If you hate managed healthcare,

Welcome to Managed Friendship, a whole new way of thinking about friends and relationships. The Managed Friendship Plan (MFP) combines all the advantages of a traditional friendship network with important cost-saving features.

How Does It Work?
Under the Plan, you choose your friends from a network of pre-screened accredited Friendship Providers (FPs). All your friendship needs are met by members of your Managed Friendship Staff.

What's Wrong with my Current Friends?
If you're like most people, you are receiving friendship services from a network of providers haphazardly patched together from your old neighborhoods, jobs, and schools. The result is often costly duplication, inefficiency, and conflict. Many of your current friendsmay not meet national standards, responding to your needs with inappropriate, outmoded, or even experimental acts of friendship. Under Managed Friendship, your friendship needs are coordinated by your designated Best Friend, who will ensure the quality and goodness of fit of all your friendly relationships.

How Do I Know
That the Plans' Panel of Friends Is Not Made Up of a Bunch of 'Losers' Who Can't Make Friends on Their Own?

Many of todays' most dedicated and highly trained Friendship Providers are as concerned as we are about delivering Quality Friendship in a cost-effective manner. They have joined our network because they want to focus on acting like a friend rather than doing the paperwork and paying the high bad-friendship premiums that have caused the cost of traditional friendship to skyrocket. Our Friendship Providers have met our rigorous standards of companionship and loyalty.

What If I Need a Special Friend, Say, for Poker or Fishing?
Special Friends are responsible for most of the unnecessary and expensive activities that burden already costly relationships. Under the Managed Friendship Plan, your Best Friend is qualified to pre-approve your referral to a Special Friend within the Managed Friendship Network should your needs fall outside of the scope of his/her friendship.

Suppose I Want to See Friends
Outside the Managed Friendship Network?
You may make friends outside of the Managed Friendship Network only in the event of a Friendship Emergency.

What is a Friendship Emergency?
The Managed Friendship Plan covers your friendship needs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, even if you need a friend out of town, after regular business hours, or when your Best Friend is with someone else. You might be on a business trip, for instance, and suddenly find that you feel lonely. In such cases, you may make a New Friend, and all approved friendly activities will be covered under the Plan, provided you notify the Managed Friendship Office (or 24-hour Friendship Hotline) within two business days.

What Friendly Activities Are Covered Under the Plan?
Friendly Activities that are typically covered include:
- Agreeing with you
- Appearing sympathetic
- Chewing the fat
- Dropping by
- Feeling your pain
- Gossiping
- Hanging out
- Holding your hand *(up to 5 minutes per activity)
- Joshing
- Kidding around
- Listening to you whine
- Partying
- Passing the time
- Patting your back
- Ribbing
- Sharing a meal
- Shooting the breeze
- Slinging the bull
- Teasing *(up to 15 minutes under the Premium Gold Friendship Plan)

What Friendly Activities Are Not Covered Under the Plan?
Activities that would not be pre-approved include
(but are not limited to):
- Bar hopping
- Bending over backwards
- Drinking to excess
- Giving a hoot
- Going the extra mile
- Lending money
- Real empathy
- Sexual favors
- Truly caring
- Using illicit drugs

How Can I Find Out More About the Managed Friendship Plan?
A simple call is all it takes. If you need a friend, just call our toll-free number. Or visit our web site. Sign up for the Managed Friendship Plan and rest easier that all of your appropriate friendship needs will be met.

Who Decides What's Appropriate for Me?
We do. Isn't that what friends are for?



