If you’ve never done it, I can confirm sitting back and surveying your friendships is a very interesting process. It involves thinking about when and where you catch up, and realising that there’s an unspoken yet nonetheless highly sophisticated natural order at work. This order is subtly revealed by how you and everyone you know actually divide that precious free time.
Breakfast friends are a case in point. We have friends we really only ever see for breakfast. It’s understood that we’re old family friends, we’re quite peripheral in the overall scheme of their life and vice versa, but they matter to us and it’s important that we do make time for them. As far as I know, they feel much the same way about us. No one is confused about this arrangement, which functions really smoothly because we never challenge our place in their natural order. We don’t darken their door on a Friday night, and they never ask us if we’re free for dinner on Saturday. Basically, all parties are in agreement: we’re breakfast friends.
But being breakfast friends feels like a demotion if you’ve ever been dinner friends. This is what happened to us recently, and we’ve been giving our friends shit about it ever since. This post is evidence of such ribbing continuing in earnest until the natural order is restored (FYI, the natural order radically implodes with the arrival of children, but these friends don’t have any and, as is well-documented, neither do we).
The situation went something like this: we were supposed to go over to their house for dinner on Saturday night a couple of weeks ago. That afternoon, they called and cancelled. When next arrangements were discussed, they suggested breakfast.
“So what, we’re breakfast friends now?” Llew asked.
Then Llew got home and relayed the invitation to me.
“Oh my god, we’re breakfast friends now?” I said.
If nothing else, this exchange demonstrates that Llew and I spend too much time sharing a brain. It also demonstrates that we are in agreement about the existence of such (usually unspoken) categories.
We inched closer to the breakfast date in something like denial.
“But it’s his 35th,” I moaned to Llew, over and over and over, like it was MY birthday that had just been cancelled. “I just don’t understand. How can he be having breakfast for his 35th? Who does that?”
“Some people like breakfast,” said Llew. “Or maybe they are doing something else that simply doesn’t involve us.”
“Maybe they’re doing something really romantic on the night,” I agreed. “I can understand that. Dinner for two. Dinner for two’s nice.”
“Or maybe we’re just breakfast friends,” Llew said.
So before grudgingly heading to the birthday breakfast yesterday morning, I finally struck upon the perfect gift: a really nice bottle of red wine. Llew laughed, but that’s probably because we are both entirely too perverse, and can’t take this demotion lying down like breakfast-loving good sports. Just in case there was any lingering confusion, we wrote on the card ‘Please feel free to crack this one night, over dinner with better friends.’