How do we choose our friends? How do we choose a mate?
Recently, I heard someone express surprise that there was four-way compatibility with them and their spouse and another married couple. Friendships often do not mix well with spouses, they espoused. Does that say something bad about the way they chose a mate, they wondered.
In the Joe Zone, we’re all about delving into and resolving such issues. By which I mean, issues that are nebulous, incomprehensible, and unsolvable. Therefore, we immediately activated the JZ Bureau of Arcane Areas Ridiculously Diverse and Vaguely Aromatically Repugnant like Kerosene (AARDVARK), located in the fourth sub-basement of the JZ Intergalactic headquarters. The AARDVARKs are always happy to be unchained, and let loose on an innocent world, so while they’re out running amuck, I’ll tell you what I think about it, which carries all the weight of the feather that astronaut David Scott dropped onto the lunar surface.
When we choose our interests and avocations, our hobbies, pastimes, sports and entertainment likes and dislikes, and so on, some portions of the brain are involved, according to scientific studies. (These studies are available for review in the fourth sub-basement of the JZ Intergalactic headquarters.) Those interests therefore tend to reflect some aspects of our personalities, our values, our dreams and aspirations. We naturally gravitate toward people who are compatible in those areas, and these people become our friends.
However, studies have also shown that mates are chosen while the brain is inactive, or in some cases, thinking about potato chips. We leave spousal selection to such things as our left elbow, which tingles when we look at a special someone, or the upper lip, which may twitch spasmodically when under the influence of pheromones, or the all-important nape of the neck, the most misunderstood and mystical body part. Some people rely on the earlobes becoming flushed and pulsating, but that is less common.
Perhaps most disturbing is the result of a survey, recently conducted in my head, which shows that Old World “arranged” marriages have a higher success rate than modern American “for love” marriages. This means that – brace yourself – your marriage has a better chance of success if you let your parents pick your mate. There is evidence, incomplete at this time, that cutting cards, rolling dice, and perusing mug shots may also provide superior results.
It is therefore readily apparent (some will recognize this as scholar-speak for “I believe this is true but have absolutely no evidence of it”) that we use entirely different mechanisms to choose mates and friends. Why, then, would we expect them to be compatible? In fact, it may turn out that our spouses and our friends can barely stand to be in the same room. Or, our friend’s spouses may have friends with spouses that are more compatible with our spouse or our spouse’s friends than we are with the friends of our friends’ spouses, or even with the spouse of the friend of our spouse’s friend.
Here’s your Joe-to-Go, from the JZ Take-out Window: I suggest that the next generation conduct a grand social experiment, and reverse our current practice. Let your parents choose your spouse, and your left elbow choose your friends.
I won’t be around to see the results, but I plan to make myself readily available to charlatans who speak with the departed. So, let me know how it works out.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for the AARDVARKS.