Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Best Friends Forever

My daughter is always coming home and talking about a new BFF. Most of the time we're hearing the name for the first time when she refers to them as her BFF. It's one of those terms that doesn't mean anything any more. She uses it to refer to acquaintances who she likes. There's nothing wrong with that. At her age, who knows who will pass the test of time that last "F" requires? My BFF's were my acquaintances once. Tom gets annoyed with the whole concept because he says that the "Best" part implies that there is only one - one who is better than all the rest. I suppose from a strictly semantic point of view, he is correct, but I'm gonna have to go with my daughter on this one.

Different situations call for different "bests". None superior to the others, just different. All vital.

This Christmas I received a very unexpected gift in the mail and it was simply inscribed: B.F.F. This made me smile from ear to ear, because it struck me as so true and real. Three simple little letters, thrown about liberally and casually by every teen and tween girl in the nation, but here they were - addressing me - from a woman I've called a friend for over 30 years. Now 30 years isn't forever, but it's a heckuva long time. And if someone can put up with your antics for 30 years, they've kind of committed to the long haul.

My BFF's - and I am blessed enough to have a few of them - don't all go back 30+ years. A couple do. I suppose a BFF passes not only the tests of time and distance, but mostly the test presented to us in our marriage vows: for better or worse. We promise - vow - to love our spouse for better or worse, but what makes us stick with our friends through those rough times? Why don't they give up on us when we make poor choices? Why don't they leave us when we're whiny and depressed and unreasonable? Why don't they turn their backs when we become embarrassing and ridiculous? Some of them do. Sometimes they come back. The BFF's come back.

The BFF is that person who you don't need to see or even speak to for days or months or sometimes even years - then when you do get together it's like no time has passed at all. The BFF knows all of your embarrassing secrets - some of them first hand - and that's okay, because they would never use them against you. Which is not to say that they won't, from time to time, tease you mercilessly about them. Because, come on! They're friends, not saints! Unless you're friends with saints. In which case, good on ya, I guess. But I'm not. I'm friends with gorgeous, amazing, utterly fallible folks.

At the risk of being cliche, the BFF laughs with you and cries with you. They love you when you're ugly.

My mother called me last night to tell me that she is losing a BFF. Her friend is dying. Last rites have been administered. My mother is out of town. She is not holding her hand. They talked on the phone. They said good-bye. Neither tried to pretend it was something it was not. They knew they would not speak again in this world. As my mother relayed all of this to me last night I tried to imagine being in either of their positions. The friend who was losing her life and the friend who was losing her friend. I couldn't wrap my brain - my heart - around either. Of course I know I'm mortal. Of course I know my friends are mortal. But forever - doesn't that just mean - to quote the wedding vows again - 'til death do us part? Or does it go on?

I think maybe it goes on.

If any of my BFF's are reading this - and you know who you are - I love you, man.


Bass Is Life said...

Hmm. Going by your criteria, I would have to say that I've never had a best friend, present company excepted.

I've had good friends, but none that have stood the test of time or distance. Most of my friends fell into one of two categories: girlfriend or band member. With each of these, once the relationship/band broke up, so did the friendship, staying on friendly terms but nothing really beyond that.

But don't cry for me Argentina. As I've said before, I've not often been a very good friend in the past and so was deserving of this. And my anti-social behavior doesn't make being my friend any easier.

I could be wrong, but I think guys tend to be like this more. Having a best friend is like having to stop to ask for directions: can I really not do this on my own?

Tammy Howard said...

Well, they teach us in Psych 101 that boys seek socialization in a pack while girls seek socialization in a small, close group. I'm still not ready to say, "it's a chick thing, you wouldn't understand..." though.

Your last point is interesting - that it's more about dependence/independence than socialization per se.

And there is the stereotypical male compulsion to "fix things" (FIX IT!!!). A man wants to fix the problem whereas a woman will (sometimes) just hold your hand and ride out the storm with you - cry with you instead of trying to make you stop crying, I guess.

But that's a lot more stereotyping than I like to do before 8 am!!!

And Tom, FWIW, "ooo, you make me live..."

smarmygal said...

Dude. I totally feel for your mom right now. I had what I thought was a BFF who no longer speaks to me because I told someone else I was pregnant first. I suspect there is something more to it than that, but I will never know because, again, she no longer speaks to me and it hurts my heart at least once a week. I miss her dearly.

You are so right about girls traveling in small, intimate groups. I've got close college friends - The Cashmere Mafia, and my Temple friends. Totaling maybe 7 really good friends in all - only 3 or 4 BFFs among them, though :) The ones who will always come back and love me "when I'm ugly."