Beefs, frenemies and BFFs – the ever evolving challenges of friendship

What's the old saying? "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime." It's really a feel good statement. It helps us recognize that not everyone is supposed to be in our lives forever. It can keep us on the lookout for those people who, if we let them stick around for awhile, might drain us of all the goodness we can muster in a sometimes not so good world. I mean this is a really good saying, full of all kinds of...uhh... well... stuff that makes clichés good. The only problem with it is it doesn't do the best job of explaining how you know which person fits into which category.

I actually believe we had it right as kids. Do you remember when you were younger and another kid would walk up to you and ask to play with the toy you were playing with and ended their request (which, now that I think about it, was more often a demand) with "I'll be your friend..."? I do. I think we had it right back then. Simple. Very simple. You give me that toy, we'll be friends. You don't give me that toy and we won't be friends. As adults we can hear all the nuances in that. The manipulation, the suggested temporary time limit, etc... but as kids, it was straightforward. When the toy was done with, the friendship had run its course -- unless the two of you found something else you both liked -- then the friendship kept going and if you realized that you seemed to always like doing the same things, well, eureka! Lifelong friend. No muss, no fuss.

Sometime during middle and high school, though, we learned that there's nothing simple about friendships. Your BFF today might be your greatest enemy tomorrow. Your enemy from yesterday? Oh, we like her now. Makes me think of a time in high school...

Check out the entire guest blog post at Black 'N Bougie



It may not mean nothing to ya'll/But understand nothing was done for me/And I don't plan on stoppin' at all/I want this sh*t forever, man
Why do we talk in terms of "forever"? Why do we make promises about forever? Even when we know better??

I got to thinking about this while watching Season 1 of Lost. There's a flashback scene where one of the characters is sitting in a car listening to a tape she and her "boyfriend" made when they were younger. At one point he predicts their future -- they will be married and have 9 kids, he says on the tape. In fact, that's not what happened. He married another woman (the rest of their story is yet to be shown at this point...)

It made me think of all types of "forever" promises I've made. You mean them when you say them, that's for sure. But why do we ever speak in terms of forever? We know we can't know what's going to happen, things change and even though we may really love someone... forever promises seem

But how else do you convey to someone how seriously you care for them? Perhaps we talk about forever because that's the only way we know to prove we mean it. "We'll be together forever." -- I don't even want to think about how many times I've said or heard that. I always meant it and believed it, but now -- well right now I feel kinda foolish. Why didn't we ever think that anything is possible and that forever might not be realistic?

One of my friends said,
I personally have always kinda liked the way "forever" sounds just rolls so easily off the tongue ...that is until it starts rolling backwards and chokes you, by the time you spit it out, its gotten much smaller ...the ever's been chopped off and you're stuck adding quantities to the end of "for" just so it doesnt get lonely ..ya know like "for...10 months, for ...15 minutes..."
I mean -- that's so on point, I'm not sure I can say much else. It feels good coming out but then it comes back and it never looks the way you envisioned it in your head or heard in your heart when you said it...

Another friend said,
I'm partial to the qualifier "for the foreseeable future" LOL!
I'm going to have to follow her lead... cause "forever" may feel good but it hasn't quite worked out for me...


Whataya Want From Me

This is a rant -- it's of little real helpful substance and all about what's weighing on my po' wittle spirit.

I just don't understand people sometimes.

My friends know me. They do. I've commiserated over this issue over and over and over. Despite feeling like they don't, the truth is, they do.

So can someone explain to me why when they need coddling, or support for bad decisions or co-signs on stupid stuff they call me?

I'm not the one. I'm SO not the one.

But you know, I try to be. I can tell they want someone to pat them on the back and say it'll be ok. They want the "there, there now." So I try to give it to them, but it hurts me to be so ridiculous.

::Deep Breath::

Look -- I'm not going to sit here and let you whine over some mess you've been whining over for 2 years.

You don't like the way your life is going, then CHANGE.

The definition of lunacy is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result everytime.

See I deal with what is. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a hard-nosed, hard-line realist. I'm all about discussing options and talking about plans -- but I'm not about the whining. What has whining ever solved?

