You know the old saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer! As I have gotten older, I am, after all, what the French would call a woman of a certain age, I have pondered the friends I have had, those that I still have, those that I used to have and those I thought I had but never had.
I am not an easy person to have as a friend. I have strong opinions about virtually everything and am firmly convinced that it is my duty to tell everyone what I think. I also insist that they think. Frequently I can tell when I throw what I think is a live one out there in the conversation, something like ,oh, maybe something like” Can you believe that Mrs. Uncle Clarence Thomas phoned Anita Hill and insulted her all over again!”, that they do not want to talk about politics, or race or sexism or anything serious. They want to talk about fashion and family and music and food. Booooorring!
I have plenty of time to talk about those things with lots of people. That is small talk. There is nothing controversial or confidential about whether or not St John knits are on sale at Nordstrom’s. Who cares? I want to talk about intrigue at work, injustice in the world ( and at work!) , books, articles, conferences, research, social justice, important stuff. Some of my friends have trouble understanding why I am seemingly never not at work. I like work, I like thinking, I like writing ( duh!) I like exploring ideas and perspectives and perceptions and interpretations. I like dissecting why people do what they do.
For example, why do some people think it is possible to keep secrets on a college campus? Virtually anything worth knowing that is said at 8AM anywhere on campus is known to anyone interested by 4PM,three if they are truly good at networking. I have tentacles all over campus, if it happens in the School of Social work across campus I know within the hour. Might take longer if it happens in the Medical School, but no longer than a day or so.
But I digress, back to the friends. My husband and I had dinner with some friends we have had since we were a young married couple ( we have been married 43 years, so you know that was a minute ago). I used to teach with both of them in Xenia Ohio where they still live. They are also sheep farmers and were in Raleigh to show sheep at the county fair. We had dinner with them and their grown daughter Tuesday evening. Although I had not seen them since 1997 we picked right up and had a great dinner and conversation for more than two hours.
I have friends I do not see for years, but we are still dear friends and when we do see each other it is just like we never parted company. Old friends are the best, although good new friends are special as well. I have made some good female friends since I came to Carolina, some are black, some are white, but the two groups do not mix. When I am with my white female friends I am usually the only black, when I am with my black female friends there are no white women. It was like that in Ohio too. I will save delving into that much for another blog.
I have also made some pseudo friends here in Carolina. As I mentioned earlier I am not necessarily an easy friend to have. I consider myself an Alpha female and tend to bark quite a bit if someone else tries to exert control. I am not far from the woman described by the pundit as one who “wants to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.” I cannot help it, this is how I am wired. But, I do acknowledge it and I do apologize frequently…well.. occasionally.
If I am your friend I am also loyal, honest, thoughtful and have your back no matter what, even if I think you are wrong I will not say so in front of other people. You know what I mean, friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies. I would load up the u-haul with your prey without blinking if you were my true friend.
On the other hand if you are one of those fake friends with a facade of care, giving me air smooches and calling me sweetie, but then engaging in character assassination behind my back because you are afraid to say it to my face, I pretty much write you off as a waste of protoplasm.(People do not tend to tell me unpleasant things. You know what Machiavelli said, ” It is better to be feared than liked.” You have to admire that man.)
Anyway, be good to your friends and insist that they be good to you or cut them loose, erase their digits from your cell , scratch them off your Christmas card list ( if you are one of the oldies like me who still sends Christmas cards), and relegate them to the large number of people who simply do not matter. If that sounds harsh, or you are just a kinder, gentler person than I am , you can always just drop them without comment and when someone refers to them in your presence, use that tried and true southern standard phrase that declares someone useless, but in a kindly way, ” Bless her heart!”