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You've got to have friends

Bob speaks to our friends who couldn’t be there for Thanksgiving, accompanied by some of the dogs (12, including mine), who were omnipresent.

December 1, 2011

Before I drove to Pittsburgh, PA to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends, I thought about all of the songs that have been written on the subject and selected my CDs for the ride with that in mind. Nostalgic to a fault, I prepared myself for the eight-hour drive by choosing the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Road Trippin’” to begin my journey, and headed out in the pouring rain—which stayed with me throughout the 400 miles, door to door.

Janet Jackson’s “Call on me” got me thinking about my mom and the wonderful holidays we shared over the years, while the Rembrandt’s “I’ll be there for you” reminded me that she is gone—but not forgotten. Growing up, my parents had a lot of friends and instilled in me the importance of building deep, meaningful relationships with people outside of my immediate family, setting the groundwork for a lifetime of love, support and good times with a group of close-knit pals, who have stood by me (and vice-versa) through thick and thin. Through the speakers, Dionne Warwick told me “That’s what friends are for.”

According to a study documented in the American Sociological Review (, “Americans are thought to be suffering a loss in the quality and quantity of close friendships since (at least) 1985.” The study states that 25% of Americans have no close confidants, and research has found a link between fewer friendships and psychological regression. The study goes on to postulate that “making friends seems to be trouble to a lot of people and having no friends can be emotionally damaging in some cases.”

Thankful that I have little trouble making new friends and that I cherish those that I’ve kept for years, I listened to Bill Withers’ version of “Lean on Me” and reminisced about my friend Bob (whose home I was headed for) and the 30-odd years we have been best friends. I couldn’t help but think about the pals that we shared (and lost) over the years as Bette Midler’s “Friends” reverberated, taking me back to the ‘80s and the AIDS crisis. Midler’s voice quavered as she sang “I had some friends but they’re gone—someone came and took them away... and from the dusk till the dawn, here is where I’ll stay.”