As I have said in the past, I feel a kinship with Oscar Wilde. This connection probably stems from my love of Victorian literature and what I have learned about him over time. The more I learn, the more I feel drawn to him, as a person and as a writer. In a previous post I mentioned how much I love the movie Julie and Julia, and in the same way Julie feels a connection to Julia Child, I feel connected to Oscar Wilde despite living over a century apart. When I think of him, I picture a large man with a quiet yet large presence that isn’t tied to his foppish ensemble. Along with, that, I picture champagne, fine dinners, a restaurant gilded and gleaming with a haze of cigar and cigarette smoke somewhere posh. He was a presence, a man known as much for his wit and intellect as for his talent. That level of sociability is something I aspire to, but in my introverted, anxiety-ridden bubble, I feel that it is unattainable. Then, I saw this: It came from a questionnaire Wilde filled out while in America. If you’re having a hard time reading it, the question is “What trait of character do you most admire in man?” and Wilde’s answer is “the power of attracting friends.” This struck me. Why would a man like Wilde, who seemed to be entertaining guests often when he became a successful playwright and was known for his conversation and wit, admire those who could attract friends? Wilde filled this out when he was in his early twenties, and being a twenty-three going on twenty-four year old, I felt a twinge of hope for my introverted self. If Wilde could go from someone who had a hard time making friends to a man who seemed to attract crowds, maybe there was hope for me. Maybe Wilde was a lit/art nerd or an awkward dork too at my age.
I’m one of those people who is able to speak to people I see daily (like in class or at work), but I rarely get to the best friend stage with anyone or it’s completely one-sided on my side. There has never been someone I could hang out with regularly and share time or a good meal with. I have my boyfriend of course, whom I love dearly, to do those things with, but a friend besides my significant other would be nice. I do have a best friend. Unfortunately, she lives across the pond, yet she is the type of person I would imagine doing all the things I hope to do with a friend if they lived nearby. Luckily in this internet age we can message each other all the time, but it would be nice to go somewhere and have plans for once. The green-eyed monster rears its head when I watch my boyfriend occasionally venture out to a restaurant, pub, or friend’s house.
Part of the problem I know is me. I don’t drink. I don’t like what many people my age would like, like partying or drinking or carousing. I’m kind of stiff (prudish according to my boyfriend), and that doesn’t always work to my advantage. I long for someone to go to NYC with me to a new museum exhibit or take a drive to a town 30 minutes away to try a new bakery or restaurant. Someone I can hang out with and not say anything to because the friendship doesn’t rely on constant activity to keep it going. My interests are limited, and my unwillingness to put a lot of effort into friendships after numerous failures makes it hard for me to step out and try, but Mr. Wilde’s questionnaire gives me hope that I’ll be able to make and maintain friendships one day. Then again, at the end of his life, I think Wilde realized who his true friends were, and they weren’t nearly as numerous as they seemed.
Between my creative writing and literature classes and the friends I have met online, I think I have made some relationships that will withstand time. I can’t be sure who will come or go, but after looking back at Wilde, it reminds me that it’s quality over quantity, and I definitely have quality friends.