My girls, who are 8, are heavy into the BFF thing, and who is the “best” BFF, as opposed to the “second best” BFF or the third changes weekly. When I point out that this obviates the need for the final “F” (which stands for forever, in case you haven’t been following the tragic saga of former BFFs Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie over the years) and, for that matter, the B, I am met with the tolerant stares reserved for those to whom we must be extra kind because their mothers didn’t love them enough to breastfeed.* Sigh. Eye-roll. Clearly I don’t get it.
Ah, my children, but I do. Somewhere between second grade and Formerlydom, the friend hierarchy gets less explicit, but the damn thing still exists. We all have favorite friends, those we wish we saw more, those we feel the need to impart how important they are to us. Luckily, now that I’m a Formerly, there doesn’t seem to be an urgent need to pick just one.
Only ten years ago, when I was in my early 30s, that wasn’t true. I saw Bridesmaids the other night–snorted Diet Coke through my nose several times, which hurt a little–and recalled a little similar drama around my wedding, albeit much less madcap. I had no formal bridesmaids or Maid of Honor because I explicitly didn’t like the idea of designating anyone to be my top friend or making them all wear the same thing, but I did have three close ones who all helped to organize the festivities. Even without tapping anyone to be head bitch, there were Behind the Music-style power struggles about where to do what and how much to spend and what would make the bride feel happy and loved. The whole thing was terribly stressful and finally I just let them sort it out while slipping bits of advice to each of them in hopes of keeping the peace. I didn’t care what we did. I just wanted everyone to get together and give me hugs and advice and gift cards to Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Nowadays, though, things are blissfully easier. While I have tacit A-list friends and B-listers and even Cs and Ds, it appears that I’m on their corresponding lists. The drama only arises when someone’s on your imaginary A List and you’re on their B or C list and I can’t remember the last time that happened. The key to social happiness as a Formerly is mutuality of friend rankings and the understanding that if an A-list friend flies in from L.A., it’s more than OK to postpone a date with a B-list friend or even a local A-list friend, who becomes a B-lister for the duration of that friend’s stay. Or you invite everyone and they kiss and screech and drink and then go home to relieve the babysitter and it’s all good.
In second grade, though, things are freakin’ harsh. The hierarchy is codified because the girls give out these little magnetic half-heart necklaces they sell at Claire’s. One gives half one’s current BFF, and then is in the excruciatingly awkward position of having to ask for the half back when things turn over. I find it awkward, anyway. Vivian doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal to walk up to last week’s BFF and explain that she is out like the recycling. She swears no one’s feelings are hurt because everyone else is doing the same thing and so are busy reallocating their own alligences. It has happened to her, she claims, and she has relinquished her half-heart with no hard feelings.
Instinctively I think Vivian is wrong, and urge her to consider what it must feel like to the girls who are not even offered half a necklace. I remember being asked to figuratively hand over my half at her age (back then, in the year gimmel, when I was a child, there was no Claire’s, although, yes, we had taxis and didn’t have to make our own cheese, as Sasha once asked me). I suggest we buy enough (cheaper) candy necklaces for all the girls and prepare myself for the wrath of their moms who object to the artificial coloring. I can handle the heat. I’m a big girl.
Vivian agrees (candy!) and we’re going to try it next week. I have a feeling, though, that somehow they’ll find another way to codify their places on the food chains, and there will still be hurt feelings, along with sticky necks.
What do you think? Is this b.s. inevitable? Do you still have any friend drama now that you’re of Formerly age?
*Normally I give my readers enough credit to know when I’m joking but there are some people out there who have Google alerts set up for those who would disparage this womanly art so they can instantly flame them. Allow me to be perfectly clear: If you don’t breastfeed, you are a bad mother and you are setting your child up to be a sociopath and quite possibly stupid and obese. I don’t care if you’ve had a double mastectomy or are male or work in an environment that makes it impossible for you to pump. If you loved your child enough you would find a way. Have a nice day.