Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cherish and Nurture Your Friendships

While we all would agree that a person’s family and significant other are central to their life and overall happiness, it could be argued that a person’s friends also have a powerful and meaningful place in his or her life as well. What I’m talking about are your friendships.

A friendship is a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behavior between two or more humans – specifically within the realm of interpersonal relationships. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection. Friends welcome each other’s company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for many individuals, friendship is nothing more than the trust that someone or something will not harm them.

Interestingly, in my latest pop-psych book, Mom and Dad’s Pearls of Wisdom… You Gotta Love ’Em, I tell the story of the time my Dad gave me a poignant pearl of wisdom regarding one of my friends (and “friendships”). I shall share it with you below:

* * * * * * * * * *

Friends

With ten seconds left in a summer league basketball game, my team was down by one but had the ball. Our captain, Joe, called time-out to set up a play. The plan was for me to dribble at the top of the key while Joe set an off-the-ball pick for Big Nick, our six-foot-seven, two-hundred-and-seventy-five-pound center. That would leave Nick alone under the basket, where I would pass him the ball for an easy lay-up. At least, that was the plan.

As soon as the referee blew his whistle, a teammate threw the ball in to me and the play began. Five seconds later, I threw my pass under the basket. But the ball sailed right past Nick and into the stands. The horn sounded. Game over; we lost.

As our team left the gym, Nick’s head was down. “Damn it,” he grumbled. “That was terrible.”

I glared at Nick and lashed out. “Well, if you had been paying attention to the game instead of that chick in the fifth row, we’d have won the game!”

No one said anything.

That Saturday afternoon, as I was telling my father about what had transpired in the parking lot after the game, my mother came into the room and said, “Nick just called and asked if you would call him back. He wants to know if you want to go bowling with him tonight. Said he’d pick you up around seven o’clock.”

Somewhat perplexed, I said to my dad, “After what I said to him, I’m surprised he’d even call me. And he wants me to go bowling with him?”

“Of course,” replied my father.

“Of course?”

“He’s your friend, Bill.”

“Yeah, I guess he is,” I said, embarrassed.

As I got up to call Nick, my Dad added,

A friend is someone who will still like you

even after you’ve done something stupid.

* * * * * * * * * *

In my contemporary romance novels, the character of the main characters many times is enriched by their interactions with their friends. For example, in Fear of Feeling Loved, one of Marcia’s closest friends is her Spanglish-speaking neighbor, Ellie. In the following excerpt we can see Ellie’s typical caring, non-abusive and humorous way of telling Marcia something she needed to hear (and fittingly, it takes place at Christmas time):

* * * * * * * * * *

Friday evening, Marcia went to the mall with Ellie to do some Christmas shopping. While there, they went to Ruby Tuesday for a drink. “So, mi amiga, have ju seen Macho Man?”

“No. I haven’t seen Jack in over a week. I made a decision, and I’m sticking to it. As far as I am concerned, he’s history.”

“Are his phone numbers still in your cell phone?”

“Why?”

“Are they?”

“Yes they are, why?”

“Then he’s not ‘history.’”

“Well, I want to hold on to them… in case I need to call his daughter. I feel close to Christine.” Marcia saw a smirk on Ellie’s face. “What?”

“Four calling birds, three French hens….” Ellie sang.

“What do you know?”

“Two turtle doves…”

They both laughed. “I just busting your chops,” said Ellie as she gently squeezed Marcia’s arm.

“I know. But trust me, Ellie… I’m committed to my plan. He’s history. It’ll just take a little time, that’s all.”

“And a partridge in a pear tree.”

* * * * * * * * * *

If you’re lucky, you have friends like Nick and Ellie.

Question: What do you do to nurture your friendships?

Bill

2 comments:

salina said...

Even though my neighbor ordered, then read, Ann Coulter's book, "How To Talk To A Liberal If You Must", then decided to practice what was preached therein on me from his front porch, he and his wife are still invited to Christmas dinner at my house. I will serve his favorite food in the whole world - deviled eggs - too.
(The caveat is that he is forbidden from discussing politics at my table).

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Salina,
Thanks for the visit and sharing your “extending the olive branch” approach to your neighbor. I indeed respect and appreciate what you are doing – and what better time to do it… in the spirit of Christmas!
I also might add that if that’s the only problem you are having with your neighbor, you may be more fortunate than you may feel at times.
Bon appetite…
Merry Christmas – I hope Santa treats you well!
Bill