“I like people who make me like them. Saves me so much trouble forcing myself to like them.”
– Anne of Green Gables, the film
A few years ago, I came home in a frenzy over a girl I know.
“She only thinks about herself – she’s terrible,” I complained. “I hate her.”
“Let her have a good piece of your mind,” my mother said.
“Cut her off – just don’t talk to her,” my brother suggested.
I stared at them both as if they had just suggested that I feed this girl to a pack of hungry dingoes.
“I couldn’t do that!”
“Why not? You just said you hate her!”
“I may hate her,” I avowed, “but she’s my friend.”
Why are we friends with people? Think of all the so-called “friends” you have on Facebook. I have 486. Of those “friends,” much of the first half I barely know or (worse) can’t remember how I even made their acquaintances in the first place. Of those who are identifiable, about half simply annoy me with their incessant status updates. Honestly, we haven’t spoken in years, and through the artificial filter of Facebook, I find myself hard-pressed to feel actual emotion when presented with your “epic battle with the flu” or “amazing dinner with yummy fresh asparagus.”
So I’m not completely enamored with everyone I know. Who is? Let’s be honest, how often do you run into someone at the grocery store or the gym and think, “Yes! I can’t wait to spend 10 minutes catching up with This Person!” Of course, it’s easiest to walk briskly by and extend only a warm smile, but nine times out of 10, we get caught in the quicksand of small talk, like some undertow of wasted time. How much small talk is there in this world? Better yet – how much is just enough to be polite? And why does this always happen to me when I’m in a hurry?
Maybe I’m a terrible person to feel this way, but if my time is limited on this earth, I’d rather not spend it in the Ladies’ Room at a local bar idly chatting with It’s So Good To See You, who recently honeymooned in Acapulco and “thinks she’ll consider Duke for her masters.” I’d rather spend my time with people I enjoy.
But even if we don’t always enjoy them or don’t enjoy them at all anymore, there are certain people in our lives who just deserve more from us. People who tell us the truth about our haircuts. People who quote our favorite movies to us in the middle of class. People who have awkward photos of us taped up in their kitchen. People who lend us pajamas and have some of our socks in their closet. People who we’ve shared deodorant with…and toothpaste and razors. People who put on Backstreet Boys dance concerts in the basement with us.
These are the people who we’ll call friends for the rest of our lives, whether we remain close or grow apart; whether we share daily conversations or only memories. Even if we no longer send birthday cards. Even if we have a careless falling out. Even if we walk away vowing that we hate each other. Someday someone will ask me how I know you, and I will answer:
“She’s a good friend. I may hate her, but she’s a good friend.”