Friday, June 17, 2011

With A Little Help

Friends. The family that we can choose, some say. You can't live with them and you can't live without them, others say. I've heard, "I don't know why I am still friends with them!" and I've heard "I don't know what I would do without my friends." The comments and feelings stirred among people when talking about their friends run the whole gambit of emotional investments.

I was thinking the other day about my various groups of friends, searching for the commonality that they all hold.  I have friends from my childhood and high school, friends from college, friends from medical school, friends from residency years, and friendships built from our life in this same town we have lived in for the past 15 years.  Because my wife and I settled into a city where our closest relatives live two hours away, our friends hold even more weight in our lives for the part they have played, sometimes even physically and mentally substituting for our family on special occasions.

Yes, we all need friends.  Better yet, we all better damn-well appreciate our friends. A good friend, tested and true, will be there through the pretty and ugly, through the happy and sad, and through the fun and miserable life moments.

I came up with a lot of reasons for the friends I have chosen or have chosen me over the years.  First and foremost, I like people that don't take themselves to serious.  After all, life is not such a stellar example of structure and order, and through the many moments of a typical day where something can go unexpectedly wrong, I like the person who can adapt with the situation and laugh off the change in plans.  So you thought you were going to be going to NYC for the weekend but your car broke down in the Poconos?  If you check in a motel and enjoy the Poconos, I like you.  If you bitch and whine and obsess over your ruined plans, I really hope to not spend more time with you in the future.

Diversity.  A key commonality among my friends.  My best friend growing up was Himer, an awesome buddy throughout our school years, classes and school sports and first dates and all.  His parents were much more liberal than my conservative parents, and somewhere between our different upbringings, we found a common bond of friendship.  My roommate all four years in college?  Christopher, straight from the rat-race we call Long Island.  Me--country boy, small-town, Adidas shorts and Hanes t-shirts, sneakers.  Chris--city-bred, big-town, Ralph Lauren pressed khaki shorts and purple shirts, penny-loafers. I took him four-wheeling and he took me to Manhattan. Oh, I can't forget about Gailie, my fellow Biology buddy who was a Catholic princess, through-and-through. Together, we were inseparable (along with Tony and Barnes and Dave) for much of our college days.  Best friend in medical school?  Easily KT, a Jersey girl with a heart of gold and an eye on public service.  We shared a bond of tennis and creative writing among many other things (including who to trust and distrust in our competitive class).  My best friend in residency?  Tomer, my Jewish, sharp-witted, cowboy-boot-wearing buddy for always, who watched my back during our 30 hour call-days.  Thankfully, sprinkled among all of these friends were more and more friends who impacted my life.

Even in my city life now, I surround myself with diverse friends.  Some of my best friends from the creative world?  A very cool, committed couple named Christine and Marcy.  Not only did they foster my love of the writing world, they also fostered my love of pets, of wine in quantity, in music, and in myself, helping me seek out ways to make myself better through some trying times.  My other friends all hold some diverse characteristics within their personalities that keep me coming back.  I love the fact that I do not seek "like" individuals, but rather people that can teach me and open my eyes to the many beautiful differences of their lives from mine.

Finally, without a doubt, the biggest commonality among my friends is humor.  Straight-up.  If you laugh at my silliness and I laugh at yours, we will be friends.  Prank phone calls, crazy texts, recognizing life's many absurdities, morning "sore-face" after a night of frenzied laughing and joking over a bottle of wine--those are the friends I gravitate to. Inappropriate and risque perspectives will get you bonus points, even.

Just last night, we were at an amazing dinner with six friends, eating great food (thanks, Michele!), drinking great martinis (thanks, Eric!) and wine, and just laughing and howling for four straight hours. No subject was off-limits and by the time we were hugging our goodbyes, we had solved most of the world's problems. Driving home, my wife and I both noted just how much fun we have with our friends. We are blessed to be surrounded by such cool people.

A better example?  Here is a reference letter our good friend Mike wrote for my wife when she was applying for a full-time position in a local school district.  It is just a rough draft, but one that he thought "might just get her the job."  Thankfully, he got serious and started at square one again, producing the perfect reference letter needed.  However, I tend to agree with him that this original letter may have gotten her the job in a much quicker fashion:

Dear Mr. K.,

I am a writin this letter to let you know that Karin is an awsim persin who would be a great choic for your new secretary girl. She haz a nice houz and drives a really cool bug! Her kidz are nice too and are clean most of the time. She haz good toes and a strong back. Lord knowz shez been carryin that husband Jim of herz  for years. She must be an angel from heven to be able to put up with his bull-shit, so she certainly can handle workin for you.

