“Lately though, I’ve been in love with myself, and I’ve become my own best friend.”

Chrisette Michele

Let me start this column with an absolutely true and funny story from Hollywood: When Jack Warner, head of Warner Brothers studios, was told that his old star Ronald Reagan wanted to be president, he replied in pure casting terms. “Oh no,” he said, “Jimmy Stewart for president, Ronald Reagan for best friend.”

So I don’t know how I missed it, but it’s not too late. March 3 was Best Friends Day, and I need to bring this to the attention of my own BF, who isn’t paying attention to the rules.

Of course, She, who holds the title for “Longest Best Friend Under Strenuous Circumstances,” is my best friend. But She understands that I have to have an “outside” best friend, because a best friend that you live with has limited resources of attention. She has listened to me 24/7 for more than 54 years. That’s stressful.

So man or woman, every one needs an auxiliary BF to take the load off BF and dump all the grief on the ABF.

There is a long list of historical BFs: Abraham Lincoln’s best friend was Joshua Speed. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were another example. I always thought the initial thing was classy; that’s why I changed my name from Oscar Wilde to J.P. Not a true story.

Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, very close, almost mother-and-son relationship, but BFs all the same. I remember the actor Glenn Ford once saying that William Holden was his best friend. I’ve heard that Monica Lewinsky once said in a private email that President Bill Clinton was her BF. Regrettably, that email cannot be found.

My experience with best friends has not been perfect.

My earliest was Alan on Minnesota Avenue in St. Louis. It was about money sharing in a jobs project. I won’t go into details, because he may still be alive, but it was pure treachery. I still think about it. I know he doesn’t, but I’m hoping that when the priest comes to hear his last confession that he will have a flashback and confess it, along with his other sins; and because we were BFs, I know what some of them were.

I don’t remember ever having a real BF in Hollywood. There were dozens of buddies, but no BF. No one starting out in Hollywood has a BF. The competition is too intense. My agent had a sign over his desk: “It’s not enough to succeed. Your best friend must fail.” Cruel but true. So I just had good and very good friends.

When I came to Maine some 30 years ago, I relented, and after intense research and background checking, I took on a BF. This is a man of liberal leaning, even more leaning than myself. I lean, but he’s the Leaning Tower of Pisa of liberals. That won me over.

My BF is of such great stature, intellect and social standing, that I sometimes wonder why he wants to be seen with me. But so he has for 30 years. Each week we meet for coffee and discuss politics, weather, each other’s health and the various media personalities. The “discussions” are often animated, hair-on-fire, smoke-out-of-the-ears, raised-voice, arm-swinging, table-pounding discussions.

These exchanges are interspersed with iPhone and email arguments that sometimes end up with hangups. But we always cool off. I think it’s because he knows I had a heart attack four years ago and he doesn’t want another to be on his conscience. That’s what BFs are for.

But this month, he really let me down. For the first time in these 30 years, he and his wife went to Florida for a month. A month in Florida, leaving me here dealing with the coldest, bleakest winter in history, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, ISIS, the whole Netanyahu/Iran schmear, Ferguson, Mo., and the national fraternity scandals.

It’s not on the Alan level, but I’m rethinking my commitment.

Florida indeed.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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