I’m fortunate to have lots of friends. But the obvious recipients of this largess were my elementary school buddies. We had learned to share together. We would share big secrets like, “I don’t like the gym teacher” or “I didn’t study for my spelling test.” But it was the high finance of Halloween candy trading that taught us the value of things depends on both the buyer and seller. Three sweet tarts were only worth one Hershey bar. And for me any number of Milky Way was worth one chocolate bar.
Since my buddies had planned a birthday celebration for me, the occasion for sharing this bar came the next week. The event was the traditional Jr. high weekend activity, go to a movie and then grab a bite to eat. The difference being the movie no longer cost $0.22 cents. And, rather than watching the big kids “necking” in the back, sometimes a better show than the movie, we sat in the back with our husbands holding hands and feeling the love and contentment of long term romances.
As we exited the theater, one of our members took sick. Long story short, we took him to the emergency room, offered to have dinner at the hospital but was sent away. I handed the chocolate bar to my friend. It looked like this was going to be her dinner. Even though she was not a fan of bitter-sweet chocolate, she started gobbling it down. I reminded her to share it with our third friend. But this was not a time for teasing, this was a stark moment of fear and knowledge of our own mortality. It was a time for cherishing each other; I stopped.
As luck would have it, her husband was just dehydrated, nothing more, but all of us felt the priceless and fleeting gift of friendship. Two of us had shared our sixth birthdays together, the third came later in our lives in time for a 12th birthday (she was friend or one of our camp compatriots who attended a rival elementary school). She is someone I spent every single day with in high school home room. There we were forced to commit sacrilege by reciting someone else’s prayer daily. It did not hurt us, but I do feel guilty to this day that we mouthed words that were deeply meaningful to others and not to us.
Just as a bar is more than a place to have a drink. A girlfriend bar is more than a reason to share food. It is a way to reconnect with our pasts and with our very best selves.