In a line in Kroger, a cashier, a woman in her late fifties or early sixties, and another associate, a teenager, are talking. I start putting my groceries on the belt when the associate attempts to include me in their conversation. He asks matter-of-factly, “Do you have friends who are not there for you?”
I hesitated for two seconds; the first second so I could gather my thoughts; the other second for pure dramatic effect.
“No”, I said bluntly while not breaking the pace at which I was putting the groceries on the belt. “Why would I have friends like that?”
He appeared taken aback by the speed and bluntness by which I answered. “A person like that isn’t your friend. Dismiss them and keep moving.”
It must be a generational thing. Kids today are bombarded with what I refer to as “hyped drama.” It has become such a national pass time that drama has become a part of our cultural diet. Drama queen used to be that little girl (and sometimes little boy) that threw a hissy in school at the drop of the hat.
Now the drama queens rule the media and we are bombarded by their pronouncements from various mediums, whether it be reality TV (Real Housewives of New York or Atlanta); soap operas (Erica Kane, Nikki Neuman, Kristin Thorne); or music ( Beyoncé, singing about this thing called life as if it were a recent discovery).
Drama was damned near unheard of in our day or our parents had the good courtesy to keep those discussions among adults knowing that the negativity would do their kids no good.
Personally, I’ve never had the friend drama. I learned from the Original Alton Drew how to choose my friends and for the most part I’ve followed his example. His friends were few, but reliable. They were his fellow “down islanders” who worked their way up during the late 1950s and early 1960s in the Virgin Islands’ hotel and restaurant industry. They had families, busted their asses taking care of them, and were the best in their profession. If there was a single thread that ran through all of them, it was that they had no tolerance for fools and put a high premium on loyalty.
With characteristics like that, there was no room for drama.
My last word to the young man was just as blunt: “Get new friends.” I should have added, “And dump the drama.”