Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Having cool friends

About a week ago, I checked out Pamela Des Barres’s book Let’s Spend The Night Together. The subtitle is “Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies.”

It’s been happy reading so far. Back in the day, I thought it would be a smashing great time to be a groupie, wanted and desired by a phalanx of smoking hot rock gods. That dream will forever be in the past tense, though, for three reasons:

1. I no longer have the stamina nor the inclination to be up in the wee hours pursuing said rock gods;

2. The rock god is, most likely, an endangered species – can you name a musician who has become famous in the last ten years who has the magnetism of, say, Robert Plant? David Lee Roth? Mick Jagger, thick lips and all? I didn’t think so;

3. I have already found (and married!) my own rock god – he’s not famous yet, but he’s all mine and I will never stray.

The thought I will take away from this book has nothing to do with the names of the men whom the rock muses and supergroupies, um, “associated” with. It was the bond that Ms. Des Barres has with these women, many of them who have been her long-time friends. Even though most of them are no longer active in the scene, they still live freewheeling, out-of-the-ordinary lives, with a boatload of great memories.

Who wouldn’t want friends like Tura Satana, a 1950s burlesque dancer who taught Elvis how to French kiss? Or Cynthia Plaster Caster, who took an idea from an art class lecture and turned it into the ultimate in subversive art – namely, plaster molds of rock stars’ penises? Or Gail Zappa, the groupie who married her man (Frank), and will probably give mainstream relationship advisers a heart attack with this quote: “We didn’t talk about mortgages, ever.”? These women did what they wanted to do, and screw condemnation from the religious fundies and the professional feminists.

(There’s a big difference between feminism, which simply means women having the equal rights and opportunities to be what they want to be, and professional feminism, which has a list of new rules every bit as oppressive as the old ones. That’s a post for another day, though.)

I wish I had cool friends like that.

It has been hard for me to make and keep friends throughout my life. Shyness, bad treatment from peers (and the distrust it gave birth to), dedication to reading and schoolwork, and a natural tendency toward solitude have not helped. As of now, I have few friends except for husbands, ex-husbands, friends of the first two categories, and a few people that I know online but live far away (shout-out to Diana). I am happy with these dear friends, of course, but sometimes when I stop being busy and have time to think about it, I wish that I had more.

How do I define “cool friends”?

1. They are members of the creative class.

2. They have out-of-the-ordinary interests – such as intermission clips or collecting fortune cookie fortunes (two of my own interests).

3. They don’t watch much TV, unless it’s good (like Star Trek in all its forms – yes, even Enterprise).

4. They read books outside the best-seller list.

5. They know who Vanilla Fudge are.

6. They are fiscally responsible (yes, that is possible in the creative class).

7. They are free of destructive drama (as opposed to cool drama, such as painting the walls with glitter-infused magenta paint, or cross-dressing).

8. They make their dwellings cool no matter what their budget is.

9. They enjoy good food without guilt.

10. They have a love of life, and don’t try to drag anyone down with their political/religious/ideological agenda(s).

11. They love us, and we love them!!!

I could add more to the list, but it's getting late and I don't want to sound greedy.

I have heard the old adage, “To have a good friend, be one.” I hope that I follow the list above as much as I hope that my cool friends do. I guess I will have to make finding cool friends as much as a priority as finding work. Wish me luck!