Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ramblings on friendship

[DISCLAIMER: This picture isn't me. Seriously. It's not. Because I'm pretty sure I haven't trained any caterpillars to sit on my eyelids. Okay, carry on reading the post.]

My mom has a friend who always used to say, "Look at your friends with one eye closed." Followed by a wink, of course.

Well, her whole saying was, "Look at your enemies with both eyes open and your friends with one eye closed."

But it's the friends part that intrigues me. To me, it means making allowances for imperfections. Showing a little tolerance if their ideas don't always agree with your own. Focusing on the things you like about them instead of on the stuff you don't.

Now, I know there are some points of contention that just can't be surmounted. For instance, if you're a serial killer, I'm probably not going to overlook that. OTOH, I could possibly be persuaded, given the right circumstances...

 If you have a really nice boat and only kill bad guys, maybe we can talk.

Friends are funny critters. There are categories, I think.

Situational Friends:
The people with whom you share something in common at a given time of your life. Other young parents when your kids are little. Maybe somebody who enjoys knitting "cozies" for everything, the way you do--the one who really gets that no small appliance is complete without a colorful yarn covering. Or even, you know, other people crazy enough to pursue publishing. With these friends, you always have a ready topic of conversation: your common interest, whatever it may be.

Casual Friends:
People whose company you enjoy. Maybe you get together for dinner, and keep up with each other's family.You like them. Hanging out together is always fun.

Close Friends:
These are ones who might as well be family. (And may even be better than family. I mean, you can choose your friends.) The ones you'd call for bail money. You trust them not to post your mug shot on Facebook, no matter how funny it is. They know enough about you to blackmail you a hundred ways to Sunday, and you know they won't, because not only do you trust them, you also have tons of blackmail material on them.

Best Friends:
You take each other for granted, in the best possible way. You know if you ask them for anything, it will be done, if it's humanly possible. They hate the people who are mean to you and love the ones who treat you well. (I married mine.)

Internet Friends:
When I first started getting active online, TG warned me to be wary of people I met online, because there was no way of knowing they were who they claimed to be. "For all you know, that could be a 50-year-old man, sitting there in his underwear, scratching his balls," was the way he put it.

(Yeah, just try to get that image out of your head.)

Well, I've met a few of my internet acquaintances in person by now, and I have to tell you, none of them look like the type to sit in front of a computer scratching their nether regions. In fact, they've pretty much been how they represented themselves on the screen.

Could be I've just been lucky, though.

I know! Let's take a little survey, shall we? How many of y'all are really 50-year-old men, sitting there in your underwear, reading this while you're ratching an itch? Please tell me in the comments.

While you're at it, if you're so inclined, tell me what you have to close one eye to with your friends. Or, if you're feeling introspective (and brave), what they have to close an eye to with you

And here's hoping you look at me with one eye closed. And not just because I squirted you with my fake corsage. ;)


Summer Frey said...

Well, I'm not a 50-year-old man, but... ;)

I've made some excellent internet friends, even back when it was still considered "dangerous." I kept in email contact with one person from 1999 until 2007, when we finally met after he graduated from college at GWU and was driving back home to Texas. We went out for drinks and dinner, and haven't met again since. It was lovely.

demery said...

Linda & TG - thank you both for giving me that itchy, scratchy, pervy, creepy image to push out of my mind when imagining who's on the other side of that sticky interweb line!!! Ewww. :) But on to the good stuff.

I love your mom's saying... will teach it to my boys. And of course I could use to practice that saying on them and on everyone around me. I enjoyed thinking about my different friends and where they fit in my life. A moment of gratitude!

abby mumford said...

no, i'm not a 50 year old man who scratches himself constantly, but yup. i'm a vampire. that's why my avatar is a picture of me wearing sunglasses. if i didn't wear shades, i'd compel* you all to do my dirty deeds.

you see how nice i am? i'm just looking out for you all.

*compel = magic.

Jessica Lemmon said...

I love your post, Linda! Very introspective. And, I (of course) agree with you re: Dexter. I could be persuaded to overlook his bad habit of sawing up bodies... At least, I could in theory.

My BFF is a girl I met in 7th grade. I adore her. My other is my husband, who, this morning, had me follow him to a car dealership almost an hour away to get a good deal on a costly repair. I got up at 6:30 and had tea (big mistake, should have had coffee) and by 8, we both pulled into the dealership and I waited twenty minutes for him to drop off his afflicted vehicle.