They were new to the community that year, having purchased the largest house in the elite seaside resort. Although it was Jims' hometown, he had remained in New York where he attended college. It was five years before he was able to get a transfer back home. After months of `nodding' acquaintance with their new neighbors - Mrs. Lonas came up with the idea of having a really big cook-out sort of party. For more intimacy, she decided that they would do the cooking themselves.
The invitations went out and every single one of them were accepted! The couple was delighted. The `theme' was to be "By the Sea" and they were going to have every imaginable seafood. For two weeks, Mrs Lonas consulted cookbooks and planned how they would prepare the various dishes. The day arrived at last. The horse was decorated, tables were laden with fresh fruits and vegetables..... hush puppies and corn bread... and the fire was going for the freshly steamed crabs they would be preparing. A call came from the company whose delivery truck was to have brought the crabs - there had been an accident and they wouldn't be able to supply her order. Mr Lonas offered to rush in to town and pick some up from the wharf where the fishermen would be unloading the days' catch.
So saying, he rushed out to his car and to the wharf where he found what he'd come for and loaded up his trunk with a huge case of live crabs.
Just as he was closing the trunk - an old friend from high school days came up to him, clapped him on the shoulder and turned him around - "Well, I'll be! I thought that was you!!!!" the man said jovially. ""Well, Hi George.... How long's it been anyhow?" he asked as they shook hands and even hugged in their happiness to see each other. They began to talk and laugh with memories one after another coming forth. George insisted that they have just one beer... "A short one". Jim tried to object... offering to have George come to the cookout instead, "Well I'd like to, Jim - but " he leaned forward... casting a glance across the street to the bar from which he'd seen Jim and run out to greet him, "But you see... I've got a ladyfriend over there waiting for me. Why don't you come and have just one drink with us before you go home...
C'mon... just one for old times' sake!"
Jim tried to resist - he really did - but checked his watch and decided to join George ... that way they could exchange addresses and phone numbers and get together at another time. Jim and George had been quite a ~team~ in high school... and it happened that once they entered the bar and had that first drink... an incredibly well-built woman came over to the table and, obviously taken by Jim, slid into the booth and cozied up to him.... Jim and George winked at each other - both remembering those days of their youth and adventures like this they'd shared in their early conquests.... It was like Old Times again...
One drink turned into a few drinks and before long - hours had passed. Jim `came to his senses', said his good-byes, dashed across the street to his car and raced toward home.
Excuse after excuse ran through his mind..... He was so desperate that he thought of sideswiping something and claiming that there'd been a hit-n-run - but then figured she'd find out when he didn't file insurance...
The back yard was filled with guests - still. Well, perhaps having the crabs so late would be okay anyway... the band was scheduled to be there till early morning.... He jumped out of the car, opened the trunk and lifted out the huge case of crabs and started up the long flight of stairs to the upper back yard. Feeling the drinks he'd consumed, his balance was a bit off - and when he saw his wife coming toward him and the glare on her face, he lost his balance and the box of crabs slipped from his hands as he reached out to steady himself.
Dozens and dozens of crabs went tumbling over each other down, down the steps..... Mrs. Lonas was close enough that he could see her eyes blazing out at him even in the dim light of the lanterns hung at a distance .... His heart pounded... He took another look at the crabs scattered all down the steps behind him, quickly tossed the empty crate into the bushes at the side of the stairway railing and just as his wife got to the top of the steps above him...... he turned and said coaxingly..................
"Okay, you guys... ...c'mon now.... hurry up! We're almost there!"



Once upon a time, there lived a man who had a terrible passion for baked beans. He loved them, but they always had an embarrassing and somewhat lively reaction on him.
One day he met a girl and fell in love. When it became apparent that they would marry, he thought to himself, she'll never go through with the marriage with me carrying on like this, so he made the supreme sacrifice and gave up beans. Shortly after that they were married.
A few months later, on the way home from work, his car broke down and since they lived in the country, he called his wife and told her that he would be late because he had to walk. On his way home, he passed a small cafe and the wonderful aroma of baked beans overwhelmed him. Since he still had several miles to walk he figured he could walk off any ill affects before he got home. So he went in and ordered, and before leaving had 3 extra large helpings of baked beans. All the way home he putt-putted. By the time he arrived home he felt reasonably safe. His wife met him at the door and seemed somewhat excited. She exclaimed, "Darling, I have the most wonderful surprise for you for dinner tonight!" She put a blindfold on him, and led him to his chair at the head of the table and made him promise not to peek.
At this point he was beginning to feel another one coming on. Just as his wife was about to remove the blindfold, the telephone rang. She again made him promise not to peek until she returned, and away she went to answer the phone. While she was gone, he seized the opportunity. He shifted his weight to one leg and let go. It was not only loud, but ripe as a rotten egg. He had a hard time breathing, so he felt for his napkin and fanned the air about him. He had just started to feel better, when another urge came on. He raised his leg and RRIIIPPPP !!! It sounded like a diesel engine revving, and smelled worse. To keep from gagging, he tried fanning his arms a while, hoping the smell would dissipate. He got another urge. This was a real blue ribbon winner, the windows shook, the dishes on the table rattled and a minute later the flowers on the table were dead. While keeping an ear tuned in on the conversation in the hallway, and keeping his promise of staying blindfolded, he carried on like this for the next ten minutes, farting and fanning each time with his napkin. When he heard the phone farewells he neatly laid his napkin on his lap and folded his hands on top of it. Smiling contentedly, he was the picture of innocence when his wife walked in.
Apologizing for taking so long, she asked if he had peeked at the dinner table. After assuring her he had not peeked, she removed the blindfold and yelled, "SURPRISE!!!"
To his shock and horror, there were twelve dinner guests seated around the table for his surprise birthday party.



