Chacos column: Why I need solid friends now more than ever
I have a few very lovely friends who have kept me grounded this past year as we weather the good, the bad and some pretty ugly stuff around the world. “Lovely,” by the way, is a word one of my friends says frequently, and one I wouldn’t be caught dead using in everyday language.
As we grapple with the daily onslaught of disaster and the realities of hardship close to home, I’ve rigged a system of sanity. I like to buffer the daily news with a bit of humor and then surround myself with some twisted, crazy people. So on any given afternoon, I may be found tapping into the wit and sharp tongue of a teacher, an Englishwoman, a redheaded Aussie or a Jersey girl.
For example, one of my intuitive girlfriends, who really is way too busy in the evenings prepping for the following day as a teacher, still found time to leave me a sweet gift and dinner last week. I’d like to believe it’s because she sensed we haven’t connected meaningfully for a few weeks. But I secretly think it’s because she knows my family hasn’t eaten all that well lately. She feeds my soul.
Another friend, who is English, once referenced something about her work and casually said to me, “Oh, he’s about as useful as a chocolate teapot,” and then went about her business talking stats and numbers. I was left in her wake of wit and sarcasm, mentally jotting down her latest quip so I could try it out later in another conversation. I tell myself it must be the accent that gives her words gravitas because I’d sound like an idiot using her loaded British vocabulary.
This friend has the humor of a late-night comic after you’ve had a couple of drinks. Her idea of a thoughtful present was to re-gift me her cat last year. I’m forever indebted because if a cat on your lap isn’t soothing or doesn’t somehow make you feel grounded, then you’re a cold-hearted freak.
The Aussie, on the other hand, knows just when to add a snappy spin to our schedules. Even though she’s down and out right now rehabbing a knee, she still finds the time to get the families together for an evening. We’re going to see a small theatre production this weekend, but she will make sure we go to the arcade for pizza beforehand. Remember, we mustn’t take ourselves too seriously.
The Jersey girl comes up with so many uniquely-themed soirees that you’d be a fool not to attend one of them. She’s also who you want as your wingman when you hitchhike along the interstate or when you need help plastic wrapping your friend’s car. Her home is our base, and I go there when I need a hug.
So when the phone rings and one of my lovely friends asks to get together, I’m like a rabid dog foaming at the mouth in anticipation. Committing to a night out with a high school teacher, an Englishwoman, an Aussie or a Jersey girl delivers every time.
I recall one night where we spent about an hour harassing my daughter’s deceased parakeet. The bird has been spending purgatory in our freezer wrapped in one of those scented dryer sheets. My girlfriends topped their drinks with ice as they listened to me explain that we haven’t been able to decide on the ceremony we’d like to have for our beloved house pet.
In the end, we all planned an exquisite affair for the freezer-burned fowl. I remember something about making printed invites on heavy cardstock, serving heavy hors d’oeuvres and stoking a bonfire in the event we wanted a cremation. Late night would offer a disco ball, music and strobe lights. We were on a roll.
And then I realized that five twisted chicks who sit around a table can find the silver lining in just about anything. I could alternatively sit and surround myself with a broody bunch but that’s just not my style. I need lightheartedness, love and a little bit of laughter.
Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale, balancing work and happily raising three children with her husband. She strives to dodge curveballs life likes to throw with a bit of passion, humor and some flair.