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True friends

Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at 8:05 am


By Mark McGee

“I have a host of friends,” said actor James Caan’s character Mississippi in the classic Western “El Dorado.”

Caan’s character said the quote in a sarcastic tone. But many of us think we have ‘a host of friends.’ But do we really?

The truth is we have a large cast of people we are friendly with, but how many cross the boundary into being a true friend? In these days of social media the longer your friends list on Facebook or Twitter (now X), or whatever you use, the more important you feel.

But how shallow is that? How hard is it to click on a “like” button? How many of those who respond to your posts have you ever seen in person or spoken to face-to-face.

There are all types of descriptions of what true friendship is. Some of the words describing deep friendship are trust, reliability, support, and happiness. There are many more.

I have heard that in order to categorize someone as a “true” friend you have to consider the following – have you ever been asked to visit their home, or better yet, been invited to share a meal at that home?

As one person told me the other day at a local restaurant, without knowing I was writing this column, “he had a lot of friends, but the key to the closeness of those friends was whether or not he would want to eat chicken with them.” I was eating a chef salad at the time so I hope I was all right.

We toss that word “friend” around pretty casually.

I have someone, who has been truly a friend to me for many years in the media, say that almost everyone he has interviewed is “a friend.” I often warn him that everyone is friendly until you write or say something negative about them. When you do, watch how quickly that friendship label evaporates.

Cynical, I know, but I have not only seen it happen, I have experienced it.

It’s a busy world. Sitting on a front porch and visiting with friends on a Sunday afternoon has gone the way of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Yes, there was once a simpler and slower time.

A group of us from my high school graduating class make the attempt to have lunch together once every three months or so. Even by planning ahead some of us find ourselves called to another place, often at the last minute. But we make the effort, and the time together draws us closer.

A group from my college fraternity also meets on somewhat the same schedule of every three months. There are regulars who seldom, if ever, miss and some who may meet with us sporadically.

For us it is worth making the effort. We formed a strong bond on campus that continues through not only our lunches, but through true concern with each other when we or members of our families experience difficulties.

There are some wonderful people doing some wonderful things for me. I appreciate them all and I do classify them as “true” friends.

The truth is we can never have enough of them.