A recent conversation began like this:

“You know, I don’t think we’re Facebook friends,” Sue said.

I paused. The room went quiet. It was the quiet of two people trying to figure out what this meant.

She had been scrolling, posting, liking and doing what people do on Facebook. She had posted something she thought I should have seen and remarked on had we’d been Facebook friends.

I hadn’t responded, given her thumbs up, a like, a smiley face or whatever spirited response Facebook allows.

If we had been Facebook friends, I had ignored her, something I never do. My approach is to listen and say things like, "That is fascinating. Would you mind repeating it and this time don’t leave anything out?”

When she hadn’t heard an enthusiastic response from me in regards to her post, she deduced that I hadn’t seen the post in the first place because we weren’t Facebook friends.

Her intimation was that if we were not Facebook friends perhaps we should consider it since we had been married three times longer than Facebook had been around.

I was connected to everybody else in the world. So was she. Everybody else but each other. There was something sad about that in the post-modern world.

The room remained quiet. Chess match quiet. Impasse quiet. Somebody had to ask somebody else to be their friend quiet.

“You know, I’m not sure I know how to do it,” she said.

I wasn’t going to fall for that trick. That’s the oldest one in the Facebook-book. Wait for the other person to do the heavy social lifting.

“You might ask your daughter-in-law Lauren,” I said. “I’m sure she can walk you through it.”

I didn’t know how to do it but if I knew, I wouldn’t want to blemish my perfect record.

"Herb," somewhat of a Facebook sensation, has never asked anybody to be his friend. He is a friend to all who ask him to be his friend and a friend to no one who doesn’t.

Madam, if you’re interested in burnishing your social media resume, you might think about asking Herb to become your friend.

If your Facebook relationship works out, and I'm not saying it will, the next step might be becoming LinkedIn.

Sue looked at me. I looked back. It was the quiet of two people waiting for the other one to concede the match when neither one had any intention of doing so.

“If you’re nice to be me, I might consider being your friend,” I said. “Perhaps we should see how this week goes.”

The room went quiet. End of conversation quiet. The quiet of the world before Facebook.

Sue returned to her Facebook musings and I to the things that I do.

That was a week ago. I’ve had plenty of email but no new friend requests. It’s been quiet, the quiet of somebody trying to have the last word, and having it, without saying a thing.

Contact Californian columnist Herb Benham at 661-395-7279 or hbenham@bakersfield.com. His work appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own.

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