When my friend and fellow blogger Rebecca over at http://frugalistablog.com/ announced that she had been published in ANOTHER book, my first thought was “That bitch!”
No, I’m kidding. Mostly. Success couldn’t happen to a greater person. I’m a little jealous, but I’ll get over it.
I first met Rebecca through a friend of mine from high school, Christin.
My first impression of Rebecca was that she is larger than life. (Not physically. In real life she’s tiny.) We bonded over Vietnamese food about our love for “Little House on The Prairie” and Sue Heck from “The Middle.” Rebecca is the kind of girl who is unafraid to dance on a nearly empty dance floor if she likes the song that is playing. She doesn’t just absorb the energy of a room, she creates it. She is one of the funniest and most FUN people I have ever met. So I am truly happy for her.
I downloaded the book to my kindle the day it came out, but it took me a couple of days to find a moment of peace and quiet in this house to actually sit down and read it. My husband had to force me to put it down so that we wouldn’t be late for our dinner reservations, and then griped at me when I turned my bedside light on at midnight so I could read some more. At dinner that night I said to my friend, “You’ve got to get this book!” She ordered it when she got home.
There was a period of time when not only did I not wear lipstick, I really didn’t have the kind of girlfriend in my life who would tell me when I had lipstick on my teeth. I had kids willing to do that, but they were less discreet.
You know those women who say, “I’m not good at being friends with women. It’s less drama to be friends with guys”? Until not too long ago, I was one of those women. I’m not saying I haven’t had female friends- I have. But women require more emotionally out of friendships than men, and I struggle with emotional intimacy. It takes me a long time to get to a place where I can truly open up, and it takes a special kind of female to be patient with emotionally stunted friends like me.
I had my first child at 22. Soon after my second, we moved out of state to Utah. We lived there for 5 years, just long enough to start forming deeper friendships. And then we moved. We spent 5 years in Southern Cal. And then we moved. I valued the friendships I formed, but self-preservation prevented me from going too deep. I kept mostly to myself, and my family. I told myself I didn’t need any girlfriends. They’re too much work anyways.
Unexpectedly, I formed a close bond with a group of women through my church in Southern California. Together we helped each other through unexpected pregnancies, fertility struggles, miscarriages, job uncertainties, parenting fears, deaths of loved ones, marriage crises, the birth of a beautiful boy who has Down syndrome, and, most recently, one of our own being diagnosed with breast cancer. We did life together and I really began to understand the value of having girlfriends. (Also the value of what heels and a great pair of jeans can do for your butt.)
When we moved back to Washington 4 years ago, I reconnected a bit with old friends, but found myself still keeping my distance. Through Zoe’s friendship with a little girl named Rylie at the beginning of her kindergarten year, I met Rylie’s mom Jami. Jami is the kind of friend a girl like me dreams of- a fanatic football and MMA watcher, fun, girly enough to get Pedi’s with but with none of the drama-filled breakdowns. She’s the real deal. I can be myself with her and she accepts me for who I am. She makes friendship easy, and I am truly grateful.
I have also become part of a group of women at our church here. We came together as a part of the Thursday morning Bible study. In January, a beautiful, sassy woman with a fanny pack full of chemotherapy strapped to her waist joined our group. Shonda came from Kentucky and had a kick-ass attitude about life and cancer. She showed our group how to laugh in the midst of fear and pain. One rainy spring morning we decided that although we had no control over the weather, or cancer, or anything else that was bringing us down, we could choose to overcome. We chose to overcome the icky weather, icky cancer and all things icky by creating our own sunshine. We sprayed on floral perfume, we ate pineapple sorbet, and we laughed.
We called ourselves “the Sunshine Girls.” We chose to follow Shonda’s example of hope in the face of adversity and laughter in the face of trials. We celebrated, we mourned, we laughed, and we cried. Together. The day after Shonda’s 40th birthday, she showed up (mildly sedated), plopped herself down and said, “Y’all are going to love this!” She proceeded to tell us about how her treatments and illness were causing some unpleasant side effects, specifically in the bodily function area. She and her husband were on their way to pick up her birthday cake when she realized she urgently needed to find a restroom. Immediately. She was cracking herself up as she told a story too graphic for publication, and had us laughing as well. At the end of her story she said, “If it weren’t for the cancer, everyone would think it’s hilarious that I pooped my pants on my 40th birthday. I’m so glad I have friends who can look past the cancer part to laugh with me, because it’s damn funny!”
On the morning of July 22, three of us went to see Shonda in the hospital. We knew her time with us was short. We whispered our goodbyes in her ear, told her we loved her, told her we would take care of her hubby and kids, and that it was a privilege being her friend. We stood in that room with her daddy and his wife, and her husband and his mom. We took turns telling funny Shonda stories, stories about Kentucky, stories about our kids, who are all friends, and their crazy adventures. In the midst of our laughter, Shonda slipped away to Heaven. Her husband said, “You girls gave her the out she was looking for. You brought laughter and gave her the chance to leave on her terms.” It was a beautiful moment, one that will be a part of me forever. And I almost missed out on it.
You see, I avoided close friendships with girls most of my life to protect myself from intimacy and from pain. Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, brought this amazing woman into my life, gave me the opportunity to walk this journey with her, and allowed me to be there when she took her last breath.
“You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth” is a lot like the best friendships: Hilarious moments, tough times, lessons learned, and more hilarious moments. Edited by Leslie Marinelli of http://www.inthepowderroom.com/blog/ and her own personal blog http://www.thebeardediris.com/, “Lipstick” features 39 funny, poignant, and well written true life stories by a variety of bloggers. Leslie’s opening piece, “Beauty And The Beast: Keeping Abreast Of Sibling Rivalry” is, hands down, the funniest coming of age story I have ever read. I laughed so hard I choked on my own spit, and then coughed and cackled through a second reading out loud to my husband. (“Buckwheat in a scissor hold”)
There are stories of women with kids, women without kids; Women who are single, Women who WISH they were single sometimes. There are stories of struggle, stories of bad choices, of trying to teach friends, and then realizing how much we can learn from them. There’s good advice- Don’t get Botox while under the influence of alcohol, and always make sure that when shopping for bargains, you know which country’s Olympic fan gear you’re ordering. (“Oh for the love of God, would you just leave me and my three dollar Canadian Mountie hoodie alone?”)
These are the stories you can only share with your closest friends, and yet these authors were brave enough to share with the rest of us. These are real life, not like what you might see on an episode of “Sex and The City.” (Oh, who am I kidding? I never watched that show. I know nothing about fashion, and my experience with cosmos isn’t exactly what I would call pretty.) These are some of the smartest, quick witted, sharp-tongued women I have ever had the pleasure to read the private details of their lives.
Vagina like a cauliflower? This book’s for you! Need to set boundaries on your husband’s gross habits? This book can help. Your urethra can’t seem to get its act together since pushing giant heads down your hoo ha? Good old Frugie will see you through!
This isn’t a book for one type of woman, it’s a book for ALL types of women. It will make you laugh, and it might make you tear up. If you’re like Frugie and me, you might want to wear some depends or at least a panty liner. It’s THAT funny.
Buy it. You know you want to.
PS- When I went looking for a couple pics for today’s blog, I realized how many very good girlfriends I have had. Here are just a few: