Female Friends and Lost Women

Female Friends and Lost Women

Recently the Baby and I were discussing her frustration when a friend ditched her to do something else. (Note: The Baby is now 26, and a beautiful, talented, funny, smart and snarky woman, but she will always be MY BABY. So there). I tried to explain my theory of friendship to her, which allows for different friends to fill different needs.
If you are really, really lucky, you find one or two friends in a lifetime who are perfect, all-purpose soul sisters. The kind you can call at 3 am to whine about men, or who will come over and make you tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches when your heart is broken for one reason or another. But you run into all kinds of friends along the way, and I sorta visualize them plunked in expanding circles with me in the center. Recently Mr. gg tried to explain Venn diagrams to me, which involved him drawing charts with overlapping circles, but I lost interest and invented my own chart which I called Zen diagrams, which were a lot of little bubbles floating around the page. He shook his head, and took my chart away from me. But he saved it. I hope he didn’t save it for evidence in case he ever has to commit me. Oops. Digressing here.
Okay, then. So my theory allows for work friends, and couple friends, and party friends and all sorts of gradients along the spectrum. All the way to the soul sister TRUE BFF ladies. And by the way, if any woman ever invites you to a jewelry, lingerie, basket, housewares or Amway party, SHE IS NOT A FRIEND.
Some friends come and go, some wait in the wings till you need ’em, or they need you, and some people, well, you are ships passing through mutual circumstance. Sometimes you run into women who are not your friends, exactly, but they are something.

Linda was one of those. We worked together for a while. We had a crazy boss (wait, isn’t that redundant?) and I was a new mother and Linda was a single woman about 20 years older than me, who lived with her mother. She was a beige kind of person. She wore her hair the way she wore it in high school, and she didn’t have much of a life, in my opinion. But we eventually found out that we were both totally fascinated by the Titanic. This was way before Robert Ballard and his submersible actually found it, so we spent a lot of time speculating on where it lay, discussing survivor stories, and debating stuff we had no way of proving. It made the day a lot more interesting, and it made Linda and me more interesting to each other. And more open to taking peeks into each others lives and learning to empathize. I don’t know what happened to Linda. Our crazy boss shot his crippled wife and himself a few years back, and I sometimes wonder what she thought about that.

Another woman who resides way back in my mind is Sylvia. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was in the throes of unrequited love with an outlaw. Okay, this guy, let’s call him Waylon, was more of an “outlaw lite”. But what Catholic girl doesn’t somewhere, sometime want the Bad Boy? Waylon was not in love with me, but he needed a sidekick, and I was happy to fit in wherever he wanted, so one day we went on a road trip to visit Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois. That night we ended up in a sleazy bar in a little hick town, and while Waylon did some shots, I got into a conversation with Sylvia, the barmaid. Sylvia was a raddled, bleached blonde in her 60s, and she took a real shine to me. In the course of the evening, she allowed as how she was once a hooker. And if you’d have seen her, you would have believed her, because, she was the poster child for old hookers. I don’t remember all we talked about, maybe I was doing shots, too, and for sure I didn’t learn anything interesting about being a hooker, because she didn’t get into details. I think maybe I just listened a lot. Before we left, Sylvia disappeared behind the bar and came back with a handful of rhinestone and black glass shoe clips. These are ornaments you used to put on your shoes to dress them up in the 1930s and 1940s. She wanted me to have them. Waylon and I eventually hit the road, and that hour or two with Sylvia was the only time I ever had any contact with her. But you know what? I still have those shoe clips in my jewelry box, and every now and then I find them and wonder about Sylvia.

And in a galaxy even father away, I was a housemother for a group of delinquents. During that period of my life I necessarily hung out with social workers. This was good for me in many ways, because at that time I was under the impression that I needed to fall in love with a sensitive, new age man, who would discuss feelings and hang on my every word. Wrong. I function better if only one of us is sensitive, incredibly articulate, and emotional. I found out that I’M the one who gets to be that way, or it doesn’t work. What is sensitivity and self-knowledge in me, is flat out whining and selfishness in a man.
Whatever.
Vince was a social worker, and he drank. A lot. We were acquaintances, and he was interesting when he was drunk, so I liked to listen to him. And he had the most comprehensive collection of liqueurs I had ever seen outside a liquor store. So while I was listening to him, I used to open up bottles of Cointreau, and banana flavored stuff, and a variety of schnapps and sniff them. Or sometimes stick a finger in and take a taste. Banana liqueur is disgusting.
Vince drank for many reasons, which I never understood. But one time he talked about Beatriz. Vince had done some social working in South America, and worked with kids. One girl, 15 year old Beatriz, was on the streets, and he invested a lot of time in her. Then one day, she killed herself. And she left a note. The note said “I owe too many people too much”. I think that is when Vince came back to the states. I don’t know if that was when he started collecting liquor. But Beatriz made an impact on me. That “I owe too many people too much”, has stuck in my brain for about 4 decades now.

So on top of all the people I currently have in my life, I still have these women ghosting around inside me, and cripes, I never even knew Beatriz.

I tell the Baby that my life is easier since I don’t expect everybody to be everything to me, and we get sidetracked into a discussion about how when all else fails, is it okay to lower your standards? Man, I so don’t have motherly wisdom when I could use it. So I tell my darling baby that pragmatism is the answer. Go for what works for you. I have spoken.

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