The person who vets these little vignettes for me said, “Cass, this is all over the place. You need a unifying theme.” She’s extremely smart, masters in literature kind of smart. So, when she reads my work it’s hard for her to allow me to bend the rules of structured writing. But, I do, and I did here in this piece as well. And as the Grammar Guru that she is, her nerves are most assuredly grated.
I said all of that to say, I don’t have a unifying theme except to say that friendship is essential to the soul. Genuine friends, real, true, ride or die friends feed your spirit and help you mature and blossom. Friends can be closer than your family. It is written in holy script somewhere that a person that has friends must show himself friendly. In other words, in order to be a good friend, you must ALSO be a good friend.
Having said that, some of y’all out here living foul. Just like man law or bro code, girls, too, have a code that we live by. Rules, regulations, a set of boundaries that allow us to grow and flourish in sisterhoods in which we are not bound by birth, and sometimes in those which we are. To be blunt, there are just some things you do’t do, but y’all violating the code. And it is my responsibility, my duty, as a member of a true squad to get y’all together and let you know the rules, the code, the Girl Code. What makes me an expert? I have a PH.D in maintaining friendships. I have three sisters, and I have a squad of friends that I have been down with for more than 20 years. So, uh yeah, I think I can talk a little bit about friendship. Don’t judge. Just learn and apply. So here they are, my rules for being not just a good friend, but a great friend! Girl Code 2018.
1) Husbands and boyfriends are off limits. Period. Forever! There is no statute of limitations. Once someone has dipped into that love-pool, dude is forever off limits to you. Despite what other cultures may do, our culture does not. Bump that…other cultures don’t do it either. I’m telling you now; stop it! Even if she says, “It’s ok. Go ahead, I don’t care.” We all know she’s lying. Don’t do it. This is the ultimate no-no. Taking this chance causes years of conflict and confusion, most often ending friendships permanently. I say it again, “DON’T DO IT. Dude ain’t that cute anyway!
2) My business is my business. If I choose to share it with you, that means I choose to share it WITH YOU. Not everybody else, even if the person you are itching to tell is my friend. When you decide to tell my business without my permission, you are violating my trust, and I’m not going to tell you anything else. Now, I won’t necessarily ex-communicate you for this, but I damn sure won’t trust you with anything else. Keep your trap shut…but we both know you are probably thinking of who to call faster than I can hit END CALL.
3) If we had an argument 10 minutes ago, then that’s just what that is. An argument. Ten minutes ago, or two days ago, or three weeks ago, or five years ago. It’s over, never to be brought back up again. Say what you have to say and then let that be the end of it. Period. Ain’t nobody got time for grudges. Once we have hashed it out, we will cry, hug, blow snot, and move on. We are no longer mad at each other. It’s done. Now…let’s go get ice cream!
4) If you are mad at one of our friends, you are mad, not me. We, she and I, are still cool, just as I am still cool with you. I will not let you talk about her, and she can’t talk about you to me. I will try my best to help you reconcile, but bottom line, that’s y’all’s business. Don’t expect me to stop speaking to my friend because you are mad at her. I’m not going to stop speaking to you when she has beef with you. Hopefully, you two will resolve your issues; however, I understand that some disagreements are just too hard to work out. In that case, I will respect your decision to move on from that friendship, but until that person does something to me, she and I are still friends. Respect it.
5) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…imitation, not copying. Listen, God made us all different, with unique gifts and talents. Use what God gave you for the greater good…what God gave YOU, not me. If every time I do something, you do it too, that is not a friendship. That is a person who is insecure and competitive. Friendships are built on mutually beneficial relationships; they are diverse and rich. No one learns or grows if everyone in the village is just alike⏤dressed alike, talks alike, eats the same food, wears the same style, has the same job. Where is the fun in that? When you win, I win. I will celebrate you and let you have your moment, do the same for others. Let us all be great! Because honestly, no one likes a copycat.
6)If we came together, we leave together, even in our forties, fifties, and sixties. Have you ever seen Golden Girls? My favorite show, by the way. As your friend, I am responsible for your well-being, and you are responsible for mine. We must look out for each other. Your family SHALL NOT call me and say have you seen_____________, and I can’t answer that question. If we are out and someone is coming on too strong or trying to harm you, he will have to come through me and the squad, you hear me? We will let you make moves; I’m not a blocker at all. However, we will all have our eyes on each other to make sure that we leave a place just like we arrived…TOGETHER.
7) It’s your job to get me together; don’t have me out here looking a fool. Not in fashion. Not in relationships. Not in my career. Not in life. As friends, we will speak the truth in love. But we will speak truth! If you are out of order, I will tell you. If I am out of order, please tell me. (Delicately though, I’m sensitive. ☺).
