January 15, 2006

There is no better way to feel like an outcast than to bring up the war in Iraq at a baby shower.

I've always wanted a big group of friends. We'd meet up for brunch and discuss every detail of each other's lives. When something happened to me, everyone would care. As it is now, if something happened, who would I tell? Liza.

Let's say I found out I had lupus. We'd go out, have coffee, discuss my treatment, and then what? Having a disease is bad enough, but having nobody to repeat the story to? That's worse.

The friends that I do have don't know each other. I meet them one to one, and whenever I've tried to make it a group, no one gets along. Or, even worse, they get along and end up becoming better friends with each other.

A while ago I introduced Amy to Karen, and it had horrible consequences.

They hit if off and exchanged e-mails. Now they're the best of friends and hang out all the time, except they don't invite me. So instead of creating a group, I created a void. When I asked Amy what she was doing for Thanksgiving, she hesitated. "I'm going to Karen's country house." How did that happen? I've known Karen for 10 years and I've never once been invited to her country house. Of course, I wouldn't go because she gets on my nerves. But still.

Last month I was invited to a baby shower. But to be a part of this group you need to have a husband and a baby, or at least the ability to pretend you're interested in them. There is no better way to feel like an outcast than to bring up the war in Iraq at a baby shower.

"You need to hang out with my gay friends," Liza said. "All you need to be a part of their group is some glitter." I gave it a shot. At Jason's birthday party there were so many gay men that I could have shown up naked and nobody would have noticed. But by 10.30, just as things were getting started, I got a piece of glitter in my eye. Rather than stick it out and go blind, I went home.

I tried to think of what the requirements would be to be included in my group. I'm not sure what they would be - I only know what they wouldn't be.

No husband, no children, no pets. No drink or dancing or partying. Or knitting. You shouldn't want to go anywhere or do anything, and there'd be no pressure to show up. All you'd need to be a part of my group is a desire to be alone.

There's a group of ladies who live in my building and get together every Thursday night to play bridge. The average age is 72. I wouldn't mind that.

Think of the diseases we could discuss. I'd have evenings of arthritis and melanomas and sciatica and dementia. I'd fit right in. But then they'd probably want to stay up late to finish the game. And I'd upset the balance by leaving. I'd tell them I had an early doctor's appointment, but they'd roll their eyes and tell me they'd heard that one before.