A not-friend is someone you sometimes are forced to socialize with, be courteous to, and pretend to be a friend for the sake of your friends who are his friends. Make sense? Well, you may have one. You know the guy who joins you at the table in the Harvard Gardens and spends the evening undressing every passing nubile female that goes by. That’s right him.
We had one. Mongo was a friend of the Monks from the seminary. How someone like this ever got accepted into a seminary or became the friend of such a prayerful person as the Monk, we could not guess. But, we tolerated him because the Monk seemed to.
Please don’t get me wrong. The “gentlemen” of the Folkie Palace were not above leering, letching, ogling, and drooling. We were just more restrained about it. Mongo was not in the least reserved. If you’ve watched old cartoons, you may be familiar with the image of the wolf whose eyes are bulging out and whose tongue is extending out of his mouth an incredible length. From this mouth would stream a steady inchoate stream of lust. Yes, that’s what I’d adduce -enter in evidence- in this case.
Eventually, we had a household conference with the Monk about this, and it turned out that Mongo was a not-friend of Mongo, who he tolerated because he was a friend of Carl at the seminary. So OK, now it was clear he was a not-friend of ours because he was a not-friend of the Monk because the Monk thought he was a friend of Carl at the seminary? Which meant he was certainly not a friend of ours.
It turned out that Mongo became a bit of not problem for a month or so. He had started drinking across the river in Cambridge with friends from Harvard. After that, things at our table settled back into usual feckless abandon, and some of our female friends felt comfortable enough that they rejoined us. Then one evening, in walked Mongo with a petite redhead.
It was a subdued Mongo who sat down with us. Talia, the redhead, seemed to take the lead in the conversation, once in a while looking towards Mongo. Mongo would smile, nod his head, and beam at Talia. The single-time Mongo’s eyes darted towards a young woman entering the bar, Talia reached over, grabbed his hand, and said, ” behave yourself.”We found out that Talia intended to march Mongo down the aisle and make an honest man of him.
Later sitting around the Folkie Palace, the Monk mused that Talia certainly was nubile. ” Well,” he said, “nubile is from the Latin nubilis -to take a husband; a marriageable woman. And Talia certainly is taking Mongo to the alter to make him a husband.”
We sat around in silence after this for a while. Eventually, one of us spoke up and said, ” But did you see how Talia said behave to him, and he just smiled and nodded his head?” Then, off in the darkness, another said, ” it’s disturbing.” Even though Mongo was a not-friend, we mourned his passing. If someone like Mongo could prove so malleable why not one of us?