Females need friends. Males don’t, really. Men/boys need buddies. A buddy is someone you get drunk with. Or watch sports with. Buddies don’t share feelings, pain, or life lessons. Heck, unless they are poets or Ernest Hemingway, men don’t even know they have feelings, I wager.

But women/girls are different. And each of us, I hope, is lucky enough to have at least one long standing best friend. You know what I mean: a friend who knew you when you were skinny. A friend that you can call when you have PMS. Someone who won’t tell your innermost secrets, even if they are juicy. A person who always defends you, even when what she really thinks is that you are nuts.

I have three such friends. I won’t name them by name, but I will tell you about them. They know who they are. These women are a constant presence in my life, and even my husband loves them. Well, maybe love is a bit too strong a word choice. Let’s just say that he has taken each of them out for coffee. Without me.

In no particular order, my three friends are as follows:

FRIEND ONE. This woman is so small, you could thread her through a needle. However, no one ever makes the mistake of thinking she is weak, because she is the boss of absolutely everyone. She tells all of us what to do, and we obey. She raised three strapping sons, and they are all now wonderful fathers. She knows how to make Mickey Mouse pancakes and toll house cookies to die for. She drives fast. She listens. And when I almost lost my husband to a stroke, she lent me her empty house to cry in.

FRIEND TWO. This woman is a college professor and attorney. She writes scholarly types of things. She has written a book and wonderful poems. She has won prizes for her writing. But I am her friend because she and I can’t spend more than ten minutes together without lapsing into hysterics. Plus, she once introduced herself to a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and was so nervous that she forgot her own name. So she made one up.

FRIEND THREE. This woman could go on the road as a comic, but instead, she sells diamonds. I have known her for ages, and once she interrupted a game of Ping Pong in order to use the paddle to liberally smack one of her sons, and then resumed the game unruffled, asking “Now what was the score, again?” This woman forgot to bronze her younger son’s first baby shoes, and, wracked with guilt, she bronzed his third, GIGANTIC pair.

You have friends like this, don’t you? Women who forget to put on their robes when they go outside to get the paper, and then lock themselves out? Women who dive in the pool and lose their bikini tops in front of their teenage sons’ friends? Women who never forget your birthday, even when everyone in your family does? Women who tell you when you shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes?

If you don’t have a friend like this, it isn’t too late. But you have to keep your eyes open. See that woman in the produce section? She just ate some grapes right out of the package, and then looked around to see if anyone noticed? Start with her.

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