Karin is a great cleaner and bakes good tastin stuff. At a party once she made these reelly good brownies that made us feel reel mello. She must have a majik touch! Jim would never know that because he is always suckin down his fancy vodka drinkz. I think if he were smart enuf he would have hiz own moonshine still. I’ve only seen Karin reely drunk a few times so you don’t have to worry about her.
Karin is a reel cool mom too. She lets her kidz eat all the candy that Jim buyz at Sam’s Club and they still have most of there teeth. I bet those kidz will even gradute high scool one day despite the upbrigin of there pa. He has good intentionz but is a bit misgided when it comes to raisin youngins. I think he waz born in the woods or somthin.

Karin is good at managin stuff too. She can go to work all day then come home and cook and clean and get those kidz where they need to be…all the while Jim is “gettin his nap on”. It is amazin that she keeps that guy around. Allthou he is sorta pretty and has a nice set of gunz on him. I did see him without hiz shirt once and wuz amazd by what wuz there….. but this iznt the time to go into that!

Karin is reel easy on the eyes too. She would add some class to that school buildin. She haz nize hair, skinny ankelz  and amazin elbows. She smellz nize too. I bet she showerz almost every day and usez fancy lotionz. She certinly would not smell up the place.

Well, I hope you hir Karin for the job despit any shortcomins of her husband. Maybe he won’t come to the chrismas party so you wont have to meet him.

This made me laugh for days.  And days.  Only a good friend would waste an hour of his time to pull something like this off, right?  By the way, my payback to him?  Threatening to put his innovative letter on my blog and actually going through with it!  Didn't think I would do it, did you Mike?

Appreciate your friends.  Appreciate your acquaintances.  Appreciate the people around you who bring good humor, diversity, and a light-perspective to balance the seriousness that life sometimes holds. And appreciate the reflection of you that is mirrored back by all of your various friendships--this insight may prove to be invaluable and priceless.

As for me, I'll just keep laughing and smiling my way through this journey we call life.  With a little help from my friends, of course.  

As always, big thanks for reading... do you recognize the common thread that runs through your various friendships? Please share... and Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there, especially those who treat the title of "Dad" or "Daddy" with the utmost are a heroes, each and every one of you.     


Melanie said...

I'm in tears from laughing. That has to be the best reference letter of all time! A very, very Happy Father's day to you Dr. Jim.

rlbates said...

Happy Father's Day!

Katie Axelson said...

Haha! That's awesome!

My only common thread with my friends is a lot of bantering and sassing...

<>< Katie

Cal said...

Fantastic reference letter!

Anonymous said...

I love the letter. Couldn't stop laughing. Thanks for making my day funnier.

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Friends chosen to be our family are more precious than any other life asset; we count on one another for the entire gamut of support when blood family lives quite distant physically, emotionally or intellectually. Were it not for these precious individuals my life would lack fullness and diversity.

Happy Father’s Day, may each step we take lead the way to Peace.

Webster said...

That was hilarious! I wish I had friends like that. I'll work on that. Thanks, and Happy Father's Day.

911RN said...

Too funny! I am always asked to do
letters recommendation/references for my RN students. I may have to "steal" Mikes's idea and do one of these type references for them...of course, only to be followed by the real one. I love his wicked sense of humor.

On April Fool's Day, one year, I returned all my students' careplan rubrics with a failing grade- with correct grade should have seen all their Type A, gotta make a passing grade faces!! Until I said April Fools:) They were devastated... then we all laughed.

Anonymous said...

Great post - I am truly grateful for my friends support and understanding, especially in my hour of need. Love the reference letter part :)

Pharm.Tech. RDC '06

SeaSpray said...

Belated Father's day to you Jim! I hope it was fun ...even if you were on in the ER. :)

I thought I left a comment in here the other day, but I must've hit wrong button. ??

Anyway, LOVED your post so much I don't even have to go back to read it because still fresh in my mind.

I thought your friend's letter was HILARIOUS! and indeed he must be really fond of both of you to take the time for that joke. :)

Oh and after reading it I realized ...I think I know your wife. ;)

I agree with you wholeheartedly about good friends. I am sure you are all that to them too.

Thanks for sharing and the laugh!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who would write a reference letter like that must be a relative of mine.

I'm lucky. Not only do I have relatives like this, I have friends like this and even co-workers like this. And despite it, they are a very diverse crowd.

Celebrate your friends with laughter.

Chrysalis said...

Love that letter! I kept hearing Larry the Cable Guy, as I read down through it.

Now that's the kind of friends to have!

My friends have to have a kind heart and a wicked sense of humor.

Hugo Boss Deep Red said...

its interesting and well judged analysis is reflecting in this writing.

Anonymous said...

LOL, the reference letter is an absolute scream! LMAO!

Anonymous said...

Doc, your friends are very lucky people.

ATF said...

Very interesting

Power Wheelchairs said...

Great post - I am really grateful for my pals help and also learning, especially in my hr of need. Love the reference a part :)