Tuesday, November 15, 2011
"My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me."
"Show me your best friend and I'll tell you who you are.Ē
"And Pooh said to Piglet, "Life is so much friendlier with two."
Carson McCullers once said itís hard to make friends after 40 because it seems pathetic to be searching for pals at that age. Not sure I agree, but I get her point.
How many friends do you have? Most people, according to a recent Cornell University survey, have a grand total ofÖ two. Thatís down from three reported by many Americans 25 years ago.
About 45 percent of 2,000 participants polled in an Internet survey conducted in the spring of 2010 listed one name. Eighteen percent listed two, and roughly 29 percent listed more than two. On average participants had 2.03 confidantes. Just over 4 percent of participants didn't list any names. (Sad face.)
I read this on msnbc.com, and the comments that followed were more interesting than the article. Most people claimed their spouses as best friends. Quite a few said they had no friends and planned to keep it that way. ďFriends are a drag. They always want something,Ē one poster wrote.
About a dozen said they had a loving circle of several close friends.
The shortest entry was heartbreakingly terse: ďOne. My cat.Ē
If you count my husband, Widdle Baby, and my beloved brother T-Bob, I have four peeps. (I used to have more, but time and distance take their toll.) Each of these friends would get on a plane if I were in trouble on the other end.
Like most of you, Iíve got acquaintances I see regularly, and at last count I have 200+ FB friends--but I donít expect them to bring me chicken soup if Iím flat out with the flu.
One of the first things that impressed me about my husband was his friends: He has more than anyone Iíve ever met. Off the top of my head I can name six men whoíd drive 20 miles to loan him 10 bucks. (That and moving a 400-pound couch are true tests of goodwill.)
Widdleís oldest friend dates practically from birth. The others have been around--through good times, funerals and everything in between--for 25, 30, 35 years.
Whoever said men are more socially isolated than women never met this gang.
They fish together, boat together, cook together, take road trips together, watch sports together, garden together, eat out together, cut each otherís lawns, discuss the news, loan and borrow power tools, share holiday traditions, mind each otherís dogs and grandchildren, argue politics, and tease each other from sunup to sundown.
We arenít talking about activities coordinated by wives: These guys plan and do things together for the joy of each otherís company.
As someone whoís more comfortable hanging upside down (we have an inversion table) than hanging out, their effortless bonhomie blows my mind. I appreciate it, but, like fractions and the solar system, donít really understand it.
The good news is that by watching Widdle, Iíve learned a lot about how to be a friend and how to accept friendship. Heís a lot better at it than I am, but Iím learning.
And that, my friends, is all we can ask for.
Julie R. Smith, a loyal if quirky friend, can be reached at email@example.com.