WHAT ARE FRIENDS for? Friends are for loving, caring about and for just plain being there, aren't they?
But great friendships, I think, go deeper than that. They are for confidences and honesty, and other intrinsic qualities that are more than just a smile or a hand-hold.
A friend called me from a nearby city, where she was visiting her daughter.
"I have something to ask you, something special," she said.
"Shoot, what is it? No bad news I hope."
"No, I have to make a decision and because you've known me for so long . . . I need your advice."
Well if there's one thing someone my age can give to others for free, it's advice. Given my longevity and nitty-gritty experience, I have lots of advice. Oh, sure, the advice is often ignored, but that doesn't make it any less fun to administer.
A doctor had told my friend that she should have a sinus operation that she's put it off for too long. She had a deviated left septum and had a low-grade fever brought on by blocked sinuses.
"You know how I've always wanted a better, smaller nose. My nose has bothered me. I hate it, and I want to have it fixed. So as long as I have to have surgery, I want them to do my nose at the same time," she said.
I didn't think my friend's nose was that bad, but it wasn't the coveted Linda Evans nose or a Michele Lee nose. But being one that has always wanted a turned up or smaller nose, I could sympathize with her desire.
"So what's the problem, can't the sinus doctor fix it at the same time?" I asked her.
"No, I have to have a plastic surgeon, and I've already had a consultation with him, he's one of the best."
"Is it money, then?"
"No, it won't cost that much because I will already be in the hospital for a day, and I have some savings."
"So what's the problem?"
The truth of the matter was her husband didn't want her to have her nose broken, part of the procedure. He told her that he loves her the way she is and that she is beautiful. Indeed, at 46 she is very, very pretty.
"He is not supportive and my friends don't want me to do it."
"Why?" I asked.
"They are afraid my nose will look to 'skied' like Bob Hope's or too skinny like Morgan Fairchild's. They don't want any part of my decision. They have even told me of a woman who had a bad nose job, and the surgeon had to go back in. . . . What do you think I should do? I really want it, and I am going through old photos to prove the point to myself that I can have a prettier nose?"
We talked and talked, and I found out that in her job, she's in the public eye a lot, she felt it would make her feel better and happier to have a new nose.
While we talked I got to thinking about our bodies, ourselves and how we perceive them, and how we put too much emphasis on looks and outer beauty.
But then I thought about how most psychologist say we have to love ourselves first, how much I've never quite known.
And then I remembered the double standard -- men can age, get wrinkled and our society leaves them alone to do this gracefully. But women are made to feel inadequate if they slip, show tread or the slightest of physical ravages.
I guess because I understood my friend's wish for a prettier nose, I told her to go ahead. "For heaven's sake, I will come take you to the hospital and back, OK? I'm all for you. If it makes you feel better and you have the money then go for it."
Well my friend's husband capitulated and took her to the hospital, where she had a sinus operation and her nose fixed.
She called me from home, to tell me how uncomfortable she felt the first night with those bandages -- slightly swollen and doubtful. And I guess I wondered for one small moment should I have said, "go ahead."
Yes, I should have because I am a good friend. My friends now looks great, feels good and does not regret the surgery.
As I've said, I'm good at advice.
But at least I was honest, and I think that's what friends are for.