It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"― A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
A recent conversation:
Marianne: I think I want to move to El Salvador so the kids can learn fluent Spanish. I have googled homes and found a charming little one-bedroom made of twigs. Minimalism is awesome.
Jeanette: You’re having a manic episode again. Gimme all your credit cards.
Marianne: Right. Anyway, flights are tricky and I couldn’t find anything on Expedia, but you guys would totally visit for like Christmas, right?
Jeanette: I am just going to hold onto your passport here for a bit, ‘kay?
Jeanette has seen me through bad haircuts, bad boyfriends, and bad postpartum
moments where l cried for hours. After giving birth to my second son, it was Jeanette who drove Jack and me home from Northwestern Hospital as my husband was in the fire academy and unable to leave.
Jeanette remains the only friend who promises to change my diapers when I grow old. If that is not love, I do not know what is.
It got me thinking about my sons and the friends they have selected. They are about the same age I was when I met Jeanette. Would they choose as wisely? I began listening in on recent conversations in hopes of identifying integrity and loyalty amongst the grade school boy set. My findings:
Son #1: You wanna go to the park and see who’s there?
Friend #1: Nah. You got chips?
Son #2: Who wants to play hockey?
Friend #2: Not now. But is your dad home? If he is, ask if I can stay for dinner. If it’s just your mom, I’m sick of cereal.
Apparently, the dynamics for boy relationships are mostly food-based. I started studying my husband, a guy who maintains decades-long friendships effortlessly, for insight. His chums continue to golf, bowl, and argue politics on a weekly basis. I have seen them fight passionately, but then turn instantly on any stranger who attempts to take sides. “This is between friends, buddy,” they will admonish interlopers, “it has nothing to do with you.”
Joe’s gang represents a diverse cross-section of personalities, interests, and temperaments. There are CEOs, firefighters, policemen, teachers, and lawyers. Most bystanders would be amazed they could get along for five minutes, let alone 30 years. I eavesdropped for secrets to the male bromance.
Joe: You guys wanna do burritos after golf tomorrow?
Friend #1: Sounds good. It’s not like your wife cooks.
*uproarious group laughter*
In the end, I still cannot put my finger on how exactly one keeps friends for a lifetime. Is it happenstance? An innate sense of loyalty? A shared affinity for midnight burritos? No matter the impetus, I pray my sons will find forever friends who will stand with them without question or judgment. Friends who can lift them when they are down, cajole them when they are misdirected, and stand with them when the world does not.
Most importantly, I hope my boys will offer the same thing right back.