We all need moments of whining. Sometimes, it just feels "good" to wallow in self-pity but if you do that too long you forget how to function properly.

These people -- they come with the same mess, every day. Scared about their futures, unsure of what lies ahead. Guess what? Nobody knows what's going to happen tomorrow but tomorrow and God. Just wait a daggone minute, it'll be here soon enough.

My favorite part is when they make me feel like the bad guy for not playing the game with them.

Wait. Let me get this straight. You're mad at me because I won't break from my usual responses? You're mad at me for responding to you the way I always respond to you? With frank honesty wrapped in love?? Well -- ain't that some b.s.

I could ramble on this forever, so I'll end with this:
Don't ask me for what I don't have. If you need coddling, call your mama. If you want to have an honest conversation about how to proceed, then I'm all ears because I am not interested in dead-end discussions. Let's make a plan, let's execute and let's be flexible, ummkay? Ummkay.

P.S. This four year old blog post by La at La Bella Vita says it way better than I ever could.

Teach You A Lesson Pt 4

Part 3

Saturday afternoon, there was a knock at Angela’s bedroom door. It opened slowly and Shannon walked in. Angela looked up from her book, surprised to see her.

“Hey girl,” Shannon began.

“Hey yourself. I called you after I got home last night. Why didn’t you answer?” Angela asked.

“I don’t know. I should have. I’m so sorry, Angela. I feel so responsible. I should’ve tried to find you to tell you-“

“Wait. Tell me what? What do you feel responsible for?” Angela asked.

Shannon hesitated. Angela didn't look upset. “Tell you about Nina and Evan. But tell me about your date.” Shannon said, a bit confused.

“Well, firstly, Nina canceled at the last minute so it was just me and Evan.”
Shannon nodded.

Angela continued, “so I met Evan outside of the football practice field and we hopped in his car. On our way to the movies, he asked me if I was tired. I told him I was a little bit and he suggested maybe we should go to his house and watch TV, instead.”

Shannon sighed, her sister warned her about Evan’s tactics. She was sure she knew this story. She nodded her head for Angela to continue.

“I said we could do whatever he wanted. Nina warned me he might want to do something different. Plus, I figured that meant you and I could still go see the movie today. The oddest thing, happened, though.”

“What?” Shannon asked, almost jumping from her chair.

“He smiled at me. Got quiet and then said, ‘Nah. Let’s just go see the movie.’.”

“Huh?” Shannon asked. This wasn’t what she expected.

“Yeah. I know. Weird, right? So we went and saw the movie. He brought me home and that was it. I mean he was such a gentleman which is a little different from what everyone usually says about him. I called you last night because I remembered you had something you wanted to tell me about Nina and Evan and I thought maybe it might explain. I figured maybe he likes her and she’s trying to dump him on me.”

“N-no” Shannon stuttered, very confused. Maybe her sister had lied. “It’s just that my sister told me that everyone in their class knows that Nina is in love with Evan. He asked her out on a date her freshman year and after that one date, she’s been the ice-queen everyone knows her as now. My sister says it’s well-known Evan is a dog and he only takes girls out so he can sleep with them. The faster he can get in your pants, the better and that Evan keeps Nina around because she finds girls for him, especially young ones.”

“Well,” Angela began, “he didn’t do that to me. Maybe your sister was wrong.”

“Yeah,” Shannon trailed off, “maybe she was, but for some reason I don’t really think so. You remember Katie? She went out with Evan once and I heard her in the bathroom crying to her friends about how after that one time, he wouldn’t return her calls or anything. Later, I heard that Nina was the one who set it up.”

“You really think Nina was trying to set me up?” Angela asked.

“I don’t know, only she can say, but this is really weird.”

Angela thought about it for a minute. If Nina was trying to set her up, that would be really bad, but either way she was fine and Evan seemed like a really nice guy.

Angela’s phone rang, then. It was Nina.

“You know what?” Angela asked, but didn’t wait for an answer, “let’s go to the movies now. Whatever Nina wants, she can just leave a message. I haven’t hung out with my best friend in weeks!”

