I don’t have a lot of friends. I know lots of people, but that’s not the same. The people I do call friends sometimes disappoint me. Bob won’t take me to the airport at night (something about cataracts. Oh, please.) Pat won’t feed our cat when we go away for the weekend (yes, Angel has bitten her, but no stitches were required…either time) and Cathy won’t water our plants. (Sure, philodendron makes her windpipe contract, but what are friends for?)
The need for dependable friends was made clear when I was down in the basement recently and found an old box filled with expired coupons, unused gift cards and a few compositions from the class I taught at IUPUI in l986 and never got around to grading. At the very bottom of the pile, I found this:
CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’VE WON!
Feed the dolphins at the Indianapolis Zoo
(Expiration: December 30, 2016)
I had no recollection of winning this, but I’m thinking it was a silent auction bid I made at an event a very long time ago. At these fundraisers, I usually end up with a year’s supply of oil changes or a quilt that I prayed someone would outbid me on. This was from Zoobilation, an annual gala where all the local eateries showcase their fares on the grounds of the park while you graze. I used to be a celebrity judge, but they stopped asking me about 12 years ago because I pigged out on so many cocktail shrimp at the first St. Elmo booth that I had no appetite (or working taste buds) for the next 30 restaurants whose food I was so supposed to sample.
Reality began to set in. If I wanted to use this offer, I really needed to invite three friends soon.
“Hi, Rob, it’s Dick Wolfsie. Say, I’m trying to get a group of people together to feed some dolphins…”
“Gee, Dick, only you, in landlocked Indiana, could find homeless, hungry dolphins.
“These are not homeless, hungry dolphins. These are well-fed, happy dolphins.”
“Then you need to find a more deserving charity. Aren’t we saving whales anymore? Or bald eagles?”
“You don’t understand. I bought this at Zoobilation. I think I paid three hundred dollars.”
“Yeah, I was there, too. I got the limo ride and drinks for 10 people for forty bucks. I don’t seem to be having any problems finding friends to come along.”
I tried Mikki. She loves animals. “Mikki, how would you like to feed some dolphins with me?”
“Dick, I get the feeling that this request requires holding dead fish.”
“Yes, I think it does.”
Garry, it’s Dick. Would you like to spend a day feeding dolphins?”
“Dick, you’re retired. You’re supposed to be feeding ducks.”
The next time I go to one of these fundraisers, I’ll only bid on stuff my so-called friends would like, maybe even something extravagant like a cabin in Vail for three couples over a weekend. But I won’t be able to go. Who would water the plants and feed the cat?