The opening line of "How To Save A Life" by The Fray asks, "Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness and I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life."
This got me thinking: throughout TV history, there has been a tradition of on-screen best friends: Cybill and Maryanne, Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, Kate and Allie, hell, even Jack and Karen. But while all start out as close friends, I began noting a line was being drawn between who held the power in the friendship, a line that separated the "sucker" from the good friend.
A good friend will be there no matter what, will march into your house at 2 am bearing vodka and brownie mix, will talk you off the ledge after maxing out the credit card, will march you into a dressing room and say loudly, "That dress makes you look pregnant but does fanastic things for your ass," will listen to you cry at 4 am when you're outside your ex's apartment and he shows up with a new girl, all the while saying "you can do so much better, he's not worth it."
The good friend knows it's you on the phone without even saying hello, and will immediately say "You won't believe who got fat!" or, "I don't care if you have a date I'm coming to your house and we're watching Grey's Anatomy!"
The sucker is someone who bends over backwards for other people and gets nothing in return, will go the limits but seems to be stuck in neutral and never gets anywhere in the friendship-relationship and never seems to understand why or how it got that way.
I admit I'm a bit of both. I'm a good friend but also a sucker. I don't know how to draw the limits and I often feel like I get left out of some important and also fun things because i don't have the social skills to say, "You know, you talk about these great things and I'd like to be apart of it if you'll allow me." So instead, i'm left to my own world and devices.
Being both has gotten me in trouble lately, because I've gone to congratulate a friend's sister-in-law about her new baby and gotten chewed out by said friend, while another time a friend overreacted to a simple statement that I didn't see as problematic.
Someone I've known for over 10 years recently came to me to help them diagnosis their depression. Now I'm not a trained therapist, and don't claim to be so. When I tried to convey this, my friend took it as "you aren't coming up with an answer, therefore you don't care" when in reality it was just the opposite: I wanted to help, but was afraid that If I did try to diagnosis her and God forbid something happened, I couldn't live with myself and that knowledge that I pushed her to that point.
I once had the best friend who was everything: my cheerleader, my personal clown and the person who knew every single thing I did before I did it. But in High School, we began to drift apart; we used to be the smart-asses in the back of the classroom together but we just didn't see eye to eye anymore, and she became to me a manipulative person who was making every moment miserable for me. I had to move on from that.
There is some sort of whackado theory that the friends you make in college will last forever. Well, I went through three years of college and came out with the same friends from High School I swore I'd never run back to.
There's a fine line between the sucker and being a good friend, the problem is how do we find that out? When can we get to that point where we're all on an even playing field?
I understand we all have things that we can't discuss: an illness, the loss of a child, a breakup, a missed job opportunity. We sometimes feel like we reach out for some sort of solace and never get it, and when we do share our pain and don't get the reaction we want, we act taken aback.
But then again, when we have good news we share and get nothing, we get upset ... it's like being Sybil and Switch at times. I, for one, am tired of being the go-to gal and getting squat in return.
If I had enough brains in college, I'd have majored in Pyschiatry and could be charging $150 bucks a pop instead of dispensing advice for free on Facebook.
So tell me: how do you draw the line between being a sucker and being a good friend?
Follow Nikki Luongo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GroovyNikki