Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Price of Friendship

The price of friendship

When my girlfriend Lora texted and cancelled our girlie dinner, I barely reacted – I simply changed the channel and ordered a pizza. But when half an hour later she texted again and asked if we could PLEASE go shopping on Sunday, I was worried.

The thing about our shopping trips is that they are usually planned in advance and coincide with sales. They are always more about catching up, gossiping and venting (in fact my whole post-divorce recovery took place mainly in Bluewater and Ikea), although I always manage to arrive home with lots of shopping bags and a maxed out credit card. So getting an unscheduled shopping request from Lora was disturbing. I knew something was up.

And boy was I right. I barely got in the car when she exploded – a very close friend upset her, to the point of no return. A relationship Lora considered to be solid collapsed like a house of cards.

I have always been a huge believer in give-take balance in any relationship. Sometimes you are there for your friend, other times your friend is there for you; sometimes you give, other times you take.  Unfortunately Lora was stuck in a relationship with a taker only who inevitably left her behind as soon as a better source of taking became available.

In the shopping centre Lora ranted through Next, Phase Eight and John Lewis. She was so upset that I couldn’t even leave her to try on Phase Eight’s 75% off dress, and the floral Ted Baker 60% off shoes didn’t seem that appealing when my best gal was almost in tears.

There was only one thing I knew that could make her feel better – sugar and coffee. I dragged her to a coffee shop that sold expensive cakes with astronomic calorie content. Those were desperate times and desperate measures were required - my strict diet before the big charity ball was in jeopardy.  

One enormous piece of cake, two buckets of coffee and what felt like an eternity later we left the coffee shop. Having exhausted her vocabulary of swear words and comprehensively scrutinised the topic of cheap friends, Lora switched to a more expensive activity - shopping. When I saw her checking out cute tops at Hobbs, I knew she was on the mend.

Lora dragged me back to Phase Eight and made me try that dress on. As I was twirling around in the dress the RRP of which was could-never-afford, I couldn’t believe my luck – I was getting it at the fraction of the original price. I was getting a bargain.

And as we hit the sales in Laura Ashley and my arms were full of discounted clothes I couldn’t help but wonder, why do we discount our friendships? When the takers try to get a bargain out of our relationship, why do we let them? Why do we discount ourselves to that level?

We left the shopping centre much later than usual. I knew Lora started recovering when she substituted her cheap friend for an expensive pair of Jones’ and a River Island bag – yep, she was definitely getting better.

I felt good too - I was there for my friend.  Although I maxed out another credit card and ate my monthly allocation of sugar in one sitting, it felt good seeing her smile again.

And as Lora asked me if I wanted to come over for a movie and Chinese that night I suddenly realised that good friends are a very rare commodity. In fact they are like that limited edition pair of perfectly fitted jeans. Incredibly hard to find but once you do find them, you don’t mind paying the full price.