In this narcissistic age of social media, I find it interesting that the braggarts who claim the most friends on Facebook are usually the ones nobody wants to be with in real life. We all know fakers who blow air kisses and suggest we should catch up when we meet at functions. The fact is, we so barely know each other, and there’s nothing to be caught up on. It’s a social gesture – much like when they say they like your dress. It’s well known they would then backhand slap you, adding: “I think I bought one from the same collection when it first came out, last season.”

Then there are those who actually are such sad loners, they’ll desperately latch on to anyone for attention and connection. There’s the workaholic lady boss with whom I literally have nothing in common, but somehow she considers me a friend and always wants to get together to hear all about what I’m up to. I admit, I enjoy people sucking up to me as much as any egomaniac, but it gets a little waning when they get excited about things I don’t even care about.

“Oh, those shoes look so great on you!” Actually, they’re brunch shoes, so clearly that means they are not among my season favourites.

Real friends are harder to come by. One of my “besties” (a real one this time) says it makes life much easier if she compartmentalises her friends into categories and then makes sure none of them ever breach their sectioned confine.

There are the lifelong friends she grew up with; there are her buddies she goes drinking and partying with; the sporty gang from the gym or the dragon boat team; the girls who do spa and afternoon tea; and then there are the close girlfriends you can talk to about relationships, sex and everything about guys. And then there’s one gay guy pal she talks to when something gets too embarrassing or shameful for that close-knit posse.

I am not quite as ruthless as my bestie. I tend to think of most of my friends as friends, not social constructs. I also suspect she doesn’t think I’m as cool as I used to be. My standing has changed slightly. We used to party together; now we just have afternoon coffees.

What we all long for are the true friends that withstand change, fashion, boy mistakes, bad husbands, and cosmetic secrets. Recently, I visited an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a decade, but after two minutes it was like old times back in high school again, even though now she’s a former go-getter turned mum in a small town overseas. Nowadays, she can’t understand how I bother wasting money on shoes, and even less how I walk in those things. I appreciate her candour. If I want false compliments, I’ll just wear those heels to another Hong Kong cocktail party.


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