Hang Time

"In a word she was 'magic' to be around. Made me feel like we were invincible, like the rest of the world didn't exist."... "These guys have been best buds, like, since I can remember. And in that time I've never once seen 'em get into an argument."... "Funny, how they all ended up friends. It's not like they have anything in common and, yet, somehow it works."... "From the time we first met things just sort of clicked."... "I'm tellin' you, when these two are together no one else can get a word in edgewise. I'm like, 'Get a room already!'"

So, yeah, I'm referring to the age-old practice of interacting with others. Gettin' up close and personal. Ya' know, palling around... being chummy. . Fraternization, if you will. Keepin' company. Gettin' out there and rubbin' elbows. Mingling. Socializing with the peeps. Talkin' 'bout everyone from old-time high school classmates to your present-day "ride or die". Whether it's standing by a close friend going through a really rough time or just chillin' at the neighborhood bar with the gang after a softball game. Be it hooking up with a lifelong compadre or making small talk with a stranger in the checkout line at the supermarket. Hobnobbing, schmoozing... chewing the fat; whatever you wanna call it, in the end, it all comes down to the hang.

Hangin's been goin' on since, like, the Flintstones, right? I mean, Fred and Barney were tight, likewise Wilma and Betty. Humans are social animals; it's what we do. From the time we're born into a family, interaction is part of the equation. You see it immediately in babies as they try desperately to form their first word--with "mama" being the odds-on favorite--before working their way up to those delightful full sentences, like, "Hey, haven't I seen you somewhere before?" a surefire pick-up line, or "Yeah, in your dreams, loser!", an equally surefire putdown line. In between, we're constantly adding to our vocabulary as we experience all that life throws at us, especially those formative teenage years when seemingly every ounce of our energy is spent attempting to show ourselves in the best light, hoping mightily to impress our peers. Longing to pass ourselves off as cool. Wanting more than anything to be a good hang.

As I see it, hangs come in two categories: the forced hang and the mutually agreed upon hang. The forced hang includes the aforementioned family, the schoolroom, your nearby neighbors, your job and your marriage (sorry, just kiddin', honey). Obviously, marriage is a mutually agreed upon hang. Likewise, joining a band, pre-football tailgate parties, golf outings, religious affiliations, fraternities, sororities and all manner of clubs, be they hiking, motorcycle, book, VFW or glee (are people even into glee anymore?). And while the mutually agreed upon hang would seem, at first blush, to wind up the more successful of the two groupings, that's not necessarily true. As it turns out, the hang is pretty sophisticated, containing more than its share of variables.

Indeed, school and, later on, the workplace, both instances of an environment not chosen because of mutual predilections but rather for the more essential task of acquiring an education and making a living, can unite people with ostensibly very little in common. You and your seeming wallflower of a classmate, reacting in outrage over your history teacher's pop quiz or your initially presumed doofus co-worker and yourself sharing snarky asides over your manager's affinity to micro-manage a project to the point of lunacy can become the ties that bind for a lifetime. Initially, both examples of a forced hang miraculously being transformed into a fruitful relationship, proving once again that collaborative hatred can be a powerful impetus.

Conversely, a shared affection for something doesn't always connote the greatest possible hang. Marriage, for example, generally starts out with the best of intentions, and yet, approximately half of them end in divorce (again, honey, this isn't about us; we're fine). Or how about rock bands: The Kinks, with the Davies brothers and Oasis with Liam and Noel Gallagher at the helm, while capable of making great music together, both broke up acrimoniously while in their prime. Of course, the difficulty in analyzing the results there is that these are examples of a hybrid hang--both forced (i.e., family) and mutually agreed upon--proving, as stated earlier, that the hang has its share of variables.

The point is when it comes to a good hang there are no set rules, just lots and lots of factors. Sometimes it's a product of shared interests and sometimes its a collective disinterest. Some hangs come with a shelf life, others last seemingly forever. A hang can be random or precisely calculated, one-on-one or in a crowd. A hang can make or break your day. A hang can turn on a dime, from guardedly optimistic to a full-fledged fiasco, from unexpectedly uneasy to utterly sublime. One minute there's magic in the air, the next you can't get out of the room fast enough. A hang need not even require both parties to be present. Albeit one-sided, someone could be reading another person's thoughts--say, in the form of a blog?--and deciding right then and there whether the author is a good hang.