the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Bad Time For New Facebook Friends

Nothing can lift the spirits of a man better than a long-time friend. My friend Barry called yesterday.

“I’m free tonight. You want to grab some sushi and then come coffee at the diner?”


I’ve mentioned Barry several times before. We have known each other since kindergarten. Although he has moved to the Island, his parents still live in my mother’s building, so he frequently drops by.

We have a ritual on our nights out. We eat somewhere. We drive past Shea Stadium/CitiField and talk about the Mets (well, in honesty, he talks about the Mets and I listen). We drive to the Palace Diner near Queens College. I order a coffee and linzer tart. He orders a decaf coffee and apple crumb cake. We look at the songs on the jukebox and make fun of them. We watch videos on YouTube on the iphone. We sit there for four hours.


Barry knows very little about blogging and Twitter, but he has recently become obsessed with Facebook, mostly in reconnecting with people we knew in elementary school. He seems to have an amazing ability to find long-lost people.

“I found Josh. He sells real estate in Seattle. And I talked with Juan. He is a minister in Idaho.”

“Juan is a minister in Idaho?”

“He told me to give you his blessings.”

“How did he become a minister? All he ever did in school was smoke pot.”

“Maybe that’s how he found God.”

Now, if you recall, I closed the comments on my previous post. I titled it a “Trainwreck Post” and described how my life was falling apart. Some scholars say that God does not have a sense of humor. I should ask Juan about this issue. But I believe God IS a funny guy. Why else would Barry proceed to tell me this — ?

“Oh, I told him to friend you on Facebook. I told EVERYONE to friend you on Facebook. And I gave everyone the address to your BLOG.”

“My BLOG?! Why the hell would you do that?”

“Yeah, I thought it would be cool for them to see it. You were writing stuff even back then. They can see that you kept with it!”

“I don’t want THEM to see my BLOG!  Especially right now!”

It was too late. All weekend, I had classmates I haven’t seen in decades, happily married individuals who are now successful attorneys, professors, clothing designers, and ministers, coming to my blog and reading the post where I revealed that I am “rock bottom,” in need of medication, and STILL LIVING in the same apartment I was in elementary school.

“Interesting writing! I’ll read more.” wrote Sharon in a message to me on Facebook.  She was some girl I once dreamed about in sixth grade, now an assistant dean of a prestigious woman’s college.

For some reason, I don’t believe her.

When Barry told me this news in the diner, I knew it was going to be trouble.

“We all want to look good with old friends!  Having all these people reading my blog right now is like ME going to my college reunion with my fly open!”

“At least they’ll remember you as different,”  he said.

Barry handed me my iPhone.   As I was fretting, he had clicked onto Facebook and was showing me the current profile photo of Jane, who, back in the day, was considered the prettiest girl in fifth grade.

“Jeez, she’s still gorgeous!” I said. “Is she married?”

“To a neurosurgeon.”

I finished my linzer tart.


Today, on Facebook, Jane posted this photo of Barry and me in the fifth grade during the yearly P.S. 154 “Dance Festival” in the schoolyard.


  1. Headless Mom

    See? Rock bottom really wasn’t rock bottom. Unfortunately that also means that there is still room to go down.

    Uh oh. Seems that I’m not helping at all.

  2. People in the Sun

    I would have gotten myself a Facebook account if I weren’t afraid of people trying to reconnect.

    And whatever you do in life, know that you’ll always be cooler than you were in 5th grade. I mean, are these shoes white?

  3. Long Story Longer

    Christ. That’s basically my worst nightmare. I’m sorry, Neil. I felt really bad reading your post yesterday. I had advice, so I won’t give any. You’ll find your way. We’re here for you.

  4. Long Story Longer

    *Hate*, I *hate* advice. Damn, it’s late.

  5. flutter

    you totally need friends like him

  6. Jane

    One of my favorite posts ever. It is so real life it hurts, and at the same time yes…has to make you wonder if God has a sense of humor.

