You think you can trust your girl friends, right? You think that the people who are with you through thick and thin — literally — wouldn’t turn on you. You think that the only people — besides maybe your husband – who know what you look like without makeup would not set up a trap for you. But that’s exactly what happened to me: Three friends turned on me … and forced me to learn how to play bridge, a game I had long declared to be on my list of things-I-hate-more-than-lima-beans. Go to my weekly TimesDaily newspaper column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20091127/ARTICLES/911275000 to find out how I was the victim of a (friendly) bridge-napping.
Have you ever had people say things to you — and I’m talking nice things here — that made you see yourself as someone other than the person you think you are? It always amazes when I see myself from somebody else’s perspective since usually the image does not jive at all with the image I have of myself. I mean, it sort of makes you wonder if the private you — the one that mostly lives inside your head — and the public you — the one that goes to work and the grocery store and PTA meetings — have anything in common whatsoever. This past week I had three people say things to me/ask me questions that threw me for a loop: 1) The person who cuts and styles my hair told me, “You’re always so sweet and cheerful when you come in. It just makes me day,” when really I think of myself as crabby and grumpy, especially when I have to spend $$$ just to make my hair look presentable; 2) the person working in the dressing rooms at my favorite discount-clothing store asked me if I knew where to find a purse with a clasp closure for a Christmas present, when I really think of myself as someone who can barely find her own purse and get outside the door with two matching shoes; and 3) a person in local-theater circles and I were chatting at a local coffee shop about the struggles of writing and what to do when you hit a wall and I said that caffeine always helps and this person said that (insert name of illegal drug) helps, too, and then sort of paused as if waiting for me to suggest we go get some. So in the space of three days, I’ve been identified as sweet, stylish and a drug user — when really I’m just a grouchy un-put-together coffee fiend. Sigh.
If you ever get a chance to see “The Odd Couple (Female Version),” do it. It’s both funny and a wonderful snapshot of life in the 1980s, complete with big hair, pink velour track suits and Trivial Pursuit — remember all that???Sportswriter slob Oscar Madison becomes news-exec slob Olive, uptight obsessive-compulsive Felix becomes obsessive-compulsive super housewife Florence and the English Pigeon sisters become the Spanish Costazuela brothers. The best way to see it, of course, is with a bunch of your best friends. That’s what I did this past weekend when some of us saw “Odd Couple” at the Red Mountain Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama. But really, the comedy on stage was nothing compared to what we five created on our own. Let’s see — scenes included confusion about our scheduled meeting place, confusion about our scheduled meeting time, a dash into Banana Republic for a finally-on-sale jacket with 15 minutes remaining before curtain time, confusion about directions to where the theater was, confusion about where we actually were going, discussion about whether the parking police checked spaces on Sunday afternoons and then applause all around as we finally made into the theater as the lights were going down. Our encore? One of us dropped a ceramic tile out of her purse — after all, you never know when you’ll need to match some tile — as the intermission lights came up, causing an immense echoing clatter throughout the theater as the guilty party fled to the restroom and the rest of us, literally, fell out of our chairs laughing. I think we should audition for the next production, entitled “Golden Girls Gone Wild, or Can Our Heroines Stay Awake Past 5 p.m.?” I’m sure we’ll get rave reviews!
If you’re like me, your friendships with your girlfriends are some of your most valued relationships. We are so blessed to have these smart, strong and talented women in our lives. I am in awe of my friends and grateful every day that they let me hang around them: My high-school pals who gratefully have allowed me to grow up and out of my geeky phase, my college roommates who know the real me but love me anyway, the moms I raised my children and many many glasses of wine with, my margarita- and book-loving co-conspirators who can smell a shoe sale from 10 miles away and the wonderful women I continually am privileged to meet and get to know. What would we do without these special people? I recently witnessed once again the healing power of friends and laughter (and shoe shopping, of course) when a friend needed our help preparing for her husband’s funeral. Read about it in my newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090220/ARTICLES/902200301. And while you’re at it, you’ve got to read this wonderful piece from national columnist Sharon Randall: http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090221/ARTICLES/902210301. It’s her birthday list of life lessons she’s learned so far. And I don’t know her, but from her list I think she’d make a good friend, too.