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Friday, December 5, 2014

A Friendship Lost

I've been thinking a lot lately about a friend I had many years ago. Her name was Donna, and she was substantially older than me. In fact, she was old enough to be my mother. We met and became friends because we both sold Avon products and were in the same sales district. Yes, when I was much younger than I am now, I spent a few years as an Avon Lady. But that's a story for another day. 

Despite our age difference, Donna and I had some great times together. She was willing to try new things and to go to different places. She is the one who introduced me to a little restaurant that I have in turn sent numerous friends to, Andre's Confiserie Suisse. Oh, what a delight that place has been! The lunch menu consists of two or three items, one of which is always vegetarian, and the price of lunch includes your choice from a fabulous selection of freshly made pastries. She was the kind of person who was more than willing to drive across town or into the mountains to enjoy a delicious meal. We went to movies and rode to sales meetings together and had a grand time all around. We could be silly or serious, and we were good friends for one another.

Along the way, however, there were cracks that appeared in our friendship. Some of them taught me to be a more patient person, and some taught me that sometimes it becomes necessary to move on. One thing that drove me batty was her wrong-name phase. It all started when we got a new District Manager whose name was Kathleen, if I remember correctly. I will be the first to say that Katrina and Kathleen are somewhat similar names. But Kathleen and I had very different personalities, so when Donna started calling me Kathleen all of the time, it really irked me. Actually, she didn't just call me Kathleen. She called me Kath-a-leen. I would say, "Katrina," to her, and it really ticked her off. One day, I decided not to put such importance on her calling me by my own name and quit correcting her. As soon as I quit correcting her, she began always getting my name right. Go figure.

Then we started arguing about almost everything. She was always right, even when I was, so this became quite frustrating. After she had changed lanes on the highway and kept driving for miles with her blinker on (a very irritating sounding blinker, it was!), I'd mention it casually. She'd blow up at me, telling me that it was broken, because it should have turned itself off after she eased into the other lane. I knew it wasn't worth even trying to explain that it would only do so if her wheel had turned more. And the time that she was driving in the city with her high-beams on because one of her headlights was burned out? She got angry that so many other drivers were flashing her with their bright lights. When I asked if hers were on, she said yes, and I said that was probably why they were flashing her. She retorted that she needed them on to see, so that was their problem. Which it was, indeed, since they were blinded by the light.

One of the final nails in the coffin came when we had gone to see the film Gandhi. After the movie, we went out for a burger (booger in Donna-speak) and began talking about the movie. She began to tell me that as a Christian, she was upset that the Indian people thought of Gandhi as a god. No matter how many times I tried to tell her that Mahatma meant a great soul or a wise person, she wasn't having any part of it. They were all terrible people because they revered this man as a god. I cut my losses and changed the subject. I didn't want a side of indigestion with my burger that night.

The final death knell for our friendship came when the AIDS crisis started really hitting the news. At first, many people assumed it was a disease that only affected the gay community. This was quickly proven to be wrong as the illness spread through all facets of society, rich, poor, straight, gay, young, and old. I can't even tell you how the subject came up, but Donna pronounced her judgement and opinion of the situation. "God sent AIDS to get rid of queers," she told me in a matter-of-fact tone. I was stunned and hurt, but most of all, I was furious. I retorted that if God was sending AIDS as a punishment for homosexuality, babies wouldn't be getting it too. Donna refused to talk about it any further. She knew (felt?) that she was right, and I knew (again, felt?) that she was wrong. There was no point in discussing it any further.

That was pretty much the end of our friendship. We had come to a point where we both realized we were no longer good for one another. We had a lot in common, but we also had a lot that would force us apart. We drifted away from one another before things became contentious, and I'm very glad for that. Although I remember some of the bad times, of course, I still have memories of the much more numerous good times that we shared. I have no regrets. I experienced and learned many things, and grew as a person because of our friendship. When it was over, I was sad, but ready to move on with my life.

I want to stress that this is not an indictment of Donna's Christian faith. There are many people with Christian beliefs, and there are variations of thought among them. For every Westboro Baptist or similar church that has far more extreme beliefs than Donna ever dreamt of having, there are other Christian sects that preach love of one's fellow humans. Donna fell somewhere in the middle. She was a good person, and I am glad she was a part of my life.