Recently, a friend from high school visited me for just a few days of fun and frolic. Yup, we found each other on Facebook. Haven’t seen her in over 40-some-odd years. Of course, the requisite, “Wow, you haven’t changed a bit,” clumsily tumbled from our lips. Did I mention it was over 40 years? But, in fact, she was still that pretty, perky and funny gal I knew. Seeing her channeled a rewind in double-trouble time, back to our shenanigan days. Skidding in the snow in my new, rear-engine Corvair, riding in her powder blue TR3 when the window blew out, lazing at the beach on a school day pretending we were airline stews. Well, in those days, that was a glam job that attracted good looking, surfer-built guys. She was, in fact, my best friend. We also had a coterie of other friends with whom we traveled…and therein lies a conundrum.

LJ's Corner friendsFriends are tricky to define, especially in high school. Can you have more than one best friend without the others getting snarky? Caused many a gossip fest back then…thankfully we didn’t have FB, Twitter, Instagram or any other myriad social media snipe chats. Bullying was an unrecorded phone-tree thread that stayed local, not global. So East Meadow, where I was a teenager, was our sphere of smear. Friends were swapped like baseball cards depending on who made the in-crowd team — and it changed as often as baseballs in one game.

But we grew up, and our friends, and thoughts about them, changed. Now we have a whole new flock. Neighbors and parents of our kids became our friends; we joined various organizations, discovering more friends. It got me thinking, what exactly defines friends? With so many different types, perhaps the word “friend” lost its mojo. So much so that we’ve begun to add adjectives, such as club friends, golf friends, neighbor friends, family friends, online friends…you get the idea. Clearly, social media has increased the number of “friends” we have, defined as people we may know. But if it wasn’t for FB, I’d never have found my high school BFF…so there’s that.

Then there’s the email “friends.” Oh you know, the ones from obscure countries and whose names are hardly pronounceable. Here’s one that saluted me with “Dear friend”….from a Mrs. Fakudze from the Kingdom of Swaziland undergoing brain surgery in Abidjan who is a widow (husband shot in robbery attempt) with an adopted child Rokia. You guessed it, he left her $5 million, and gee, it can be mine if only she knew my name, SSN and address. Yep, I’ll get right on thaLJ's Corner friendst one.

I feel compelled to mention two “friends” that really rake my grass and belong in the weeds-to-be pulled list: high maintenance (HM) and fair weather (FW) friends, for both of which I no longer have patience. I had an HM friend with an uncanny mathematical skill of scorekeeping. As in, “Why haven’t you called me? I called you last!” Really?? I guess my calculator was on the fritz! Or those who say, “Where were you last night? I kept calling and texting.” Yeah, grateful for caller ID (and clearly on my need-to-NO list). But it’s the FW friends that are the most difficult since they’re unidentifiable until a problem arises. Then, it’s as loud as the horn of a truck backing up. #DELETE

To me, a friend is someone I may not hear from, for a while, but I know we’re still okay. A friend is that comfort zone of safety where there is trust without judgment. A friend champions and encourages you. But no matter how you define, redefine or deconstruct it, it simply implies a connection. And like most connections, you decide on whom to pull the plug…or not.

Me? I’ve disconnected HM and FW friends. And I am thankful for new and old friends who keep me afloat when I am sinking and who dance with me when the music plays…and even when it stops. As for Mrs. Fakudze? I suspect her brain surgery went very well after a reply from one of her other “dear friends.”

Happy Thanksgiving to friends everywhere!

Ponder to Blow Your Mind

If every neuron in a human was accurately simulated in a computer, would it result in human consciousness?

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