In Mindy Kaling’s relatably-titled book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” she has a lovely list of Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities which made me smile. This book was published in 2012 but certainly has timeless diatribes about friendship and life. Here I’m sharing her golden friendship rights and responsibilities list, react to each one, and then add a few of my own friendship rules.
1. I can borrow all your clothes.
Anything in your closet, no matter how fancy is co-owned by me, your best friend. I can borrow it for as long as I want. If I get something on it or lose it, I should make all good faith attempts to get it cleaned or buy you a new one, but I don’t need to do that and you still have to love me. If I ruin something of yours and I don’t replace it, you’re allowed to talk shit about me to our friends for one calendar year. That’s it. Then you have to get over it. One stipulation to my borrowing your clothes is that you have to have worn the item at least once before I borrow it. I’m not a monster.
This is fine but as a middle-aged lady I am not the same size as most of my friends. We instead share baking equipment, home improvement contractors, babysitters, and memes.
2. We sleep in the same bed.
If we’re on a trip or if our boyfriends are away, and there’s a bed bigger than a twin, we’re partnering up. It is super weird for us not to share a bed. How else will we talk until we fall asleep?
We are now in the age of snoring, restless legs and other afflictions which require me to get my own bed. I am absolutely traveling to 0.0 destinations that require bed-sharing by acquaintances. I do dream of the day I can live with three of my aged best friends a la Golden Girls, but we will definitely have our own rooms.
3. I must be 100 percent honest about how you look, but gentle.
Look, your boyfriend is never going to tell you that your skirt is too tight and riding up too high on you. In fact, you shouldn’t even have asked him, the poor guy. He wants to have sex with you no matter how pudgy you are. I am the only person besides your mom who has the right (and responsibility) to tell you that. I should never be overly harsh when something doesn’t look good on you because I know you are fragile about this and so am I. I will employ the gentle, vague expression “I’m not crazy about that on you,” which should mean to you, “Holy shit, take that off, that looks terrible!” I owe it to you to give feedback like a cattle prod: painful but quick.
4. I can ditch you, within reason
I can ditch you to hang out with a guy but only if that possibility has been discussed and getting-a-ride-home practicalities have been worked out, prior to the event. In return, I need to talk about you a lot with that guy so he knows how much I love you.
This no longer applies. I will not ditch you for any male person unless I birthed him and he has entered a critical life moment. However, ditching is permissible if I am filled with rage due to the insensitivity of all those around me, due to PMDD, or PMS, or perimenopause. I may have enthusiastically overcommitted to everyone in my life and it suddenly comes crashing down and all I need now is a hot bath and a pan of brownies. In this case cancelling is acceptable. But I agree to make actual concrete effort to finalize replacement plans rather than ghost you thereafter.
I will always reschedule plans that were sidelined, cancelled, or otherwise waylaid by life. It doesn’t matter if we have to flip to the next calendar year in order to Sharpie marker an infallible date for our next cinnamon bun outing or coffee shop kvetch-fest. We will make it happen.
5. I will take care of your kid if you die.
I can’t even talk about this, it’s too sad. But yes, I will do that. And you will have one awesome little kid who hears endless of stories about how amazing and beautiful and perfect you were. Incidentally, your kid will grow up loving Indian food.
This is accurate, except your child will grow up with a lot of zany inside jokes, horrible impressions, and generally awkward moments. Judging by my child’s progress, they will be multi-talented with a wicked sarcastic streak.
6. I will nurse you back to health.
If you are crippled with pain because of a UTI, I need to haul ass to CVS to get you some medicine, fast. I should also try to pick up a fashion magazine and the candy you like, because distracting you from your pain is part of nursing you back to health too.
As a married lady I think this now is a duty the families must take on, the nursing of friends is much more often emotional. I am happy (and wish you would ask) to go to the pharmacy for you, bring you healthy foods, and take your children away from you so you can actually rest.
I will bear witness to your ugly emotions that are typically reserved for ugly crying in the bathroom.
7. We will trade off being social activities chair for our outings.
On trips together, I promise to man up and be the person who drives the rental car sometimes, or uses my credit card and has people pay me back later. Someone needs to check on Yelp to see what the good brunch place is. Neither of us gets to be the princess all the time. I get that.
While I was the party planning queen in my single days, I have devolved into the most low-effort driveway hangouts, potlucks and casual brewery get-togethers these days. It takes major effort for me to plan anything beyond the weekly meal planning after planning all day at work, for family vacations, and family celebrations.
All I need to enjoy my time with you is some gal-time, and drink of choice (alcoholic or just caffeinated) and a safe space for my active bitch face.
