Jaye from San Francisco, CA asks:
My best friend, my ace boon coon, the Nettie to my Celie lives about two hours away from me. She is a hardworking educator so I rarely get to see her (about once a month, if that, which is a long time in best friend years). Anyhow when she comes to see me, I like to treat my friend. She pours her heart into her job but because she's a public teacher she doesn't get to see the fruits of her labor. She's also the breadwinner in her relationship and has supported her man through his many, MANY, MANY, many, MANY, MANY, jobs. With that being said, I value her hard work so I like to do nice things for her not only because I know she appreciates it but also because I like to do fancy shit that she wouldn't otherwise pay for on her dime. Recently she revealed to me that her boyfriend does not appreciate "my tricking" in his words. She told me he asks, "Why am I always doing nice things for her and why I never invite him out for our excursions?" To make matters worse, the last time she was packing to come see me and put a low cut dress in her bag he said to her, “Why don't you ever wear things like that for me?" Instead of responding like a sensible human being, she says, “Because you never take me anywhere where I can wear it!" Ouch right? Well it seems that lately she hasn't been coming as often to satisfy his insecurities. I feel like I'm losing my friend so I want to rectify the situation. At the same time, I'm selfish and really don't want to invite him out. I mean girl's time is girl's time right? Or not? What should I do Agatha?
I haven’t decided if I’m going to answer this question yet. I’m sure getting an answer is important to you but I don’t know if giving you an answer is important to me. Yet.
But lets talk anyway.
I feel like I can talk to you. I feel like maybe you’d understand.
You see, when I first got your question, several weeks ago, I was embroiled in my own tricky sista girl, girl friendship, my God we’re not fucking but you’ve got my blood boiling situation.
Jaye, do you remember your first best friend? And how being around her made your heart feel all soft and melty? And how you’d sit next to her, knees touching, temples kissing and you’d willingly share your favorite snacks and your darkest secrets? And while listening you found yourself wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her against your meager chest, offering the only comfort you could because this was the kind of secret you kept for good. Do you remember that time she came home with you after school because you wanted her to see your new doll and you told her she could stay for dinner, only to have your mom yell “I wonder what she’s going to eat. You know we have any flicking food for the neighbors chirren, eh?” And you found yourself answering back because you hadn’t quite learned that mothers’ questions are mostly always rhetorical. And so you got your ass beat, in front of your very best friend and you felt deeply embarrassed because now she knew you were powerless too.
And that friendship doesn’t last. It can’t.
Or at least it hasn’t ever for me.
My best friendships always burn fast and hot.
You see, when a girl meets another girl and there’s chemistry…
It’s that moment from childhood all over again—with your heart feeling all soft and melty. And you want to be a champion for the person that seems so like yourself and not just because you both hate watch the same shows and love the same kind of music but because all those shared confidences, all that raw emotion has you looking at someone and knowing that yeah they’re them but they’re also you. That corny and powerful “I see you.”
And girl friendships even the lightweight we just have lunch together because we work on the same floor friendships demand so much.
Women demand that you strip naked.
And even then they insist that you peel off your skin and open your chest wall so they can inspect your heart.
And then when you think they’re done, they ask you to strip even that, to peel it all away until they get to your very soul.
And then the lights in the club come on and you’re standing there, sweaty and punch drunk and exposed. Or at least that’s how it feels sometimes.
Girl friendships are unequivocating, they insist, they demand, they want every piece of you, naked and vulnerable. In fact, it’s this unwillingness to give into the sista girl’s tribes’ insistence on this kind of rawness that’s the basis of half of all female beefs (the other half of all female beefs is beef, a-duh). Every time one group of girls hates another girl, it’s because they’ve looked at her and seen right through her façade and so they despise her continued pretense.
“She thinks she’s so hot.”
“She thinks she’s fooling Twitter with all her ‘I’m living my best life’ tweets while she vacations alone.”
“She keeps flooding the timeline with couple pics, meanwhile he posts the same pics with her cropped out. She’s so stupid.”
“She keeps dropping the descriptor sapiosexual into conversation like she doesn’t have a regula degula BA like the rest of us.”
You see we’re hardest on ourselves—and our friends, because they’re you and you’re them.
But the easiest thing, the easiest thing to do in any best girl friendship is to see past that failing, that shameful thing, that embarrassment, that lie she’s telling the world and you, to the woman, in a way no man ever will. Or could. And to forgive them for it. To love them for it. To offer what comfort you could, even if you’re no hero yourself.
At least, that’s how I’d feel about my ace boon coon, the Nettie to my Celie, whose life is so transparent to me that I know about her every failing, and her man’s every failing, that I know even their pillow talk about me.
But you see my best friendships always burn fast and hot because familiarity, breeding contempt is more than just an old adage. It’s something best girl friends that spend so much time naked and exposed must guard against.
Jaye that’s what you must guard against—the contempt creeping into your casually flung statements about your friend and her life.
So be easy on your friend.
Your ace boon coon.
Whether or not you should invite that nigga out though? Jaye, who would know that answer better than you?