… on best friends

IMG_3266This is a shout out to all the ladies out there (Not all the single ladies, as that would require weird reversed jazz hands and dancing…plus, really, how many people could pull off that high-legged leotard. Beyonce, that’s one…and her other two dancers…and Justin Timberlake. That’s all.) Anyway. I’m targeting all the not-necessarily-single ladies, but it’s okay if you are (no judgment), because I want to talk about best friends and best guy friends are not necessarily the same as best girl friends. Sorry. I really don’t have time to explain. It’s science.

Do you have a best friend? Actually…we all do, right? I mean, even if we have a whole bunch of mediocre friends, if we rank them, someone is going to end up in the number one position. Okay. I need to elaborate. Do you have a friend in your life who ends up as number one in your rankings (we don’t have time to get into your evaluation criteria, but you should probably not use the U.S. News and World Report criteria for college rankings because those depend way too much on legacy reputation and not so much on what is going on in the here and now…which means that if your best friend from last week just stole your husband, she would probably end up in the number one spot still, and your comment section would go crazy and you would be spending all your time defending your criteria and never have time to finish reading this post. Totally don’t use the U.S. News And World Report rankings. You’ll regret it.) Anyway, “best friend” here means you will end up in the number one spot on her rankings too (regardless of evaluation criteria).

I do have a best friend. For legal reasons, as well as not wanting to have her end up with way too many people following her on twitter (along with the requisite celebrity paparazzi following her (and by default, me) around, I should probably change her name for the purposes of this post. My best friend is Spanna Breego. Spanna tumbled into my life about 23 years ago, as she, my practically perfect husband, and I were embarking on a miraculously beautiful, and adventurous life pursuit known as the MBA. We were sitting in our first class – my practically perfect husband and I were seated at a long table behind Spanna (though we didn’t know her at the time) and, as he and I often did and do, we were observing life as it played out in front of us and enjoying the comedy of the moment. Right in front of us, a large, strange, fiery red-headed woman with that odd energy that makes your brain go, “huh.” was going on and on and on about I don’t know what and the target audience of her very long soliloquy was….yep….Spanna. So, when the professor told us to break into groups of “two or three” – and I see this as slow motion in my memory – the red headed woman’s face slowly morphed into an excited smile, her eyes getting even more crazy then they were before, and her arm began moving from her side toward Spanna’s left shoulder and Spanna, in a sort of Neo-from-the-Matrix-movie move, threw her left shoulder back and rotated in such a way that her entire body slow-motion-glided down and to the left, her blonde hair flowing out behind her as she barely avoided the other woman’s arm, and Spanna came to rest with two hands on our table, directly in front of me and my practically perfect (but not yet official) husband. The crazy special effects move had taken its toll, and she breathlessly demanded, “Partners!”. And that was that.  I never saw the redheaded woman again. Which is weird, since she was in our class. Maybe the Matrix move was too much for her. Or maybe one of those weird, cloned men who like to say, “Mr. Anderson” took her away. Sadly, only the oracle knows for sure. So back to Spanna.

I have a best friend who is nearly my polar opposite. She is amazing and lives her life based on facts, analysis, and focus. I survive on my feelings, gut instinct, and a somewhat fleeting sense that I should be more focused…at some point. Spanna makes up her mind and moves forward into the slings and arrows that life sometimes hurls our way. I’m happy mired down in the grey of any given situation. Is there really one way to decide anything? I don’t know. I don’t even know how to end this thought. Spanna would know.

I drink coffee (early and often), she drinks tea (sort of, like when she wants a hot beverage).

She is neither a dog nor a cat person. I think she had a hermit crab once. In our lives, since we met, I have had ten dogs (still have four), fourteen cats that weren’t fosters (I volunteered at a no-kill cat shelter, you do the mental processing), two mail order frogs, four hamsters, two fish, and a baby mouse – nursed with an eye dropper – who only lasted 24 hours but who is remembered fondly to this day by us all. And Spanna still visits (and only grimaces a little bit and never says anything about the hair removal process that must, inevitably, take place every time her family gets home.  At times, she has probably had trouble identifying her kids under all the animal fur, especially during shedding season. And I’m pretty sure she never wears black to my house. She even sacrifices fashion choices for me. She is that giving.)

