What a momentous occasion! Your comments are open! I am going to ask a question. I am also going to go and read up on Dorothy Parker as Matterhorn just said my new haircut was more Dorothy Parker than Dorothy Hamill (as I'd perceived it)
In conversations, when you tell a story, why do you always include names? Is it a compulsion or do you feel it's pertinent?
I really want to know this! Just to clarify, here's an example. Why "Josie's teacher, Ivanka," versus just plain old "Josie's teacher"? Why "Mary, whom I know from the park, because she has a dog named Saskatchewan. Her children, Ned and Ted, play with Josie sometimes"?
Just another piece to the wondrous puzzle that is Marla's brain. Exciting!
Wow. Do I really?
I've been thinking about this. Stirring up the sloshy bits in the old sieve, and then I went looking for a concise way to describe it. And then I decided to ignore it.
"Everyone calls himself a friend, but only a fool relies on it; nothing is commoner than the name, nothing rarer than the thing."
Jean de La Fontaine (French Poet whose Fables are one of the masterpieces of French literature, 1621- 1695)
Okay - that's part of it. My aversion to the trite and generic "My friend...".
I have very very few friends. A small percentage of the number of friends that others claim to have. Facebook lies when it says I have seventy-nine friends, because I don't. I have acquaintances galore. Business contacts. Friends of friends. People tangential to my life. Folks I hang with. I have a Monkeysphere.
But there is no good generic term for "someone who currently happens to be a part of my life". Even if there was, I may not use it.
I also use names and descriptions in conjunction with descriptions with friends in introductions because it's a polite and slightly manipulative way to introduce people who are in my Monkeysphere - but aren't yet in each others'. Saying to um...just making up names here...Deana...at Josie's birthday party "This is Adrienne" is an introduction, but it doesn't help them to converse with each other without my further involvement. Saying (and um...just an example here) "This is Adrienne, a friend I met through an online writing project a couple of years ago. She's an environmental something or other government honcho, has a lovely daughter um...Francine who is just a little older than Josie; she practices Wicca and loves reading books and is exploring online dating services after a devastating marital break-up." and "Adrienne, this is Deana. She's Brigitta's mother. Brigitta is Josie's only friend from daycare that's here." lets me walk away, gives each a clue about how I'd prefer to frame the interaction, and then there's no awkward "So, how do you know Marla?" moments, which can then be answered with "Through her blog." and then it goes on toward another uncomfortable conversation that may include unintentional witch insults and assumptions of a happy marital relationship. And it also lets Adrienne know that I don't know squat about Deana, which I still don't because Deana isn't very talkative and doesn't have a blog as far as I know. See?
As well, I do it because of the world. It is very, very small - but not close.
For example, a friend of yours brings his dogs to the leash-free area at the park I go to with Molly. I'm now volunteering on the steering committee for that leash-free area in that park. Also on that committee is a woman whose postings to a neighbourhood group you've been forwarded regarding things like used kids stuff (perhaps they came from that same friend of yours). I met her originally through Josie's yoga class. She's the one who organized the Easter Egg hunt which I volunteered to help with this year too; and we both work together in the group that maintains the planters along Queen Street. She's now officially in my Monkeysphere, because I've now had occasion and reason to be in regular contact with her - but I still think of her only as a neighbour. When she wipes my kid's snotty nose and scratches under my bra strap where I can't reach, I'll call her a friend. Hey - it may happen! But, you see? We are all connected - me, you, your friend and my neighbour. Your friend is kind of also now my neighbour, but still not my friend. He's one of the twenty or thirty people I've met at the park with either dog or kid or both; though some there in addition to their presence with dependents, are also customers of the store where I work, or are parents of kids at Josie's daycare, or clients of Steve's. There is not one word for all these people, and using just their names doesn't tell others enough when I try to describe why I'm even talking about them.
It's also part of being a good storyteller, and I do like to think I can tell a story. Though, they are long stories, and sometimes badly told. Naming the characters helps to tell the story. Could you be named anything other than your own name now, Nadine? What if my parents hadn't changed my name from Darcy Faith to Marla Rae? Just as I am a different person from when I used my maiden name, and then my first married name and now my second married name - a big part part of me is the name that I am using. Would Bruce Springsteen have the same ring as Terence Springsteen? And Marla Good can now kick Marla K...'s ass.
It's also fun to add the twist of the knife sometimes, as in "Josie's teacher, Annelise - you know, the one you said makes a bitch-face?" - but that doesn't happen as often. I try to remember, as I mentioned, how small the world is. Just the other week I mentioned a project I was working on with one friend to Crazymumma. Her response? "She gave me a ride home once!"
But really, most truly, I use people's names, often in conjunction with who they are to me and why, because the name we give to something shapes our attitude toward it.
If everyone is merely "my friend", then nobody knows what being my friend really means.
Oh...and your new haircut? Vintage Linda Evangelista my friend.