When Angela didn’t answer, Nina smirked to herself knowing the plan was working well. By Sunday, Angela would call her looking for answers and she’d be more than prepared to tell her the truth about the way the world worked.
It was a tough lesson to learn, but someone had to teach it. At least, she thought, Angela would have someone to go to, unlike when it happened to her. Nina recalled feeling so alone after Evan used her. He wouldn’t call her back, he avoided her in the hallway and she knew everyone was laughing at her.

Before she could get upset again, her phone rang. She smiled to herself thinking Angela was calling her back ahead of schedule. She answered without checking the caller ID.

“I really like her,” a familiar male voice boomed over the speaker.

“What?” Nina asked confused. This wasn’t Angela. She looked at the phone’s display. It was Evan! “You really like her?”

“Yeah, man. I mean, you really found a gem for me. There’s something about her. I can’t put my finger on it, but I like her.”

“What?” Nina asked again. “What did ya’ll do last night?”

“Nothing,” Evan admitted, “and it was cool. I just liked hanging out with her. She’s really sweet.”

Nina was shocked. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go at all.

Evan interrupted her thoughts with a new tone. “Look, I gotta go. Angela’s cool, but what’s up with her friend, Shannon? You think I could get with her? You could set that up, too. Just keep your eye on Angela and let me know if any guy tries to approach her. She’s special. I’ll call you later, Nina.” Evan hung up.

Nina didn’t realize he’d hung up for awhile. She sat in her chair with her mouth open. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go at all. When she tried to call Angela again, her phone went straight to voicemail. Furious, Nina threw her phone against the wall and began crying. How could Evan like Angela but not her?

Eventually, Nina stopped crying and started laughing. She felt like she was going crazy but she knew better. There was a lesson in this for her. She should’ve covered her bases better. Angela was too perfect. She’d pick a better target next time – she’d had her eye on Shannon, anyway.


Teach You A Lesson Pt 3

Part 2

As always, this is fiction with some basis in truth

The next day at school, Angela didn’t see Nina anywhere. Usually she couldn’t get away from her. Normally this would’ve been a welcomed break, but she was really confused about the last thing Nina said to her on the phone.

Occupied in her own mind, Angela walked right into Evan on her way to her first period class.

“Hi,” he said with a huge grin on his face.

“Hi,” she said. He has eyes I could get lost in, Angela thought.

“So are you pumped for tonight?”

“Uh. Yeah. Sure!” Angela wanted to sound upbeat even though she was very confused.

Evan smiled, “Yeah, Nina dumped this on me last minute, too. I hope you didn't have other plans."

Angela hesitated. She had promised to go see this movie with Shannon, but she didn't want Evan to think she didn't want to hang out. "Oh no. No other plans. It was last minute, but perfect timing." Angela didn't think of herself as a good liar, but when Evans face never changed from that beautiful smile, she figured he bought it.

Ok. Well I’ll see you tonight, then.” Evan said as he walked off.

Before Angela could fully gather her thoughts, Shannon caught up to her.

“So what’s the plan?” Shannon asked.

“We’re meeting up with him and some guy who goes to Havenfield after his football practice and then we’re going to the movies. Angela wants to do some Student Council stuff while we wait.”

“Angela, don’t you think this is so weird? I mean, Evan didn’t even say boo to you before yesterday and now he wants to go on a date with you, but Nina is the one who set it up?”

“Yeah, it is kinda odd. Evan told me he didn't know about it until the last minute either, but surely Nina has some good plan. She just hasn’t told me everything yet.”

“Well,” Shannon hesitated. She had heard some dirt on Nina from her older sister who was in Nina’s class, but she wasn’t sure whether or not she should tell Angela.

“Well what?” Angela asked.

“I’ve been hearing some things about Nina. Her and Evan-“

“Wait. Tell me at lunch. I gotta go talk to Mr. Williams about this paper before class starts!” Angela started jogging towards a tall man at the other end of the hall.

Shannon shook her head. If what her sister had told her was true, Angela was in trouble and she had to make sure she got to her before Nina did.

Shannon looked everywhere for Angela at lunch, but she never saw her. She really wished she hadn’t left her phone in her locker so she could text Angela to meet her before she saw Nina that afternoon.

Meanwhile, Angela had found Nina. Or, rather, Nina found Angela. They were in the Student Council office talking.

