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LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - March 21, 2021 - 12:00am

Last week’s piece on friendship stimulated quite a lively discussion on various fora, specially among lawyers. To recall, it was about the revival of Christine Dacera’s homicide case against the twinks (is that pejorative?) who were with her on New Year’s Eve, and their failure to save her life. That case may yet prove to be a seminal lesson on the duties that our so-called friends owe us.

Inquisitive legal minds focused on a victory by the prosecution - meaning that moving forward, any person lucky enough to have a friend now has the legal obligation to watch over that friend, and even call for medical attention in case that friend is exhibiting symptoms not necessarily attributable to drugs or inherent weirdness.

Under that ruling, it seems that a friend cannot just dump a distressed companion. The friend cannot suddenly remember another appointment and quickly disappear or just endorse the companion to random strangers on the street. Even just hailing a cab and flinging his companion in, before sending the cab on its merry way, may not even cut it.

“What kind of a friend would that be?!” - you may exclaim. Well, this is exactly the point. To date, their friendship is certainly between those two to define, right? And not up to the law or our courts to dictate.

That explains the brouhaha among the legal community. What makes the potential ruling so difficult to apply in normal life is there are various kinds of friendships. Some friendships are deep, life-long, and raised to the status of “almost-relatives,” while some are mere acquaintances.

What level of friendship should two people have before this strange Dacera obligation kicks in? Should the friendship be measured in terms of time? Like you’ve been friends for a decade already, before that obligation is expected? Or would a couple of months of deep, intense sharing of views and opinions (tongues?) suffice?

Or should friendship be measured in terms of intimacy, like you’ve had sleepovers already, or you’ve met each other’s parents? Or you know each others’ deep dark secrets? Gone on vacations together and not ended up scratching each other’s eyes out?

Or should it be measured in how many common friends you share? Like, there must be commonality of at least (assign random number here) acquaintances, before the law will consider two people as friends with this 911 obligation? Two people who went to high school together? Joined the same clubs? Fraternity brothers who have gotten into bloody scrapes together?

Or should it be self-anointed, like two persons will officially designate each other as “friend” before the law’s expectations will vest? Without that label, no obligation?

On that note, I had this idea of preparing a template agreement between two newly-met strangers, with a list of expectations that the two could demand from each other. The strangers will tick off against that list what they expect, on that day, from each other and then sign it.

Every year, that checklist will be refreshed, and either new obligations will be added to the friendship cart, or previous obligations will be subtracted, depending on how well the friendship went. At least, there won’t be any ambiguity left as to each other’s expectations, right? So one can’t scream at the other for the normal reasons that lead to “friendship-over” scenarios, like too much free-loading, or stealing boy toys, or taking advantage of the friend’s inebriation to satisfy lewd thoughts.

If that checklist doesn’t have a tick in the box where it says: call 911 in case of medical emergency - then tough. No obligation, and therefore no crime. That should make life simpler.

As a separate strand, friends also chimed in last week about how there are other categories of pals that should be quickly unfriended. But that’s another topic altogether.

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