Picture this: you are hanging out on the playground at a park on a sunny afternoon. You find yourself scaling the monkey bars two at a time and barreling down the plastic spiral slide, not a care in the world.
Suddenly, a child about your age starts to chase you. Instantly you become the victim in a game of tag where you inevitably are “it”. You run around the park, lost in a world of play with a new friend whom you just met.
Then you hear your mom say it’s time to go and you wave goodbye to your new best friend, whom you know you will never see again. Sound familiar?
Single-serving friends, those friends who hang out only as long as they are within eyesight and then disappear from your mind, are one of the magical wonders of childhood.
Now, fast-forward twenty years: You are waiting for public transit, in line at a concert or waiting for a friend at a bar alone when you strike up a conversation with a stranger. You chat casually, discussing relatable topics that you both find stimulating.
After you begin to part ways, you exchange numbers and promise to make plans. As the weeks go by and you scroll through your phone, you randomly find their number followed by the sinking feeling that you aren’t going to actually text them. You waffle between deleting it or keeping it in case they happen to text you.
Now, rewind. Wouldn’t that situation feel better if you could part ways knowing full well that despite the best of intentions, you will never see each other again? Can you really make a friend who serves a single purpose at the moment and then disappears completely?
The answer is yes.
The term “single-serving friend” was coined in the movie, “Fight Club”:
“Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon Bleu hobby kit. Shampoo-conditioner combos, sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap. The people I meet on each flight? They’re single-serving friends.”
As an attractive, gregarious female Lyft driver, I come across all kinds of single-serving friends. We engage in animated conversation about a menagerie of topics: politics, travel, parenting, relationships, interesting careers, the best places or eat or drink in the city, and above all else, how busy my night as been.
Maybe because of the intimacy of being in close proximity, maybe because of my general ability to find a thread with which to stitch into any conversation topic, I find people are very open to sharing information with a complete stranger for the length of a car ride.
Don’t get me wrong; I have spent many a car ride with passengers who preferred their smartphone to a deep discussion about the golden mean or whether stricter gun laws decrease violent crime. Yet, a majority of customers prefer to engage in delightful banter rather than radio silence.
Some of the more interesting things I have been asked by my single-serving friends are:
- “Do you enjoy threesomes?”
- “Want to join our bachelor party at the strip club?” (more than once)
- “Are you interested in joining me while I sit in a camping chair and watch the Proud Boys riot downtown?”
- “Did you know that Dubai is not in India?”
Having a single-serving friend can come in many different forms. One might be waiting at a bus stop. Perhaps you are in line at the DMV. No matter your location, a single-serving friend is apt to begin a single-serving conversation that will invariably entertain you and if nothing else, be a story to tell your real friends later.
As a female, it might be easier for us to attract single-serving friends. The lone female waiting for something seems to be the most adept at attracting attention; be it a ride, grocery check-out or in the waiting room at a dentist’s office, we are naturally susceptible to a start-up conversation from males and females alike.
Another group who tends to have it easy when it comes to single-serving friends are extroverts. The extrovert views the world one-potential-friend at a time and will find friends wherever they go. Naturally talkative and outgoing, extroverts will tire readily at the prospect of sitting or standing alone and will often seek out the company of others.
Whether you are an extrovert or happen to be standing next to one, a single-serving friend is ready and waiting.
But what about the snowflake/unicorn single-serving friends who you want to continue to see, even after your departure from the freezer section of the supermarket or toward the arrival gate at the airport?
Unfortunately, single-serving friends do not endure the way traditional friendships do. They are meant to serve a single purpose and then dissolve sweetly like the creamer in your coffee.
Do not worry that you will never see your single-serving friend again; simply feel enlightened by the fact that you connected with someone in a real-life face-to-face manner, devoid of an app and glowing screen — no single-serving custom Cordon Bleu hobby kit required.