Hello, friends! I’ll be making every Monday of this October a little more bearable by offering you my homegrown advice (and homegrown tomatoes) with the help of a few of my colleagues. Now, if y’all wouldn’t mind introducing yourselves….
“Certainly,” says the middle-aged man with thinning brown hair. “I’m Oliver Scott Aberdeen, Ph.D., but you can refer to me simply as Ollie if you wish. I am a nuclear physicist at the College of—” here he pauses to cough—“pardon me, at the College of Science and Engineering in Minneapolis.”
Ollie falls into another fit of coughing, and I turn to the white-haired gentleman and the blonde teenager who’s sitting rather closely together next to him. “I’m Alynn McNeil,” the girl says, “and this is Lukas. He doesn’t talk much in groups.”
“I’ll talk,” Lukas insists.
“Then introduce yerself.”
Lukas looks at everyone at the table, mumbles “Lukas McCamden,” so quietly I can hardly hear him, and returns to examining a pen. He and Alynn are from the middle ages, so self-contained ink is a novelty.
The girl sitting next to them smiles, dictates words in a foreign language into a computer, and clicks a button so that an automated voice comes out. “Love all the author’s friends. I’m flying, and because of my own word as Anishinaabemowin, I speak to use the translator.”
Her name is Running Horse, actually, and since she a Native American who can’t speak English very well, she’s using an internet translator. It apparently isn’t doing its job well.
I smile anyway and look at my group of companions. “We’re here to talk about friendship, and more specifically, how to obtain friends. What are your thoughts? Lukas?”
“Ye know I’ve been a hermit fer thirty-nine years, not by my own choice,” Lukas says in his Scottish brogue. “It still startles me to see how Alynn could live among people, yet come to St. Anne’s Cleft nigh as lonely as I am.”
“It’s because I didn’t take the time to make friends—besides my wee brother, Tarin,” Alynn says. “We were movin’ too much.”
“Do not be alone,” Running Horse says with a hint of compassion in her voice. “If you wish, I would be your friend.”
Alynn smiles. “Thank you.”
“Friendships aren’t worth the time they consume,” Ollie interjects. “Business relationships, sure, they’re mutually beneficial. But not intrapersonal relationships.”
"I beg to differ," Lukas says. "The Scriptures say in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 'Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!' I've learned the truth of these verses by experience. They're highly accurate."
“I’d say havin’ a true friend is one of the greatest blessings in this life,” Alynn says. “I made a friend once. I had to keep makin’ a point out of being friendly towards her. But once we were close…faith, we’d a grand time….”
“Creating a friend like learn a dog,” Running Horse adds. “Time is available, but it is rewarded with honesty and happiness.” She scowls at the translation, then pieces together a few words of her own English to say, “Friends needs much time…to be nice friends.” Then she replays part of the computerized audio clip: “It is rewarded with honesty and happiness.”
“That’s right,” Lukas says. “And if I may….”
I smile. “Go on.”
“Friends aren’t ‘obtained’ like ye first mentioned,” he says to me. “They’re grown, rather, over lengths of time. Imagine a relationship as a garden. The seed’s planted, time waters it, and only after time does it come to fruition. Now, I’m not certain what the fruit’s like, but….”
“It’s wonderful,” Alynn interrupts. “A true friend’s worth everythin’ it takes to get them.”
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.