Sally Dog and Tic-Tacs

Suzette BrawnerGeneral

choc. LabA few weeks ago I drove two hours to have a three-hour lunch with my friend Sharon. We see each other every five or ten years or so. We discussed kids and work and the college guys we married and are still hanging on to. There was a whole lot of laughing and a little bit of eating. We promised, once again, to not wait so long to get together. But we do that every time. Life just gets in the way.

I looked up the definition of friend in the dictionary and this is what I got: a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. Really? That’s so weak. I think a friend is someone you love and who loves you, you trust and who trusts you, who doesn’t have to talk to communicate with you, who doesn’t care if you look ugly, who tries to help you even when they don’t know how, and who tells you if you’re being stupid, but doesn’t make you feel stupid. Actually, that sounds like my old Sally Dog.

If you think about it, there are friends and then there are friends. They aren’t all the same. There are acquaintances, polite friends, and your posse.

Your acquaintances are with you because of a common cause. Maybe they’re in the school booster-club; you serve on the neighborhood watch program together or partner on a church committee. These friends come into your life and go out of your life. Many times they jump to another cause and don’t ask you to go with them. When the cause changes or someone else can help them more than you, they are gone. Everyone who comes into your life doesn’t always stay.

Your polite friends are fewer and closer. You might have coffee or lunch with them. They may be your neighbors or colleagues or relatives. You’re like comrades. You lock arms in the fight. They will bail you out when you need help, but sometimes only if it is convenient for them. Polite friends also come and go, but usually because of a move or a different stage of life you transition in to.

And then there is your posse, your smallest group of friends. If you have a handful of these people in your lifetime you are blessed. Your posse may be made up of a longtime childhood friend, a sister by birth, a mentor, someone you see daily, or someone you see now and then. If you only touch base occasionally, you pick right up where you left off. My friend Shelley and I will call each other after not talking for a year and say, “and so then…”

They are with you because of you, not because of a common cause. These are your buddies, your confidants, your amigos. They are with you forever, no matter what. One of your posse friends can say, “Oh my, it smells like you’ve been licking the bottom of a trash can. Chew gum or something!” and you are grateful.

I tried to be discreet once and offered a polite friend a Tic-Tac because her breath was making my nose burn. She said, “Oh no, I don’t want the extra calories.” Honestly! A Tic-Tac has maybe three calories. She argued with me and finally I said, “Put the darn Tic-Tac in your mouth.” I haven’t seen her lately.

A nurses health study from Harvard Medical School concluded not having good friends is as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight. So here’s to good health! May your life be full of fun acquaintances, plenty of polite friends, a posse who loves you regardless, and a good Sally dog.