Mmm... rocky road ice cream....
I went to see "Mona Lisa Smile" today with a, um, friend? Yeah, I guess we're kind of friends, though sometimes I also refer to her as a "girl I know." I've let my definition of friendship grow a bit more lax in recent years. I think it was Dr. Joyce Brothers who said that a relationship has moved into the realm of friendship when the involved parties begin to share their problems with each other. Not that I take all of Dr. Brothers' advice to heart... not that I pay much attention to her at all... but I happened to hear and remember this.
Initiate Flashback Sequence
I dunno. I used to think about the whole "friendship" thing a lot more before I had good friends. Up through third grade, I pretty much hung out with the same bunch of girls. There were only six of us in our grade: Cady, Becky, Linda, Candace, Laura, and myself; but even so some of us were more popular than others. We were all friends, though, for the most part. Then my parents separated, and I changed schools, and no one I knew was there. In fourth grade I still managed to find a "best friend," Aileen. The only reason I knew we were best friends was cos I asked her. "Do you think we're friends?"
"Yes," she said.
"Do you think we're best friends?"
She thought. "Yeah, we're best friends."
Which set my heart at ease: I had a best friend.
We also had two rivals: Susan and Jenny. We were kinda friends with them, too (since we were probably the four least-popular girls in our class). We'd play with them sometimes at recess, but we were also just as likely to not be on speaking terms. Once we moved Jenny's reading book from her desk to her cubby, and it took her a good ten minutes to find it--ten minutes Aileen and I spent stiffling our laughter. I don't think she ever found out it was us; she seemed awfully puzzled to think that she didn't remember putting her reading book in her cubby. So to Jenny, if you're reading this (and you're probably not), I've 'fessed up.
I also hung around with Karl. He was a cool kid, though I never really considered him a friend, probably because he was a boy. Other kids said we were romantically involved--except kids never say "romantically involved," they say stuff like, "Karl and Emily sittin' in a tree...." Truth be told I never had those kinds of feelings for him, and though I didn't like other kids teasing me, in the long run it didn't prevent me from talking to him. We had our very own math lessons together, where we learned about exponents before anyone else did. I didn't realize it then, but we were probably the two smartest kids in the class (and while I can't speak to the effect that may have had on my popularity, I suspect my personality had more to do with it). We had an argument once about whether the table, which squeaked when we rubbed our hands across the surface, was clean. He said that, because it squeaked, it wasn't clean. "No," I said, "if something squeaks, then it's clean. That's why they say 'squeaky clean.'" He didn't buy it.
And there was another kid, Tom I think his name was. He more than anyone seemed to take an especial delight in making my life miserable, as I was frequently the object of his scorn. "He probably likes you," my mom tried to reassure me when I told her, but I was less convinced. Why would he like me? I'm not the kind of girl that someone would like--and I wondered why Mom didn't understand that.
Fifth grade was another matter altogether. I switched schools again--this time because the school district's elementary schools ended at 4th grade, and 5th grade meant middle school. I went to Wellwood, while Aileen, Susan, and Jenny went to Eagle Hill. So I was left to start all over again.
Excuse me while I wipe my sneeze off the screen.
Oh, this post is turning out to be a long one, and my stamina is low. Suffice it to say that moving out of the "preppier-than-thou" white upper-middle class culture that is Fayetteville-Manlius and into the city school district helped a lot by largely putting an end to the teasing--though it's only been in recent years that I've been able to walk into the Gap without feeling like I don't belong there. Throughout my public education career, I had one or two friends here and there (8th grade was good), but they either moved or transfered schools. And I've never been good at making new friends. 9th grade was miserable, cos Sarah, who was my only friend at Nottingham at the time, didn't have any classes with me, though we did often eat lunch together. High school got progressively better, as my acquaintance list remained fairly stable, and the people who had known me for several years began to discover that I wasn't a total dweeb. And then my freshman year of college sucked the big one. I went to SU, but had to live at home for financial reasons, and I hated it. I felt like a child. And everyone else pretty much made friends with their roommates and other people on their floor. It wasn't until the end of my sophomore year that I felt like I was making some friends, and things have once again been getting progressively better.
In any case...
I have a friend who ate lunch with a homeless fellow she met in LA. The two of them talked for, oh, an hour? and in doing so they "became good friends." And I think, That's not what constitutes a good friendship. So I can only assume she was speaking loosely. It makes me wonder what other people mean when they describe someone they know as a "friend."
Like the girl I went to the movies with today. It wouldn't be so difficult to define our relationship if I enjoyed hanging out with her more. As far as Dr. Brothers' definition is concerned, she shares her problems--and much more--with me, but I don't do much talking at all. Not that I don't like to talk, but interjecting a comment into her monologue is like threading a needle with a bottle rocket. Maybe it's because my dad coached me for so long on distilling my thoughts before talking to him ("In two sentences or less, tell me how you liked the movie."), but that kind of behaviour drives me nuts. She's a nice person and all, but whenever we hang out, I invariably return home with a headache.
I'm gonna go take an Advil.