Friends With Benefits

I’m looking for friends with benefits.

Ever since my neighbors from my old neighborhood – I’ll call them Bob and Carol – turned me on to the idea, I’ve been interested. I can’t say I’ve ever talked to Bob and Carol much, possibly not at all. From what I’ve seen of them from across the street, they never seemed to be my type. But I did notice certain behaviors they exhibited with their visitors, particular acts which do not require a genius to identify the possibility of shenanigans going on at their house when they invited friends in. It was especially curious when they invited one specific neighbor couple over repeatedly – I’ll refer to them as Ted and Alice – who would leave two or three hours later, their clothes mussed, their bodies hot and sweaty, overcome with a look of being physically drained.

I suspected certain activities were going on, but I had no proof. Then the clincher came one summer afternoon when I noticed Ted and Alice stopping by Bob and Carol’s as my wife and I hopped in the car to go grocery shopping and run a few errands. When we returned, Ted and Alice were leaving Bob and Carol’s, again looking emotionally exhausted and physically worn out. Alice wore a different top than I remember her wearing when she arrived. Ted had on no shirt at all. As they left, I noticed Bob and Carol had a new front door.

On subsequent days, Ted and Alice would trek over to Bob and Carol’s place, toting in tools and boxes. Sometimes they would bring over brushes, rollers, and cans of paint. Another time they brought several cartons of Pergo flooring. One afternoon, I saw Ted and Alice hauling in a new toilet.

Those cheats, I thought. Those betrayers of the sanctity of relationships. Bob and Carol found friends who think friendship is a shallow swapping of physical labors for empty kindness. They found friends who will perform their home improvements for nothing but an exchange of smiles and good will, and perhaps a cheap meal and a few bottles of domestic light beer. They found friends with benefits. And there I was, making friends and entertaining them only to enjoy their friendship and appreciate their camaraderie, then paying professionals to install flooring and replace toilets. I felt like a fool.

So now I’m looking for the same kinds of friends, friends like Ted and Alice, friends with benefits. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to keep the deep, meaningful relationships I have with existing friends. I just want to find additional friends who will sand and refinish my floors, paint my vaulted entryway, and replace my aging carpet for nothing more than a hollow comment such as “Oh, I really appreciate your help, you’re such a good friend” and maybe a bucket of fried chicken and six pack of Hamms.

So, if anyone is interested, right now I need a really good friend who is a really good plumber.