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October 24, 2010 / Amy Bradney-George

Five Minute Friends

Cheers, friends? Photo: Caspermoller


I knew before I came to Canada that Australians had a serious reputation when it comes to drinking. I also knew that they weren’t necessarily seen as the most responsible people in the world, and the number of origin-related jokes I’ve copped since moving to Vancouver have provided me with myriad perspectives on the way Aussies are seen.

Normally I don’t care too much. I mean, I left  for a reason, didn’t I? I haven’t holed up in Whistler (dubbed “Northern Australia” by some witty locals) with my fellow countrymen or spent that much time seeking them out. They’re everywhere anyway, and in fact I try to avoid most of them.

What I did find, a few nights ago, is that a combination of alcohol and good (Canadian) company can attract other Aussies, and inevitably leads to what I can only think of as a kind of patriotic bonding. At the time it seems normal, even logical, to talk about all sorts of things purely because you all come from the same country, and I was happily doing so for ages that night. Once they left, however, I realised they weren’t really the types of people I would associate with – here or there.

This type of camaraderie is what I like to call a “Five Minute Friendship” – it takes you five minutes to become “good friends” with people, and five minutes to forget them once they’ve left.

I’ve had a few Five Minute Friends over the years, a mix of travellers, musicians and writers, but it somehow becomes more pronounced when you’re in a different country and come across people from the same country. My Canadian friends all brought it up the next day, though I have seen them make the same kinds of friends on other occasions without any interest…

What spurs this kind of one-night-friendship? Is it simply alcohol, or a similar cultural background? And why the fickle change in outlook once the moment’s gone?


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