And what is this concept of friendship? What is this quality that separates people into a category that allows us to become close to them and to want to share our lives with them? Indeed, as I myself have experienced, often we are closer to our friends than we are to our own blood relatives, and, what is more, these non-relatives seem to actually care what happens to us more than our own kin!
"Fate chooses your relations, you choose your friends."- Jacques Delille (1738 - 1813) French poet.
When we face troubles in life it is our friends who come to our rescue. They suddenly show up at our houses with food - usually edible, but who cares. They listen patiently to our whining and pity parties, and finally when they have had enough and realize we need to shut up and face our problems they tell us to suck it up and go on with life. This, perhaps, is their greatest service.
"A true friend stabs you in the front."- Oscar Wilde
I can attest that sometimes so called "friends" shy away, no let's just say what really happens, they run away from and refuse to have anything to do with you when you have major problems in your life. These people will not interrupt their lives, their comfortable zones of security, to participate in your suffering, much less to endeavour to relieve it in some small way.
The Nut to the left is Phil Simone, my other nutty friend. A few words as to the Simone's peculiar brand of zaniness are in order. Phil and Simone are the most difficult people with whom to dine. We have spent untold hours debating where to go to eat. Certain establishments are off limits.
Phil can't or won't eat onions. Simone does not like food that is not cooked up to her specifications - which fall somewhere between Cordon Blue and McDonald's (I have not figured it out yet). Phil claims they deliberately spike the iced tea at Wendy's with a secret onion ingredient. Simone will only order Pepsi and refuses to allow ice anywhere near her soft drink. She is not sensitive to cold, and I'm certain she is not attempting to preserve the world's supply of frozen water, and a certified a tree hugger she is not - so what gives?
I once made the mistake of picking up and writing with one of her ink pens. This was against the "Rules". I was in the process of learning the "Rules" as her daughter, Cynthia, refers to the convoluted customs and mores that make up daily life for the Simones. Dr. Simone can actually tell when a person has used her pen. At first I scoffed at this, but upon further testing it seems that she can actually detect minute changes in the microscopic texture of the tip of the point. CSI forensic teams could use her extraordinary (and nutty) talents. Once one of her ink pens has been polluted by someone else - meaning me - it can never be used again by Dr. Simone. No amount of coaxing will convince her to reuse the instrument.
In fact the panel on her dissertation for some reason lacked an ink pen and asked to borrow hers. She reluctantly, very reluctantly, allowed them to borrow her pen to sign the approval papers. Of course, she promptly threw away the implement afterwards.
The point about friends, even nutty ones, is that one loves them in spite of, and perhaps even because of their eccentricities. It is not that such things are forgiven for forgiveness is not the issue. There is nothing to forgive. It is a matter of acceptance, and with acceptance tolerance, and with tolerance love.
These nuts, these wonderful crazy nuts, have given me a renewed sense of hope, belonging and acceptance. They have offered me shelter in a time of great need, and they have opened up their hearts and home to my wife and family when we most needed a friend. In times of crisis our faith can be shaken. This is especially true when people we thought we could count on turn their backs on us and let us down, but God in his wisdom provides others who step forth and not only take up the slack but, indeed, surpass all expectations. Such people are the Simones, and I am ever thankful they have entered my life.