Flashback: the Mark of a Good Friend

(A post from my previous, now defunct blog, written September 28, 2007)

The Mark of a Good Friend

When I was a little girl, I dated Grackle.

After one of our early dates, I discovered that I’d had [highly visible] food stuck in my teeth for HOURS. I was horrified. When cornered, Grackle admitted he had noticed the offending particles, but didn’t want to mention it and risk humiliating me. Ever the consummate gentleman.

I assured him that I’d rather be slightly embarrassed by a pal than remain ignorant and look like an ABSOLUTE IDIOT TO THE WHOLE WORLD.

”A Good Friend” we agreed, “Will tell you these things,” and so I maintain.

(What might these ladies be saying? Image via Wikimedia Commons)

A Good Friend will tell you that your jeans are unzipped or have a huge gaping hole in the back.

A Friend will slip you a breath mint when necessary, will calmly remove the spider from your neck, hand you the tissue you didn’t realize you needed.

A True Friend isn’t too shy to tuck in the errant tag on the back of your shirt, to remove fallen debris from your hair, to politely point out that you forgot a button or missed a belt loop.

Good Friends don’t let you walk around with smeared makeup, excessive nose hair (unless that’s your signature look), or a “Kick Me” sign on your back. They don’t let you continuously mispronounce common words.

Don’t get me wrong, having these friends can still be plenty embarrassing; every time Grackle says, “So, I have to be a Good Friend and tell you—” my eyes widen, my heart stops, my breath catches. “Please, please, please let this be something small,” I pray, “TELL me I didn’t spend all day with my skirt tucked into my underwear.”

But this is what friends are for; to protect us from our endlessly mortifying selves.

Good Friends, I salute you.

(And… um… you might want to check your zipper. Thought I’d mention it.)


But when I wrote that post in 2007, I was perhaps less aware of the things we might prefer NOT to be told. If your partner were cheating, would you want a friend to fill you in? If your very personality is closing doors, should a good friend explain your faults to you? If you have dangerous habits or addictions— does a good friend tell you off, or trust your judgment?

What do you ALWAYS want to be told? What do you NEVER, EVER want to hear?

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  1. True story…

    (This was right before K walked on to perform for a recital)

    I: Hey, K, you might want to XYZ.

    (K looks down, sees the undone zipper, zips, looks up, smiles, and opens his arms)


    (K hugs I)


  2. I had a gold dress I wore for ballroom dance competitions with a nude under-layer and a sheer net overlay. Long story short, I spent 15 minutes prancing around in 3 inch latin shoes surrounded by attractive strangers before three of my female team mates huddled around me and yanked the dress’ lining out of my pantyhose.


    On the plus side, after exposing my knickers to several hundred beautiful college boys there was nothing I could do to shame myself More. Ah, 19. So glad you’re in the past.


  3. A college roommate taught me the meaning of “XYZ.” I’d never heard it before that and just looked at her like she was crazy when she hissed it to me in the grocery store. In retrospect, I should have thanked her.


  4. My best friend is very honest with me, but not in a cruel way. I like that about her, and I wouldn’t want her to be any other way. The same is true for my husband. It’s like an inversely proportional relationship. The closer you are with me, the more honest you get to be.


  5. Unsolicited advice on personal traits and foibles is never really welcome. If I ask a true friend for honesty about what I need to do to be a better person, then I truly expect them to answer truthfully.
    But I TOTALLY AGREE with you about stopping your friend from looking bad in public, be it that errant hair that stands up straight, or the underwear that’s showing, etc.
    In fact, I knew Mike was a great guy when on about our 2nd or 3rd date I offered him a piece of gum, because his breathe kind of smelled, and he said, “No thanks… unless my breathe smells bad.” and I responded, “I think you REALLY WANT a piece of gum.” and he just took it and didn’t get upset or offended at all.


  6. That would be tough if my friend knew of my love doing bad things…. I would probably want to know. I also prefer for them to be honest, even if it’s brutal, than for me to walk around looking like a fool all day


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