Monday, July 7

friends who aren't really friends. sometimes known as enemies.

So, first of all, hi! This is my first post here at TFC, and let me tell you it's an honor. I'm a little nervous, though, because if there's one thing I've learned watching What Not To Wear marathons, it's the importance of first impressions. Right now I'm wearing a fitted jacket. Over my pajamas. Okay not really.

Friends! How many of us have them? Friends! The ones we can depend on? Sorry, sorry, I do have a habit of breaking into Whodini songs.

There are a lot of things I could talk about when it comes to friends. There is my friend, Sarah, who doesn't judge when we're watching Project Runway at her house and I suddenly say, "Do you mind if I unwrap a dozen of these Hershey Kisses, mix them into a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats, and pour milk on top? For the purposes of eating?" I could write about my history with friends who move away, and the one who didn't say goodbye. But I think today I'll write about one of those people everyone seems to have in their childhood, that person who is connected to you in some way and therefore the adults in your life think you should be friends, never considering that you may not only have nothing in common - you may hate each other's guts. Yet social pressures force you to put up a facade and because you're, like, seven years old, it doesn't occur to you to say, "Um, no."

In my life, this girl's name was...Ava. Not really. But I have to protect myself, here! She put up a pretty convincing front as a good girl, but she was bad in ways our parents could not imagine. Have you read Jo Knowles' Lessons From a Dead Girl? It was a little bit like that (but not for the same reasons, as far as I know). Most of the time, we didn't go to the same school, but because of the connection our parents had, we were forced to spend way too much time together. Even more unfortunate was the fact that our birthdays were a few days apart and more than once our moms thought it was a good idea to have a joint party. I've blocked those out.

What I do remember: Ava was blond and pretty and girly - everything I wasn't. When we were little kids, I liked to play make believe Prairie Wagon. She liked to make her Barbies have sex. As we got older, she liked to scare me. If I was sleeping over, as soon as it got dark and we were settled in bed, she'd say in a creepy whisper, "Did you hear that?" or "Did you see that shadow?" or "I think my dad left the door unlocked..." knowing that the rest of the night I would be terrified and wide awake, imagining murderers lurking in the hall. Then, her games got more cruel. One time (another sleepover - I don't know why I kept putting myself through this), I was changing out of my clothes into my pj's. Her older brother had a friend over. In the second I was totally naked, she called for her brother's friend to come in. I fell, screaming, onto the floor behind the bed. Ava thought this was hilarious. "What?" she said. "It's not like there's anything to see." As we both got into our teens and our parents were less involved in our social lives, these episodes became less and less frequent. Still, there were a few scary nights and a lot of compulsive lying on her part. At least, I hope it was compulsive lying. Because if the stuff she told me about herself was true, she was worse off than I thought.

Why, oh why, do people stay "friends" - or, at least, continue to agree to spend time with - people who terrify them, or belittle them? Why don't parents notice that the two aren't a "good fit," to borrow a phrase so often used in the publishing world? And if any of this sounds familiar to you, you should totally read Jo's book.

15 comments:

Melissa Walker said...

Ooh, I've definitely known some of these types... they're pretty much the basis of junior high years, right? I need to read Jo's book--been meaning to!

Kelly Parra said...

Welcome Sara!! I read Jo's book and understand this post completely. I'm not sure why kids stay friends with kids that hurt them or put them down. It all comes down to that fear of speaking out.

keri mikulski :) said...

You just brought back some memories. Just added Jo's book to my TBR list. I've been meaning to check it out. :)

skbohra said...

reading the post took me to childhood, i too had friends i may better call enemies, i think being a child you don't understand what is good and bad, you can't be sure about yourself that you are good, even you are good, you don't understand that, for a child good and bad have not definite boundaries, so even if something wrong is happening it seems to him that it may be good, it is only when you grow up you realize that, that was bad! a child simply can't be firm on his opinion!

A.S. King said...

Sadly, I think I still have people like this in my life. Though on a positive note, they come in handy when writing antagonists.
Jo's book is now on my wish list. Thanks for the recommendation!

Wendy Toliver said...

Great post, Sara! Definitely reminded me of a friend I had in Jr. High. Only she wasn't quite so cruel, thank goodness. I think the lying part might be the worst. I hate when I can't trust my friends.

Sara Z. said...

It's sad how common those kinds of "friends" are. I think I was really lucky with all my friends for the most part, so her behavior really stood out as not right to me. I do remember some good times with her, too...

Jacqui said...

Oh, I remember that friend. Now, as a parent, it's so frustrating to watch and hear about, and get no answer to the question, "Why do you still hang out with her if she's so mean?"

I am fascinated by how attractive the ones who tell us we can't play are.

Alyson Noel said...

Oh yes, I definitely suffered some of those "arranged friendships" by well-meaning parents. A few years ago I finally told my mom just exactly what went on during those visits to Friend X's house way back when--she was suitably horrified!

Jessica Burkhart said...

Jo's book was fantastic. I definitely applaud her for bringing that issue into focus. It's shocking to realize almost all of us know or knew someone like that.

Sara Hantz said...

Welcome to the blog. Your post brings back some memories. I had a 'friend' like yours (parents friends) and she hooked up with a guy I was seeing and told him we didn't know each other very well....... I never spoke to her after that.....

Lenore said...

What always upset me was that parents thought I was a bad influence on their kids because I was a bit irreverent and didn't kiss their butts. My best friend had all these really terrible friends who made a good impression on her parents so they loved them. Little did they know.

Amanda Ashby said...

Hey Sara, welcome to TFC! My brother has just been visiting and we were actually talking about the 'family friends' we both got lumbered with when we were growing up. But the one advantage of getting older is that I seem to have become better at losing the friends who aren't really friends!

Little Willow said...

Welcome, Sara!

Quách Đại ka said...

leasingbilcharms for a charm braceletOoh, I've definitely known some of these types... they're pretty much the basis of junior high years, right? I need to read Jo's