When he did, it was to inform me that they had a free rental car waiting for him so there was no need for me to follow him down after all. O_o

I merely smiled and managed to keep my thoughts away from the fact I could have been writing (or blogging) during the two hours + I spent driving in traffic on my day off.

On second thought, maybe that type of friendship & love deserves an entirely new moniker.

Tara said...

Well, if you squint both eyes and picture George Clooney (he's close to 50, right?), the image isn't too awful really ;)

I met one of my now closest friends through a twin parenting website. We chatted and emailed all the time, and a couple years later, by sheer coincidence, I ended up moving 20 minutes from her (3 states away from home!). She had met 2 other (local) people on the same site and we became fast friends. Two others came along through our twin (MOM) club, and in 6 years we feel like we've known each other a lifetime. Having twins brought us together, but we all click for a variety of reasons.

And, I'm still best friends with my HS BF. 20 years, seriously, OMG. I mean, she moved her family 3 states away along with mine :)

Nelsa said...

Thank you,Linda, for a great post and that evocative image your husband provided. And you're the writer in the family? :)

I always say I know my true friends by their patience with my inability to carve out enough one-on-one time with them. For some reason I have made many close friends who don't happen to have children (hmm. is there some subconscious envy thing going on in my head here??) They understand when I can't drop the family life so easily to go shopping or to the movies with them. For some reason, they haven't given up on our friendship even if that means mostly phone or email chats. When we do get together it means a whole lot more (at least to me) because it is so rare and special.

And I've met several very good friends through this writing business and the internet. Just based on your blog I know we'd have a fabulous time if we lived anywhere near each other.

Susan Adrian said...

Hmm. I CANNOT FIGURE OUT which type of friends we are!!

Situational? Online? Close? All of the above?


Teri Anne Stanley said...

Well, I'm 46 year old woman scratching my...elbow.

I've always wondered how my friends could tolerate my mouth...inappropriate words just kind of fall out sometimes. And I don't have a backspace bar on my mouth. Maybe I'll ask Santa for that this year.

Sierra Godfrey said...

You had a good post there until you suggested I get introspective. I must be heinously full of myself because it never would have occurred to me to wonder about myself. Now that it's been suggested, of course, I feel compelled to consider nothing else but myself. I think my friends must close one eye to my stunning beauty, incredible wit, and innate and envy-inspiring talent. If I had to guess, anyway.

-50 year old man scratching his balls.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Y'know, even if my internet friends ARE old men scratching their privates, they certainly present themselves better online -- and since I will probably never meet them, what does it matter? ;)

Actually, I got to meet a few blogging buddies at a few book events this year and they were all as wonderfully interesting in person as they are online!

Don't you wish we could all get together for cocktails?

Jeffe Kennedy said...

I am.

Kristina said...

Love this blog post! :)

The Internet friends I've gotten to meet IRL have been just who I thought they were. Maybe I'm just a savvy Internet befriender?

I definitely am needing to wink over your love for the martini. Poor Jeffe - couldn't turn me. Perhaps YOU'LL come visit and I'll give it another try. :)

Patrick Alan said...

You forgot 'Opposite Gender' friends. You know, that whole thing, can men and women be 'friends'?

Well, I know that all my female friends lust for me, but I just deal with it. We still have a type of friendship.

I'm not 50 or wearing underwear.

Linda G. said...

Summer -- But are you still in email contact? Or did meeting put an end to that?

Demery -- Uh, sorry. TMI? Try to think about something else. Just not clowns, because clowns are creepy.

Abby -- Vampire? Gee, that sucks... ;)

Jessica -- Whoa. I think somebody owes you a foot rub. You went above and beyond. Then again, that's what BFFs are for. :)

Tara -- Good point. I can squint at George Clooney, no sweat. :)

Nelsa -- Good friends can sometimes go years without seeing each other, and still manage to pick up where they left off. And, yeah, I know we'd have a great time hanging out together, if we're ever in the same vicinity. :)

Suze -- Oh, all of the above, bb. Some friends transcend labels. :)

Teri Anne -- Elbow? Whew! I can deal with elbow scratching. And there have been a few times in my life when a backspace bar on my mouth would have come in mighty handy.

Sierra -- It isn't easy being beautiful and talented, is it? The resentment it breeds...*sighs*

Dianne -- Good point. And, yes, I'd love it if we could all get together for cocktails! Manhattans, two cherries. Or martinis, three olives. We'd have a blast. :)

Jeffe -- You hide it well. :)

Linda G. said...

