Thursday, February 7, 2013

on standing by your man (or lady).

have you ever thought about how far you'd go for a friend? i suppose that's a broad question. i'm sure in some capacity you have. what i'm really trying to get at is more specific - do you know how far you'd go for a friend who turned out to be someone else? how long would your loyalty last in that case?
the thought is brought on by a few things for me. jodi foster and mel gibson. jerry sandusky. breaking bad. (it's complicated).
mel has had a few bad years. he's been caught threatening his baby mama on the phone, who he left his wife of decades for. he's been caught driving under the influence, hurling misogynistic and racial and anti-semitic slurs every which way. and yet...and yet jodi foster stays. right by his side. she doesn't forgive him his transgressions and she doesn't make excuses for him. but, she stays. i think some of what she sees is a friend who is sick, who is struggling, who is making bad choices. and so she stays. to help pick him up and dust him off and hope this time he'll try harder. she doesn't abandon him, yet she doesn't excuse him. loyal, perhaps some would say to a fault. but i believe she is doing what the greatest of friends do: standing by his side as everyone else gives up on him. standing by his side when it's much more popular to abandon him. standing by his side as everyone keeps asking why. and this, what jodi foster is doing, really makes me think. it's made me realize that being a friend doesn't mean accepting the transgressions of our friends, but it certainly doesn't mean abandoning at the first sign of trouble. it's inspiring, in a way.
***
jerry sandusky's friends - in my opinion, they did one (and not the other). they stood by him, of that we know, silently. turning their heads. pretending nothing was happening. taking away his keys to the locker room was jerry's only punishment bestowed upon him from him friends. sure, i can't imagine being faced with the knowledge that your friend has done horrible things, unspeakable things. it's human nature to pretend it's not happening, to create excuses, to express disbelief. the harshest of truths are usually unbelievable the first time around. but nature, my friends, is what we are put in this world to rise above (name that movie!) you see i wish someone, at some point, a true friend (as i am seeking to define it here), would have sat jerry down and said:
"you committed a crime. i know it. you know it. and we both know you have to do something about it. turn yourself in, or i will. and i'll walk you to the police station, and i'll stay by your side. as the world calls you sick, and a monster, i won't abandon you. yes, you are sick. yes, you did monstrous things. but years, decades of friendship, have shown you to be more than that, too. so by your side i will stay."
but they didn't do that. they stuck by his side but they weren't true friends - they didn't push him to do the right thing. and that made all the difference.
***
the summer after my senior year i often took care of my bosses' house when she was out of town. i was in a play with my friends - every summer, for four summers, the same group of friends were in a play together. and after practice we'd go to my bosses' house. no adult supervision, girls and guys, and yes, my boyfriend was there. our parents strictly forbade us from doing this. but the summer after senior year we were so close to freedom we could smell it. we would sit on the porch, talking as the sound of cicadas filled the night as they tend to do during a virginia summer. harmless, innocent. we were always home by midnight. but one time, who knows, something didn't add up for our parents. as katey drove us home we both got calls - my mom, her dad. and as they asked us all sorts of questions our stories started to trip and fall on one another a little bit and before you knew it, they knew we were lying. but we excused ourselves, saying we misspoke. i'll never forget their faces as they sat us down, trying to pry out the truth. how frustrated they were - they knew we were lying about something, but they couldn't prove it unless one of us cracked. so we sat there, doe-eyed, sticking to our story, pretending we were little angels. it's true, we did something wrong. we lied, and we went somewhere we shouldn't with people we shouldn't and though it was all in innocent fun, it was wrong. but side by side we sat. never saying a word. never giving up the truth.
i hope, if the day ever comes, that if katey takes a misstep, i'll be brave enough to push her to fix it, to make it right (or vice-versa). that if the crime is more than a little white lie it won't go unnoticed, i won't turn my head. and that, above all, i'll have the courage to stand by her. that as the world may give up on her, by her side i'll be. a true friend - until the end.

11 comments:

  1. This post is perfect. This is brilliant. This is what real friends are.

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  2. One again your wonderful writing shines through. Loved this.

    You are one of those friends, I just know it.

    One time I was house sitting for a week and my friends and I did the EXACT same thing. Oh, the memories. I had almost forgotten about it all until now. It was fun, a little bit (okay maybe definitely) wrong, but it was fun being rebellious and sneaky, too. Love that last year of high school. At least for me, it was awesome. I had my friends and that was all that mattered. Such good memories!

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    1. oh yes. that summer after senior year was pure magic. it is the definition of every john hughes movie and every cure song. i loved every sweet second of it.

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  3. You're such a beautiful writer! It's so special to have those people in your lives - where even if you messed up - the most important thing is being there for each other. Love that. xoxo! eliza

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    1. thank you! yes - it s about the steadfastness. to be a best friend it's true love - to accept everything from someone, imperfections (no matter how ugly) and all.

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  4. This post was lovely, Colleen. It's so refreshing to hear someone write about standing up for what's right. This is a good question to ask though - how far would you go for a friend, if he/she had committed a wrong doing, or even a crime? Where do you draw the line between letting natural consequences fix the situation and ratting a friend out? No one likes to be a tattle-tale, but you are so right when you say that you aren't being a good friend if you're letting someone continue blindly through a lie, or a theft, or an affair, whatever it may be.

    I totally got caught in a lie with my high school friends junior year. There was a party at an unattended house, and we stopped by for a bit, but said we were going somewhere else. My parents were so disappointed. It was awful. But I learned something from it.

    It's so important to stand up for what's right, even if you're the only one standing. Thanks for this, C! I'm really loving your ordinary tales lately.

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    1. thank you so much laura :) it means so much to hear that from a long-time reader (friend, i can call you friend now, right?!)

      i agree about the lie thing - sometimes it's so innocent, but other times you see how much you let your parents down and that sucks. particularly as i've gotten older and understood their fear. seen those around me go so wrong with their choices, to so quickly get off track...and i get it. and i feel so awful for having caused them worry or pain or whatever it may be. and boy - does that realization teach you a lot. i am in that boat too.

      being a friend...you know, it's like true love. we accept who you are, but it doesn't mean we don't ask more from you. i won't abandon you when you do something wrong, but i won't turn my head. it's so hard to do that...but i hope i try to live up to that ideal. i really do.

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  5. Oh, this post really made me think. I really don't know what I would do given some of these tough friend situations. I really don't like confrontation (but really, who does?), but I hope I would find the strength to speak up to my friend. Man, I am going to ponder this one all night! So well written, too!

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    1. agreed - confrontation sucks. like with the jerry example - you'd have to approach him. the mell example though - it happened and everyone knows so you have to deal with it, so perhaps less confrontation. either way - i feel trying to be steadfast, but not turning your head, is the way to do. easier said than done though!

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  6. Such a good post, Colleen. Of course, I want to say I'd do the right thing for my friends but it's really tough to know in some cases unless you're in that situation. I really don't see how Sandusky's friends could know what he did and still live with that on their conscience. Not just because of the victims, but because their friend desperately need them but their intervention would undoubtedly cost him so much. What a tough situation to be in as a friend. And Jodi - as much as I disagree with pretty much everything Mel has done, you have to respect how willing she is to stick by him and see him through, and that alone almost makes you want to give him a second chance too.

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