“I can’t go tonight.” Nina told Angela.

“Why not?”

“Well, for one, Mark canceled and I don’t want to play third wheel and I have a huge paper due tomorrow that I forgot all about.”

“Can’t we reschedule or something?” Angela asked. She was getting a really uneasy feeling.

“Reschedule? Why would we do that? Evan’s really excited to go out with you. Just go. You’ll be fine.” Nina reassured her.

“Oh. That reminds me!” Angela was finally going to figure out why Nina had made it a point to suggest she bring something nice to wear.

“But wait,“ Nina said, as if she hadn’t heard Angela speak, “there’s something you should know. Evan might not want to go to the movies. If he suggests doing something else, just go with it. Be open, ok?”

“Why would he want to do something else?” Angela asked. This kept getting weird.

“That’s not important, obviously. Evan really likes you and I think he probably wants to settle down and get a girlfriend finally. He’s been telling me how he’s been watching you and he really likes you. He says you’re not like these other girls.”

Angela’s face frowned up a little. She was young but she wasn’t stupid. She didn’t know what was going on.

Nina sensed Angela was hesitating, so she attempted to reassure her. This plan hinged on tonight going smoothly. “All I’m saying is, just be open. Maybe he’ll want to go to the park to talk or something. This could be your chance to rule this school. You and Evan? You guys would be the envy of everyone. Plus, this would give you some credit with my class. I don’t think I want to be President next year and this way you’d be sure to get the position.”

Angela was still unsure, but the truth was, she did like Evan. He was cute and seemed friendly. She had heard some rumors about him, but he seemed like such a nice guy. I could get to know him better she thought.

“Ok, Nina. Thanks for the advice.” She was annoying sometimes, but Angela appreciated that Nina had taken to her and wanted to help her out.

“You better get to class,” Nina said, looking at the clock. As Angela left, Nina thought about her history with Evan. She felt bad for the trap she was sending Angela into, but she knew this would help Angela get ready. If she intended to be anybody in this school, she needed to know you can’t trust everybody.

Part 4


Teach You A Lesson Pt 2

Part 1

Nina had seen Evan’s little exchange with Angela and when he sat down across from her, she glared at him.

“What are you doing?” she asked coldly.

“Nothing. I’m just being friendly.” He responded.

“Well, why don’t you wait until it’s time for that? I haven’t even told her about the plan.” Nina said, still staring a hole into Evan’s forehead.

“What plan?” Evan asked, confused.

“Nothing. Forget I said anything.”

Though Evan was a "hit it and quit it" type of guy, he and Nina had become close after their encounter. He’d been surprised, since he was used to his methods scaring girls away so he could focus on the next one, but Nina didn’t seem to want anything after it was over and they had become friends over time. In fact, as he thought about it, most of the girls he pulled these days fell right into his lap and were friends of Nina.

The bell rang indicating it was time to go to class. Angela and Shannon grabbed their trays and headed to the trash can to dump their food. Shannon was walking a step or two ahead of Angela when Nina slid in front of Angela and took her tray. She glanced at Shannon before she spoke, “Let me take this. Why don’t you meet me out in the hall? I need to talk to you about some Student Council stuff.”

Shannon heard this and turned her head. Angela sent her a look that pleaded forgiveness before she said, “Sure thing, Nina.”

Shannon just shook her head. There was something about Nina’s newfound obsession with Angela that just didn’t sit well with her and she was going to get to the bottom of it.

Out in the hall way, Angela waited impatiently for Nina to come and tell her what was so urgent. She kept watching the clock. She had math with Mr. Anderson next and he hated for students to be late and she still needed to get her books from her locker. Just as she was about to walk off, Nina showed up.

“Sorry about that. I was making sure about the times.”

“Times? For what?” Angela asked, confused.

“Dope Clown Posse 2. Evan and I are going with one of his friends and he wants you to come.” Nina said.

“What?” Angela asked again, still confused.

“Don’t you need to get to class? We’re going to go Thursday after school. Grab a bite to eat and then go to the movies, ok? Trust me. You want to go. This could be big for you.” Nina walked away before Angela could ask her what was going on, again.

That night, Angela relayed the odd exchange with Nina to Shannon over the phone.

