EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the A to Z Challenge, an exercise in self-flagellation we bloggers inflict upon ourselves to teach us discipline as writers and to build audience. During the month of April, I’ll be posting 26 times, once for every letter in the alphabet. Looking on the bright side, we can each be thankful this is an English language exercise and not Khmer, the language of Cambodia, which sets the world record with a 74-character alphabet! After some misgivings, I’ve decided to proceed with my initial idea of blogging about the special people in my life whose names begin with the appropriate letter. There will be difficulties, like having more than one special person whose names begin with the same letter, forcing me to choose. And then there are those letters — O, Q and X among them — where no name springs readily to mind. What will I do then? We’ll have to wait and see!
Family and friends
I have some pretty radical views about a few things, but none more difficult than my view on the subject of family and friends.
Maybe it won’t seem so radical to everyone, but it is to some people, and I’ve been loath to discuss it because I don’t want to alienate the very people I care about the most. Still, with much trepidation and for the sake of continuing this alphabetical striptease, I’ll lay bare my thoughts.
Over the years, I’ve struggled with defining friends and family, more than you know. But after triple-distilling my agonized thoughts, I’ve produced one crystal clear shot of fiery, 100-proof personal truth: Where friends and family are concerned, I don’t see a whole lot of difference.
Television isn’t the best place to hone one’s views, but over the years I’ve watched fictional characters say they’ll do anything for family, which on some shows I watch means lie, cheat, steal, or refuse to see any of the obvious flaws a family member might have. The trouble is, I sense that fiction, for some people, isn’t far from reality.
“So what if my kid kicked his teacher in the teeth? She deserved it for giving him a failing grade!”
“What? You murdered 17 people? Well, I don’t care, man, you’re my brother, man, you’re family, man, you’re my blood! Your secret is safe with me!”
Nope, uh-uh, I’d never go that far for any family member, so I’m putting you all on notice: If you go on a murder spree and I find out about it, I will rat you out!
Hell, I’ve got family members I wouldn’t even want for a neighbor, much less actually have them inside my house! And therein lies the difference, because I can’t say that about any of my friends.
See, I don’t have a lot of friends, and one reason is because I place such a premium on the very word. I have a ton of “acquaintances,” but only a very few “friends.” Friend, in my lexicon, means top-shelf and expensive; I can barely afford them, which is why I only have four.
So what are the differences between family and friends in the Gospel according to Roamin’ Gnomials?
- Family and friends: One you choose, the other you don’t.
- Family and friends: One you can lose, the other you can’t.
- Family and friends: Proximity seems important with family, but not with friends. We have reunions, and we visit family during holidays and vacations. My friends? All four live far away, and although I might wish them closer, ultimately it doesn’t matter. The last time I actually saw a friend in the flesh was five years ago.
- Family and friends: Both have immense, scary power. They can by turns make me happy as a clam or punch me in the heart and leave me for dead.
- Family and friends: I need both, and wouldn’t want to live life without ‘em.