I love all of my friends, but my hats off to my old friends. Those guys who have stuck around for years through good times and bad.
These are the guys that have lost that new friend smell. You don’t have to sniff around conversations wondering what they think, whether they voted correctly or feel awkard saying things like “let’s go to the movies” “let’s go to the mall” “let’s go out to eat” or “give me your number” – like some bizarre dating ritual where you’re just not going to get lucky at the end of the day. In fact, you’ve grown past all of that messy conversation and can just show up at their house, kick off your shoes, head straight for their fridge all the while making some low gutteral noises and gesturing – whole conversations can take place without you ever having to make much sound. And with one friend we don’t even have to bother with the noises – we can hold entire conversations through facial expressions, which saves a lot of time since we don’t have to mess around with lots of words.
And what makes them great is that in a personal crisis, these friends don’t have to ask, they just know what you need. They’re like extended family only these guys actually know you well (which can be bothersome if they’ve decided it’s time to do impersonations). Ok, that’s a teeny tiny swipe for every time someone who doesn’t know me begins a sentence with “you’re just like… (insert some obnoxious statement that makes you consider sitting on their chest and beating them about the head while asking in a mocking time, “yeah, well who am I like now?” but I digress… rage issues… ahem) and invariably end up dancing on my last nerve forcing me to roll my eyes discreetly (and sometimes not so discreetly but I didn’t pounce on them because other people tend to get nervous and upset when you do that at Christmas). If you ran that same line by any of my old friends you’d see them all roll their eyes in chorus. They’re also a bit more outgoing than I am and extremely protective, so you might find your way down the path to the losing end of a conversation.
So, a couple of weeks ago I had stitches put in my back. Yeehaw. There were about nine of them – the itchy kind and of course in the dead center of my spine. I needed them to come out, but of course my doctor’s office couldn’t see me for 5 minutes until another month had passed. Great. You guys are awesome. I sent Julie (the cute blonde that I met my first day of school in Austin way back in 2nd grade) a note. See, she grew up to be a doctor. (Another grew up to be a computer genius, another a tech writer and still another a mad scientist. I grew up to be their charity case. It’s the least I could do. Smart people need to engage in philanthropic endeavors and I aim to be that. Everyone should have a purpose in life.) In the e-mail I wrote “how hard is it to pop nine stitches? What do I need?” Now, newer friends would read that literally. How that translates into old friend is, “Hi, can you work me into your schedule and take out these stitches? My doctor failed. Don’t make me yank these things. I will if pressed.” The note back read, “it’s not hard, I’ve worked you in at 9:30 on Wednesday.” GREAT!
I show up after some winking and nodding at the receptionist since I wasn’t “officially” on the schedule and they weren’t going to see a dime, and I explain to Ju (short for Julie, but makes people uncomfortable when they hear it because the unknowing think I’m making some slur and it’s better than Ju Pooh Bear, which you can still call someone 30+ years later if you’re drunk and their colleagues aren’t around) that my underwear is dead sexy and she probably shouldn’t be jealous as I reveal my sturdiest grandma bra and exposed my glorious ode to Mary Shelly on my spine. Julie “ooed” appropriately in admiration which translated to “good God, spend some money and buy something nice, girl.” Then popped those guys, gave me a nice bandage and a tour.
And as we were heading out she pointed to the room containing her next patient and whispered dramatically, “guess what? She’s NEKKED in there!” which caused us to burst into giggle and hurry down the hall.
And that’s another thing I love about old friends (and my cousin Kim who only has to point at me and it will send me into a fit of laughter) – they know you so well, that they can cause you to bust out into giggles over nothing like no one else can.
I will add though, that as much as I love Julie and as smart as I know she is, I still wouldn’t have her as my doctor. I mean, you can ask your friends to do a lot, but “squeeze my boobs” or “you free for a pap smear” still crosses that friendship line.
(And I bet you guys just remembered why you were enjoying my little writing hiatus.)