Kristina -- You need to try one of TG's martinis. He has a special martini touch. ;)

Patrick -- LOL! How do I know you're not really a 50-year-old WOMAN?


Wow, my balls really itch now. Of course, I'm 49 and not 50.


Kelly Breakey said...

What a great posting today. Gotta say that no, I am not a fifty year old man scratching anything. I am a no, thirty something, hard working, um, okay, sometimes hardworking um, well I don't know. I just looked below and I don't have any balls growing in my nether regions so I guess I am okay on that one. At least for today.

You know it really does look like she has a caterpillar on her lid when I look at the pic with one eye closed.

Unknown said...

ahaha. cute post. I can always count on you to make me smile...especially when you forget a word (probably an important one, too) in your comments on my blog and I get to play Linda Grimes blog comment Mad Libs. Very fun, indeed. :)

Oh, and BTW. I am not a 50 year old man scratching his dangly parts. I'm much younger than that...and uh...not a i don't have dangly parts..uh yeah, you get the point(i hope) ;)

Nick said...

"For all you know, that could be a 50-year-old man, sitting there in his underwear, scratching his balls..."

Or, he could just be an old guy, waiting for his clothes to wash, cleaning his golfballs.

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

OMG, my husband has made the same exact comment about Internet friends - many times! LOL I have met many wonderful people online, and I know they are not 50 year old men.

Your categories are right on, however. And I think some people do not realize 1) we have these different types of friends and 2) that's OK.

Great post!

GĂ©nette Wood said...

I have very few friends and many acquaintances. I'm wary of calling anyone I know online a "friend" because, well, I don't "know" him/her. That being said, the only people who actually like me are people who know me online--the ones who never see my dark side.

Sadly, I'm extremely moody, which leads to flaky (as anyone who has read my blog can tell). I've been lucky enough to have teachers who "keep one eye closed" and work with me through the flakiness. Friends, though, not so much.

Linda G. said...

Tawna -- Only 49? Well, in that case, scratch away.

Kelly -- Oh, well. Guess I don't have any 50-year-old appendage-scratchers reading after all.

Karla -- Good thing you smile at weird stuff. ;)

Nick -- LOL! That works, too. ;)

Elizabeth -- Ha! Great husbands think alike, huh? And thanks. :)

Genette -- No longer a "Lady"? See, that's what reading tawdry blogs like mine will do for you. ;) And don't worry too much about your dark side. Just balance it with a little light, and you'll be fine. :)

Lola Sharp said...

Oh man, so many things I could say here...what to do, what to say?

I'll just say this: I'm fortunate that I've met some of my bloggy friends in person, and they've all been delightful. Many more bloggy friends I've talked to for hours on the phone and/or Skype, traded bday/holiday cards etc. and I love them all. Nary a wrinkly ball scratcher in the bunch.
(obviously I have lots of non-bloggy friends, many of whom I've been friends with for 20 years.) spite of the fact that my name is Lola, I do NOT have boy parts. BUT, if I had balls, I bet I'd be scratching them. (they seem like they'd be itchy and all in the way.)

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Interesting! I knew I had all those types of friends, but only one of my close friends does stuff that drives me bananas, so I hadn't really considered that I might do stuff that irritates the rest of them. I doubt it though. I'm pretty thoughtful. If I had to guess, I'd say that it's checking to see if they want to drive (I have a few friends who INSIST on driving and stress out if they don't, and I don't love doing it, so that works out) and only tipping 20%, and only 10% if the service was crap. Most of my friends are actresses (and thus former waitresses) and have some sort of paying it forward mentality or something. My few years in the service industry never really warped my tipping habits in the same way, though.

Linda G. said...

Lola - L-O-L-A, LO-LA, Lo-lo-lo-lo-LOLA! Now that song is going through my head. ;)

Elizabeth -- I'm an ex-actress, which (of course) also makes me an ex-waitress. I'm a generous tipper IF the service is good. If not, beware. I know waiting tables can be a crap job, but that's no excuse for not even trying.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Right?? I don't care if it makes me a cheapskate, tipping is not a requirement. If the server refuses to remember that I'd like something to drink after multiple requests, I'm not tipping 40%. Even if my friends do, and I end up feeling guilty afterwards. I am strong enough to bear up under the strain. :)