I wish I had more friends. Despite its diverse inhabitants, the forest can be quite lonely. Especially at night, when all I can hear are crickets in the distance, chirping their songs. I could venture out to greet them, perhaps ask how their evenings are going or swap twig-soup recipes, but we all know crickets have notoriously short tempers and are quick to profane tirades regarding the value of their non-musical legs. I harbor no ill will toward them, but crickets are simply not friend material for someone like me.
I have been reviewing possible friendship candidates in the forest for the past few days. Rob (the squirrel) reluctantly helped me. He commented, however, that his squirrel feelings were hurt. He felt that he was more than enough friend for me. I had to explain to Rob (the squirrel) that our relationship would not change. We would still share acorns and he could sleep in my fur on chilly nights, but I needed to explore options. I needed more companions in my life. Surely there is a badger or an owl or a deer (well, maybe not a deer) out there who shares common interests with me. Someone I could confide in and with whom I could make new memories. Rob (the squirrel) responded to this line of thinking by hurling an acorn at my eye and hissing at me. He can be strange.
After much deliberation, I complied a short list of potential friends. They are the following:
- Susan (the rabbit)
- Franklyn (the stray tabby cat missing an ear)
- Bernard (the opossum)
- A red bird I saw
- A bunch of napkins I found in a dumpster
- Some sleeping bags I left dirt in once
- Not snakes
Rob (the squirrel) looked over the list. With an unimpressed scoff, he gave me a grimace and ran up a tree, leaving me alone to wonder which name jotted in the dirt near my cave insulted him. I would bet on Bernard. Or maybe that red bird I saw. I suppose it did not matter, though it is not great to see Rob (the squirrel) have hurt feelings. He does not take rejection (or any negative feeling for that matter) very well.
As I stared at the names on the list, something occurred to me: perhaps they can all be my friend. In fact, could not every creature and object I meet (except for the deer by the river and he knows why) be my friend? Elated, I chewed on my paws for a moment before running out into the forest to proclaim our friendship.
On my way to find a clearing (somewhere with soft grass and optimal sunlight) another revelation struck me. If anything and everything can be a friend, then can we not be friends? You, reading this right now, can we be friends?
I am a bear. What are you? Whatever you are, would you like to be my friend? You can still continue being a whatever you are. Being my friend should not change that (I think). I will give you time to think about it. If you decide you want to be my friend, feel free to etch your name in the dirt near my cave. If you do not know how to spell your name, please just leave a checkmark. I will get the point.
But if one of you is the deer across the river, do not leave your name, hoof print, or antler debris anywhere near my cave. If you try to leave any markings, they will be deleted from the dirt. If you try to poke the dirt with a stick, the indentation will be ignored. Even if you are friends with Rob (the squirrel) on his cave dirt (and I am pretty sure he has his own) and he vouches for you, we will not be friends. Never. You are not my friend, and I am not your friend.
As for everyone else, I would love to be your friend. While I wait for your friend approvals, I will roll around in the sun-baked grass. So please, take your time, friends. I know I will.