50 shades of friendship.

I joined a book club.  Actually, I agreed to attend the inaugural meeting of a book club,  at the invitation of a dear friend, newly divorced, who’s starting a new chapter in her life.  Book of the month?  Fifty Shades of Grey (horrible prose, great sex, brilliant publishing strategy). The novel was equally awful and irresistible.  The company gathered to discuss it and raucous discussion that ensued were indescribably marvelous.

Years, too many, had passed since the small group of us had been together, though the fly on the wall (there actually was one) would never have known.  We’ve gone many different ways, traveling in different circles, since the time when we used to see each other frequently.  The years in between were insignificant as we toasted our night of ‘firsts’ (turns out none of us had ever been in a book club) and reaffirmed our solidarity.  Whether we reconvene in a month or a year, that foundation won’t have changed.

We’re old enough now that reading about a 22-year-old lead character sparks both self-reflection and apprehension about our budding daughters.  For my own I wonder less about how she’ll handle a complicated romantic tryst than about the friendships she’ll have to carry her through.  I hope only that I’ve shown a good example, based on one given me.

Late in his life my father confided a secret: “The older I get,” he said, “the fewer friends I have.”  I was in my early 30s, amassing new friends at an alarming rate and wistful hearing something I couldn’t understand.  My dashing, gregarious father, who ditched a Las Vegas showgirl to marry my ladylike mama, lived for fun and rarely said an unkind thing about anyone.  He had, it seemed to me, six decades’ worth of friends in abundance.  His words troubled me enough to ask him what he meant.

“Oh, Jay-bird, they’re fewer in number but ever greater in depth.”

True, that.

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