To Show U Sum Love

A little after 1 pm yesterday, I stopped into the Starbucks in Kenneth Hahn Plaza in the Willowbrook/Compton area to get a chai and check my email. I was sitting there, sipping my chai, listening to the mellow sounds of Duke Ellington playing in the background and clicking through random work emails. Thinking too much, as I'm prone to do sometimes. And, just when I was starting to think that my day really sucked, that I should start a new blog entitled worst + day + ever = my life -- just as I thought I might actually cry (yes, it was a day like that), two teenagers came in the door. One of them was talking very loudly into one of those walkie-talkie type phones.

"Why you ain’t got no boyfriend?"

"What?" came back through the phone speaker.
He rephrased his question, "I said, you got a man? Yes or no?" His friend laughed and poked him good-naturedly in the arm as they strolled across the Starbucks.

They both took a seat the table right behind me. The back and forth dialogue with the girl continued. She eventually asked him what he was doing and he replied, "I ain’t doin’ nothing, just trying to come to your house!" -- to which his friend added, "Stop it, that's my ex, man!"

Good grief, I was hearing a teenage booty call and the first guy had already dated this girl? I really was not in the mood so I turned around and stared them down. You know, the teacher stare, the stare your mom gave you that let you know you were gonna get it when you got home.

They had the courtesy to end the conversation. "Sorry, miss."

I'll admit, they seemed contrite so I replied, "It's ok, but you know when you talk into those things, everybody can hear what you're saying. Some stuff should be private, you know?"

"Yeah, sorry," said the taller of the two boys, "but you hear how he was tryin' to get with my girl? What kind of friend is that?"

They started laughing back and forth and then approached the counter to ask for some water.

As they chatted with the barista, I got to thinking again about my day and it's suckitude. But, in case my thoughts got too maudlin, my teenage friends approached my table with their water, interrupting me once more.

"Hey, you got internet access on that laptop?"
I nodded yes so they continued, "Can we check our MySpaces?"

I asked the question you are certainly wondering...and if you're not, you should be.

"Aren't y'all supposed to be at school? Where do you go, Centennial?"

They exchanged glances and then the taller one spoke, "Yeah, but we're on lunch."

Now in my mind, I was thinking, yeah, right. Y'all aren't on lunch. It's too late for lunch. But what the heck...maybe they'd break my laptop in two by spilling their waters on it, thereby taking my day to the next level of

They told me their names were AJ and DJ and they've been friends for a whole grand three months. Both were sixteen, which explained the girl-crazy attitude.

Neither one had ever used a laptop before. They couldn't figure out how to use the little red mouse dot in the center so I had to show them how to work it. My desktop popped up and they wanted to know "Who are those white dudes in the picture?"

"Oh, that's Depeche Mode." They'd never heard of them but they fixated on the date in the photo, 1988.

"You were alive in 1988? You ever meet those dudes?"

Um, no.

Now that I felt seriously like a granny, I watched them access their MySpace pages where they each had several hundred friends. Mostly teenage girls in various provocative poses. Girls that left them comments like the utterly profound, "IM JUS STOPPIN BY TO SHOW U SUM LOVE ON YO PAGE. DO THE SAME".

"Do you actually know all these girls?" I asked

Of course, they didn't and when they asked me how many friends I had on my MySpace page, I had to tell them, "Not many but that's because I only accept friend requests from people I actually know." This concept baffled them and I found myself having to explain to them that if it's not someone that I believe would come rescue me if I had a car crash, someone that I actually know and can count on, then they aren't my friend. They thought this was completely dumb.

I started to think that maybe my day didn't suck as much as I thought. After all, I know that someone isn't truly a friend if they only leave flirtatious messages on my MySpace page or send me emails or call me on a walkie talkie phone. I know that someone that can just delete me off of a "friends" page or, without a second thought, delete my email address out of their contacts, is not really a friend.

AJ and DJ laughed as they said that a friend is, "A girl that looks good and gives us money." I guess that's why AJ was trying to get with DJ's ex...maybe they don't really have a concept of true friendship.

They hung out for awhile longer, bugging me and the barista (who finally gave them two free frappucinos.)

The girl started calling again and I had to get back to my emails so I told them I'd see them later. They wandered off to hang out in the outdoor seating area and I thought about the various friends I've had throughout my life and whether I've been a good friend.

I think I have been...and at the very least, I never tried to hook up with a friend's ex. That counts for something, right?


velvet said…
Sounds like you have excellent friendship criteria. To quote Marlene Dietrich, "It is the friends that you can call up at 4am that matter."

I'm sure that these guys would have thought that a booty call qualifies. I have to wonder how much the internet and particularly MySpace have taken some of the meaning out of friendship... or is it something that we learn as we grow older and mature?

Sorry that your day sucked. Hang in there... things always find a way of getting better somehow.