“Angela, there’s something about Nina that doesn’t sit right with me.” Shannon confessed.

“What do you mean? I think it’s cool that she wants to be friends with me and I can't say I mind that she wants to hook me up with Evan.”

“I don’t know, man. I’m just saying. And if Evan wants you to go like she said, why didn’t he ask you?”

“Maybe he was afraid I’d say no.”

Shannon could tell she wasn’t going to get anywhere so she changed the focus. “Well who is Nina bringing?”

“That’s a good question. She didn’t say.” Angela’s phone beeped just then. She looked down and saw she had an incoming call.

Shannon sighed. “Go ahead. I know it’s Nina. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Shannon, please don’t be mad. We can still go see a movie together on Saturday!”

“Sure, Angela. Whatever. See you tomorrow.” Shannon hung up.

Angela hated feeling like Shannon was disappointed with her. Even though Nina did seem to have an odd preoccupation with her, she thought she could learn a lot from Nina and looked to her like an older sister. Plus, the more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea of Evan -- even with the rumors she'd heard, she was sure Nina wouldn't let something like that happen to her.

“Hello?” Nina said, unsure. Angela had clicked over, but hadn’t said anything while she thought about her conversation with Shannon.

“Oh. Hey! I’m sorry, I was just sitting here like an idiot. What’s up?”

“I was just calling to give you the details for tomorrow night.” Nina said.

“Great. By the way, who are you bringing?”

“Uhh,” Nina stuttered, “Mark,” she said hurriedly.

“Mark? Mark Jones? The A/V guy?” Angela asked confused. She couldn’t think of any other Mark and surely, she thought, Nina didn’t mean Mark Jones. He was goofy looking and though everyone knew he was in love with Nina, she didn’t seem to know he was alive.

“No. Not him. Mark’s a guy who goes to Havenfield.”

Havenfield was Jackson High’s rival school. Angela was surprised to hear that Nina would associate with anyone who went to Havenfield and that Evan would be ok with them going out together.

“Um. Ok.” Angela responded, unsurely.

“Anyway, so we’re just going to go after Evan gets out of football practice. That’ll be around 6:00. You and I can spend some time going over the submissions for our t-shirt design contest and listen to a few of the bands who want to play at our annual concert.”

Angela sighed inside – even when making plans to have fun, Nina found a way to put work in somehow.

“Ok. Sounds great.”

“Good. See you tomorrow in the Student Council office after school. Bring something nice to wear for Evan.”

“Why would I-“ Nina hung up before Angela could ask why she would want to wear something nice for Evan.

Part 3


What I'm Listening To...

From time to time I like to share what I'm listening to.

Many of you will recognize these artists, especially if you watched the Grammy's last night. I was a bit disappointed in how many people in my timeline had nothing good to say about the non hip-hop/rap acts. There is a lot of good music out there that is not hip-hop or rap and I'm always taking the opportunity to expose people to what slices of it I've discovered.

Kings of Leon - Use Somebody

Zac Brown Band - Chicken Fried

Adam Lambert - Whataya Want From Me

Teach You A Lesson Pt 1

Mr. SmartGuy asked me a question on formspring (check out the handy dandy box you can use to ask me anything, anonymously ---->): "What inspires you to write?" It was a good question that I rambled something off about I inspire myself or some such -- but I think I have a better answer...

Writing has always been a good way for me to explore the things going on in my life. The first short story I ever wrote was in the 8th grade and was about a big family coming together for Christmas. I was inspired by a family I saw in a movie theater. I liked imagining who they were, what brought them together and how their family might interact like my own. Sometimes, my writings help me to take an event that's actually happened and discuss, through my own characters, why certain things may have happened the way they did. It's like getting in somebody's head without having to talk to them. Very therapeutic.

Anyway, in that vein, check out the first part of a short story I recently wrote..

As always... This is a fictional story with some basis in the truth.

Jackson High was a typical high school in a typical city in a typical American state. The students all fell into some clique. The jocks, the popular girls (who were also all beautiful), the nerds, the outcasts – everyone had a group to belong to, whether they liked it or not. Everyone, that is, except Angela Blakemore.

