What Does Friend Really Mean?

Let’s start out with a disclaimer.  I get an idea for a blog, I pen it into my planner, and then I write about it.  My thoughts have been fruitful of late, so I’ve been about 2 1/2 weeks ahead in the thought process.  Now, since I took a hiatus, the idea for today’s blog came over a month ago, from a blog my friend Eilene wrote.  Here’s the problem- i don’t remember enough about her post to give it any kind of real reference as to what motivated me to write this.  But anyway…

What are the qualities you want in a friend.  Think about it.  I’ll wait…

Say, you want a friend to be honest.  Honesty is a good trait.  We want to deal with people in our daily lives who speak the truth and don’t lie.

Right?

Honesty is good, right?

We want our friends to be honest, right?

I binge watched “Grace and Frankie” (spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen it but plans on it) Before Frankie married, someone told her the man she was about to marry was gay.  Truthful, right?  Frankie didn’t speak to that person for 40 years.

Now, the person was honest, right?  But look at the outcome.  How honest do we want our friends to be?  How many people in our lives to we want to be completely honest with us?

Honesty often hurts.  When confronted with the cold, hard facts, we often crumble.  We get defensive.  My daughter recently asked me to review something she had written for her AP Lang assignment.  I told her it wasn’t very good, that she kind of skirted the question, and the voice was very passive when clearly the tone of the piece was supposed to evoke emotion.  My daughter stormed off.  She told me I was horrible.

Horrible?

Isn’t honesty good?

Don’t we want people to be honest with us?

Let’s think about how we define honesty.  Honesty is when we tell the truth.  Honesty is when we don’t lie. Lying is bad.

But are there things that are OK to lie about?  Are there times when a lie is justified?  Are there times when honesty is probably not the right course?

Let’s try this.  To be deceitful is definitely bad.  To tell a woman that you are single, when you are in fact married, is a bad thing.  Does anyone think this is an acceptable lie?

So, lying to be deceitful and not let someone have the whole story is bad.

Now I’m going to give you another TV reference.  Big Bang Theory spoiler alert.  On a recent episode, Amy picked out a wedding dress.  Penny and Bernadette thought the dress was hideous.  When Amy asked, Penny told her the truth.  Amy’s feelings were hurt.  Did Amy want the truth, or did she want agreement?

Which brings us to: if a friend asks an opinion question, is it OK to lie?  Would it really be a lie if Penny said the dress was beautiful?

In TV world, Penny ended up telling Amy that the dress was Amy’s choice, and it didn’t matter who liked it.  I thought this was the right approach to the situation, but does this choice make anyone feel better?

Opinion honesty is a tough call, because opinions are just that: opinions.  Opinions are based on a particular individuals thoughts, and might not necessarily be based on fact.  In my writing group, we share work.  Now as you know, writing work is very personal.  No one wants to be told that there is a flaw in their writing, or an inconsistency.  So I was in a quandary yesterday.  I told one of my writing friends (who is an absolutely amazing writer BTW) that I thought she had an issue with character development with one of her characters.  But it was based on my opinion.  True, i gave her examples of why I thought the character needed to be fleshed out a little more, but I don’t know if I’m right.  (mark this date down: I admitted that I might not be right about everything)  But I felt I needed to tell her how I felt, and why.

Should we give friends out true opinions of things, even when they are going to go against someone’s thought/beliefs/feelings?

So what are your thought on honesty as to how it pertains to friendship?  What is your definition of honesty?  Are you always honest with your friends about everything?  How about family?  Are you always honest with your family?

Discuss…

 

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Blogging PSA- Follow-up

It’s a vicious cycle.  I write a blog.  You comment.  I think of something to say based on comments.  So the following is all your fault.

First off, I learned a lot about trolls.  I am floored by the comments that others have made to bloggers.  To be fair, the majority of our little community is good, and seeks to inspire, not to criticize.  But you know, one bad apple….Someone was criticized for being too happy…..can you imagine?  “I’m sorry, happiness isn’t allowed here- it might give people the idea that happiness and positivity is an option- wouldn’t want that to happen.”  I don’t know about you, but, even though I don’t always get there, happiness is pretty high on my to do list…..

We know that I love a good spirited debate.  I have no problem with people who disagree with me, and vice versa, as long as it’s done logically and with respect, and no one tells the other, “Nah nah, I’m right and you’re wrong…”   I once had a conversation with a guy- we had opposite opinions of a subject.  I laid out my reasonable, rational argument, countering his points with my own.  After about 10 minutes, he began to see the rationale of my point of view, and actually changed his mind to my way of thinking.  Now, we were in bed at the time, but I really don’t think that influenced his decision at all……

But what do we think about when people give you instructions on how to do things?

I’ve given parenting advice.  My intention is not to shame anyone, or say “I’m right and you’re wrong” (though, who are we kidding, I’m always right), but it is to share the knowledge that I have learned in the past 50 years.  Some of it I have learned the hard way.  Some of it I have learned by doing almost the exact opposite of what my Mother had done.  I’m just sharing pieces of my life, in hope that you can see how I screwed up, so maybe you won’t have to feel the pain I did.

