When I’m at a party, I’m not usually the type to try to be the center of attention. I’m more likely to be in a corner trying to convince someone I’ve just met that I’m about to confess to a crime. We’re laughing about something and then my face darkens, and I get a faraway look and whisper, “Have you ever killed anybody?” The acquaintance stares at me for a moment before answering no, and I seem to come out of my trance and laugh, and say, “Oh, me neither. Of course not.” Then the faraway look returns, and I whisper, “But I don’t necessarily mean murder. What if it was something like you accidentally hit a hitchhiker and you didn’t stop to see whether he was okay and you just kept on driving?” This back and forth continues until the new friend realizes I’m not serious or until he agrees to help me cover up a hypothetical crime.
I’m not planning any crimes, and I hope the necessity of a cover-up never arises, but it’s good to know which friends have my back and pass this test of friendship.
We all have our tests of friendship. Some friends are always around at dinner time, but they disappear the moment you need help moving. Or maybe a friend does agree to help, but he questions every single detail: “Why are we helping your grandmother move in the middle of the night and why do we have to be so quiet and why did we have to break a window to get in?” or “Why do you need one of my kidneys if there’s nothing wrong with either of yours?”
My friend Beckers would be willing to help me move or even give me one of her kidneys if I needed it, although she was iffy on whether she would still give me a kidney if both of my kidneys were fine and I only wanted a third as a back-up. The one area where she fails as a friend is in her willingness to help me cover up a crime.
I assume she has her qualms about a cover-up because she is a “good person”, but this is exactly why she would make such a good alibi–she’s the only credible-sounding person I know. The police would meet her, instantly trust her, and believe anything she says. When I expressed my disappointment and genuine surprise that she would be unwilling to help me out of a tight spot, she suggested I ask one of my other friends to provide me an alibi. Little did she know I had already asked every other friend and they had all agreed immediately–which is why they’re the type of low character people who would make bad alibis.
It’s no good if my friend Andrew provides me an alibi:
Police: So Paul was with you at karaoke last night?
Andrew: Yup. You should have heard us rock Bad Romance.
Police: So you and Paul are pretty good friends, huh?
Police: And you’d be willing to help him in a tight spot, right?
Police: Like provide him a fake alibi?
Andrew: Of course.
Police: And if you and I were friends, would you provide me a fake alibi?
Andrew: That’s what friends do.
This is why I need a firm alibi guarantee from Beckers. Our last conversation on the topic went along the following lines:
Me: Would you help me bury a 200 pound rolled-up rug? You have no idea what’s in the rug, and you never ask, and I never tell.
Me: Would you help me clean a crime scene?
Me: Would you help me clean up after dinner?
Me: Would you help me clean up after a dinner I prepared for the police and at this dinner you provided me an alibi?
Me: Would you lend me a shovel?
Beckers: I wouldn’t feel good about using that shovel after you used it to help cover up a crime.
Me: Who’s talking about a crime? I’m just a friend asking for a shovel. That’s all you need to tell yourself. And you don’t even have a shovel. Why are you being so particular about how your hypothetical shovel is being used? I bet if you even had a shovel, you would barely ever use it.
Beckers: Still no.
Me: Would you lend me $200 to buy a shovel?
Beckers: Shovels don’t cost $200.
Me: How much does a shovel cost?
Beckers: Maybe $30.
Me: How about you lend me $200 and I’ll pay you back $30 if you’re right?
Me: Would you provide me an alibi, no questions asked?
Me: Would you provide me an alibi, questions asked?
Beckers: Who did you kill?
Me: I can’t answer that question.
Beckers: Why did you kill him?
Me: I can’t answer that question.
Beckers: Was it in self-defense?
Me: Before I answer, do you have a very broad definition of self-defense?
Me: Then I can’t answer that question.
We’ve been having variations of this discussion for the last nine months, and I’m relieved to say we’re making a little progress. She’s now willing to lend me 30 hypothetical dollars, which I plan to use to buy a hypothetical shovel.