Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Friends With Benefits
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
Of course, Facebook has turned the word into a verb, but I want to talk about the nouns. The people who can turn a crappy day into a good one with an email or a phone call or a spur or the moment invitation to lunch.
A good friend will listen to you whine (and then kick you in the butt when you've whined enough and help you fix the problem), loan you clothes, shoes, jewelry, whatever you need, help you pack and move, water your plants and pick up your mail when you're gone, read your latest masterpiece and be honest and drive you to the auto shop when you car's in for repair. A friend will also get up at 5 AM to take you to day surgery and then bring you back home and watch you drool in your drug-induced sleep. And they won't post photos on Facebook!
TV is full of famous pairs of friends -- Andy Taylor and Barney Fife, Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, Starsky and Hutch, Mulder and Scully, Bert and Ernie. The movies have them too -- Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Bambi and Thumper, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Famous pairs appear elsewhere too -- Barbie and Ken, Barnes & Noble, Abercrombie and Fitch, Dolce and Gabbana, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, gin and tonic.
But there's more to friendship than borrowed jewelry and mail call. There's a big benefit from friends. "Feeling cared for and supported within a social network is particularly important for women in fostering self-care," says Todd Jackson, PhD, author of a 2006 study linking high levels of social support and community involvement with healthier diet, exercise and sleep habits, among other positive effects. A good friend will motivate you, support you and hold you accountable. They'll celebrate the most joyous of days with you and get you through the darkest times of your life.
I count the Playfriends among my dearest of friends. We've traveled together, roomed together, dealt with cut fingers and blown knees, helped each other move, advised about automobiles, insurance companies, plumbers and various other home repair situations. We survived the meth lab raid in the motel room next to ours, introduced Instigator to Krispy Kreme doughnuts (on the same trip as the meth lab raid), plotted books and accepted each other's quirks.
Oddly enough, my divorce has led me to a new group of great friends. We're all members of the Sisterhood of Divorcees and we've kept each other sane. These new sisters have been there to listen to me cry, they came to court with me so I'd have a friendly face in the courtroom and they've told me it's okay to be angry. Never once have they patted me on the knee and said "Just get over it," because they all understand you have to work through the pain, not skirt around it.
A world without friends would be a bleak world indeed, and I consider myself beyond blessed to have so many great friends.
Got friends? Tell me about them and one commenter will win a package of conference goodies and books from my stash.
And now my favorite "friend" song.