• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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There is No One Here Beside Me

I hate the expression “you really find out who your friends are”. People say it all the time when there’s a crisis. A death, a job loss, illness, etc. Who comes running with the casserole, who sends a text every day with a cute fucking emoji. (BTW, no friend would do that. There’s nothing worse than “thinking of you” smiley smiley red balloon. How are you doing abashed eyes, kissy heart, puppy, rose. My friends are the people who forget my birthday, who stopped sending cards in the late eighties, who don’t have my back and I don’t have theirs. They’re just people I’ve known for a long time who tolerate me and vice versa. They are the people that didn’t get dropped, cancelled, or quit. Or haven’t dropped, cancelled, or quit me. They are people with whom an intense interest at the beginning didn’t destroy long-term potential like so many. Longevity: is it what it’s cracked up to be? Cause for celebration when a friend moves across the country. Like is as good and in many ways better than love where friends are concerned. Friends are the people you don’t fuck.

Define friendship.

17 Responses

  1. Oh my god! I’m the opposite. To steal Shawn Colvin’s lyric, “I bruise my friends for more.” I give a lot. I expect a lot. Though I expect less than I give. But I want the love. I want the texts, the cards, the casseroles. I want the “thinking of you”s. Yes. God, why else have friends? I don’t want to coexist alongside a body merely beating hearts and exhaling lungs in close proximity, I want connection, depth, authenticity, honesty. I want a clean polished mirror to show me a kind but accurate reflection of who the fuck I am. And I’ll hold up the same.

  2. once a week i take a long walk with my friend elaine and we talk about our lives and our writing. last week i mentioned how thankful i was to do so, particularly this past winter of covid and my imploding personal life, and she said, with tears in her eyes, “i couldn’t have made it this winter without this weekly walk.” and i responded, with tears in my eyes, “me, too.”


    in your 50s, friendship is where it’s at.

  3. A friend is someone who can make me laugh. A close friend is someone I can let in the house when the dishes aren’t done and the mail is piled up on the dining room table. A true blue forever friend is someone I can fart in front of. It’s a continuum after all.

  4. I think the saying should really be: “You find out that those people you sometimes discount should not be discounted because they’ve done something unexpected and nice this one time at the very least.” But I guess that’s too much of a mouthful.

  5. I think we’re twins.

    I’m not this type. I don’t expect it, don’t ask, and while I will text when I sense I think it’s expected, it’s so not me! I’m certainly not sappy or emotional when I’m going thru tough time, and to be honest, I’d rather just get the hell through it, and leave me alone.

    Does this mean my emotional quotient is on par with a cardboard box. Probably.

    Friendship = picking right back up where you left off – if it’s been one month or five years. I have a friend like this. (And she’s farted in front of me, and we laughed. Then I got out the Lysol and sprayed it in her direction.

  6. I’m sitting here trying to define friendship. Um, ah, WTF is friendship? Don’t tell my friends I can’t define friendship. They’d be pissed.

  7. I’ve got sisters, I’ve got friends, I’ve got rhythm, who could ask for anything more? Different friends for different ends, and I’m probably not as good a friend as my friends.

  8. I’ve got sisters, I’ve got friends, I’ve got rhythm, who could ask for anything more?

    This I know for sure, different friends touch us in different ways, and we need them in different ways, and maybe they’ll be there and maybe they won’t, no cynicism intended.

    I’m probably not as good a friend as my friends.

  9. Oh twice!

  10. There have been a couple of times when friends reached out, unprompted by anything other than the suspicion it might be a shitty time, just to check in. These moments have brought me to near—ok, no, just to tears. Because goddamn, someone out there gave a shit. Someone really was “thinking of you,” and the mere idea that my well being could be worth a moment’s thought in someone else’s head. That shit lasted me a while. A feast when I’d been subsiding on the meager thoughts in my own head that maybe it’ll be okay.

  11. In my isolation, friends are the people who text me pictures of a tanker blocking the Suez Canal and remind me that my day could be worse. They read my writing and laugh at my jokes. Sometimes they tell me things they can’t tell everyone.

  12. I’m glad you guys have friends. Now get back to work.

  13. “Define friendship.”

    You summed it up better than I can — “Friends are the people you don’t fuck.”

    But they can be people you have fucked, but are no longer fucking. Three of my closest friends are women who used to do the push-and-pull with me.

    Some famous writer — I don’t remember who — said, or wrote, that the best of friends are two people who can sit in each other’s company for hours at a time without speaking, and be perfectly comfortable with that.

    Aristotle said things about friendship, too, or so is the report. I think it was in his Nichomachean Ethics, which, given that I have read it several times, you would think I would be able better to recall. I think he said that true friendship can exist only between equals, all other human relationships being exercises in power.

    Do the power dynamics between two people who are actively fucking, or who are engaged in an active fucking relationship — “friends with benefits” being a recent term, “fuckbuddies” being one slightly older — do these arrays of power mean they can’t really be friends? I think that likely is the case.

    As for the metaphorical uses of the verb “to fuck” — a term of violence at its root — it does seem that one cannot fuck one’s friends, or be fucked by them, or even desire any fuckage in the mix.

    Then there’s Foucault, who cast all human relationships along discursive webs where pulsed the exercise of power. In such a deconstructed world, if friendship possible? Could it even exist?

  14. My problem is that I don’t miss people when they’re not around. Only when they reappear in my life do I think, Oh, I missed you, and we pick up where we left off. So I guess my friends are the people who drift through life in the same way and whose currents are moving in the same direction as mine.

    I don’t have enemies for the same reason. I find grudges very slippery and hard to hold, and I’m too forgetful to be angry for long. I’m more annoyed by my lack of enemies than friends. Enemies seem like fun—all that passion, those smoldering resentments. And no emojis!

  15. My friend Rafael gave me some dosed gummies a couple of weeks ago. I took half of one last week and decided it wasn’t enough, so I took the other half. That was just about perfect; I went to write out a check before things got weird but it was too late and I stared at the check thinking, gee, I hope that’s how you write an 8. So I finally called him last night to say thanks and while we were talking he seemed distracted and eventually told me he was going to visit his brother in Indiana who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive esophageal cancer that has metastasized. The possibility his brother may only have a few months to live was weighing heavily on Rafael. Since he doesn’t drive, my friend was reluctant to fly, but also aware he needs to see his brother. Rafael has had his vaccination shots, as has his brother, and I urged him to go, be careful and stay for an extended period of time. He’s thinking he’ll go after the Easter/Spring Break traffic rush. We talked then about what music we had been listening to and I told him the story about me asking an old guy we know about whether the crocuses have bloomed in front of the library yet (yes) and the old fellow replied by telling me his wife used to work at the library. We both chuckled, knowing full well the follies and pitfalls of this old age we’re advancing toward, never knowing what lurks around the corner and keeping tabs on each other for the duration.

  16. Who’s got your back? Really? The sentence is a true measure of friendship. Everyone else is decoration, which is fine, so long as they mind their business and stay where they belong.

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