22 October, 2010

The Centipede Cometh

Our ability to form friendships is such a genuinely unique human quality. I have many, but many have I also let lie fallow throughout the years. Then modern technologies - especially the internet with its Google, email, and Facebook - emerged to help me cultivate again the more neglected corners of my garden.

It's been wonderful to develop some new friendships, but what I have really enjoyed is being able to reconnect with old friends - those friends with whom I had lost contact since leaving high school or college. Fortunately the roots of those friendships somehow remained healthy in spite of my indifference, and it's such a joy to watch relationships blossom anew as the many branches of our memories begin to intertwine and form a familiar lattice of support. It is almost as if the intervening decades had not happened at all.

Today I'm thinking of one friend in particular with whom I had not communicated for almost 40 years. We now trade an occasional email, usually around our birthdays in early August. The most recent message, however, arrived out of the blue just a few weeks ago. It contained both an article related to a topic I frequently teach (Ivan Pavlov) and a humorous story. Of course, it instantly brightened my day. We all love to be remembered when we least expect it.

Thank you, technology, for helping me find these old friends. I like your style. And, I like my friends - new and old.

Oh, about that joke ...

So, there was this guy who lived by himself and would get lonely. He decided he needed a pet. When he got to the pet store, he asked the proprietor for the most interesting pet he had. "Well, I've got this centipede. He's really an engaging conversationalist, and he comes with his own little house."

"I'll take him."

The guy took the centipede home and discovered that the proprietor was, indeed, correct. The little guy was fun and entertaining, and they got along really well. Not too long after that he decided to introduce the centipede to his friends at the local bar.

He knocked on the roof of his little house, "Hey, come on. I'm going to take you out to meet my friends. I think you'll like them."

There was no answer, no sign from the little guy. He knocked again, a bit harder, thinking he might be asleep. "Come on, we're going out!"

Still no answer. This time, he really banged on the roof of the little house. "Come on, I said we're going down to the bar!"

Then he heard a voice, "Okay, okay! I heard you the first time. I'm putting on my shoes ... "