Watching the last scene from Cashmere Mafia last night – where the four women are sitting having drinks unwinding from their hectic days and recapping what’s happened in their lives – got me thinking about my (then) friends. We used to do the same. We were very close. We always knew what was happening in the other’s lives. Always ready to support when needed. Always ready to take a baseball bat to clout any man who dared to hurt any one of us (emotionally / physically). We would do anything for each other. We also had lots of fun together.
At Varsity – we didn’t all go to the same one – we would coordinate parties – whenever there was a party on campus, everyone would be called to rock up. Not all of us had cars then – only TP, and she had one because she was spoilt (this we thought) and the only child. But there was never a shortage of lifts to wherever we wanted to go. Unfortunately, we tended to use guys for our own purposes (not that they minded I’m sure). There was always one willing to take us wherever we wanted to go – with the tacit promise that he would get something out of it. Yah right. Wishful thinking on their part!
The parties were frequent. The clubbing even more so. There was a time we only rested on Mondays. It was either Jacquelines, Caesars, Pinkies, Escape – none of which I think exists anymore. Oh, we went to Presley’s as well. Not really our cuppa. This carried on for years. I still can’t believe how we managed to pull this off. Now, I can barely keep my eyes open past 11:00 pm?! Ok I still go out with the (current) girls, but it does not come close to how we partied in our youth (I never thought I would ever say / admit to that :o))
Meet my (previous) friends
The Career Woman (CW)
She could pass as a white. She always reminded us of this fact. Fair skin, beautiful (straight) blondish / brownish hair. Fabulous figure. She was a staunch ANC activist. She was at the helm of all our political rallies in the township. Big mouth, a born leader.
Her rise through the ranks in the company was meteoric. From HR consultant to Director in 10 years. WOW. That is really WOW. Many said to me she had slept with some of the exec’s or managers. One specifically. Knowing her, I refuted this. I still refute it. That was not how we were. We would do whatever we needed to get ahead. Except for that.
She was a rock – steady, wise, caring, had some control issues. Later she became arrogant, selfish, self absorbed, unreasonable. She was always right. After having my eyes opened for me, I realized what a strain she put on me and our relationship and how many issues she really had. I believed we were kindred spirits as her childhood was also not the best. This is how we related. But later (as she became this hot shot) she lost sight of what mattered – family & friends. Not the X5 or the house in Woodhill Estates.
We worked together. She thinks I got the job because of her. She got me the interview. I got the job. She stabbed me in the back. It’s strange how people think they can gossip about others thinking that person will never find out. They do. People are hurt and relationships are damaged. I was trying to establish myself – I looked to her for guidance. She badmouthed me to the managers. I only found out after a few months – the damage had been done. My self confidence was affected, I didn’t have faith in myself. I doubted that I would ever be successful (that was 9 years ago).
I distanced myself from her. Never confronted her – it would not have helped. But I had issues of guilt & loyalty – we had been friends for so long, I couldn’t just give it up. I had to make a go of it. I tried for 6 years. Last year I finally realised that we were worlds apart. I did not want to be a part of her life anymore. I did not want her to be a part of our life anymore. She is too draining. That was it. No more misplaced feelings of loyalty and guilt. I wish her the best – and that she finds a man and has a baby so she can stop being such a shrew – this is what she fundamentally wants. She denies it, but I see it every time we are in the same crowd.
The Battered Woman (BW)
Soft spoken, kind hearted, beautiful. A follower – which is not a bad thing, not everyone are leaders, are they? She led a charmed life, spoilt by mom & dad, loved, protected from all evils in the world. She fell pregnant by fluke – no funky monkey having been performed. I still wonder about that.
He was the strong, silent type. We (the rest of the friends) always thought he had some issues. His parents were control freaks – he couldn’t go to the toilet without asking permission. He did the same to his wife. Verbal abuse. Sometimes physical. We found out by accident. I don’t think she ever intended telling us. We were very vocal – she had to leave him, it would only get worse, the baby should not be exposed to this. She never listened. Initially, we never understood why. Later we realized it was what every woman feared – being alone, and what would the people say? In our community if you were abused it was your (the woman’s) fault. I am sure it was like that in many black communities. She never sought help. She later started believing it was her fault. We eventually gave up, and just supported her every time she needed a shoulder to cry on or somewhere to hide out.
Then she accused The Politician (TP) of interfering in their life. TP was flirting with the husband, seeking opportunities to be alone with him. TP always denied this. I supported the Politician. CW supported BW. This is when I realised there had always been undercurrents of envy, jealousy, covetousness in our relationship. This crises opened my eyes.
My stand was – we could talk about it to death, but what would it matter? BW would still stay with her man anyway. We had a flawed relationship – but which friendship is perfect anyway? So why not agree to disagree and remain friends? I was naïve. TP and I were slowly being ostracised. No more invitations for drinks, no more coffee, no more looking after the baby. That hurt more than CW’s betrayal.
Ironically – he divorced her. He found out she was cheating (we knew about this, but thought she needed some kind of happiness, so why not – if no-one finds out, what’s the problem?). I found out via the grapevine. I called her. Wanted to be supportive. She had moved on. I needed to as well. She didn’t need me or anyone of us associated with her past. It was painful & embarrassing. I only understood that later.
