In a courtyard of an odd, multi-unit residential property (house and apartments) in Normal Heights, 30 or so people gathered on the flagstone, clipboards and drinks in hand. Periodically, one of them climbed a ladder to stand above the throng and announce pairs of names from a laptop computer, and a single question. The crowd swiftly reorganized and, nearly manic, shared their answers.
This gauntlet of extroversion lasted from 8pm sharp to midnight. Never before at a party had I connected with so many people so deeply, and, paradoxically, to find my one true friend. You see, we sought to answer the question: “What if you could only have one platonic friend?” You could take on as many romantic partners and lovers as you want, sure, but pretend you only get one friend.
The event was called “Speed Friending,” and we referred this idea of our “one true friend” as our, “monoplatonic partner.” Much like in speed dating, we rated our time-limited interactions and organizers planned to use computer algorithms to crunch the numbers. (I’m told one organizer wrote the algorithm himself; if there is interest I’ll see if I can provide it.) One of my
friends potential monoplatonic partners disagreed with the premise of rating people he cared about with a number, and participated sans clipboard. “Really,” I had texted him, “the only ethical thing to do is burn all the ratings at the very end.”
For the questions, the organizers chose the 36 that are meant to make you fall in love. That is how I found telling someone that night a self-truism I’d carried with me for a long time, but not really ever voiced out loud, about whether I’d rather be rich or famous. (Seems like I’ve always thought I wanted to be rich, but everything I do seems more geared toward famous. Certainly not rich.) “So to answer the question, yes, I’d like to be famous. A famous writer.”
The rest of us, including myself, did submit the ratings after all. Blank ratings threw wildcards into the system, and some had to leave before data entry concluded and the results could be shared. I made a friendship bracelet while I waited. My monoplatonic friend, actually, was one of the people who left, and so I left that bracelet on a table. Someone seems to have picked it up when I wasn’t looking and, ostensibly, wears it now.