Growing up, I never had close friends. As a young adult, I halfway adopted a sidekick, a running buddy, but I can’t say I ever really thought of her as a friend. At least not someone I would let all the walls down around. Don’t get me wrong. The character defect in the friend department was mine, not hers.
Her name was Linda. She was a cute brunette. So was I. We worked in the same office as legal secretaries in the 1970’s in Tallahassee, Florida. She was widowed, with a young son. She and Timmy lived in a small house trailer on the outskirts of town. Her son stayed with her mom a lot, which left Linda free to gallivant all around town with me.
Tallahassee was a fun town in those days, before so many women got elected to the state legislature and everything got pure, or at least the parties got quieter. Legislators began bringing their families to town. Laws got passed making it illegal to buy dinners and throw parties for the solons, and before you knew it, the town known for being a wild place anytime the legislature was in town turned into a town that rolled up its sidewalks early.
The mid-to-late 1970’s were still the glory days. I personally had a standing invitation for drinks in the Senate President’s office at a kind of stand-up cocktail party before the evening’s serious drinking began that took place just about every weekday afternoon around 5:30.
My first husband and I shared a duplex a few miles from downtown. He was nice, academic, a much better housekeeper than I, deadly dull, and thank the good Lord, traveled out of town a lot.
I would like to lay some blame on him for my promiscuity, but the mere fact that he had made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want any kids and that when he was 65 he planned to play even more golf than he did then, is no excuse.
Several times a month, sometimes more often than that, Linda and I would meet at the Hilton Hotel downtown for drinks, and then migrate to Joe’s Spaghetti House, Mom and Dad’s Pizza, or The Silver Slipper for dinner. Often by then, we would have picked up an entourage, but in any case, the next stop was one of several dance hall watering holes popular with the legislative and lobbying set.
She and I had a running conversation about whether men with a lot of body hair were sexier or men with almost none. She loved the curly-haired bears with bears. She didn’t even mind touching a guy’s shoulder through his shirt when she was dancing and feeling coils of springy shoulder and back hair. Gross.
I was at the other extreme, and was happiest dancing with one of the Seminole Indian guys who would come up from Miami to lobby the legislature on some reservation casino gambling matter for the tribe. Completely hairless chests. Astounding cheekbones. Lean. No interest in long-term relationships. Just my type.
Linda and I were huntresses who seldom poached each other’s kill. But friends? Probably not.
What I meant to say before I got off on this ice floe of a tangent is that having close friends has never been natural to me. I’ve never had a lifelong female friend; in fact, I’ve actively driven away several who seemed to think we might become friends. That happened years ago, though, before I learned how to quickly nip that bud.
Author Judith Marshall wrote a book, “Husbands May Come and Go But Friends Are Forever.” Good title. Shaky premise.