But what about the people that give advice, or make comments that are really just thinly disguised criticism?

You’ve seen them. The type that leaps to my mind are the Mommy Shamers.   They post pictures of perfect homemade treats, while they are wearing pressed white linen, their toddlers sitting quietly reading the works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  They say things like, “Oh- we’re so glad you had the time to run to the store to bring in that bag of Oreos for the bake sale.  We always forget about the children who don’t have advanced palates.”

There are also the lip pursers.  When you are discussing your wedding plans, the friend across from you looks like they are sucking on a lemon.  They say things like, “Sure, you could wear an off white dress, and carry flowers. I know you’re not really the creative type.  You need to play to your strengths, which is bland.”

And these are often people we call our friends.

So what do we do?

Yes- I’m about to give advice…..

  1. Not everyone has to be a close friend.
  2. Be selective about what you share.  Not everyone needs to know everything
  3. Be thankful if you have 1 close friend-  a true close friend is a rare and beautiful thing
  4. It’s ok to have activity specific friends.  I have a movie buddy.  The only thing we do together is see movies.  It works.
  5. Limit the amount of time you spend with people that only bring negativity, or make you feel bad about yourself (this includes family)- feel free to unfriend them
  6. Don’t take the shamers seriously, or pay them heed- they don’t deserve your time or consideration
  7. My advice is the only advice worth listening to- I am perfect……

 

 

Ensemble

It’s odd how some things come together.  One blogger friend writes about a word every day, and how it impacts his life.  Another blogger friend wrote about characters in TV shows.  And yet another wrote about the theme music on Good Times.  My friends father died last week.  This past weekend was the birthday of a dear friend of mine who passed away 7 years ago.  A fourth blogger has been posting about the end of his life, as cancer has taken over his body.  Today’s blog is inspired by all these things- it’s an ensemble.

When my daughter was in Pre-k, I met 4 parents.  Our children were all in the same class.  This was our first experience with the New York City public school system- these were our first (and for most) only children.  We had a lot to learn.  Parenting is so hard- we were afraid that we were screwing up at every turn. We needed support, so our little band of five was formed.  Our own personal ensemble cast- there wasn’t really a star (OK it was me….) but a group of great supporting actors.  We began meeting for coffee every morning after drop off.

These friends literally got me through early elementary school.  If I had an issue, a problem, an idea about child rearing- I threw it out to the group.  This was my safe space- where I could ask questions, give advice, laugh and cry.  These were my people.  We were what the best ensembles were- a collaboration of people, who alone were okay, but together could change the world.  Or run a school event.  Same thing.

But we were geeks- specifically about pop culture.  We read, we watched movies, we watched TV.  We all loved sit coms.  We would quote from sit coms as a part of our daily lives.  We would have debates over shows, and characters, and favorite episodes.  We could relate almost any situation on our lives directly to a TV show- this is like the Chinese restaurant in Seinfeld, this is like the Smelly Cat episode on Friends.

Then, when our kids were in third grade- G wasn’t feeling so well.  He went to doctor after doctor- but no one could see anything wrong.  Until they did.  He got the prognosis on the morning of the spring parent teacher conferences.  As we sat in the pizza place with the kids, eating our now traditional half day of school lunch- we could not look at one another.  While the kids still retained their innocence- the adults did not.  Nothing would ever be the same again.  Six weeks later he was gone.

His memorial service- hundreds of people- including his Grandmother- stood around eating mini hot dogs, drinking Dirty Martini’s (his drink)- wondering how this could happen to a 45 year old man, wo had three little kids.  We held each other, cried and laughed, and cried some more.  When I spoke to the crowd, I held back the tears- G would not want be to cry during the eulogy.  He would want me to remember him the way he lived his life- and I did my best.  I told stories about our little band of 5- how we would spend hours talking about nothing- which was really everything.  And I ended my speech with a quote from Frasier, our favorite show.  On the series finale, Niles says to his brother, “I’ll miss the coffees.”  And that was the bet way to sum up an amazing friendship and amazing person.

Last weekend would have been his 53rd birthday- the same age I turned this year.  And I still miss his laugh, his wit, his biting satire, his humanity, and his take on pop culture.  His presence in my life changed me- for the better.  I’m a better person for having known him.

And remember way back in the first paragraph?  All those things?  Our lives, our stories, are made of little bits and pieces of everything around us.  Anything can trigger a memory, or an idea.  And all those things made me think of G, on his birthday.  And made me cry a little, and made me laugh a little.

And thanks to the following, who unknowingly inspired me:

https://www.thisismytruthnow.com/

http://theycallmetater.wordpress.com/

http://www.thatsoulshit.wordpress.com/

http://www.spearfruit.com/-  Courage and honor.