For some reason, I've always really hated that Girl Scouts song that goes, "make new friends but keep the old--one is silver and the other is gold." I don't know why it rankles me. Actually, yes, I do know: it's a really dweeby song, and people are all the time using it against you when you're just trying to mind your business and be mad at somebody.
For instance, Jane and I have fought a bit in the 20 years we've known each other. Now, ya'll know Jane's my soul sister and everything. I seriously couldn't love that lady more if I had given birth to her myself, and she's both the second person I would call if I got put in jail (Bryan being first, obvs) and the only person whose puke I might consider cleaning up besides Odessa's. HOWEVER, Jane can be unbelievably provoking. (Jane, honey: I know you're reading this, but let's face it--your silent treatment is brutal.) On a couple of occasions (ahem. March-April, 1996; July, 2001; a good chunk of 2003-2004), I was pretty sure we'd never love again. And during those tempestuous times, my mom would be like, "How's Jane?" and I would be like, "Oh, I don't know--probably out somewhere disemboweling a pygmy hippo or yanking the eyeballs out of baby hedgehogs for her witch's potion or something." And my mom would kind of frown and then sing that damn song and I would be like JESUS HELL SHUT UP MOM.
But now that I'm old-ish, I kind of see that when Odessa gets to be 15 and hates her best friend for a while because of something trifling, I'll probably trudge sheepishly in my own mother's footsteps and sing her that stupid song, or at the very least give her some suspiciously adjacent advice. Because here's the thing: old friends are dead useful. For one thing, even though Jane and I have been terrible to one another from time to time, we've also made each other better people. Cheesy but true. Also, old friends usually know your family, or at least the backstory to most stuff, so you don't have to explain everything all the time. And that's nice.
Plus! Old friends remember different stuff than you. Case in point: my dear friend Missy Sue was visiting this weekend. Missy is one of my top 5 favorite people of all time and I've known her since my freshman year of college when she persuaded me to cook gnocchi in the electric tea kettle in my dorm room, which ruined the kettle, but whatever. What I love about Missy is that she's wise, hilarious and when she's allergic to something her lips puff up really big like croissants. Another thing I love about Missy is that our memories hitch onto completely different things. For instance, she remembers coming to my family's house for Thanksgiving one year in which all of the following things happened:
- A pie caught fire and had to be stamped out on the kitchen floor.
- We ate quail eggs.
- In attendance was a large, redheaded English farmer who demanded that someone prepare Watergate Salad.
- My mom whipped up a Watergate Salad, which is basically just green jello set in bundt pan with canned pineapple and marshmallows trapped in it. (Mom grew up in the 50's with a mother who regularly served Baked Alaska, so of course she knows about Jello molds).
- We played touch football.
- Ma's then-partner Mercedes wore a different fuzzy pastel angora sweater every day Missy was there.
- There was a pot-bellied pig roaming around the house.
So, I'm just saying the song is probably right, even though someone should write another song. I think the Girl Scouts of America would benefit.
Note: the photograph above is not of Jane or Missy Sue, but of me and Jennifer, who was my freshman roommate in college, and whom I still love to this day. It appears to have been taken in November of 1996. I appear to be icing a cookie. I have no memories of this event. Next time I see Jennifer, I'm going to ask her what the hell was going on in this picture.