She grew up with big family and, when her kids were still in diapers, thought nothing of tossing her toddlers and her husband – let’s call him ‘Spike’ (the most chill husband on the planet) into the “big girl mini” (her cool name for her mini van, because calling it a mini van would have been so uncool for the both of us) and heading for a seven hour ride to Pennsylvania to visit her parents, or to the Jersey Shore for a family vacation that involved, like, 27 people sharing one house with many coordinated activities. I got a hive just writing that.

She is a planner. A big one. If my practically perfect husband asks me what I’m thinking of eating for lunch, I get irritated at the pressure he’s putting on me.  When we both got pregnant with our respective third children (hers planned, mine not – we found out a week after we gave all of our baby things away), she threatened my life – I’m not kidding – saying that her due date was…well…whenever it was (she would remember, but it was definitely something like two weeks before mine), and if I went before her that would be it! (She threatens me a lot, but because I live my life amongst those afore mentioned shades of grey, I’m never quite sure if she means it). Anyway, I blew it and went into labor two weeks before I was supposed to, according to the calendar and the threat. I was so certain she would go into labor on her due date that, when we checked in, we told the bemused nurse that our friends would probably be in that night because it was her due date. We left a message that we were there too. Sounds weird right? The nurse certainly thought so. But I was sure because A) Spanna is such a good planner, and B) she was on time TWICE before (who does that?? According to Parents Magazine (ya, I looked it up), only 5% of women deliver on their due date. 80% deliver between their 37th and 42nd weeks of pregnancy…. so even if you are within that timeframe, you get 42 days on which you could have your baby and only 80% of people even manage to do that. But my friend, Spanna? Give her a date and she’ll be all, “Okay, so I’ll deliver within 24 hours of that.” And she does. Every time. She’s that good.

And who had the last laugh over that doubting nurse? ME. Because after I gave birth to my son, my husband went to the nursery to check on him, and who was in the nursery holding his daughter, my dear friend Spanna’s husband, Spike. So take that doubting medical professionals who neglected to deliver my message to my best friend! And me? Spanna forgave me. Plus it’s fun that our third children are less than 12 hours apart in terms of their birthdays. Plus she got a girl. And girls are way funner to dress up than boys. Plus I now have a 14 year old boy who is knee deep in fart humor. Clearly Spanna knew this would happen…probably why she let me off easy way back then. She plans and is patient.

Spanna’s family and mine are true family friends. Before our kids showed up, the foursome of Spanna, Spike, my practically perfect husband, and I first gathered in our apartments, then hunted for houses together (using the Boston Globe and weekly real estate books (pre-internet, people!)), got our degrees together, and built careers side by side. She helped me outfit my kitchen (I had no clue I needed a slotted spoon and a whisk), has selflessly loaned me her family when I needed it (for especially comedic Pittsburg/Boston sports rivalries), and I know she has had to use every ounce of patience – if we are traveling anywhere together – to act as if she is totally chill having no plan.

Today, Spanna is having a big birthday. And, since I have hidden her identity so well, should hide her age too? It’s her miftieth. She is paving the way for our foursome (ya, she robbed the cradle when she nabbed Spike – an underclassman – while she was an undergrad. He’s been a good boy toy though. So we don’t say anything (at least to their faces)), and I love her for it. Sure, she has no choice, but she is graciously handling our jokes as well as our best wishes. We have joked – she and I – that we will end up in two rocking chairs hurling insults at anyone who passes by. I hope this happens. I picture it this way:  There will be two chairs. She will be in one – most likely with the trendy drink of the day in a glass beside her. Her outfit will match. She will most likely be wearing a great sun hat. I will be in the other chair, in my sweats, with a couple of empty coffee cups beside me. Also, there will be three dogs at my feet, one in my lap, all rather hairy. She will graciously place a napkin over her drink so no hair gets into it, and I will pretend not to notice.

And we will be laughing so hard we can’t breathe.

Thanks for readin’.