Dena said…
aww, liz! i broke out the workshop photos last, i miss you! and don't worry! i will never delete you from my myspace page. :-) trust me. that would not be easy. i'm proud of the fact that i only have 30-something friends on my page. we can't and shouldn't look at the quantity of things, friends, etc....that we have, but the quality.
Anonymous said…
Hi Liz, Hope your day is better than it was when you wrote this last post. And yes, virtual friendships...? Something's getting mangled and it's not the word 'virtual'.
Liz: I am now pretty honored to have earned a place on your MySpace page. And of course you can call me if you get into a car accident. You're probably better off calling someone thousands of miles closer, but if you just wanted to chat until real help arrived or something, I could do that.

I think of MySpace (as used by the younger set) as being an extension of the Pokemon thing, or baseball cards. They are collecting friends. They have found a way to collect one another. And at some point, they will likely look at their collection and realize that only a few of their acquisitions are actually valuable to them.
West said…
re: "I guess that's why AJ was trying to get with DJ's ex...maybe they don't really have a concept of true friendship."


Nothin' but net!
none said…
I agree with your friendship criteria.

However, there are talking friends, drinking friends and doing friends. They all have their places but cannot be confused for one another because disapointment will surely result.

You're nicer than I am (regarding the laptop) and since when do 16 year old's in compton hang out in starbucks? I must be behind the times ;)
Ms Melancholy said…
It's the generation gap. Now you feel old, don't you??!
West said…
I'm with hammer on the laptop thing.

No way would they have gotten near my techno-goodies.
Unknown said…
I frequently wonder the same thing. I used to love getting letters from my friends and somehow it's not the same to get a long email from a friend as it was to get the lovely handwritten letter. But now, friends rarely send long emails about what's going on with them. It's just cell phone calls and IM.

Elarryo's gotta make you that dvd! Good for you for only having 30 friends. It's impossible to keep up with a thousand "friends" anyway and I swear, if I see the phrase, "Thanx 4 the add!" one more time, I'm gonna scream!

I was SO down yesterday. It defied explanation and I found myself thinking that I wished I could stop time and go back just 24 that cool character on "Heroes", Hiro Nakamura. Dang it, I love that show!

It IS a process of collection! You're so brilliant! Isn't it weird how our culture has turned friendship into a materialistic enterprise? And, you clearly have a good heart so I'd bet that if I came home, crashed on the Dan Ryan, and then sent you a message from my blackberry, you'd come.

Was that a two pointer or three?

Well, curiosity gets the better of me sometimes. I can't help but see what's gonna happen in some situations. It's great to have a Starbucks in Compton because the only other place to hang used to be the not to clean IHOP. SBUX's only been there for two years, but, as someone said, the company finally figured out that poor black and Latino folks drink coffee too.

Ms. M.
I feel VERY old. I realized today that these kids weren't even born until 1990 or '91. They missed the original heydeys of Michael Jackson, Prince, and Madonna.
Unknown said…
Can I enter a plea of temporary insanity brought on by extreme stress?
The whole experience sounds surrealistic, with definite video possibilities, Starbuck's lighting reflecting off your laptop, teenaged truants explaining friendship, Depeche Mode, everything.

You shouldn't feel old, though. I don't even have a MySpace page or understand the concept. Now THAT's old.
Leili said…
Have you been a good friend, you wonder?

The BEST. And I have 14 years of evidence to back me up. Love you, Lizzie!
Anonymous said…
I know the day you were having very well. For me it's called everyday. :-) Anyway, true friendship is rare and most people don't know it when they have it. I know it well though and I keep my circle tight. I'll give the high school truants a pass though because hormones and the idiocy of youth deem most teenage relationships null and void after about six months.
Liz Dwyer said…
Definitely surreal. Sometimes I feel like I'm in some sort of movie. But it's all real. I didn't even get into me telling them who Barack Obama is. But we discussed Depeche Mode...where are my priorities?

Awww...14 years passes so quickly. I can't believe it.

I do wonder if AJ will still be DJ's boy in another three months. Yes, hormones are a crazy thing. I find myself becoming an advocate of gender segregated schools so that kids can focus on the academics in an oversexed world. Of course, if their teachers actually were doing something worthwhile, and were really investing them in the academics, they'd be eager to be in a desk instead of in the Starbucks. Their high school has lost its accredidation so in some ways, I can't blame them for ditching.
Anonymous said…
Hey Liz...

i've seen that little baby face next to your tag everywhere...didn't make the connection.

Must be Southern Cal...I loaned a dejected-looking young man my cell phone in a coffee roasting house, then left to go do some serious mailing in other parts of the shopping center. I told him to come find me when he'd reached his friends, and was through with the phone.

He did.

My cousin in NYC wanted to S M A C K me on the spot when I told her. I thought it no big deal at the time...

Peace to you. Your heart is open, and the world responds positively to that.
Liz Dwyer said…
Maybe we are just trained to be highly suspicious of strangers in big cities. There's so much anonymity in a big city that there's the feeling that if someone walked off with your phone, you'd have the snowballs chance of getting it back or even seeing that person again. But, with these two boys, despite the macho bravado, I could tell these were good kids.

And yes, that's my youngest in the picture, busily posing with MY sunglasses!

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