(Here's me being a pro friend.)
I often wonder how on earth I have any chums. I do, after all, ask way too many questions, laugh uncontrollably at my own jokes before I've even said them, and regularly rave about the fascinating development of my dog's genitalia. I even text photos of it to my nearest and dearest for my own juvenile entertainment. Somehow, despite my various shortcomings, I have been fortunate enough to stumble across other strangely wired humans on this planet who seem to enjoy my company. Hurray! Yup, according to the great delight and hilarity that it wraps around my daily existence, friendship is one of the innate pleasures of being alive. Do you have friends too? Let's talk about it. Let's celebrate it! Let's make sure we're honouring our fortune and being the best friend that we could possibly be.
Here's how to be a bloody good friend. You're welcome, world.
Remember that your friends are only human. (Unless they are dogs.) I think as humans it is important to accept and appreciate that we are all irreparably flawed. In other words, we are shit; the lot of us. Don't all panic at once, for many of us are also brilliant and funny and inspiring and marvellous and all kinds of fantastic, but it is inherent to our nature as such creatures to f*ck up every now and again. Don't form any kind of relationship under the expectation that it is always going to be rainbows and unicorns and kiss laden text messages. In the words of my idol-chum John Green, 'you don't get a say in whether you get hurt in this world, but you do get to choose who hurts you.' Be happy with your choices.
Be funny. Laughing so hard that you almost do an uncontrolled, enthusiastic wee on the carpet is one of the best feelings ever. Everybody needs a friend who can bring them such joy. Be funny, I dare you. Be the Bantersaurus-Rex from Banterbury. Fasten your seatbelt aboard the bantastic banter bus... Banter. Bant. ('BANT-AAAAAAH mate!') And if you're not the world's most natural local comedian; fall over, poke yourself in the eye, or humilliate yourself in public. Those are my party tricks.
Be there. If your pal is sobbing down the phone to you having some kind of epic, soul-destroying crisis, there should be no debate involved in the order of your priorities. Those hilarious videos of gymnast squirrels will still be there in the virtual domain once you've done your listening/sympathetic patting duties. Wake me up, before you go, go. GO.
Listen to them. This ties in closely with being there during an epic, soul-destroying crisis, but be sure to listen to your chums during jollier times too. Granted, you may have heard the 'we have the same favourite film, O-M-G, are we soulmates or whaaaat?!!' story hundreds of times, and you might not share their Dyson hoover fetish, but it is these strange/irritating quirks that complete the characters whom we have chosen to love. Probably. We listen to them talk shit. They listen to us talk shit. That is the fundamental rule of brilliant companionship.
Always give back the things that you borrow. Sharing is caring, I feel you, but do give back any prized possessions that your pals have been kind enough to lend you. If you don't, you are at significant risk of being disowned, particularly if you are my friend and you have borrowed my ukelele. I find that the best time to return your friends' things is when you've broken them, spilt last night's chicken gravy all over them, or bought yourself an upgrade. (Unless you are my friend and you have borrowed my ukelele.) High five.
Have brain sex. Those deep, poignant conversations during which somebody reveals a certain depth or layer that you'd never previously had the pleasure of seeing or knowing are the conversations that cement everlasting friendships. Preach it. Get your snorkel out and appreciate your chums to the depths of their beautiful, bizarre, grubby souls.
Don't kiss them/sleep with them/confess your undying love for them unless you really, genuinely have mutual feelings for each other. Brain sex is one thing. Actual sex is entirely another. Want to know how to destroy a perfectly good friendship? Easy-peasy-genital-squeezy. You might play it cool and decide it's 'HAHA-hilaaaaaarious and not awkward AT ALL', but once those lips/reproductive organs have introduced themselves, things will never be the same again.You will find yourself hiding/weeping behind the banana stand when you clock them across the aisle in Tesco. That is no way to live your life. You heard it here first.
Cuddle them. Get your oxytocin out. Squeeze them at every given opportunity. Thrust your chest/breast upon theirs and treasure them with your physical entirety. (Don't squeeze them so hard that they throw up/turn purple though; that could be counter-productive. And don't do this with exposed genitals, please and thank you. I'm watching you.)
Don't kiss/sleep with/confess your undying love for their boyfriend/girlfriend/mum/dad. Unless you've had a lot of brain sex and you are both immune to the woes of crazy humiliation, no friendship will survive any such drama. 'One time, I had this chum, and she slept with my dad and became my step-mum, and we never shared Wendsleydale at 2am or played 'the David game* again. I'm so thrilled for them!' said no-one, ever.
Be honest. Whoever said that honesty is the best policy deserves a pat on the back and some free crumpets. Honesty is a fantastic and endearing quality, and in the long term, your friends will thank you for it. The moral of this story? If they look like a farm animal in that new dress of theirs, tell them. And if you're not brave enough to tell them directly, make disgruntled pig noises at them or throw them some hay. Oink.
Never turn up looking sexier than they do. This is another of my party tricks. Deliberate. Absolutely deliberate. You're welcome.
Are you a bloody good friend? How do you do it?
*The David Game is a game that I invented with my best friend. It is awesome. When I choose to share it with the world, your life may never be the same again.