Last Thursday, I went to my old midtown restaurant to have dinner at the bar and catch up with my restaurant friends. I ordered a glass of white wine and an appetizer. I chatted with the Party Lion while she made martinis. Then two ladies walked in and I was able to employ my favorite pastime: eavesdropping.
Both ladies were blonde and older enough than me that we would not have attended elementary school at the same time. One was slender (Blonde #1), the other a little heavier (Blonde #2). #2 opened with her recent thirty pound weight gain. I don’t know if she gained it all that day or if she’d just had a moment of truth (like getting weighed at the doctor) or something, but man, she went on and on about it.
As I sat on my bar stool of judgment, I assured my blonde neighbors that I would out shortly and they would be welcome to my seat in the middle of the crowded bar. #1 asked what I was eating. The Party Lion leaned over the bar and explained the smoked salmon, arugula, crème fraiche, and homemade potato crisps. I exclaimed it was delicious, to which #1 replied, leaning in closely, “Mmmm, that means it’s full of calories!”
What. The. Fuck. Seriously, what the fuck? Who says that to a stranger? I was so shocked that I just laughed and looked at the Party Lion who, as a tipped employee, remained neutral with her face, but not her eyes. Suddenly the diatribe on thirty pounds made a lot more sense. I felt bad for judging #2 so quickly. Her friend (#1) was a bitch. It’s possible that all #2’s talk about her body was just to preempt snarky comments cloaked in well-meaning concern. It’s also possible that I’m projecting, but probably not.
Ladies, if you have a friend who makes you feel bad about yourself do not hang out with that friend. This is a hard lesson, especially if your not-nice friend is someone you admire or a horrible bitch who has shamed you into feeling lucky to be her friend. Shame is a powerful tool for women, especially regarding appearance, career, sexual partners, Halal restaurant choices, babies, not wanting to wear heels, not being able to curl one’s eyelashes, etc. Women are taught to want to please, and that goes double for friendship. It’s easy to get lost in that. I have had not-nice friends who’ve said mean things to me and made me feel like I deserved to hear them because I didn’t measure up in some way. It takes a long time to get over that stuff, and a lot of good friends to erase the words of the bad. If someone isn’t kind to me now, they don’t get to play with me. I don’t have time to have my self-esteem crushed every couple of weeks over brunch. Friends don’t meanly snark at each other. We have the cast of The Jersey Shore for that.