I’m here today to talk about best friends. Not good friends, or great friends, or friends with benefits. Nope, I’m here to talk about best friends. The rarest of friends there are. The kind of friends that if you are lucky you have more than one of. Not only can you tell these friends anything, you probably have, but they would also be there whenever you needed them. And probably, sometimes you don’t.
I spent my day off yesterday helping out my best friends here in Dubai. I got a phone call saying an ambulance was on the way and could I come by to help them with their 2 year old daughter while mum took care of dad and the paramedics. The situation was serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, but ambulance delivery wasn’t required. I carried him to their car and sat with them at the hospital, making sure mum was sane and the daughter was entertained and not too scared. Dad, was kept overnight but when I last saw him, he was coherent, talking again, and looking so much better. They thanked me like it was a big deal. I don’t think it was. I told them I hope I never have to do it again but will if required. Isn’t it something we should all do? Anyway, this got me thinking about friendships …
It has been said, and perhaps I read this on a t-shirt somewhere (I often opted for t-shirts that read, “I know the credit card is for emergencies but she was hot”, and, “I’d rather be masturbating” (a shirt I wore to all of my final exams at college)), that a “good friend will help you move, a great friend will help you move a body”. And this is probably very true indeed. I would consider myself to be a great friend, and even have a couple of best friends that I can rely on, but only time will tell if I call them back when they leave a message on my machine simply stating, “Ger, Glenn here. I need you to meet me at the park with a bag of lime, a shovel, some disposable rubber gloves, and a blow torch.”
Han Solo was a great friend to Luke Skywalker. Seriously, he was. How many of your friends would risk extreme frostbite on all of your tiniest and hairiest of places on an unfathomable planet to rescue you? Would you ride out at night, with the temperature dropping below –100 degrees to look for him? Would you still love him enough to split open the Tom Tom, the two-legged furry beast you rode out to rescue him on, and pull out its guts to stuff your friend inside so he could be warm? Would you do that? You would? Wow. Even if you were both chasing the same girl? And she’s a princess by the way. See, that is a great friend right there.
A great friend will do that. A great friend will risk personal harm to make sure you are safe. A great friend will give up the girl if he thinks you deserve, knows you really like her, or sometimes knows she’s a terrible shag and wants you to find out for yourself. A friend would tell you that last one, but only a great friend could get away with not doing it.
JRR Tolkien wrote a little tale about a little dude trying to throw away a ring. Now, this little dude wasn’t upset that his marriage ended and he wanted nothing to do with the sacred band that once symbolized his marriage. And the ring didn’t even symbolize the hole that not just he would slip something into either. Nope, this was just a plain old ring devoid of any symbols or anything like that. Wait, it dropped in the fire and had script scrawled across it? What’s that? The ring is the “one ring to rule them all”? Whoa, slow down. So, the poor little dude embarks on a journey to throw said ring into the fiery depths of Mount Doom. Why couldn’t he just have to throw the ring into any other volcanic mountain? Did it have to have such an ominous name? Would he have felt so small and afraid if he had to throw the ring into the fiery depths of Mount Eva Gardner (I think that is something my dad would have done back in the 40s and 50s)! The little dude sets off and with him is his trusted pal, and greatest friend of all, Sam. Sam is a little dude as well. Neither Sam or the other guy wear shoes, oddly enough at home, but on a months long journey this is fucking ridiculous. Anyway, the little dude is weak, a pansy and a pussy, and Sam should have just drowned him the first chance he got.
Sam, however, knew this was his friend’s task to complete and left him to it. Sam knew that he just had to help and then he could go home and engage in some midget sex with Rosey Cotton, a girl aptly named because her cheeks were red and her bra was stuffed! Okay, I made that last part up. Sam showed his true worth when the little dude, too weak to continue and failing to find the intestinal fortitude to look at the big picture because he was a selfish little bitch, carried his friend up Mount Doom, fought off the creepy balding slimy guy (no, he wasn’t from Greece), and made sure his friend had the easy task of throwing the ring into the fire. Of course, his friend was too weak to do it, and this crippled poor Sam. When the ring was accidentally heaved into the fire along with the slimy dude, and the little dude’s ring finger (don’t ask), Sam was there to stop his friend from falling to his own fiery death. Personally, I don’t know how he did it. His friend reached up with his stubbed fingered hand and grabbed Sam’s arm. I would have pulled away. I have a sick fear of stumps, stubbed fingers, and artificial limbs. Okay, I made that last part up too but I was trying to show just how great a friend Sam was. He spent the next few hours talking about all that was good about home as they waited for the death they both thought was coming. What a great little dude that Sam was. I also think that makes Sam wise.
The literary world has brought us many examples of great friendships. My favorite, and I’m not sure why because it has such a sad and tragic end, is the relationship between George and Lenny in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Lenny is a simple guy and has traveled with George for years doing all sorts of manual labor jobs. Now George has promised Lenny that one day they will have a house with a white fence, and Lenny will get to tend the rabbits that he wants so much. George and Lenny have a special relationship and it is a rare one.
While they are busy in their latest job, Lenny goes and kills a woman quite by accident as he was stroking her hair because it is soft just like the rabbits he will have at home. When she starts to panic and yell because he gets a little rough because he doesn’t know any better, he shakes her so violently that he damn near snaps her bony little ass and she dies. Her man Curley is none to impressed and goes on the hunt for Lenny. By this time, George knows all about what happened and tells Lenny to get out as fast as he can, knowing that Lenny will go back to their favorite place.
George follows him there and sits with him a bit and Lenny asks him to, “tell me about the rabbits George.” George knows Curley and his gang are coming and will kill Lenny when they find him. As George and Lenny sit together on an uprooted tree, George calmly telling Lenny about the house they’ll have, the chimney, and of course the rabbits, he watches the fear fade from Lenny’s eyes and turn to thoughts of happiness before he pulls the trigger and puts a bullet in the back of Lenny’s head!
Lenny was a dead man either way. George just made sure he went out thinking the dream was still alive. Now, a great friend would help you move a body; how great of a friend do you have to be to kill your best friend to give him some lasting happiness? Could you do it? Could you pull the plug on a friend who really needed it? If a friend fell while climbing and there was no way of getting him back down and it would take you days to return and by that time he would be dead, would you listen to his pleas to push him off the ledge he landed on to ease his suffering? Scary thought isn’t it?
I’m just glad that when I was growing up all I had to do to prove my worth as a best friend was to occupy the socially inept girls (and I’m being awfully nice here) so that my friends could try and score with the pretty ones.