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Friends, Additional Subthemes

Subthemes: Common Values and Interests, Best Friends Forever, Psychology and Sociology, Expressions

The preceding sections cover multiple aspects of Friends elicited from four works of art: Édouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, a poem by Maya Angelou, Alone, James Taylor’s ballad about full-bore friendship, and a movie reunion of young adults. Here are additional thoughts about the theme of Friends that don’t associate closely with any of those works.

Common Values and Interests: Bruce Springsteen’s “Bobby Jean” makes the point that mutual interests cable good friends together.

“Now you hung with me when all the others turned away turned up their nose
We liked the same music we liked the same bands we liked the same clothes”

Like Bobby Jean and her admirer, friends root for the same team, delight in similar foods, are active in a particular church, go to bingo games and movies, binge watch that series on TV, hike trails they both like, run in the same social circles. They are simpatico.

Best Friends Forever: The phrase “Best Friends Forever” (BFF) arises most commonly among adolescent girls. Two of them bond tightly and each swears that the other is her soulmate until the end of time, the extra-special girl who knows them best and can be trusted most, their mutual rocks in the tumultuous hormonal years. In the genre of the teenage crush, or so-called “puppy love”, BFFs blaze as a fervent infatuation, while they last. With “friends at first sight,” as when Forrest Gump sits on the school bus seat next to Jenny, magic happens.

Psychology and Sociology: Psychologists, therapists, anthropologists, and sociologists have for years mined friendship from academic and research perspectives. They smelted what they dug out into theories that conceptualize the phenomenon. They cite instances of conformity and deviance and debate the cultural, social, and personal forces at work. They coin terms that enter popular discourse: narcissism, fundamental attribution error, triadic closure, emotional contagion. We’ll close this scant nod to the professors with the definition of “friendship” from the American Psychological Association: “a voluntary relationship between two or more people that is relatively long-lasting and in which those involved tend to be concerned with meeting the others’ needs and interests as well as satisfying their own desires. Friendships frequently develop through shared experiences in which the people involved learn that their association with one another is mutually gratifying.” Precise, but hardly makes the heart beat faster.

Expressions: The 17 idiomatic sayings presented alphabetically below refer to friends in a figurative sense. I exclude direct uses of the theme word and proverbs. The idiomatic expressions come from my own knowledge of English and various online sources:

7esl, ABCEnglish, Basic English Speaking, befluentnyc, Cambridge, Career Ride, English Eagtutor, ESLexpat, Free Dictionary, Ginseng English, GoEnglish, Grammar, High Level Listening, Learn English Today, Learn English Today, Lemon Grad, Literacy at Work, MacMillan Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, MMMEnglish, My English Pages, Online Teachers, Owlcation, PerformDigi, Phrases, Phrase-Thesaurus, PowerThesaurus, Reverse Dictionary, Twining English Centres, Using English, and Your Dictionary.

“a friend at court” (A person who uses their influence on your behalf)
“a friend of Dorothy” (A homosexual)
“asking for a friend” (A phrase used humorously when one is really asking about something usually something embarrassing for oneself)
“bosom friends (chums, pals)” (One’s best or closest friend)
“diamonds are a girl’s best friend” (love is nice but money (particularly jewelry) is more valuable in the long run)
“fair-weather friend” (a person acts like a friend, but only when things are going well for you)
“fast friends” (very close, devoted friends)
“feathered friends” (Birds, regardless of type or species)
“flexible friend” (a credit card)
“foxhole buddy” (closest friend or ally)
“friend of Bill (W)” (A recovering alcoholic, especially one who attends Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings)
“friend zone” (treat someone who is romantically interested as a friend, not potential lover)
“friends with benefits” (A person with whom one has casual sexual interactions without commitments)
“I was up all night with a sick friend” (A popular excuse for not being where one was supposed to be the night before)
“pal around” (spend time or do things (with someone) as friends or in a friendly way)
“pal up” (form a small group)
“pen pal” (A friend who is known to someone through an exchange of letters)
“short reckonings make long friends” (Borrowed money should be paid back as soon as possible)

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