8)Friendship is friendship, and business is business. If you can’t separate the two then friendship comes first. We will not lose our friendship behind business.
Okay let’s pause and take a break. I wrote a previous version of these rules a few years ago. I have since grown and matured, and even still, most of the rules still apply although in this version I hope that I am a bit softer in my approach, a tad bit wiser, but still honest. I re-read the previous version, which I didn’t remember writing until I finished this post, and not shockingly, not much had changed. Just my delivery. There were a few rules, however, that I would like to add from my earlier version.
9) Trust your friend’s to be who they are. Okay, this rule is simple. If your homegirl talks too much, don’t tell her all your business and get mad when everybody knows your story. You knew she talked too much when you opened your mouth. If you have a friend that is always late, why do you insist on giving her the correct time to show up when something starts, then pitch a fit when you are two hours late because you were waiting on her to pick you up? You know you need to tell that girl to show up two hours early just so you guys can get where you’re going on time. I know you want to believe in your friends. You also need someone to talk to, someone with whom you can share your problems so they can pour into your soul. In essence, sometimes you need to unburden your soul onto someone else just so you won’t go crazy. So, you call your friend, your sis, in hopes that this one time you can tell her something and she won’t go blabbing your business all over town. You love her so you give her one more chance. But in reality, you are not being fair to her. You are expecting her to be someone she is either not capable of being, or she doesn’t want to be. You screwed up when you thought your friend would be someone different. The best predictor of past behavior is previous behavior; pay attention and learn!
10) Keep your opinions to yourself. We all want to make comments or suggestions on someone’s, style, hair, relationship, decisions, etc… Be like the government- if they don’t ask, you don’t tell! Honestly, they don’t really care what you think if they haven’t asked for your opinion. And really, these pieces of advice you are giving are just your way of manipulating your friend into being just like you. But, what would the world be like if we were all the same?
But wait, you told us earlier to “get you together.” There is a fine line between making sure I’m slaying versus you just knocking my style. If you are constantly criticizing someone, then chances are you are being a negative Nancy and you should probably keep your opinions to yourself. However, if you are that friend that celebrates more than she critiques, when you have to give a critical word then your friend will take it in the love in which it is given. She will know you came to help her slay and you are trying to help get her life together. It’s hard to do, and balance is the key. My advice here is to tread lightly and check your motivation.
11) Have some honor among thieves! Let me handle this rule gingerly. Some of us have been put in situations where our fidelity to one another has been…tested. For example, Your homegirl is stepping out on her man. You and her man are cool. One night he calls you. General conversation in the beginning, just idle chit-chat. “How are the kids?” “You coming by to watch the game next week?” As the conversation progresses, he knows you are going to ask where she is and what she is doing. He tells you, but before you know it he starts talking about their relationship and how he really cares about her. Let’s face it, this is the start of him picking you for information. First and foremost, you were wrong for talking to him so long. I know, I know…you feel sorry for the brother. He’s crying on the phone, sounding all pitiful. But remember, your loyalty is to your friend, not him. GET OFF THE PHONE! Think about it, if the situation were reversed, would he look out for you or he would stick with his homeboy? You already know the answer to that question: Man-Law #1 BROS OVER _____s! You don’t have to lie to him, just don’t answer!
This isn’t just about relationships. This is any situation where you have to take sides. Remember, the only side that matters is your friend’s. When I pledged my sorority, one of the first things I learned was that “soror business is soror business.” This means what we do and talk about stays between us; if and when we are wrong, we will handle that behind closed doors. As I tell my trainer when he tells me I always take Kim’s side (See March 6, 2018 post: Ode to Comfort Foods/ Requiem for a Fat Girl.) “She’s my line sister. I can talk about her, but you can’t. I’ll tell her she’s wrong later!” And when it comes to my blood sisters, do we even have to ask?
Girl Code is not written in stone and it shouldn’t be. As women, we have a right to change our minds. Depending on how the group feels about certain things, these rules are simply a guideline to help us navigate in the space of friendship. Fellas, as you read this and you suspect that your wife, sister, mother, cousin, auntie might be violating the code, do not, I repeat DO NOT try to charge them up and hold them accountable! Why? Because you are not officially part of the squad. You can try but it probably won’t go over well. When you do it, you are judging. Get one of her homegirls to do it! When she calls her to the carpet, it’s LOVE! I hope this blesses somebody. Be a good friend, not a shady one! LOL!
P.S. Coming soon Part 2: “Get You a Crew!”