Julia Buckley is a mystery writer who lives in the Chicago area. Her first mystery, THE DARK BACKWARD, was released in June of 2006; her next book, MADELINE MANN, received glowing reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal. Julia is a member of Sisters in Crime, MWA, and RWA. She keeps a writer’s blog at www.juliabuckley.blogspot.com on which she interviews fellow mystery writers; her website is www.juliabuckley.com She is currently at work on a new mystery series featuring an amateur sleuth and English teacher.
Best Friends: The Comrade Conundrum
by Julia Buckley
My ten-year-old son is overly laden with best friends. The other day he was speaking of his friend J.T., whose name I hadn’t heard in a while. “Oh, you’re still friends with JT?” I asked (these things are subject to change rapidly in kid world).
“Oh, sure! He’s my best friend,” Graham said.
But a couple weeks later, Graham was speaking of his friend Christian, whom he also described as his “best friend.” In each case, he spoke with total earnestness, and I’m sure that in a way both boys fit the criteria.
I’m rather envious of the best friend concept–both of people who bestow the title with such ease and also of those who receive the honor. To be honest I don’t know if anyone refers to me that way, but I have never called someone the “best” of my friends. I don’t know whether it’s a natural reticence, or a desire to not offend other friends by singling out one as special.
The other problem, though, is that every friend is distinctive for a reason. Perhaps I’ve been deprived for a lifetime, but I never noticed the lack of a best friend. I only really think about it when other people introduce theirs. I think, “Huh–I wonder why I never had a best friend?”
As a kid I found plenty of friendships within my family, among my four siblings. My sister and I were two years apart and did most things together until we went to high school–at which point we developed our own circles. I had three friends named Kathy, ironically, who as a trio were my best pals, but I didn’t really call them that. Nor am I one of those wives who refers to my husband as my best friend, though by some people’s definitions I’m sure he is.
I guess “best friend” is just never a term I grew up with, so I never bothered to assign it to anyone.
I took a little poll of my family members.
My husband said that the last best friend he had was a childhood soulmate named Kevin whom he lost track of after high school and has never been able to find again. A long-lost friend . ..
My older son said that he has “lots of best friends,” but cannot really narrow it down–which means, to me, that he doesn’t have a best friend.
And of course my little son has a best friend, but the owner of that title is subject to change according to Graham’s largesse.
I’ve met people, though, who make best-friendhood sound so glamorous, so warm and wonderful, that I wonder at my own failure to pursue it. They’ll say, “Oh, this weekend I’m going to the movies with my best friend Jane,” or “I’m so excited about spring break–I’m going to Las Vegas with my best friend in all the world, Mary Kay.” They toss the title around with the casual ease of someone who is confident in the permanence of that friendship, the wondrous bond of it.
So I’m curious to know, those who read Kaye’s blog: are you best-frienders? Or are you not? And what distinguishes one group from another?