Monday, January 2, 2017

Being Ethel to a BFF's Lucy Yields one Personal Essay after Another

When you've had a very close friend since you were five, and you're both now over 50, and you're married to men who have been each other's best friends since kindergarten, and when you are, like me, a writer of personal nonfiction, well—that BFF finds her way into your writing. A lot.

Since I'm not always sure she (and sometimes her husband) would be eager to be on the page with their real names in everything I write, sometimes she's Lenore. Anne. Laurie. Her husband is occasionally Jeff. It isn't important that anyone know which name is accurate. Except us.

"Us" for a long time were thought of, affectionately—and sometimes exasperatedly—by our four parents, relatives, neighbors, and teachers, as "Lucy and Ethel." When we were younger, the Lucy-and-Ethel moniker was just funny, and fun.

But recently, I had occasion—involving of all things, a snooty vendor with an overdue bill—to reflect back and realized that our Lucy-and-Ethel panoply was something that went far beyond comedy; it helped make me strong and confident, even now.

That's what I wrote in an essay for Purple Clover recently in an essay titled, "The Lucy and Ethel Years." Here are two excerpts:

"I played Ethel to Laurie's Lucy for years. For every harebrained scheme she devised—and there were dozens, maybe hundreds—I countered with calm, sensible reasons why we couldn't do any such thing. It was wrong. Slightly dishonest. Sneaky. Dangerous. Maybe a little bit illegal. For five minutes, I'd try to talk her out of whatever foolish thing she was proposing.
Then, I'd jump in and together we'd hatch the plan...
....When I think about the crazy, gutsy and dumb things the two of us did, it brings up more than fond memories; the Lucy-and-Ethel years taught me to read people, to figure out what to say or ask (or hide) at crucial moments, to understand who to snow, who to avoid, and with whom I could be honest. It also taught me that having someone by your side that you trust completely, and who feels the same about you, makes life's problems and challenges utterly doable."

Image: Wikipedia

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