You Got to Have Friends

The other night, Sue Ten reached deep into her rusack of old movies and came out with Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York City to show on the side of The Swing Barn, while those of us who were so inclined relaxed in our portable lounge chairs, sipping our beverages of choice.  I brought over a cooler full of “Key Lime Pie on a Stick,” or at least full of Prentiss’s latest attempt to perfect that treat. She is getting close, but we see no need to tell her that.

The best thing about the movie Sheila Levine is the soundtrack, specifically Bette Midler singing “Friends.”  Even before movie night, I’ve had that song in my head, and you know how I love to share that sort of idiosincrasy with you.

That song came out when I was younger than my kids are now, so young that I didn’t even know I had insomnia because I was up all night anyway. It seems to me that friendship comes easier in youth than it does in those middle years when focus for so many of us, especially women, narrows down. Now though, I feel the scope widening again, and as I saw you chatting and enjoying the movie, I couldn’t help but count my blessings.

We try to make sure that the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range is a place where all you all can leave your troubles behind. By that, I don’t mean leave them here. We can’t use them. We are not saying “pack up your sorrows and give them all to me” because that’s just plain crazy. We’re saying this is a place where you should be able to walk in the door and instantly forget all about that horrible dream you had last night that erupted into as a full-body spasm.

We are not always successful at creating that level of therapeutic ambiance, but that’s our goal. While I’m happy to dispense hugs, both free ones and the premium two-dollar kind, to the ones I love, I’m also on the lookout for toxic people so I can ward them off.  Who knows? They may be the first wave of the coming zombie apocalypse, and we can’t encourage that. Zombies are messy golfers, and I am not ever going to put brain-pie on the menu. They simply don’t belong here. They are the ultimate in toxic people.

I recently read a nice test for judging toxicity in people. This is a tool that I am happy to pass on, although people less dysfunctional than I probably do this instinctively. This is from well-known graphic designer Milton Glaser: “There is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energized or less energized. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired, then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished.”

So simple! Now imagine an afternoon with a zombie, or with my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd. Pretty exhausting, right? Especially the time with Boyd. I’ve also come across a quotation from Mark Twain which pretty much sums up Boyd’s half of any given conversation. Ready? “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Of course, there are also those people who give you a lot of energy, but it’s the kind of energy you get after eating more than your share of Sue Ten’s special double-fudge bourbon-pecan brownies with mocha frosting. In both cases, the ascent is rapid and thrilling, but some time long after the arc of the evening reaches its zenith, you’re likely to wake up alone in a ravine.

I’m not saying that we expect you to be all smiles when you are here. Lord, no. We have the Morning Guy’s Stepford Girlfriend here for that, and she has done a wonderful job of giving happiness a bad name. She’s in the next room now with her feather duster, singing the entire soundtrack from Mary Poppins. Personally, I find her a wee bit tiring, but she passes the not-toxic test for him, and that’s what matters. Maybe when his current bout of exhilaration wears off, I can get him to fix the screen door on my cottage.

If you have your own test for toxicity–or for true friendship–let me know.

Better yet, tell me how you deal with it. One of the regulars at the driving range always says her older sister’s name before she hits the ball. “Margaret! Margaret! Margaret!” If no one else is around, she’ll yell it right out loud. Perhaps at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, we should set aside an hour from time to time and encourage more yelling like that. I think it might be an important community service.

For dessert, I’ll serve some Anadama Pie, and I guarantee you’ll want to come back for more.

One comment

  1. tenenbaum.susan says:

    It’s the brownies that make the night, not the movie. Yes, you’ve gotta have ’em. Brownies. Friends. But I had more trouble making them in my youth than I do now. I was taught that you oughtn’t have friends. Friends, as my mom taught me, are just another name for the girls who are competing with you for the desireable boys. Thus, if your best friend says, “Wow! You look GREAT!” she means, you look like crap, now go forth and be rejected. On the other hand, if she says, “You look terrible” it means you look good-go change your clothes. Can you guess who’s toxic in this mix?. And you can’t always guess, from the outside, who would be toxic for anyone else. For instance, I live with a corpse. Literally. A head surviving on the meager current provided by rotting potatos. Yet tenderness and affection pervade our every transaction. I rotate him to the right so he can read “The Onion”. Later, when I want the computer back so I can email my boyfriends, I rotate him to the left and turn up the volume, so he can enjoy MSNBC. I shave him, feed him (a little), change his water, change his potato. I always feel good when I kiss him on the forehead and place him on the nightstand, so close to me as I sleep.
    But you, my dear, are a friend, a sister under itchy skin. You eat my brownies knowing they’ll keep you up all night, thinking about Pretty Boy and how nice it would be to sleep, and you get up early as you can to be there personally, at your special place, hoping to get some balls off before the Koreans arrive to smack a bucket or take a lesson at 5:30, leaving time for them to run home, shower and dress for 8 a.m. roll call at the office. And then you cram in a final half hour making sure the dance barn has been swept and straightened before you take up your position behind the counter. When I show up for work or play, trouble can kiss my ass. Who else could I count on for that? http://www.grouprecipes.com/sr/11873/chocolate—mocha-frosted-brownies/recipe/
    As my mom frequently reminded me, who could be a better friend than a mother?

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