He's been noticing her around and is attracted to her. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.
One evening they're driving home, and a thought occurs to her, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?" And then there is silence in the car. To her, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Gee, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship. Maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.
He is thinking : Gosh. Six months...... ? Really???
She is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward...I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?
He is thinking:...so that means it was...let's see... February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealers', which means lemme check the odometer... Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.
Now she is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed.... even before I sensed it.... that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.
He is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a damn garbage-truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.
She is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry too. Gosh, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure. He is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty. That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.
She is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl, romantic fantasy.
He is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a damn warranty. I'll take their warranty and give it to them and I'll tell them right where they can put......
She clears her throat and says...."I, ahhh, Well, I -
he says, puzzled "You what?" he asks.
"Please don't torture yourself like this,"
she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have...oh gosh, I.... I feel so..." (She breaks down, sobbing.)
"You should never have what?"
he asks.
"I'm such a fool,"
she sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."
"There's no horse?"
he repeated, questioningly, growing ever more confused by the moment.
"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" s
he asked through a sob.
He's relieved, though it is still a bit strange, at least he now knows what she's talking about now..."No!" he replied, "You are very intelligent. Why would I think you were dumb or something? What made you think that I thought something like that?"
"It's just that...It's that I...I need some time,"
she says.
Did he miss something? he wonders.... There followed a 15-second pause while he, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with safe response to cover himself in case she said something when he was preoccupied about the car.... Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work. He'll just agree with her... "Well, okay then. I just want you to be happy, we can do whatever you want."
She, deeply moved, touches his hand. ""Oh, do you really mean that? Do you really feel that way?" she says.
"What way?"
"That way about time,"
she says.
"Oh," he says, "Well, sure. Of course I do."
She turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next. He never could stand for people to stare at him like that...... Wondering why she's looking at him that way - and what the hell was that about a horse? He MUST have missed something!
After a lengthy silence while she continues to look directly at him while he is growing increasingly uneasy about what he might have said or done. Or failed to do. Or to hear her say. Especially if it involves a horse! What the
hell was that about a damned horse! ? .....
At last she speaks. "Thank you." she says quietly and takes her eyes from his and turns away.
"Thank you?"
he repeats. (Thank you? For what?), he wonders uneasily. Feeling kind of weird and a little numb by now....
She reaches out to cover his hand with hers for a brief moment, staring at him again in
`that' way.. "Yes, thank you."
Well, what-the-hell does she mean by that? She seems waiting for him to say something. Feeling really stupid, and very uncomfortable, he feels great relief wash through him as he turns onto her street. All he can think of (to say to her) is "Okay, then."
She looks over at him, fresh tears welling up in her eyes...
He's thinking he should have been listening better - Something about a horse... that's what this must be all about, but what was that she said....?
As he pulls up in front of the house, she puts her hand on the door-handle and mumbles - "You don't have to see me to the door." And with that, she steps out of the door and without even a backward look or good-bye - she hurries into the house.
Inside, she flings herself across her bed, wracked with sobs, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn.
He gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos and a beer, grabs the remote control and turns on the TV. Clicking through the channels, he pauses to watch a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. Five minutes pass while he is watching the game abstractedly and trying his best to recall what she was saying on the way home before "all hell broke loose".... A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and being that he's a city-boy, and he's never even seen a live horse, what could he have said about it anyway? Flipping channels again, he's deeply in thought when something catches his eye and he sits forward to look closer at the television...Speaking of horses.... isn't that?.... Yeah.... John Wayne.... !!! He's seen this movie before... one of his favorites.... ! After the movie he takes a shower and goes to bed. As he's falling asleep, he thinks about her and begins to feel tense and confused again... So he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it. He falls asleep.
The next day she will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, or understanding, but never getting bored with it, either.
Meanwhile, while he's playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of theirs' who asks about how she is doing, he stops and pauses to think moment, shaking his head in remembered bewilderment, "I haven't seen her or talked to her for three weeks now! I always get the answering machine when I call, I leave messages but she doesn't return them.... I don't know..." he says, his voice trailing off. Then he happens to think - "Hey, do you know, by any chance, if ever owned a horse, did she?"

Want more? Longuns' #2 ~ #3 ~ #4 ~ #5 ~ #6

Master Index
Eric Lee Baker Family & Friends
E-Mail About Me <bio>