just not used to.

I knew a very smart newspaper guy, maybe the best writer I've ever known personally. He and I would talk about the Internet sometimes; this was a few years ago when it was first beginning to create huge cultural shifts. He observed that the Net was making it easier not only to stay in touch with friends and family you want to connect with, but with people you wouldn't have stayed in touch with otherwise. In the history of friendship, people have always come in and out of other people's lives in a normal cycle. Jobs take people away. Folks get married. People have kids and stop socializing. Now, suddenly, these people never go away. The Internet was suddenly making it possible for people to stay in your life forever whether you wanted them to or not, through e-mailed jokes or one-line messages that, honestly, don't very often mean much at all.

So what happens when your circle of friends extends so far that you never have time to e-mail the really important friends — the ones to whom your bond is deeper than that? Sometimes they get ignored. Sometimes they get tired of you not responding quickly or elaborately enough.

These guys are not friends.

It's unnatural was what he was saying. The Internet has created unnatural bonds with people that in any other circumstance, we would be happy to let just drift away into the realm of People We Used To Talk To But Now We Think They're Married Or Something.

In the past, I've had an almost superstitious fear of losing contact with friends. It's mostly because I lost contact with a very good friend, Tracy, for about seven years and it made me realize that if I could lose a friend like that, just suddenly lose track of where they lived, what their last name was (she'd gotten married and I'd been stupid enough not to write down her new name) and what they were doing, I could lose anybody. It sobered me up to a few realities. Friendships can end. You can lose people. The souls of those we connect with most can fall off the radar and sometimes we won't see them again.

This fear is partially why I tend to stay in touch with ex-girlfriends. I can usually deal with a relationship failing. I can't stand to see a friendship end.

It's the holidays and it feels very wrong for such a fight to happen at this time. I wish I knew what to do.

I wish I knew if the answer was to do nothing at all and to let the winter bury it all, taking away in its cold grip the last remnants.

I was one of the people monumentally worried over the weekend when I saw that the Brad F'ing Pitt site was ending. It put a big fear into me —the fear that satire, true satire that offends and twists the knife and pushes the envelope, is in big danger on the Net.

That's probably a little overdramatic, but this was a great Web site and whatever happened, it pointed to trouble for all of us.

The good news is that Uncle Bob (who revealed himself through this process), has a new site, Dick Blow, which promises to continue in the same vein (the same huge, throbbing and hysterically funny vein).

If you partake of the Napster teat and you're a fan of those Radiohead boys, you should get on there and look for their just-broadcast BBC sessions. They reworked four songs from Kid A for the BBC in their studio and the results are pretty fantastic. "Idioteque" and "Everything In Its Right Place" sound pretty different, a lot closer to what the songs sound like live. "How to Disappear" and "The National Anthem" sound close to the album versions, but with some stripping down. All are worth hearing.

Oh, and their new album is called Amnesiac and will probably be out in March or April.

This is the really busy time, when everybody is scrambling to finish buying gifts, when holiday party plans are shuffled and when people taking vacation at work means that the people left behind tend to have to stick around longer to get things done.

It's exciting though. Everything feels like it's building up to a boil and then there will be the weekend, then Christmas, and my hope is that everything will just be calm and still for a moment. It's been a fast, crazy year, a year that has been in perpetual motion. I could use a little stillness. I think we all could.

Torrid affair update: Alarming developments. Wendi has agreed to have dozens of babies with me. She is also down with Tom Hanks and the talking volleyball. She wants to be my psychiatrist (what, I need one all of a sudden?) and is my "Blog Whore." Uhhh...

Okay, list of current obstacles: Relationships on both ends. Geography. The fact that we probably have nothing in common. Disturbing lack of discretion. Nagging feeling that everyone is laughing at the both of us and not kindly. Fictional ass rash that Wendi seems to believe is real. Possibly moving far too quickly, leading to disappointment, resentment, bleeding gums, possible erectile dysfunction (but not on my end!), car accident, public scandal.

The other day, Rebecca was reading what I wrote about the torrid affair over my shoulder and she said, "You never say that kind of stuff about me."

"Well, you're not anonymous and it wouldn't be a torrid and scandalous affair, now would it?" I snapped.

That was probably not a good move. I owe her some Godivas or something, huh?

Promised myself last year that I would make an Amazon wishlist for this Christmas and then I chickened out. I made the wishlist, but I only told my parents about it. I've heard arguments about it from both sides, especially from people with online journals. I personally would love it if all my friends gave me access to a wishlist because it would make it so much easier to find what they want and not have to guess. Shopping can be a pain in the ass sometimes, even for people you know really well.

On the other hand, I would probably feel limited to those items and wouldn't feel free to go get them something completely different and risk getting them something they would despise. Okay, not despise but there'd be the sense of, "What's this? This wasn't on the wishlist? Hey, get with the program, buddy!" Okay, that probably would never happen, either.

But honestly, if you knew somebody had a wedding registry at Target, would you still go and buy them something that wasn't on the registry? Hmph. Didn't think so.


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