As my cell phone emits the obnoxious techno beat that signals my close friend is calling me at two in the morning, I let out an exhausted groan. Obviously, the phone call could not be a cheery one; the fact that it is two in the morning means that I will probably be forced to listen to a very shrill, close to incoherent, outburst from my near hysterical friend for at least an hour. Yet I answer it, not because I simply cannot stand that grating ringtone anymore, but because I believe in the burden of friendship.
When I use the phrase ‘the burden of friendship’ I am referring to the numerous occasions in which you are forced to experience some sort of suffering for the sake of a friend. This could include the torture of being the wingman for your buddy so he or she can finally make a romantic connection with the person of their dreams, while you are stuck with said person’s socially inept friend. Or, perhaps, it could include sitting through three hours of your school’s horrific talent show, featuring a tone-deaf 9th grader shrieking “Memory”, just to catch your friend’s pithy two minute act. The trauma could even take a physical toll; for example, my best friend Nora used to insist that I refrain from using the restroom during lunch when we were freshman so that she would not have to stay at our lunch table alone, even for a moment. On days where I polished off an extra large Snapple Ice-Tea this proved to be particularly painful.
Needless to say, ‘holding it in’ was a bit of an imposition, but I never left her there alone. Nora returned the favor in our Junior year, by agreeing to join me at my Uncle’s sixtieth birthday party. There was no one remotely close to our age at the soiree, and we were cornered by some crazy relative of my aunt who managed to make an ethnically insensitive joke about the Irish in front of Nora (whose full name happens to be Nora Teresa McGlynn). Nora never complained; in fact, we even managed to laugh heartily at the experience, partially out of disbelief. I don’t know what I would have done without Nora there, and suffering from a full bladder is hardly equal payment for the weird events of my family party.
Still, I did not avoid the restroom at lunch time because I felt it was my duty to stand by Nora. And I do not answer the phone call from Katy at two in the morning because she’s sat through at least two of my dance recitals. I listen to her histrionic speech about the latest debacle in her love life because I want to. Being a true friend entails wanting to help your pals, to make them happy and to support them. Although the burden of friendship presents numerous impositions, I believe it is a privilege to make a sacrifice for a friend.
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