If you’ve been following these installments of The Many Failures of Katharine M., then it should not surprise you that I have trouble with friendships. If I had only one regret in life, it’s that I didn’t have that steadfast bosom friend, that one person to turn to when things got rough. Where was the Anne to my Diana? The Mame to my Vera? The Denny Crane to my Alan Shore? I mean, I wasn’t totally friendless. I just never got my best friend. Well, not one I could keep.
In the early years, my mother arranged play dates for me. Unfortunately, the pickings were slim amongst the morally superior set and my “friends” were limited to a girl whose mother dressed as the Icee polar bear, a girl named after a soft drink brand (not RC), and a boy. None of them shared my enthusiasm in staging stuffed animal vaudeville revues. Neither did they want to know how dreamy I found Peter Scolari and whether he was dreamier in Bosom Buddies or Newhart.
By the time I’d entered grade school, I’d lost my morally superior pals. And it seemed like everyone was already paired up. I did fall in with a few other chubby awkward girls. In my grade school’s speech therapy sessions, I bonded with the spiky-haired boy from Illinois and the girl with the lisp. For a while, I was “best friends” with an adopted South Korean girl, whose mom would take a group of us to the museum. But one friendship never truly prevailed over all others and my friends each had someone else to confide their deepest desires and secrets.
Occasionally one friendship would become more predominate over others. Phone calls with this one person would increase in frequency and length. We’d sit closer at the lunch table. Then the tides would turn and I would lose favour with this person. Because my friends lived in different neighbourhoods and my mother couldn’t get out of her bed most weekends, the majority of my friendships ran their courses over the phone and through notes passed in school hallways. There was no one in my ‘hood that I could trust to tell me that leggings were not pants and that, although I might blare Billy Joel and TMBG from my stereo, the oversized black t-shirts indicated hardcore headbanger. My BFF and I weren’t having sleepovers, trading clothes and experimenting with whatever teenage girlfriends experiment with. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t so keen on all the hyper-girly stuff. And the girls I knew weren’t terribly interested in listening to the Shelley Berman album I found in my mother’s closet.
My most treasured friendships were ones with boys. This is because these boys were able to think about things outside themselves. The girls could really only think about boys. Sure, they could talk about movies and television…as long as there was an attractive boy involved—either on screen or in the room with us. I can’t tell you the number of movies I missed because of a girl friend’s Boy Drama. Admittedly, I was guilty of thinking about boys myself. Of course the “boys” I thought about were unattainable and not really boys so much as grown men. While my friends were swooning over the high school drum major, I was sighing heavily over the guy who ran the local comedy club. I was always closer to my boyfriends than my girl friends. At least the boyfriends were willing to endure Shelley Berman. Still, no one was willing to discuss the geeky dreaminess of ’80s era Peter Scolari.
Without a lifelong BFF, I have been able to go through permutations and reinventions with minimal criticism. No one’s been there to remind me of my Bad Decision Dinosaur moments. No one to whom I could confide my own deepest desires. No wind beneath my wings.
If I were on the path to become a better person, I would contact my former BFFs to find out why our friendships fizzled. I suspect that we’re all better off as Facebook acquaintances, with the ability to leave comments on freshly uploaded photos without the messy drama of everyday life. No one really wants to dredge up old heartbreaks and failures…unless they’re writing a blog about old heartbreaks and failures. Onward and upward.
As I get older, it gets more difficult to find kindred spirits in a 10-mile radius. My closest friends reside miles away, across several borders, which makes meeting for bubble tea and giggling nigh on impossible. And without the assistance of a place similar to a certain nightclub set in another era, I’m unlikely to meet the dopplegangers of my most favourite people. These days my partner serves double-duty as lover and best friend, which some might look on as a great thing. But I feel bad that he has to endure my gripes along with my gropes. Thankfully he’s very tolerant of my silliness and ideas involving finger puppets and burlesque shows.
I haven’t given up on the possibility of finding a proper BFF. Boston Legal has given me hope that I’ll find my bosom flamingo. Until he (or she) comes along and invites me for balcony visits and sleepovers, I will endeavor to tend to existing friendships, foist my silliness on them once again and maybe remind them—and myself—why we bonded in the first place.