There are big ships and small ships
But the best ships
Aww! That kiddie rhyme, aside from being a bit nauseating, sort of captures the essence of it all, despite its outrageous metaphor mixing.
The point of it all is that August 2nd is ‘Friendship Day’. I honestly didn’t know that such a thing existed until I noticed it on the Internet. Well, I’ll be, I thought. I mean, I was fully aware (as are most people) of Dill Pickle Day, but Friendship Day? Who woulda thunk? We need a commemorative day to remind us of our friends? Do we need Mother’s Day to remind us of dear old Mumsy? Well, some do. Husbands, usually.
Friends, eh? I have friends. I have guy friends and girl friends. Girl friends are, for a guy, another matter entirely from girlfriends, the latter of which can be problematic if the guy happens to be either married or in a relationship of any planned duration.
When we are young we have scores of friends. We have new ‘best friends’ all the damn time. As we age, friendships wane somewhat, but we retain a few of those old friends well into adulthood if we are lucky.
I have two very, very old friends. One is female and we have been connected since we were munchkins. On the telephone she recently told me how she remembers my carrying her books home from school in the third grade. I was a romantic little bugger, wasn’t I? Yet, even though I knew her all through school, after high school we lost touch. We reconnected only a few years ago after a lengthy hiatus in between. And it’s always continued as if uninterrupted.
My other early childhood friend lives in Australia. We became friends when he moved next door when we were 12. This is one of those great connections that, even though we live thousands of miles apart, we can pick up conversations immediately with no self-consciousness.
My best friend (whom I cherish) from my early teaching years moved to Toronto decades ago. But, we too have that magical connectedness. My further friend in ‘best friend’ category died accidentally back in 1981. He was a university friend whom I cherished, and I still miss him very much. I can still hear his wonderful hearty laugh. I could get misty writing about him. Fortunately, I am still friends with his widow (who also goes back decades with me) so we can reminisce with pleasure.
I had no other ‘best friends’ in that exalted category until about the mid 1990s. I was quite amazed at how one particular guy and I bonded and the ideas and attitudes we shared. It felt good to have a tight male friend once again. If I was to meet him for lunch I almost felt as anticipatory as if I were going on a date. It was cool. And then the stupid bastard went and killed himself in a drug overdose. I had no idea he was a drug user. But, at least his demise prompted me to find out all I could about the nature of addiction, and eventually qualified me as a counselor.
I also have had female friends over the years. No romances, not crushes, not intimate partners, but genuine friends, and I value those very much, too. Sometimes we need the simpatico of an opposte sex friend. One is such a good friend that I made her my ‘best man’ when I married Wendy.
I think the test of genuine friendship with somebody is validated by a simple question: If I were in a jam could I call up this person at 3 a.m. for help without pissing him/her off? Could this person do the same with me? If the answer is ‘yes’ in both cases, then that person is a friend.
Then there are those friendships, we have ‘almost’ good friends. I have a few of those. I am not certain what puts them in the ‘almost’ category, but I think they are, in a way, rather like lovers whom one cherishes and whom one is intensely attracted to, but of whom one does not want to make a lifetime commitment because of an instinctive fear some tiny element of displeasure might magnify into something mammoth later on.
And then there are acquaintances. Most of us have scads of those as time goes by. You know, colleagues, folks who work in favored stores, restaurants, coffee bars, regular bars. We like them, but are usually connected by a certain commonality of interaction. These are people about whom we know ‘less’ than we know about our friends, and likely don’t want to know more than we already know.
Finally, there are our ‘electronic’ friends. Fellow bloggers, for example. We get to know each other remarkably well, even though we rarely meet. Yet, I find I genuinely like some of those who met here in this place. Some I feel closer to than others due to regular familiarity. And, some of my fellow bloggers I have met up with in real time. It has never been a disappointment or changed my feelings about the individual. Actually, it’s kind of neat.
I’d love to know some of your thoughts about friendship, especially with Friendship Day coming up very soon.