What Makes A Best Friend?

After spending time with my high school yearbook over the weekend, I began thinking why did Ken and I remain best friends for so long, while other people simple became is distant memory?

What was it about our relationship that not only survived the test of time, but all the stupid stuff that gets in the way of long term relationships? Here are my thoughts:

Complementary talents
Ken was the most amazing athlete I ever met. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. In football, basketball and baseball he was a star. He could have been the star of any team for which he played. He chose basketball as his lead sport. And he was very good at it. I was never much of an athlete in any sport but was instead very active in the arts. I would cheer for Ken at his games, he would be in the audience at my shows. We were never jealous of each other’s strengths. In fact, I think I know more about sports and he knows more about the arts because of our friendship.

We liked different girls
From the time we first started being interested in girls, we never once liked the same girls. We never even liked the same kind of girls. Ken always dated the sporty girl – the cheerleader, the soccer player, the track star. Of course, I always dated the artsy girl. The singer, dancer and artist. Ah, but here’s where it gets interesting – Ken married the artist and I married an incredible athlete. I think we married our complementary part. The part we feel most comfortable being around. When I’m around Ken’s wife, we always have things to talk about, books, movies, plays, art – and he always has great conversations with my wife, too. It’s kind of funny how things work out.

Money, money, money
I’ve known Ken for over 40 years and we’ve never borrowed money from each other. Not that I wouldn’t loan him money. In fact, I’d trust him with my entire bank account. (As an accountant, Ken did my taxes for years, so he knows more about my finances than I do.) But we’ve never borrowed from each other. We never had to have that uncomfortable ‘are you ever going to pay me back?’ conversation. I’m not saying it was critical – but I don’t think it hurt either.

Slightly dysfunctional families
Ken and I both had interesting families. Ken was child #3 of 4, I was #5 of 5. I didn’t even know he had an older sister until I was an adult. My oldest sister was married and out of the house before I even met him in the 4th grade. I think both of our families were very willing to have both of us out of the house as much as possible, which allowed us to go on countless adventures. We had a lot of fun.

There are times when I don’t talk to Ken for months and we can pick up right were we left off. We have so much history, we always have something to talk about, some memory to laugh about, some old story to tell again. It never gets old. In fact, it will never get old.

I met Ken when I was 9-years-old and in the 4th grade. I look at my 9-year-old, 4th grader son and think often that I hope he finds a best friend this year like I did. Someone who will bring him as much laughter, fun, good times, companionship, common sense and friendship.

As long as he doesn’t think he comes from a dysfunctional family.

PS: I’d love to know about your best friend, and why you think you’re so close.


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