THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

From Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul

That’s What Friends Are For

A friend is one who knows all about you and likes you anyway.

Christi Mary Warner

“So how are you enjoying retirement?” asked Crystal at the other end of the long-distance line. Although she lives in Colorado and I live in Florida, I consider her one of my closest friends.

“I’ve only been retired for two weeks,” I protested. “I don’t know yet.”

“What are you doing to celebrate?”

“I’m having a dinner party Sunday.”

“Aha!” said Crystal, the consummate hostess. “What are you serving?”

“I was thinking of onion soup dip and chips for hors d’oeuvres, and since one of the husbands is a vegetarian, I figured vegetarian lasagna for him and meat lasagna for everyone else.”

“Wait a minute! You’re retired now, and you’re going to serve TV dinners?”

“Well, they’re my closest friends. They know I can’t cook.”

“If you can read, you can cook,” corrected Crystal. “Hmm, only six, eight with you two, a small party.”

“Two more than I have chairs for. I call that a large party.”

“Here’s a grocery list. When you get all these things in the house, I’ll tell you what to do with them.”

Dutifully, I wrote down the list she dictated. “I can’t thank you enough, Crystal,” I said.

“That’s what friends are for, darling,” she demurred and hung up.

Two full grocery carts later, I was on my way home, ready to start cooking.

The phone rang.

“Hi, lady. I hear you’re having a dinner party for your retirement.”

“Who’s this?”

“Marty in Washington. What are you making for appetizers?”

“I’m thinking.”

“You should be like Cher in Mermaids and just serve appetizers for the whole meal.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“It was too funny. But here’s a great one. Write this down. You buy a loaf of party rye . . .”

She proceeded to tell me the rest of the ingredients. “Thanks a bunch, Marty.”

“It’s nothing, dear. That’s what friends are for.”

I was off to the store and back just in time to catch the phone, again.

“Hi, sweetie. Marge here. Do you have a big enough tablecloth for your dinner party?”

“As a matter of fact, I just bought some new place mats. They’re adorable . . . red and white stripes with white stars in a field of blue.”

“You bought American flags? You’re using American flags for place mats?”

“No, no. Trust me, they’re very pretty.”

“Well, just remember I’m here for you. That’s what friends are for.”

I unloaded the groceries and called Crystal to find out what to do with them.

Crystal was in her element. “You start by making a roux. You know how to make a roux, don’t you?”

“Mate two kangas?” I asked brightly.

There was a withering silence on the other end of the line; then the phone went dead.

Uh-oh, there went my entrée. Before I could call her back, the phone rang again. She knew I was just joking. But it wasn’t Crystal.

“Hi, dear. It’s Samantha. I hear you’re giving a dinner party.”

“Where are you?”

“In London, of course.”

“I thought you were upset because you weren’t invited.”

“Of course not. What are you wearing?”

“Right now?”

“No, at the party, silly.”

“An apron probably. I’ll be in the kitchen the whole time.”

“You need to wear something smashing. You don’t want them to think you’ve become a frump now that you’re retired.”

“What are you, the fashion police? I have to go back to the grocery store. I forgot parsley. Bye.”

It was 5:30 P.M. In twenty-four hours, my guests would arrive. My kitchen was in total chaos, with dips and chips and sour cream and whipping cream and cream cheese and cottage cheese all over the place.

When the phone rang, I had had it. I wouldn’t pick it up. But it kept on ringing and finally I gave in.

“Hi, dear. It’s Karin. How are you doing?”

“Karin! I’m having a nervous breakdown. Are you calling to tell me you can’t come tomorrow night?”

“No, no, of course we’re all coming. But we girls just had an idea! You’re retired now so why should you work all day to fix dinner for us? Why don’t we try that new restaurant? We’ll all go dutch. Wouldn’t that be more fun?”

“Do you mean it?” I blubbered. “But I couldn’t ask you to do that . . .”

“Of course you could. It’s all settled. That’s what friends are for!”

Phyllis W. Zeno

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