“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” – Bernard Meltzer, radio talk show host of “What’s Your Problem”
This amusing and truthful quote got me to thinking about the diverse group of friends in my life. My friends seem to be lined up in categories, like aisles of similar foods in a grocery store. There are the Sports Friends, the Quilting Friends, the Work Friends, the Childhood Friends, and the [former] Single-Life Friends.
Chips and Dip Aisle: Some of the above-named categories merge and intertwine as time passes such as the former Work Friend who has turned into my Sports Friend. Like me, she is always ready and eager to say yes to a trip to Fenway Park. When she left our place of employment, we lost that work connection but discovered that we were bonded by our mutual love for the Red Sox.
Cookies and Candy Aisle: My Quilter Friends spun off a smaller group that I reverently refer to as “The Quilters”. For over 20 years, The Quilters met every Wednesday evening to quilt and socialize. Over time, The Quilters lives changed and shifted; and we now get together only occasionally. Whenever we are together, we seem to pick up where we left off. We always seem to be held together by that quilting thread, no matter that many have abandoned the quilting needle. I know hundreds of other quilter acquaintances through various guilds, but only a few have become my Quilting Friends and fewer still are “The Quilters”. Lately, I have been feeling the familiar pull of a new handful of Quilting Friends that are just beginning to get to know each other. It is like finding the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks. (A good prize, like when you were a kid — not just one of those crappy ones tucked away in today’s bags of Cracker Jacks.)
Nuts and Raisins Aisle: Work Friends are easily bonded by convenience and jurisdiction. We all complain about the same thing which creates a sort of alliance. The mark of a true Work Friend is a friendship that continues after one or both parties have moved on from the job. At some point you happily discover that there is still something to talk about after the workplace gossip is covered.
Fruits and Vegetables Aisle: Childhood Friends and friends of your youth are a different breed. These are the first to know that your egg is truly cracked. They are likely to be witnesses to the scars of your childhood. Sometimes these are the first friends that you have to let go. Perhaps it is a loss of common ground over time. Perhaps it is a way to break the ties to a past one would rather forget or a past from which one has grown.
Kleenex and Paper Goods Aisle: There are Single Friends that can fade away with changes in marital status of either party. Those that remain after the marriage (or the divorce) are stuck together by the secrets from a former life forming a tight Gorilla Glue bond. “I won’t tell if you won’t tell” is the undercurrent of these friendships.
Dairy Aisle: Can a family member be a friend? Under which category would he/she fall? If you can imagine meeting your family member in a social situation and hitting it off with him/her, then the answer is yes. My sister is certainly my friend in many, but not all, aisles. She may not quilt or knit but she is an appreciative audience and supporter of my crafts. We complain about work together although we work in separate fields. We know where to find each others cracked eggshells, that’s for sure! I guess my sister is in an aisle all to herself — A hybrid Childhood Friend, bonded together by history, genetics, love, and the heartbreak and elation of years at the mercy of the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, Bruins, and our parents.
New sub-categories emerge through the years. Since I picked up a new hobby, there are now Knitting Friends. There are Quilting Friends that share an obsession with the Red Sox. In an interesting twist, a couple of my Knitting Friends are also Quilting Friends as well as Sports Friends. One is also a member of The Quilters — a perfect four-aisle friendship. But should the cookies and candy be in the chips and dip aisle? It gets very complicated.
When it comes right down to it, it is all about what you need on any given day. One day, you need milk; another day you need a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables. But on another day, you just need something sweet and familiar. In the end, we all need the right friend for the right occasion, and that friend may also need you on a different occasion.
Always be ready for the call. “Cleanup on aisle 5!”