In praise of Friendship

I know, I know. J.K. Rowling says that really, Harry and Hermione should have ended up together.

And in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, it's generally acknowledged that Idgy and Ruth were lovers, not just best friends.

"Just best friends?"


The first story makes me a little grumpy, because there's this great scene in the penultimate movie where Harry and Hermione dance together that makes me think of one of my best friends. He is my brother, spiritually and relationally. He has been there for me in the depth of my sorrow, as well as my joy. He is uncle to my children, friend to my husband, brother to me, though we have different parents. Yes, that would be us, dancing platonically during a time of pain. Probably agreeing to the song, too. (It would indubitably be a song by Leonard Cohen. Or maybe Willie Nelson.)

The second really hit my mom. She's not anti-gay, in fact, as she was telling me about her social plans one holiday season, I teased her, "Mom, do you and Dad have ANY straight friends?" Seriously, she thought for a moment. "You know, I guess we really don't."

My parents, the 80-something token straights at the party.

But she loved the book of Fried Green Tomatoes and was annoyed at the movie and the inference that Idgy and Ruth were lovers. "Don't they know how much two best friends can love each other?"

I do, Mom.

I kind of liked the romantic inference in the book/movie, but I get her other point. There's just not many movies about best friends, are there? All the money is put on romantic partners. But what about friends? Those people who know you, I mean, they really know the real you ... and love you anyway?

I'm blessed to have both a "Harry" and a "Ruth." Oh, she and I would probably argue about which of us is Idgy and which is Ruth. But she's totally Ruth, being wiser and more selfless than me.

How do you make friends as an adult? It's not so easy. Dating is easier. Slip each other a phone number, and you're off and running. But friendship? "Hi, I don't mean to be weird, but I think you're really cool and would you like to have coffee some time and maybe explore being friends?"

Thank goodness for the internet.

"Ruth" reminded me that really, it was the internets that brought us together. We got online, years ago, each looking for a playgroup to get together with other moms of babies. We wound up in the same group...lone liberals in a group of gun-toting, very conservative mamas. Pretty quick, we realized each other as, as Anne of Green Gables would say, "kindred spirits." That we are now both religious professionals within Unitarian Universalism is a whole nuther story ...

"Harry" followed another pseudonymous blog I used to author, and picking up on a few clues, figured out that I was someone geographically close to him. He emailed me, we became friends, and then when my life got monumentally complicated and tragic, he broke the fourth wall and we became friends on another level.  He and Mrs. Harry are part of our family now. We have spent holidays together, wept and laughed together, alternately bullied, fussed at, comforted, and loved each other, as families and friends do.

The Husband understands my love of friends. He is still close to his own "Ruth" and "Harry," going all the way back to junior high school.

It is a love story of another sort. You still have the "meet cute," and often, the conflict, too. Friends fight. Friends get disappointed in each other. Friends have each other on a pedestal, the friend drops, and yet still, amazingly, we love each other. Warts and all, we are friends.

I will dance with you, I will throw flour at you, I will love you, for a lifetime.


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