I like to consider myself something of a pop culturist. But you already know that. So it’s no big surprise that there are bits of popular culture that have largely (mis)informed my expectations of friendship. When I’m old, I want to live like the Golden Girls. In my 30s, I figure I should be brunching on Sundays a la Carrie Bradshaw and co. I watch these TV shows (and Friends, and How I Met Your Mother, even Meredith and Christina on Grey’s) and I think it’s completely expected for my life to be filled with Serious Unbreakable See-You-Everyday Friendships.
As I’ve written previously, it all started with The Babysitters Club. I read the BSC books when I was a wee lass and learned early that true friendships could withstand any boy, clothing or babysitting charge drama. They got together twice a week, lived on the same street and sent flashlight messages from each others’ bedrooms in the evenings. What more could a girl want?
It had been about 15 years since I’d read a BSC book until recently when I read the new prequel, The Babysitter’s Club: The Summer Before. Considering the book was written for 12 years olds, I was a tad surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Like, stay-up-past-bedtime-reading levels of enjoyment. Yes, it’s for young adults—children, even—but ultimately The Summer Before is a story of friendship. Given my search, this seemed the perfect escape novel.
Approximately three days after I started, I reached the end (200 pages written for 10-year-olds move at a quick clip). As I took in the final pages, I realized that either a) issues of friendship don’t change as we get older—the circumstances may be different (we’re arguing over wedding party scandals rather than cafeteria seating arrangements) but the underlying emotions are constant, or b) I act like a pre-teen and need to grow up. Either way, it was the perfect light read for me at this very moment.
Thanks to the wonder that is Google Alerts, BSC author Ann M. Martin’s publicist caught wind of my Ode to BSC post a few months back and asked me if I’d be interested in interviewing her. Ummm, yes please. I had a total nerdfest rock star moment. Ann M. Martin?? Talking to me? I worship modern technology.
During our interview, I asked Ann why the friendships between the girls were so universally adored. Something she said stuck with me. Sure, Kristy and the gang were each very different, so every young girl could relate to at least one, if not all, of them. But more importantly, she said, “They’re not perfect friendships. I think that’s how most friendships are, they’re imperfect. Maybe that’s why they seem even more important to us. The girls fight, but then it’s important to them to make up, and they always do. Sometimes it takes a couple of books, sometimes it’s a chapter or two, but they always make up. I think that’s important for girls and women to know, that maybe your best friend isn’t somebody that you’re always on good terms with. I think maybe a best friend is somebody you feel comfortable enough to have a fight with, and then make up with.”
Defining the term “best friend” is perhaps the hardest and most important factor of my quest. I love Ann’s take. It’s a perfect measuring tool. So often we think our best friends are the people we’d never fight with, those relationships that are always easy. But there are only a few people in my life that I’m confident I’d make up with no matter how bad a fight got. Those just happen to be the same people I consider my closest friends. It’s an interesting and insightful spin.
What do you think of Ann’s definition? How do you define BFF? And are you so excited about the return of the BSC? Do you like reading books about friendship?