It is National Girlfriends Day! I can’t let the day pass without honoring the precious gift of gal pals.
A recent study by Stanford University revealed that the secret to a long life for a man is to be married; for a woman, the secret is to have good friends. Girlfriend time activates serotonin and is as important to our well-being as exercise. Read that again: as important as exercise! Ha!
Like we needed an erudite Ivy Leaguer to tell us that! If you’ve seen Menopause, the Musical (and if you haven’t, you must), you’ll remember that the final scene was a celebration of girlfriends. If I could dance and sing, I would perform a tribute to my friends. I can only write, so this is my ode to gal pals.
Men, if they’re unusual and very, very lucky (and quite possibly gay) have one or more good friends. By friends, I don’t mean people with whom they just drink, watch sports, or share an office or power tools. Not just someone a guy can call to ask advice beer kegs or discount plane tickets or plumbing. A “good friend” is someone a guy can call about his prostate problems (that’s not what I meant about “plumbing”), his obnoxious boss, his significant other, or feeling blue.
My husband has dozens of guy acquaintances, but only one man who seems anything like what I consider a “good friend.” Rick and his friend George (not his real name) watch sports, play online Scrabble, and dance around their political and religious differences, but I don’t think George has ever confided in Rick about missing his daughter in Europe, nor do I think Rick has ever confided in George about his beautiful, young wife.
I am giddy with gratitude for all I have in my life: my health, my marriage, my children, and most definitely, my friends. I have at least three dozen women (and a couple men) with whom I could discuss personal, physical, or professional dilemmas. I could discuss my checking account, my insecurities, my dreams, and my disappointments with all of them, as well as my thick thighs, facial hair, and vaginal dryness with a couple dozen.
I really don’t know how men fly solo emotionally. I don’t know how I could function without close friends. I pity men for their isolation and their insulation, their privacy and their solitude, their facades and their defenses, their competitiveness and their penile insecurities.
Most married men, I think, would say that their wives are their best friends. My husband is my best and only friend in one particular niche: friends with whom I can fart and have sex with; friends who can advise me on spelling and Seinfeld references; friends who are stuck with me.
Good friends are people who know my Achilles heel but would never exploit that knowledge.
They know me well enough that they don’t second-guess a text—“Was that an insult?”—or think I’m giving them the cold shoulder if they don’t hear from me for a while. My friends know I don’t play those kinds of games, that if I am angry enough I’ll just tell them, and if I’m angry just a little, I’ll probably let it go.
There is no room among girlfriends for jealousy; I am nothing but delighted for my friends’ good fortune. I even like friends who are naturally thin.
My friends are organized into something of a flow chart:
If I think maybe I’m wrong or being a baby, I will turn to one especially generous, forgiving friend. She’ll give it to me straight and won’t sugar-coat the news. When we finish talking, I’ll feel guilty I haven’t adopted a Ukrainian baby.
If I want to talk about the woeful state of education, I’ll talk to a teacher at least as old as I am. He or she will reminisce with me about the good old days before No Child Left Untested. They’ll wax on about field trips, track days, and fun in the classroom.
I have certain friends I call if I need encouragement, who will coo over me and pet me and always say I’m right. A subset of this group are friends who will allow me to use a lot of four-letter words and respond in kind.
If I’m feeling empty or a little hopeless about the world, I go to visit a friend who is a young mother. That will put a stupid grin on my face, and maybe even a little glitter under my fingernails or peanut butter on my pants.
I don’t call thin friends about my weight, I call currently or formerly fleshy friends: “How did I get to this point?”; “I have nothing to wear”; “I can’t stop myself, I’m cleaning out my refrigerator orally!” They’ll commiserate and make me feel less slothful, and sometimes they know the exactly right thing to lead me to the path of dietary righteousness.
I can’t think of any problem in my life that can’t be made better by talking to one of my friends. There’s always a yin to my yang, a sweet to my sour, a cog to my sprocket. It takes a village to buoy me.
And that is why, on this National Girlfriends Appreciation Day, I wrote about you, dear friends. You know who you are.
It’s also National Raspberry Cream Pie Day and Minority Donors Awareness Day today (I am not kidding). But I am writing about National Girlfriends Day, because I love you and need you and cherish you, dear friends. You know who you are.
More posts about friendship:
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