January 21, 2008

You Gotta Have Friends....

Sometimes I think I could write a whole book on the subject of friendship. I think about it a lot. More than the average person, I'm pretty sure. On the other hand -- what I don't know or understand about friendship could easily fill a book.

I felt a little bad today, thinking about my snarky "friends vs. acquaintances" comments in yesterday's post. First, I realized that one of my friends actually did call me when we were all sick. (I guess now isn't the time to bring up the fact that she just needed to pick up an item at my house and unwittingly got sucked into listening to me whine about how terrible and blah we all felt.) Second, while I could blather on for a lot more words here weighing the semantics of "friends" vs. "neighbors" vs. "thrown into this mess of motherhood together," the fact remains that right now, I have more "friends" that I've had in my entire adult life. Or, actually, in my whole life, ever. Huh. That makes me feel a little weird.

Let's change the subject. Sorta.

So the picture of Bette Midler is up there because often when I find myself ruminating on the subject of friendship, I end up singing her song, "You Got to Have Friends" in my head. That album (or was it an 8-track?) that this song is on was played a whole lot in my house growing up. Both of my parents were big Bette Midler fans, back when she was a raunchy showgirl with a big voice, and not the woman known for starring in Beaches and singing that groaner, "Wind Beneath My Wings."

"Standing at the end of the road, boys
Waiting for my new friends to come,
Oh, I don't care if I'm hungry or freezin' cold
I gotta get me some of them!
Cuz you gotta have frieeeeennnds....!"
This was one of the many, many songs that formed the soundtrack of my childhood. The funny thing is, my parents, or my mom specifically, never did, and never has, had any friends. Oh, she had plenty of work pals, or gals I should say (that's her word, and it still sorta makes me cringe with embarrassment to use it, just like I did when said it back then). When I was fifteen or sixteen, my mom had quite a few gals from her office that she would have drinks with on Fridays after work, and often during the middle of the week, too. None of these women were the type of friends that she could call upon the phone just to shoot the shit with, and none were ever invited to our house, unless you count a handful of quick potty breaks. As far I can recall, she never visited at their homes, either.

What I'm trying to say here is that I grew up in a household where it was perfectly normal to me that a grown woman did not have a single friend to call her own, outside of her two sisters, my aunts. My grandmother, my mom's mother, didn't have any friends either. And that was the way it should be. What my grandma did have was three daughters, my mother and two aunts, and the four of them seemed to (and still do) spend significant amounts of their lives calling each other on the phone and bitching about the other three. Bitch, bitch, bitch, gossip, gossip, gossip. This is all I've ever known, all I ever had to pattern myself after. Is it any wonder that I often feel so conflicted and confused about my own friendships, both past and present? For so many years growing up, I literally sat at my mother's feet of a Saturday morning and listened to endless variations on, "Oh really? I didn't know that! She didn't tell ME....Well you KNOW how she is. She'll never change." Etc., etc.

Holy crap. Really, I'm pretty lucky that anyone will talk to me at all, now that I think about it.

Like I said, I think about this stuff a lot. And I could go on and on and tell some pretty awful tales on myself and my friends, of past behaviors and lies told and trusts betrayed. However.

It's just about 11 o'clock at night -- time to go to bed and read more of the novel I'll write about soon. And it's another busy day tomorrow: after dropping Lily at school and coming home to clear the breakfast dishes, Tucker and I have a playgroup to attend, where I'll get to sit and share some hot coffee and conversation with some of my
(spit it out, spit it out...)


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