Monday, November 20, 2006

Circles, trapezoids, whatever.

I can count my very close friends on two hands. And if I subtract my family and husband, I can count my very close friends on a couple fingers. I don't think this makes me a loner, or at least this characteristic in particular. I think it just makes me picky, and I embrace my inner picky. Because this means to me that I have very high standards. The fact that my family and my husband are enough to make me a double-fisted friend-haver indicates I was born and have chosen well. That's good stuff. However, the pickiness has been a bur in my saddle lately.

When I was a working mom, it took a herculean effort to do anything past the boundaries of my house that didn't involve a member of my family. When I played semi-pro football, Madeleine came with me to the team meetings. Date night was a walk around the block to my brother's house, where my sister-in-law would cook up something I couldn't. And then we'd party like aging rock stars in their basement. I didn't have a single friend whom I would consider calling for lunch on a Saturday.

Now, even though it still takes a herculean effort to leave the compound, it is my sanity. I have to leave home and I have to speak to other adults in person. For a while idle chatter at the (goddamn) Childrens' Museum sufficed, but the (goddamn) Childrens' Museum parents are usually with other parents because in that (goddamn) place it's safety in numbers. Then idle chatter would get a little more personal as I began to recognize moms and dads at The (goddamn) Carousel or (goddamn) Dragon's Hollow. And there. I had friends. We had stuff in common (hatred of aforementioned Childrens' Museum/Carousel/Dragon's Hollow, aversion to kim-chee, and so on). We had kids. How convenient! I suddenly became aware that the world was potentially full of people I might like. How about that?

So now I've got friends. Plural. Several - hell, let's say Many. They're on speed dial and I know what their houses look like when they're not cleaned up for company. But uhhhhh. Hm. That's kind of how I've been feeling about it. I truly enjoy my friends, but sometimes there's something. And the more I dwelled on this something, this something that set my friends apart from my Very Close Friends, the less sociable I've been.

Until a couple weeks ago. One of my Many friends and I discussed it and picked it apart. It's like, once you've had Friends - the real deal, like if you were to send them you would bubble-wrap them and insure them for the max amount - there's always an internal frown - a Hm for the new people you meet and enjoy. We determined this: you have to look at your Capital-F-Friends as a circle of qualities: compassionate, intelligent, reliable, funny, good listeners (that one's from Tiny). And little-f-friends sometimes hover around that inner-circle, intersecting in certain parts, but maybe not all the parts, and that'll leave you a little Hm.

So right now I'm looking at my little-fs, and contrary to how this reads so far, I feel better. I recognize that maybe little-f #1 might not be a great listener, but she's hilarious and loves children. Little-f #2 is also hilarious and intelligent, but maybe not terribly reliable. In fact, all the little-f's are human, and for me to question or critique their qualities is not compassionate or a characteristic I would like to see in a friend. Big or litte f.


Blogger Esereth said...

How much do you think time and forced exposure have to do with turning a little f into a big F? Still seeing someone even when you don't feel like it cuz you live together or work together? Having to hash out ugly feelings with them and still be friends after?

I think that is why I have few few few little F's (not that many big F's) cuz I only see them in polite and pleasant circumstances.

11/20/2006 1:14 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

What are you smoking? Can I have some?

11/20/2006 1:57 PM  
Blogger mamalujo1 said...

I hope being a smartass sometimes is a quality you look for.

11/20/2006 1:57 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

Oh and... Hoop and I were having this really disgusting conversation the other day about yeast infections and bread and I threw your name down as one of the only people that I know that would have found it funny too. Don't you feel special?

11/20/2006 1:59 PM  
Blogger Ortizzle said...

I think we have to appreciate the Little Effs because there are a lot more of them around.

The Big Effs... ah, that is Unconditional Love. Those are the ones that tell you your ass does look big in those pants, but they will also spend hours shopping with you to find a pair of pants that doesn't make your ass look big.

O.K., that's all the effin' around I can do today.

11/20/2006 2:31 PM  
Blogger meno said...

You did a Venn diagram for F-f-friends. You are a geek. I am too. Sign me up for the little f bubble on the left.

11/20/2006 3:20 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

Your last paragraph, I think you pulled it straight out of my head.

11/20/2006 5:09 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

I'm picky that way, too. And then I wonder why my "inner circle" is so small.

11/20/2006 7:38 PM  
Anonymous LetterB said...

I was just talking about this very same subject with my, ahem, therapist and she had an interesting insight. Basically she said big effs are rare and wonderful but little effs are important. Little effs help you get through the day. She told me to keep my perfectionist tendencies in check and stop expecting little effs to be anything but. You came to the same conclusion with a diagram. Hmm. You should be charging us, dude.

11/20/2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

I used to have a lot of friends. Now, I have so many issues with the friend situation since becoming a parent that it makes me want to weep.

I wish you lived here.

11/20/2006 9:40 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Yeah, I think we need both. But, not so many little F's that we don't have time for anything else, because that can happen if you're the kind of person who generally plays well with others. It's hard to keep a balance.

11/21/2006 7:11 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

And, as your friend, I'm here to tell you that whole-grain French toast SUCKS.

11/21/2006 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with letterb, these people in their varying degrees are all necessary as they are. Sometimes they make the transition from F to f or vice versa, but that's evolution and growth.

I want to be a j. Look at that sassy, little thing. j has style.

11/21/2006 12:31 PM  
Blogger V-Grrrl said...

The Big Fs tend to be people who are a lot like you and have known you for a very long time. The relationships click, there's an automatic level of intimacy and understanding, there's a certain joy and ease to the whole thing. A gift.

The value of the Little Fs is that because you have less in common, they challenge you more. Just being with them challenges your assumptions and judgements about so many things. Those interactions give us a chance to expand our viewpoints and perspective on life and appreciate a broader spectrum of humanity.

11/26/2006 1:47 PM  

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