Friend Poaching

Well, you know I like the window seat. That's New York City.

In the airport, waiting for the good people at American Airlines to call Group Six on a return to Chicago, I'm getting a little hot in my winter coat, even if it is the right coat for New York City on a bright sunny winter's day.

Only last night, at a wedding, I'm freezing. There's a tradition to marry outdoors, something about being just that much closer to everyone's Higher Power. And since it's too cold for that, the wedding planners brought the outdoors indoors, opened a literal door, welcomed in Higher and the 32 degree early evening chill.

I say to a friend, a daughter of a Holocaust survivor, "I hate being cold. I hate being hungry. I could never have made it in the camps (the concentration camps). I wouldn't have lasted a week. I'm not made of the right stuff."

She says, "Not many people did make it, dear."


The Story:

We're all staying in the same hotel in Newark. The parents of the groom have arranged a group rate and transportation to the reception in New York, and a tall, elegant, African American gentleman picks us up in a rickety white bus that has seen better days.

I'm sitting next to my friend Mi. (The names I use here, well, they're any old names, generic, unidentifiable names).

Mi is sick with a virus, eyes all watery. She's wondering which drugs to take to dry herself up. She says, "I should be home in bed with a cup of hot tea."

I say, "Yeah, seriously. Why did you do this? Why did you come to this wedding? Are you crazy? You should be in bed with hot tea and a warm TV."

She nods. "Well, you know. It's Debbie. If it were anyone else, maybe, but it's Debbie. She's my best friend." Then she thinks about it. "She's everyone's best friend. You ask anyone on this bus, they'll tell you. 'Debbie's my best friend.' "

And I know it's true, of course. Because Debbie's my best friend.

We get to the party and there's a great shmorg. You can see our best friend's touches everywhere in this affair, the food, the flowers, the colors. I have a bite and see Debbie's mother-in-law, Regina, who happens to be a close friend of my mother-in-law, regally march into the room, lovely in her gown.

I rush over to greet her. She truly looks marvelous and she might even know it. When women in their eighties look marvelous, when they're breath-taking, radiating that very, very warm glow inside and out, for many of them do,* when they're happy they can glow in a way that's even richer than the glow you see emanating from ingenues.

When I see that glow, I just kvell**.

Regina and I hug and kiss, and when we get past how wonderful she looks and how terrible it is that I didn't insist that my mother-in-law come along for the wedding, I whisper in her ear. "You want to know a secret? You want to know something nice about your daughter-in-law? About Debbie?"


"They all talk about her, you know."

"Nu? What do they say?!"

"All of her friends say the same thing. They all say, 'Debbie's my best friend.' Everyone says this. It blows my mind, such an incredible thing to have people say about you. And they say that about your Debbie. Everyone thinks she's their best friend."

She seems pleased.

It's a great party, everyone has a little of that glow thing.

At the end of the evening I'm thanking my hosts, saying goodbye to people. I see Debbie's mother, another one of my favorite people, along with Debbie's mother-in-law, lazing out at a table for ten by themselves. They're all smiles.

"We were just talking about you," says Debbie's mom.

"Me?!" I'm all excited. They're talking about me.

"Yes, you," Regina confirms. "I was just telling her what you told me earlier about Debbie."

"Hey," I object. "I'm just telling over what Mi told me. I'm just moving along information."

They smile. They're tired. And happy. It's been a beautiful wedding. We're all out of words. I sign off. "Okay, gotta' go, the bus driver is waiting. He's working pretty late."

And we're back on the bus, a long way from our hotel. And I'm power napping off and on, my head on FD's shoulder. Mi is a row in front of us, quietly catching up on the phone with her guy. He missed the wedding.

And she sneezes. Softly.

Everyone on this midnight bus is tired and quiet. Probably nobody heard.


* My mother-in-law has this beauty, as does my mother, and many other women I know.

**Kvell rhymes with Mel and means, in this case, melts, but really it means plotz, (rhymes with dots) which means, also, has to swoon there's so much good feeling.


blognut said…
Yet another warm, fuzzy story. Have a safe and happy new year!
FeministGal said…
"nu" as in the russian, "yes, please go on, go on"? If so, i know that word well :)
Syd said…
Happy New Year to you Therapy Doc.
Margo said…
I thought Debbie was MY best friend.
therapydoc said…
Well, she is, I'm pretty sure.
JewWishes said…
What a lovely story.

The best in 2009!