8. I will keep your favorite feminine hygiene product at my house.
Even though no one uses maxipads anymore, like you do, weirdo, I will keep a box at my house for you when you come over. Same with your contact lens solution. I can’t believe you won’t get Lasik already. You can afford it. I know you read someone went blind from it, but that was, like, 20 years ago. Not getting Lasik at this point is like being that girl in 2006 who didn’t have a cell phone.
This one’s funny but I disagree. You’re old enough to take of your own hygiene items, but if we travel together I’ll be thinking about how you like your coffee and I’ll buy your disgusting International Delight coffee creamer. I’ll try to tailor my activity expectations accordingly to our shared interests, aiming to not turn the whole thing into a vacation I’m so stressed planning I need an additional vacation to recover.
9. I will try to like your boyfriend five times.
That is a fair number of times to hang out with your boyfriend and withhold judgement.
I would edit this to say that I will put extreme effort into remembering that the things you tell me in the depths of rage about your partner’s annoying habits and lunk-headed decisions are only one side of the story and should not color my long-term view of the person. I know that you are good people and your partner is good people too, and that marriage is a marathon and not a sprint. Until such time as you decide he/she/they is no longer part of your life. At which point I will help you burn your momentos of them.
10. When I take a shower at your place, I won’t drop the towel on the floor.
Your home isn’t a hotel. I forget that sometimes because you make it so comfortable for me.
I will help you clean up after a party or dinner at your house, too!
11. If you’re depressed, I will be there for you.
As everyone knows, depressed people are some of the most boring people in the world. I know this because when I was depressed, people fled. Except my best friends. I will be there for you during your horrible break-up, or getting fired from your job, or if you’re just having a bad couple of months or year. I will hate it and I will find you really tedious, but I promise I won’t abandon you.
12. If our phone conversation gets disconnected, there is no need to call back.
I get it. You get it. We take forever to get off the phone anyway. This was a blessing.
13. I will hate and re-like people for you.
But you can’t get mad if I can’t keep track. Robby? Don’t we hate him? No, we love him. Okay, okay. Sorry.
Especially coworkers or family members who are repeat offenders. But if you are the obvious one at fault in the relationship drama, I will tactfully point out that possibility to you, if you can take it and are not so hormonal that my head will get ripped off.
12. It is okay to take me for granted.
I know when you fall in love with someone that you will completely forget about me. That hurts my feelings, but it is okay. Please try to remember to text me, if you can – if you know I have something going on my life, like a work promotion or something.
No. You can be wrapped up in other things but you are forbidden from forgetting about me. And if you are hanging out with friends without me, I don’t want to know about it. I get jealous.
13. No two people are better than us.
We fucking rock. No one can beat us.
Another part about being middle-aged is that nobody really has “best friends” anymore. You have a lot of great friends who each have a special place in your heart and have different ways of being there for you. When you have kids, too, you have friends who are in your life because your kids are friends. Friendships are multi-layered. Old friends grow and move on. It requires a lot of flexibility and ability to start over and keep your heart open, because your new “best” friend could be the tennis friend you just made, or the person at work who likes donuts as much as you do.
Middle-Aged Lady Amendments to the Friendship Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
Since I am not a comedy writer by trade, but a women’s life coach, my additions to the list are probably super depressing, as middle-aged people tend to be. I’ve seen women entering many painful dark periods who were able to move forward toward their dreams and into the next phase. Having reliable friends by your side during dark times can make all the difference.
14. I will ensure you feel good about yourself when you come to my house because it will be in various states of disarray.
You’ll realize the reason I haven’t entertained formally in 5 years is due to a clutter problem so substantive that full-time staff couldn’t keep up.
15. I will reach out to you when something devastating has happened.
I’ll be there and will bear witness to your ugly and not-ready-for-public emotions. I’ll get past my worry about awkwardly saying the wrong thing and not knowing what to do and just show up. I’ll refrain from trite and superficial advice, such as telling you to “cheer up” before you’re ready or have processed what fresh hell has become your life. I’m trying to get better at this every day. Because I’m still growing up. But also-
16. I will ask you for help when I need help, because I know as my friend you’d rather be there for me than be left in the dark.
I know it brings us closer together when I let you help me when I need it.
17. I will be willing to get professional help when required,
whether the issue at hand is mental health, physical health, or makeover. I won’t try to turn my bffs into unpaid therapists when it is clear I have an issue that needs professional intervention.
18. I can be counted on to empathize with your occasional existential crises
about how your life turned out this way, how you love it regardless, but how you really still want to make a run of that goat farm life. In turn you will ponder my other potential timelines as we sip wine and children knock over things.