Monday, October 15, 2007

Friends You Can Call At 4am

My closest female friend and I have known each other since we were twelve. For the purposes of anonymity, we’ll call her Eddie. Mostly because I called her that when we were 12.

In the way of friendships formed during childhood, we don’t necessarily share a lot of interests. I love to cook, she orders takeout with great panache. I follow world news and politics, both of which bore her to tears. She knows all about finances and interest rates and credit scores, matters that completely evade me. I enjoy the charm of small towns, she needs the rush of a big city. She almost never wears make-up. I have been wearing a “full face” since I was 13. Her hobby is riding a motorcycle, mine is community theater. I love foreign films and ensemble dramas. She likes horror and action films with things that blow up. She’s athletic and good at sports, I... am not.

We both love handbags, Colin Firth, Chinese food and romantic comedies.

Also in the way of friends who have known each other since childhood, our bond is less about what we have in common and more about how intimately we understand each other. When you have revelled and commiserated with the same person through every high and low of your adolescence and adult life, they get to know you fairly well.

Eddie (who does not live in the same part of the country as I) flew to the Northeastern U.S. a couple of days ago to attend a wedding as her significant other’s “plus one”. She has been seeing her S.O. for a few years, they are pretty serious. While she knows his immediate family well, there will be friends and extended family at this wedding whom she has never met.

The day after she flies out, I get a phone call from her at my work.

Eddie never calls me at work.

She apologizes for calling, ascertains that I have a minute (very considerate, no?) and, having made certain it is ok, commences crying hysterically.

“I just got the worst haircut I have ever had.”

She is in a drug store. The S.O. and his family are waiting in the car. They have been waiting for forty minutes. She is frantically trying to select a hair product / accessory / large bag that will help the situation. The wedding is tomorrow. A wedding at which she will be meeting a bazillion people who matter to her S.O. People she wishes to make a good impression on. And her hair looks “somewhere between a Billy Ray Cyrus mullet and the Jennifer Anniston shag.”

This is not a good look for her.

In between sobs, she tells me she feels silly to be crying but she can’t help it. She knows S.O. and Company think she is being ridiculous. But she knew I would understand.

I try to calm her. I make suggestions. We decide a thick headband a’la the 60’s is her best bet. Hairband is selected. Texturizing mousse is located. All will be well.

I get off the phone thinking how good it is that we have each other.

It is important to have friends you can call up and confess something awful to or share something absurd with. She and I will call each other some days just for perspective (i.e.: “He said this. Then I said this. Now HE says I’m being unreasonable. AM I being unreasonable?”) or to be reassured that we are not the only one in the world who thinks that leggings look idiotic. I am fortunate enough to have a few friends whom I can call at 4am crying, but Eddie knew me before I was really me. Sometimes we call when we’re upset and would have difficulty explaining why to anyone else. It’s nice.

In Sleepless in Seattle, Meg Ryan calls Rosie O’Donnell and admits that she has flown to Seattle to see that guy from the radio show. She knows she can tell her friend this thing that she would never under ANY circumstances tell anyone else. Because it is INSANE. Because anyone else would have her committed. Because it's the kind of embarassing that you can hardly admit even to yourself. But she knows that her friend will understand.

Eddie and I have that kind of friendship.

She is (rhetorically, of course) the first person I would call if I had to hide a dead body. Or if I hopped a plane to Seattle to stalk Tom Hanks. OR if I had been holed up crying in a Walgreens for 40 minutes because some idiot hacked off my hair.


  1. This is Kim and I's relationship as well. Its not so much that we even have a whole lot in common anymore...but we know each other so well and we keep each other's history.

    It is such a blessing to have 'that friend'

  2. It's kind of funny cause it's 1:15 and i'm sitting alone in the dark trying to convince myself that you won't be mad if i call just to cry about, well nothing, i just need to cry.

    There really is something to be said for letting the craziest part about you out around someone and not only will they not judge you, they just get it.

  3. You know the rules, B. If you need me you can call. Even if it's 1am. Even if it's just to cry for no easily defineable reason. Them's the rules.

    (To the uninitiated - This is my rule for all close friends. I want people I am close to to know they can call in the middle of the night if need be and I won't get upset with them.)

  4. Oh! and I love that you use the phrase "keep each other's history" Larken - that is so much of what THAT friend does in one's life.

  5. I simply love your unique way of making my nightmare sound so amusing! Lucky for me there was an Open Bar. Not to mention, I know it was not “My” day, but still there was going to be that brief moment when meeting all of the new people that they would be looking at my face, and attached hair. Of course then all focus would go back to the radiant bride. BUT, it would be later that night or the next day or so when people would remember. “Hey, did you meet “So and so’s” Significant Other? Pretty face, I don’t know what she was thinking with that haircut though?” These are the crazy, insane things I think about that VERY FEW people in my world will ever understand. S.O. will never understand, which is ok, I don’t need S.O. to understand as long as I have Friends who I can call at 4am. MasterCard puts it best, friendships like the one you and I share….PRICELESS!

  6. Friendships like that are definitely priceless. I've got a friend like that, and sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky to have her in my life. She lives in another country (though the facts that there's only a one-hour time difference and we both spend our days chained to computers helps to bridge the distance), so we don't get to see each other that often, but when we're together, I feel complete. I become the me that I wish I could be all the time. She knows everything about me, and I know everything about her. I'd do anything for her.

  7. There IS something so reassuring about having that person who already knows everything. When talking to them you don't have to explain yourself or worry about what they will think. They already know the good, the bad and the ugly - and they still love you.