PHILADELPHIA–A disproportionate amount of area resident Chris Blakely's free time is monopolized by Spencer Reuss, whose only friend is Blakely.
"I like Spencer and everything, but our friendship is way skewed," Blakely said Monday. "I have about 20 friends, so, statistically speaking, I should only be hanging with Spencer, like, 5 percent of the time. But I see him way more than that–more than I see anybody else–because I have to carry the entirety of his friendship load."
The problem began in November 2000, when Reuss, who attended high school with Blakely in New Castle, PA, moved to Philadelphia for a job with a graphic-design firm. Upon arriving in Philadelphia, Reuss knew no one except his old high-school acquaintance.
"In the beginning, I knew he was pretty lonely, so I tried hard to make him feel welcome, telling him he should feel free to stop by any time," Blakely said. "Big mistake: Four months later, he's still feeling free to stop by any time."
Because Blakely's apartment is just a few blocks from Reuss' place of employment, Reuss often drops in unannounced.
"He can see my car parked out on the street, so there's no way I can just pretend I'm not home," Blakely said. "I've tried telling him I need some time alone, but that always leads to 10 phone calls where he asks me if I'm okay. One time, he even sent me a card."
Blakely has tried to introduce Reuss to his other friends, with less than favorable results.
"I figured, maybe if he hit it off with some of my other friends, I could pass him off to them," Blakely said. "Well, one night, after hanging out at a bar with six or seven of them, Spencer informed me that he doesn't like my friends because they're 'too mainstream' for his tastes. Yet, he'll still want to tag along any time I make plans with them. And he always finds a way to corner me into a conversation about the things he wants to talk about, like his kite-building or his obsession with WWI. So, even when I'm with others, I'm still only with him."
Compounding the difficulties of the social babysitting are Reuss' depressive tendencies.
"Spencer really gets lonely and down on himself," Blakely said. "It makes just ditching him that much harder."
On any given night, whether spending time at a bar, concert, or movie, Blakely is 650 percent more likely to be socializing with Reuss than with any of his other friends. Blakely is 95 percent assured of spending time with Reuss during holidays.
"Take this past New Year's Eve," Blakely said. "As much as I wanted to, I just couldn't leave the guy sitting in his apartment alone, so I was like, 'Hey, why don't you come along with me to my buddy Jonathan's party?' But then Spencer surprises me with these expensive tickets for a KC & The Sunshine Band New Year's show. So, instead of going to Jonathan's party, I end up spending New Year's with Spencer, KC, and the goddamn Sunshine Band."
Though it is still three weeks away, Blakely is already dreading Reuss' upcoming birthday.
"I'm going to have to spend about $100 on drinks just to bribe my friends to show up at the bar," Blakely said. "If I have to sit there alone, with Spencer across from me wearing one of those stupid 'It's My Birthday!' pins, I'm going to slit my wrists."