Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. This is the one that started it all, so we can let it go, I guess. Then came others: Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks. Friends don’t let friends drink blush wines, or chardonnay, for that matter. People who offer you drugs are not your friends. Friends don’t let friends smoke or use bad grammar. Friends don’t let friends eat GMO foods or use Huggies. Friends don't feed friends gluten, friends don't let friends avoid gluten, friends don't let friends vaccinate or not vaccinate. Friends don't let friends miss daily Bible reading time, friends don't let friends allow their babies to ride face forward even though it's legal. Friends don’t let friends let their babies cry it out or not, or spank or coddle, or breastfeed or not breastfeed. Friends don’t let friends do anything with which they disagree.
Apparently, friends don’t let friends do much of anything at all unless they are completely complicit. It must then follow that they’re not friends; they’re clones. But even that is tenuous at best. So what are they? Carbon copies? For someone who can barely live with the thoughts inside her own head on some days, that is a scary, downright terrifying thought. If my own internal monologue gets on my nerves, I certainly do not want carbon copies of me proclaiming the same thing I’m stating, repeated back to me, echoing down endless mirrors of sameness until Christ returns. I mean, seriously? Blech! Me too, me too, me too, me too, me too, me too, me too, we would nod and nod like Sylvia Plath’s disquieting muses until we finally fell asleep on our identical sheets on identical beds and wake up perfectly disheveled, with matching puffy eyes the next day because we both woke up to the sound of duplicate sprinklers on indistinguishable lawns because, well, we never let the other think otherwise, “let” being the operative word in all of this. (See, you were wrong there, reader. You thought it was “friend.” You wild goose chaser, you.)
So maybe it’s me who doesn’t get it. Then again, maybe it's you.
My friends don’t let me do anything; they also don’t not let me do anything. They have opinions, some strong ones at that. And I have opinions, equally strong. And that is okay. (Even if they’re wrong.) (Yes, I said it. Get over it.) Because a friend can handle that. Neither one of us feels the need to curtail, edit, alter or otherwise revise our opinions because they do not reflect the other’s image. We are not friends because we agree on most things. In fact, often, we are friends in spite of the fact that we disagree. Lest you think this is tolerance, mind you. I’m not a tolerant person. I do not believe it to be a virtue. I reserve the right to judge, to discern, to weigh the spirits. I’m pugnacious, increasingly so as I grow older and things begin to matter more than they ever did when I was young and single. And yet, I have friends. Real, legal-right-to-one-phone-call friends even.
We must be doing something wrong. If friendships rest on us handcuffing the other into submission to our point of view, my friends aren’t my friends at all. Yikes. Perhaps I’ll bring that up the next time we’re eating gluten and drinking wine and Starbucks as we read a book about cry it out sleep training. Then again, I wonder if they’ll let me?