Saturday, June 19, 2010

You've Got a Friend in Me ...

This week I was enormously disturbed by an article in the NY Times saying how at least one school is trying to discourage "best friends" - pushing, rather, a casual group-type acquaintance for kids to pursue. Here's the link:

I read every follow-up comment, including the one from the teenager whose parents were split and she spent her time shuttled between their households, she was bullied at school, her male contemporaries had zero respect for her and her female classmates, and her best friend was her only lifeline; including the one from the young man in college who had had no friends in school and had spent his spare time wandering around wanting someone to be his friend and who had recently been diagnosed with Aspberger's syndrome and who really wanted a girlfriend or at least a friend before he graduated from college and he was getting more and more anxious; including the one from the almost-80-year-old man who met his best friend on their first day of grade one and who talked about how they had got each other through the highs and lows of their lives; including the ones saying that if people aren't given the opportunity to choose and be chosen, reject and be rejected, fight and make up, how will they ever be prepared for grown-up life, for marriage?

And then this evening I got to go see Toy Story 3 with two of my favourite people in the world, El and Ol, their beautiful faces partially obscured by the 3D glasses, sitting on the second row from the front of the theatre. I gazed at them in consternation as the movie started: it seemed so harsh, so rife with separation and fraught with potential grief. Randy Newman ripped my heart out with his music, as he frequently does. I wondered madly for a moment if I should suggest we leave.

But the boys were riveted to their seats, profiles glowing, more animated than any 3D special effect. We were clearly not going anywhere.

I sat back and gave in, and I watched one of the best movies that I have ever seen.

I'm not going to tell you anything more about it except that it is a funny, moving, profound essay on friendship and loyalty. I giggled at the drama as the Gypsy Kings sang "You Got a Friend in Me" in Spanish (go Buzz Lightyear!) and surreptitiously dabbed at the corner of my eyes while the credits rolled, not wanting to be the uncool aunty who embarrasses her nephews in public.

And as those credits rolled, the whole theatre broke out in spontaneous applause.

After our mandatory Chapters run and chat ("I'm sorry I cried," I began, and one of them said, "I almost started to as well, and then I reminded myself that it was Toy Story!" while the other one remarked that it was fine to cry as it was indeed a "bittersweet" story) and after we had started to eat our dinner, we ended up having a discussion about friends and I briefly described the NY Times article and asked them what they thought about the concept of not having particular friends. The elder one replied thoughtfully, "It would be a lot easier to interact in a group of people when you have a close friend because you would have more self-confidence." The younger one reached over and gently, sweetly, patted his brother's head and made a comment about how glad he was that he and his brother were friends.

My heart lifted as I thought of my own dear siblings.

And of Tara, Nadeera, Naomi and Edwin, Miriam, Janet, Greg, Steve, Michelle, Jane.

And of Brian.

And of Maynard.

People who've known me from when I was becoming who I am and who are inextricably woven into the fabric of my life's tapestry.

Go see the movie. And then recall and call your friends, just because.

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