Cute Girls, Fabulous Women

Originally published in Lake & Sumter Style, May 2009 •


When I count my blessings in life, my women friends rank among my biggest and best. A quick phone call or a brief e-mail message from any one of them can lift my spirits instantly.

I remember someone once telling me when I was a teenager that boyfriends would come and go, but girlfriends would be there in the end. In my case, it turned out to be true. A handful of girlfriends have laughed, cried, giggled, hugged, and cheered with me through life’s ups and downs.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who famously said, “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you need is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

When I’ve had to travel life’s highway in a rickety bus, my girlfriends were the ones who were always on board with me, making it an adventure that I could usually laugh about later. Their presence kept me from wanting to hurl myself off the bus. They were full of encouragement and always managed to convince me that better roads were just ahead. I can only hope that my friendship has made their bus rides less bumpy.

Women just seem to have a knack for sticking together when times are tough. And it’s not just close friends who offer support. A recent segment with television journalist John Quinones called “What Would You Do?” on ABC’s newsmagazine Primetime showed an entourage of women coming to the rescue of a shopper who was being unfairly treated in an upscale store. More than 100 bystanders ignored the blatant abuse by a store clerk, but four women shouted the clerk down and walked out arm-in-arm with the shopper/actress. Stronger men winced at the discrimination and most people ignored it, but those four women took a stand. If it had been real and not just an experiment, my bet is that the shopper would have made four new friends for life. Those incidents show a friend’s true character.

One of the funniest authors of my generation is Jill Conner Browne, who founded The Sweet Potato Queens after what she describes as “a pretty thick patch of doldrums.” Her best-selling series of hilarious books are anthems to the power of sisterhood. The Sweet Potatoes were “cute girls” who became “fabulous women,” and they illustrate what a grand ride that life can be when friends are there to share the journey.

While some friendships just seem to happen, others can take time to develop and mature. Maybe a book discussion or a great golf game initiates a conversation that lets you know a person may be worth getting to know. Like any relationship, though, it also takes mutual respect and work for friendships to last. Of course, there are times when friends hurt each other’s feelings and get on each other’s nerves. The true reward is getting beyond those days.

In college my friends and I dreamed together about weddings, careers, places we would visit, and where we would live. Now we ponder what our golden years will be like. Will we outlive our spouses? Will we have enough retirement income to travel? Will we end up in assisted living facilities that are in close proximity to each other? More importantly, will we still laugh and giggle like the cute girls we once were? Knowing my fabulous women friends like I do, I believe we certainly will.