In our justice system when a petty crimes and misdemeanors pass a certain amount of time they are forgotten. Even singed contracts can’t be sued if in breach if to much time has gone by, this law is called the Statute of Limitations. Well there is another kind of contract that people abide by called the social contract. This can be as simple as smiling back to someone who smiled at you, or doing that shoulder shrug and raised eyebrow thing people do when waiting for the same elevator. But one of the most annoying part of this social contract is when you are bound by social graces to say hi to someone you haven’t talked to in 10 years and could care less about. The conversation always goes the same way.
Random person you know you should know but are struggling with all your might to remember their name: “Hey man how’s it going?”
“Good,” awkward pause “How you doing?” often followed by the shuffling of feet or looking back apologetically to the people you came with but now are ignoring.
“I’m good, what you been up to?” The question hangs in the air like ever thickening pea soup as you try and figure out how to sum up the past 10 years of rising and falling action in as few words as possible without leaving room for follow up questions.
“Good,” you finally answer desperately choking back the answer you want to give which is always ‘why are we talking, and why do you care?’ “I’m good, just work and stuff you know.” The answer hangs there like a dead raccoon that has been reanimated back to life and only seems interested in humping your leg. You shuffle again uncomfortably trying to take it back, kicking unconsciously at the figment raccoon knowing that you have in fact left an opening for a questions and hoping that it goes unnoticed.
“Oh,” They answer seeing the opening “where you working these days?”
You sigh inwardly and look back at your friends once more but they are also bound by the contract not to interrupt unless invited to do so, and at the same time knowing that any move towards them will inevitably make this take much, much longer than it needs to. “I am an IT Manager at a small company,” You get to excited feeling that this horror will be ending soon and before you realize what you have done you ask, “How about you?”
“I am blah, blah at the blah, blah-oligist, and it is so rewarding blah, blah, blah, Marriage, blah, blah, me, me, me, Children, blah, blah, …” Sorry my brain has shut down at this point to protect me from the insufferable boredom and I can’t honestly tell you what was said and I was trying to kick away a zombie raccoon at the time inconspicuously so I wasn’t really paying that close of attention anyways. Then you realize that they have finally stopped talking about their lunar land rover adventure in money town. So you quickly add hoping with all your might that this will end.
“That’s great well it was great to see you.” Even though you both know that this is a lie and will have to be repeated in 5 to 10 years.
“Ya, nice to see you too.”
So I vote that we institute a Statute of Friendly Limitations in which you may break social contracts and outright ignore people for which you know casually, as long as two years has passed since your acquaintance started. For instance if you ran into someone from high school that you had one class with and you talked occasionally, after two years you would no longer be obligated to recognize the said relationship.
If you dated someone in high school then the contract changes so that two years since the relationship ended plus double the time you spent together. So if you dated for a year in high school you would have to wait 4 years to ignore them. Adding of course one year if ‘I love you’ was said on both sides, and one year for each base you rounded together. So if I dated a girl for a year in high school told her I loved her with reciprocation and got to second base I would have to wait 7 years to completely ignore them. With a contractual clause of course for first kiss, or home base which moves it from a misdemeanor relationship to a felony relationship for which the Statute of Friendly Limitations does not apply. All rights are waved if you attended a high school reunion and may God have mercy on your soul if you choose to do so. This is just a rough draft of the Statute of Friendly Limitations so if you have suggestions or revisions please let me know so that we can hammer this thing out and get it in circulation just as soon as possible.