By Dee Jay Gordon
I have this peculiar little New Year's ritual that annoys my mother. Every New Year's Day, I make a list of all my friends and acquaintances, the old and the new. Then I divide them into two categories: the ones I'm going to keep and the ones that didn't make the cut. My Mom thinks that's harsh and degrading to my friendships. I think it's a good way to weed out the non-producers.
As I reread that last paragraph, it does sound kind of mean, but give me the benefit of the doubt while I explain. You don't really have to do a whole lot in order to be on the "in" list, but you must have been a pretty big stinker to be placed in the "discard" pile. As a matter of fact, everyone is on the "in" list until they prove repeatedly that they need to be switched. And I think it's more than fair that I give them a whole year. Some people have been cut after many years of pseudo-friendship.
Let me give you a couple of examples. I have a soon to be former friend who is just not a very nice person. In fact, I'm just about the only person who will still talk to her. She's highly critical of everyone around her, she frequently voices the opinion that she is the only intelligent person she knows, and she goes out of her way to sabotage other people's relationships. She's loudly disparaging of attractive women, attractive men, people who make more money than she does, and people who happen to be, well, happy. Boy, does she hate happy people! I've hung onto her for several years now, even though everyone who knows us both can't understand why. She has verbally attacked me many times in the past, told me she thought I was the epitome of the "dumb blonde", and has had caustic remarks about every man I've ever dated, whether she knows them or not. I've remained friends with her because (and this is stupid) she had alienated everyone else and I felt sorry for her. I made my decision when I called her, devastated about my broken engagement, and she proceeded to tell me that he was too good for me anyway, that I was stupid and selfish, blah, blah, blah. She's out.
Then there's Gregg. He's the boyfriend of a dear friend of mine, with no vested interest in me other than that I'm his girlfriend Jan's pal. When I broke my collar bone last year, he was the one who drove me home from Pennsylvania, where we'd all been skiing, and took me to the Emergency Room, staying with me for several hours while the doctor fixed me up. I was in intense pain and pretty grouchy, but he hung tough with me while Jan stayed with my kids. For that reason, he and Jan will make the cut every year. They were there when I needed them, no questions asked.
So rather than waste my time on non-friends who don't put anything into the relationship, I choose to invest in the ones who do. Friends like Jani B., who comes to my rescue on a regular basis and sits up until 4a.m. with me when I need to talk. And her husband, Denny, who is as generous and kind as she is. And Fred, who doesn't let me take myself too seriously and helps me put everything back into perspective. And Jan and Gregg, who switched cars with me after the skiing incident because I couldn't drive my stick-shift. And Sandi, who is the most compassionate, non-judgmental person I've ever known, and is my sister through thick and thin
God has truly blessed me with superior human beings that I can call friends. So along with the "cut list", my most important New Year's Resolution is to try to be worthy of these wonderful people and give to them at least as much as they've given to me, so that I can make "the cut" with them. I'm going to be busy in 1997!
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