Tag Archives: friends

The Real Kind of BFF

This is the first in a series of birthday memories honoring the people who have made every year’s struggles easier and all the goodness more joyful!

In second grade my mom organized the very first of the only two organized birthday parties of my life
The second grade event was the typical affair with cake and ice cream; no one served meals back then
I had to bribe my friend Susan to come by promising to tell her where to sit to get the plate with the secret mark on it
There was a tour of the bakery facility for her Brownie troop the same day as my birthday party
The girl whose father owned the bakery promised she would get the most donuts, and Susan loved donuts
There is no recollection of the gifts I received or whether we played the clothespin game, but we probably did
I remember tiny red headed Maureen O’Connor crying because no one was paying attention to her
She sat in our front entryway threatening to go home, and soon I was pouting in a corner
My mom, who doesn’t like prima-donna behavior, even from a birthday girl, told me to behave and be a good hostess
Maureen won the “Guess How Many Jelly Beans in the Jar” game with my mom, oddly, very close at her side
My best friend Nancy, who also knew about me giving away the secret plate game to Susan, was sure it was a set up
When they call me this year, almost 40 years later, like they do every year on my birthday, I will see if they remember
Nancy still likes candy in big jars all over her kitchen, and Susan still loves donuts…their laughter…still the best gift!


Smile, he says his white teeth flashing
You get too frustrated and forget
His father was a policeman in Nepal
He brought his work home with him
Phone calls, not the norm in his country

My mom brought her work home
In sullen regularity of unspoken frustration
She spent thousands on my teeth
An investment in my future happiness
My mom did not invest in what was not visible

My teeth, he says, should make you smile
I feign ignorance of his crooked teeth
They don’t make a bit of difference
On a face lit by golden happiness
Your teeth are so white I respond

The whole time he speaks, he smiles
Genuinely sweet, touched by loveliness
I’m thinking the policeman invested well
That heart was created with no money spent
I am grateful his father was a wise man