There was an article in the NY Times this week entitled, “Do your friends actually like you?” Research shows that only about half of perceived friendships are mutual. The study was done on 21-34 year-olds. Turns out that while those young people were 95% certain that their besties really were their besties that was only true about 50% of the time. Whoops.
If this research were done on older people, my guess is that the results would be vastly different. We are not so easily deluded. Time has made us infinitely wiser and more humble in spite of ourselves. Once you hit 50, you likely know the difference between the friend who will visit you in jail and the one who will actually bail you out. (Don’t ask me why this particular analogy is right at my fingertips).
When I was 5, there was a TV show called, “Romper Room,” which I loved. “Miss Sherri,”** was the hostess on our local station and I was pretty sure that she was my friend. She was sweet, loved kids and always taught us to be, “Do Bee’s.” The best part of the show was at the end. She held up her ‘Magic Mirror,’ “So that I can see all of you at home.” I knew that she could see us because she even said our names like, ‘I see Mary and Jenny and Johnny and Tommy and.” But in all the times I watched, she never once said, “Helen.” Not once, although I often yelled at her, “Miss Sherri, it’s Helen! I’m here. Right here. I’m watching, too!”
Somewhere between then and now I found my very, best friend. She knows everything about me and still loves me. She brings me up short if I stray and praises me when I follow the straight and narrow. We have no secrets and no hidden agendas. She’s not perfect but some parts of her are just awesome! We understand and accept each other as we are. No matter where we are, we are there for each other, always and forever. I don’t even need to call or text her. I just have to look in the mirror. As Granny used to say, “You can’t ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ if you don’t love yourself first.”
**Sherri Finkbine made headlines in the 1960’s when she accidentally took a common sleeping pill containing Thalidomide early in her 5th pregnancy. Her doctor suggested a therapeutic abortion, but it was illegal at the time. She and her husband were forced to go to Sweden instead. It was determined that her fetus was so badly deformed and damaged from the drug that it would not have survived. Now in her 80’s, Sherri is the mother of 6 children.