Angela was beautiful, smart and friendly. It seemed she floated from clique to clique with ease. All the jocks wanted to date her, the popular girls all wanted to be her friend and the nerds and outcasts were just happy that she smiled at them instead of scrunching her face up in disgust when she saw them. Her teachers all had nothing but good things to say and by sophomore year, Angela had already risen to Vice-President of Student Council, under the Presidency of Nina Jones.

Nina was a junior who had a reputation that preceded her. Like Angela, she was smart and beautiful but she had a cold exterior that made it hard to get close to her. She had her pick of boyfriends, too, but they were all mostly scared of her. While she had been more than eligible for the position of President, a spot normally only held by a Senior, she won because everyone was afraid of what would happen if they didn’t vote for her.

Nina hand-picked Angela as her VP. Angela enjoyed student council, but as a freshman had only been a class representative. She had no intentions of ascending the ranks so quickly, but Nina had taken a liking to her and didn’t really give her a choice in the matter when election time rolled around.

“So,” Nina began during one of their regular nightly phone calls, “are you ready to be VP?” Angela had figured Nina had been grooming her for this role, but was careful not to assume much.

“I don’t know, Nina. Don’t you think a Senior might want the position?” Angela asked hesitantly.

“I don’t actually care what Senior wants what. I’m a shoe-in for President and I want you as my VP. The end.”

Angela didn’t argue. She knew she was lucky that an older student like Nina had taken her under her wing.

Of all the jocks, Evan Harris was easily the most envied. He could have any girl he wanted and he usually did. Any girl who had ever spent any time with him knew he was a dog and after only one thing. The only problem was, most girls just wanted to be able to say they had gotten a shot with him; after all, Evan only wanted the best of the best and even though after a night with him, most girls felt ashamed, they could at least hold their head up in school the next day knowing they were the envy of most every other girl, especially the younger girls who liked having any Senior, let alone the captain of the football team, pay attention to them.

No one knew this better than Nina. Though everyone was afraid of her, there had been a time where she was dumb and naive. She shuddered to think of it now, but she had gone to great lengths to make sure that what Evan had done to her, no one would ever do again.

It was mid-way through the first semester and there had not yet been anything notable to happen at Jackson High. Nothing notable except that Angela could feel Nina encroaching on her space. Every time she turned around, it seemed, Nina was right there. She always had a new project to work on for Student Council. There was no denying it – she was turning out to be one of the best Presidents ever. Student Council was under budget with most of their events and had even had a few successful fundraising drives. Angela felt proud that she could say she was a part of these successes, but sometimes she really needed a break.

“I don’t know about her,” Angela began during a lunch conversation with her best friend Shannon, “she’s always talking about Student Council stuff. I wonder if she ever thinks about anything else. It’s a wonder she can keep her grades up!”

“I’m sure!” Shannon chirped. Angela and Shannon had been best friends since pre-school and Shannon had noticed that Angela had less and less time for her these days. She was also concerned about the role Nina was taking in Angela’s life. She didn’t feel like Angela would ever try to replace her, but she did feel like Nina wanted all of Angela’s attention, all of the time.

“It’s like you guys are always together. We haven’t had a chance to hang out in weeks.” Shannon started whining. She didn’t mean to, but she missed her best friend.

Angela forked a piece of broccoli and stuffed it in her mouth to chew while she thought about things. “You’re right,” she said as she swallowed the vegetable, “we haven’t had a chance to hang out. I’ll tell you what. I promise we’ll do something this weekend. Isn’t there a new movie coming out? Dead Clown Posse 3 or something?”

Shannon started laughing, “No, Angela. It’s Dope Clown Posse 2! If you’re game, though, I’m game!”

Just then, Shannon saw Evan come up behind Angela. Her eyes opened wide and just as Angela started to ask what was wrong, she felt someone tap her on the shoulder.

“Hey cutie.” Evan was staring down at Angela with a smile that could melt ice. Angela had heard about Evan, but she was still intrigued by him.

“Hi,” she responded.

Just as suddenly and coolly as he had walked up, Evan walked away.

“What was that about?” Shannon asked the obvious question.

“I have no earthly idea.” Angela said.

Check back tomorrow for Pt 2

Part 2