This calls for an apology.
You know Lillian Hellman? Playwright, paramour of Dashiell Hammett, a friend and, ultimately, a Judas of Dorothy Parker? Old Lil had a reputation as a difficult woman. That was the title of her biography, actually.
She wasn’t difficult, she was scheming and conniving. I’m difficult. Big difference.
All I do is whine and complain and, once in a while, snivel. Hang on, there’s more. I’m compulsive, stubborn, opinionated, and completely deaf to reason — a huge pain in the ass. You probably wonder why anyone bothers with me — given my sour disposition and general curmudgeonliness.
Well, they wouldn’t if they had a choice. But those people I call my friends didn’t volunteer, they were drafted. Waylaid, really. I’m a flipping barnacle; I’ve attached myself to some stunningly patient, easygoing, generous, very forgiving, and very funny people. Saints, really. Or, in keeping with the barnacle metaphor, they are my crustacean hosts.
A few have been around practically my entire life. The Other Lisa came tripping along in grade school; happy and outgoing, she was game for anything. We’d cheerfully step into traffic, bring it to a complete stop, then re-direct the cars for our own amusement. We’d sneak out in the middle of the night and TP anything that stood still.
On a field trip to the state capital, we got bored and wandered away from the group. We went on a fun tour of our own. The buses, of course, left without us. Eventually, someone did a head count, discovered we were missing, panicked, and came racing back to search. It wasn’t a rescue so much as a capture. Ai-yi-yi, such a fuss.
Jacque sat behind me in homeroom. One night, she borrowed an aunt’s Corvair and we zipped around the baseball diamond in that little car — first base, second, third, and across home plate. Score! Why are we the only ones who think we’re funny? We are, we’re hilarious. These days, she’s all that stands between me and utter self-destruction. I haven’t grown up, she did, though. Into my abiding and unwavering guardian angel. Even now she shows up at my window instead of the door and I’m 15 all over again.
Rachel was in my P.E. class, she was my unwitting cover. A good student, no one ever suspected her, they didn’t see the rebel within. They saw only a quiet, sweet, popular well-behaved kid, which she certainly was. Until I talked her into smoking, drinking, sneaking into the fair, going for a joyride in my mother’s car — juvenile delinquent stuff. I should be ashamed of myself, but, damn, we had fun. She moved far, far away after college. You can understand that, I think.
Ronnie came later. We worked together. Smart and easygoing, she was my superior in every sense. She fed me, humored me, covered for me, excused me, entertained me, and supported me. Most impressive of all, she stood between me and idiot clients. Right in the cross hairs. A dangerous place in the best of circumstances, which these were not. I was in the middle of a raging, undiagnosed thyroid storm and I made her life miserable. Insufferable is what I was. And, yes, I’m ashamed of that. Deeply.
I moved and haven’t seen her in years, but I know she’s there; I pester her constantly. And, bless her heart, she keeps answering my emails. I have her phone number, too, plus I know where she lives. So she’s welcome to try — I wouldn’t blame her — but she can’t hide.
I’ve fastened myself to you, too, here on my little blog. Every one of you. I wouldn’t be doing this otherwise. You make it all worthwhile. So, see? I’m a lucky girl, I have nothing to complain about. But I like to bitch. Who needs a reason?
Happy Best Friends Day everyone! And, again, my sincere, heartfelt condolences.