I’ve seen her since then. She looks good, but too self-absorbed now. Intent on telling us about how well she’s doing, she’s travelling all over the world. She’s got her own company now. I am happy for her. But cannot handle being around people who just carries on about themselves. I wish her all the best.
The Politician (TP)
Surprisingly – we are still tight. I guess ours is a completely surprising relationship. Complete opposites. SO couldn’t understand how we could be friends. We understand each other. We aren’t scared of telling it like it is. If I piss her off, she confronts me immediately. Vice versa. I guess this is the only reason why the friendship still works. 25 years later.
Talk about being politically active. CW just went through a phase. TP is still caught up in it all. We discuss politics, we challenge each other frequently. But we agreed to disagree on it. I’m voting COPE (she sees this as a sell out). She’s still staunch ANC. I hope she sees the error of her ways.
She was the only child. Spoilt. Always got what she wanted. Steady, caring, committed, loyal. She still believes its her right to get what she wants. Her fiancé was killed in a car crash a decade ago. She still hasn’t found someone. She is still grieving. She denies it. But she knows it’s true. She would talk about a new (potential) guy, but still compares him to her deceased fiancé. No one stands a chance until she moves on. We can only do so much for her.
She is also paranoid. Loves to be the centre of attention. And very intense. And like a dog over a bone – about men in particular. There’d be nothing left, but she’d insist on hanging on. Until they move to a different country and she’s left wondering: “WHY?” I wish she would relax, and take things easier with the guys she meets. She scares the living daylights out of them with her intensity. Calling and smsing 1000 times a day also don’t help. I think we need to send her on a dating 101 course :o)
The Professional PA (PA)
7 years younger than me. She is reliable, solid, trustworthy, honest. We’ve been friends for about 11 years now. She dated one of our friends. We didn’t approve as she was such a party animal – he started dating her when she was in high school. And associated with too many other guys. But she grew up, fell pregnant and they eventually got married.
Her brother was in love with me and made no secret of it. He actually told SO. We became great friends after that. We still joke about it to this day. PA is the middle child as well. Went through similar stuff I did as a child. Parents paying more attention to the younger and older siblings. Maybe we felt sorry for ourselves. But that made us more driven to succeed. She developed into quite a dynamic and irresistable young woman. No one expected her to succeed at anything. She showed them. Boy did she show them!! I have great admiration and respect for her.
I still can’t fathom when we came to be such great friends. It just grew. SO frequently jokes about me not having friends. The one day I counted. Shockingly there was only TP & The Lawyer. SO asked about PA – and it clicked, we had become really close over time and I hadn’t even realised it.
She’s the one who’s car burnt out. The insurance paid out – and then some! She’s driving the new Merc C180 (Kompressor I think?). Well Done Girlfriend!!
She’s the Bible basher. But I still love her to bits. Successful beyond even my greatest expectations. Steady, a breath of fresh air. We never had any serious issues – except for when TP decided to date the guy she was seeing. Whoo. What a saga.
She’s always been there for me no matter what. She lives in Jo’burg. If I needed her, she would jump in the car without fail, and come to be by my side to support me. I’d like to believe she feels the same about me. She’s still single as well. Guys (Coloured specifically) tend to be a bit intimidated by strong-willed and independent women. Come on guys – we are still just girls looking for big strong men to take care of us! (*ps: these are not my sentiments, I am but repeating what I’ve heard from other women*) But we won’t take any shit from you.
The Party Girl (PG)
We met when she was going through a period of discontent – she wasn’t happy with her life, her husband or her career. He was a bit of a control freak. She believed divorcing him was her best option. She started partying and meeting lots of men. It didn’t just end there. I didn’t like the state of affairs – I was a married woman. What would people think? And they did think it all. Not good for my rep, on the other hand, why should it worry me – I knew I was not doing anything wrong, so….
We worked together – CW and GP and I – and we were all friends. Eventually she got caught between CW and I. The two of them used to skinner about me quite a bit – PG would tell me what CW said about me. Only later I realized that she could be doing the same with me. Which she did. She got drunk one day and said some things that confirmed some suspicions. That was the last of her. This is why I don’t gossip. Nor do I have time for people who do.
I lost contact with her more than 6 years ago. I had just got the news that my mom had passed. I was barely coherent and needed someone just to hug me. She looked at me crying in the passage and just walked on. That was a shocker. I erased her name from my list of friends. She contacted me on FB last year. It took me a while to get over myself. But the past is in the past. We all make mistakes. We can be acquaintances now. No more. She’s be coming to SA soon – lives in UK – will still decide if I wanna see her.
I miss them sometimes. I miss the good times we had. I will never admit it to any of them. But I will not go back there. It comes with complications. My life is very uncomplicated and stress free now. Having a few close friends is better. Having a proper open relationship with them is a must. SO has become my best friend as well. I never thought I’d ever say that. And then of course, I have all you guys, who in a sense have now become my bestest friends – I probably share more with you than I do with the others in my life – I’ll toast to that (coffee in hand)
I promise the next post will not be so dull and gloomy….had to get this off my chest…..