    And this is such a perfect open to any screenplay you might write.

  7. Lynda

    I never got into Facebook too much. Went to it once a month or so…then my family found me…and old high school peers who I never thought liked me much…and my mom started posting baby pictures (but at least she stopped when she found out everyone could see them!)

    I was a little concerned with your last post. Honestly, sometimes I wish I could talk to you one on one about some of the stuff you are going through. Sometimes it seems to echo my situation.

  8. Deeleea

    That photo is precisely why I haven’t hooked up o facebook with ANYone I knew in High School.

    Is ‘hooked up’ the right term? I just had a flash that maybe it might mean more than I meant it to mean…

    In any case… I haven’t friended them either…

  9. better safe than sorry

    one of my childhood friends found me on facebook about a week ago, she’s not someone i would ever have gone looking for and she wants to “catch up”, which i’m not sure i even want to do. i’m glad you have a friend like barry, in your real life, he might wind up giving you a little push without even trying to. your last post concerned me as well, i thought about leaving you a message on facebook or by e-mail, but i didn’t think i was the right person to do it, but i still did feel concerned.

  10. SciFi Dad

    I think you actually smell what the Rock is cookin’ now.

  11. PattyCake

    Nice legs.

    Interesting writing! I’ll read more.

  12. Mir

    Well, at least you wear better pants now.

    I hope. 😉

  13. Neil

    Headless Mom —

    “Rock bottom really wasn’t rock bottom. Unfortunately that also means that there is still room to go down.”

    That made me laugh, and is somewhat inspirational!

  14. Alison

    See, this is why I don’t blog much anymore, and when I do, it’s heavily censored. Too many people from my past are reading it. *shiver*

    Hang in there, Neil.

  15. John

    I spend a lot of time thinking God has a rather sick sense of humor. Assuming we are “made in his image,” and given instincts that are in direct opposition to “the rules,” to me is not funny, but sadistic. The cosmic sense of order and justice on our planet seems to make even less sense than the messes we create for ourselves (and that takes some doing). I’ve questioned whether we have an all-loving God that is not all powerful, or an all powerful God that is not all loving.

  16. LVGurl

    Were you 6’7″ in the fifth grade?

  17. churlita

    Eh, everyone has hit rock bottom at some point. I’m sure everyone in your class can totally relate.

  18. Miss Grace

    I guess…things have to get worse before they can get better. Or if they’re at the worst, they can ONLY get better?

  19. Venus

    Your last post was real. Haven’t we all been there, no matter how polished or pulled together we may be on the surface? People hit rock bottom more than once in their life although it does appear that I am living in mine permanently. Still, who cares. Of course, I say this from behind the comforting veil of anonymity but I agree with Barry that people may see you as different/interesting and why not?

    Could be worse – they could see you as boring!

  20. Lucy

    Is this a writing exercise? Man hits bottom and is exposed on Facebook? The timing is suspicious. Don’t get me wrong — I’d watch the movie. Did you see Keeping the Faith with Stiller and Norton? Not the same thing at all, and yet I’m reminded of that flick. 🙂

  21. Ellen B.

    Oh Yeah….that’s EXACTLY why I HAVE NOT registered on Facebook! I live in the same town and close to where I grew up. I see enough people from my past just walkin’ down the street!

  22. Laurel

    Sounds to me like Barry needs a beating. Never trust anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to do the ‘half-thumbs-up-half-point’ hand gesture…

  23. maggie, dammit

    Yeah. This happened to me with Facebook, too, minus the rock bottom part. Mostly they were able to read about me judging them about drunk driving and talent shows. It’s mortifying.

    I wanted to tell you on your last post what a cool guy you are, but you closed comments. Oh well.

    Hope all is significantly higher up than rock bottom. That’s how it looks from way up here, anyway.

  24. 3boys1mommy

    Uh oh, I think it’s time to write a post that casually mentions your technorati ranking and the amount of followers you have on Twitter… that’ll show Mrs. Neurosurgeon! 😉

  25. sizzle

    I get a kick out of your 4 hour diner ritual. I wouldn’t want people I knew back in elementary school reading my blog – that’s why I never use my real name on my blog. I feel for you, my friend!

  26. Musing

    And yet another reason to avoid Facebook.

  27. Ashley

    *hugs* It could’ve been worse, ya know. You could’ve wrote a bunch of stuff about them all and then they read it.

  28. teahouseblossom

    Hey, just so you know, when you reach the end of your rope, let go. And this is what happens. I’m so glad your friends reconnected with you. And don’t worry about how things look to everyone – your true friends love you, and the real you always shines through – the funny, witty person who feels deeply.

    Don’t forget to let me know when you’re free for lunch this week!

  29. Annie

    This is something that would happen to me too, we have the same kind of luck. Made me laugh though :-). Love the sweet photo.

  30. dk

    Oh baby! I feel your pain, but love the pic. Nice moves guys 😉 Even if the mates are rocket scientists I bet not a one of them can make my day like you do.

  31. AnnieH

    Looks like a couple of hooligans to me:>) I do like the bad boys…
    As for Mrs. Neurosurgeon, the woman’s home a lot raising the kids by herself. Those guys are at the hospital a lot.

  32. V-Grrrl

    Oh, this post made me laugh so hard and feel so guilty.

    Jane is right, it is one of your best.

    And I’m convinced God has a sense of humor–where else would we get ours from?


  33. Danny

    I have recently been “friended” by a ton of people I went to school with a million years ago and I mostly find it an interesting exercise. I’ve renewed some long dormant friendships, found some new friends, and remembered why I carefully avoided some of these people back in the day! It’s SO hard not to compare ourselves with other people’s so-called success but I’m doing my best to avoid it–especially where the mega-salaries of some of my classmates’ who work for public companies are listed online. Oy.

  34. Kerri Anne

    I like Barry. And I think you’re pretty awesome, rock bottom or no.

    That’s one of the reasons I all caps HATE Facebook. Everyone strategically chooses the best photos to showcase how good they are doing and writes things to showcase how successful they are, and no one talks about how we all click picture after picture of long lost friends, missing them, wishing we knew if they were really happy or not.

    On a related note: I have to keep myself off Facebook daily to stay sane.

  35. lettergirl

    Stumbled over from another blog. Did not know you in high school, but this kind of painfully vulnerable and still funny writing makes me want to know you now.

  36. V-Grrrl

    I can’t believe you don’t have a button set up so I can share this on Facebook!

  37. mamatulip

    Those are some sweet pants you’re sporting in that bottom picture, Neil.

    (I love this post.)

  38. Deidre

    I can’t believe people are dissing those pants. They’re sweet as!

    I think facebook is the devil – there i’ve said it.

  39. lildb

    aww, fuck.

    fuckety-fuck fuck fuck.

  40. Michele

    Oh, the humanity!

    What a nightmare.

  41. lildb

    p.s. Kerri Anne nailed it. Also, Kerri Anne: allow me to become your humble servant and fetch you things. with my mouth.

    p.p.s. stupid fuckin’ facebook. i loathe it so.

  42. Danny

    At the risk of being pummeled to death by your readers, I have to admit that I love Facebook–provided you know how to use it and your involvement with “friends” doesn’t get out of control. But I can understand why some people run screaming from it–probably for the same reasons I can’t imagine going on Twitter.

    By the way, I think Barry sounds like the coolest friend ever–one of those classic sidekicks like Tony Manero’s buddies in “Saturday Night Fever.”

  43. Neil

    Danny – Barry is one of the funniest and smartest person I know. I am his straight man. He’s the perfect example of the difference between a natural storyteller and a writer. He would not have the patience to sit and write stories, I don’t think — maybe in the future — but he knows exactly how to tell a story. I have learned more from him in that arena than from teachers in college.

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