Happy Friendship Day!!!
In honor of this fabulous holiday, I want to send a big hug and kiss to all my friends out there!
And on that note, I am blogging today about a book on friendship that I first heard about on Shay’s blog Mix and Match Family. Shay really didn’t share a lot about the book other than to say it was about friendships from kindergarten through adulthood. But that was enough to whet my appetite, that combined with the fact that Shay and I have similar tastes in books (WWII), and I have enjoyed other books she has recommended.
Now we are even buds on Goodreads.
From the sounds of things you might think that she and I are BFFs but we aren’t. To the contrary, we have never met and I am pretty certain she doesn’t know I exist (beyond a name on Goodreads).
Nobody’s Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle is about the author’s real relationships with friends she has made throughout her life. Over its 202 pages, Shankle relates stories of several friendships in her life, some of which have come and gone, then reasons that “sometimes God brings relationships to an end as a way to move us along to where (H)e has called us to go.” (Shankle, 45). Each chapter is peppered with funny anecdotes and bittersweet life lessons making the book a heart-warming read.
At the heart of the story is the love (in a platonic sense of the word love) of two best friends, the author and her bestie Amy Gulley. How they have maintained a relationship for over 25 years; through the thick, thin and thinner of their lives. The ways they have helped to shape one another into who they are today and who they will become in the future.
Shankle suggests that “over the last couple of decades we’ve substituted the joy of real friendship with cheap imitations. We settle for ‘community’on Facebook and Twitter and through a series of text messages that allow us to communicate with someone without the commitment. We have a tendency to swim in the shallow pool of relationships because we know that getting deep can equate to being vulnerable. And more often than not, that’s a risk we’re not willing to take. It’s so much easier to just text a few happy-face emojis”. (Shankle, 10-11)
What’s different about Mel and Gulley’s relationship and how did it grow into whatever it is today?
The author explains that it is the intangible things “like love, acceptance, understanding” that causes their (and our) friendships to bloom. She likens their friendship to the way Tom Cruise’s character tells Renee Zellweger “You complete me,” in the movie Jerry Maguire. In the book, Mel relates the evolution of their acquaintance and follows it through to the deep friendship it remains to this day.
And I agree that in my own life I have many acquaintances I call “friends” but only true, in-depth friendships with only a few people. On Facebook, I somehow have 180 friends. But I venture to say a few of these friends, I have never met in person. Some I haven’t seen in years, and some are actually relative strangers.
I do have a BFF, though.
A BFF who is a friend and a BFF who is a sister.
Not just anyone’s sister but my sister.
At the end of Nobody’s Cuter Than You there are a couple of Appendices that are co-written by these two chums. Appendix I is entitled “The World According to Gulley and Mel” and it identifies the friend-speak they have developed over the years. Their own idioms or expressions. Some of these are side-splitting hilarious to me. Number 17 is just plain sweet.
“17. Nobody’s cuter than you. Hence the title of this book. This is what we tell each other when one of us is having a bad day or just found another wrinkle by her eyes or realized all that toffee she ate over the Christmas holidays did, in fact, show up on her hips.” (Shankle, 183)
Amy Gulley actually pens Appendix 2 “Thirty-Seven Reasons to Love Mel” all by herself. As the title suggests, this section is a numbered list of some of the things that have endeared Mel to Gulley.
“8. The girl can cook.”
“10. We have shown up to drop the kids off at school wearing the same thing more than once.”
“23. She will run something over for you to wear on a moment’s notice.”
So, I thought it might be fun to have my BFF sister Valerie write a few reasons to love Leslie…not 37 reasons…that might be an impossible task. Only 10. And I have written 10 reasons to love Valerie.
Then I had a brainstorm.
I have mentioned this book a couple of times here on the blog as the book I was reading for the month of June and here in a post about my summer reads. My friend and fellow blogger Katie at The Mishaps and Mayhem of a Solitary Life read my mention of Nobody’s Cuter and decided to read it herself. She enjoyed it so much that she bought a copy for her BFF, who also read and liked the book. When I discovered that Katie was reading Nobody’s Cuter, I asked her to link up with me to review the book and to share ten things about her bestie (coincidentally also named) Mel (no relation to the author – that I know of!) and have Mel write ten things about her.
After you read my top ten reasons to love Valerie and her top ten for me, please head over to Katie’s blog, click here, and check out her review of the book, and Katie and Mel’s top ten reasons for loving each other.
Top Ten Reasons to Love Leslie (as reported by Valerie, her totally impartial friend and sister)
- When I need to be lifted up, Leslie comes through and says the right things even if she isn’t exactly sure she agrees. If I need to cry she listens, doesn’t judge and then we laugh.
- Leslie served us queso from an industrial sized can 10+ years ago and still lets us kid her about it.
- Leslie has a huge heart. She wants to help everyone and is my biggest Relay for Life supporter.
- She believes the my son Andrew is communicating with her and me from Heaven and that makes me smile.
- We both love scrapbooking and enjoy many hours laughing and scrapbooking on Skype during the summer.
- Her love for her family is so evident in her acts and behaviors and her family is broad including friends and family.
- Leslie has an unconditional love for my son Trey and is always a big supporter and cheerleader for him even when the cheers are not as we had envisioned.
- Leslie loves her grandbaby, Cadence, with all her heart.
- Leslie has accepted God into her life and has found praying and God to be a reassuring part of her life.
- Waiting for Val to send a tenth reason. She ran out of them at nine! (p.s. She sent me the number ten after this was published. Stop by my FB page here to check it out.)
Top Ten Reasons to Love Valerie (as reported by Leslie, an equally unbiased friend and sister)
- She gives sound advice. When I am thrashing about, upset and worried sick about something, be it real or imagined, Valerie can talk me down off the ledge, the bridge, the roof. She has her full measure of common sense and all of my share, and can always help me see things more clearly, with better perspective, and can come up with a great solution for handling any situation.
- She is a loving Aunt Val to my daughters Brennyn and Lauren.
- She enjoys being Mimi Val to my granddaughter Cady, and showers her with a genuine love (and lots of wonderful, thoughtful gifts).
- During a big part of my adult life, I have been perpetually broke. Not to be confused with broken, which I have been a time or two, as well. On some of our trips together for library conventions or visits home to see our parents, I have traveled with less than a dollar in my pocket or to my name. Valerie has always seen to it that I had money to get something to eat, or buy a magazine to read on the trip, or tip the ticket guy at the airport.
- Valerie is the most upbeat person I know. When our father was still living, he would often relate how happy my sister always was when he talked to her on the phone. Made me feel like real Debbie Downer! But she is always “up”. If by chance something gets her down, she doesn’t stay that way long at all.
- She is a real trooper. For about three months as her kitchen has been in state of remodel, Valerie has had to do without a stove, oven, and kitchen sink. She has cooked almost gourmet quality meals from her guest bathroom. And washed the dishes in the lavatory afterward.
- Valerie and her husband Roby have a very sound marriage. They have suffered the unimaginable sorrow of losing a baby to cancer, difficulties of other sorts, being separated for lengths of time while Roby works overseas. Living abroad for several years. And they are still together and still very much in love. Couch time works.
- She works tirelessly to support research that will lead to a cure for cancer. She was a top participant, coming in third, in the Relay For Life of Northwest Harris County. Valerie’s team “Andrew’s Superheroes” collects and donates money in the memory of my nephew Andrew, who died with Wilm’s Tumor at the age of three. You can donate here.
- Valerie became a librarian several years ago and it has brought us so much closer together. We enjoy shop-talk while we scrapbook + Skype = Skrype with one another once a month or so.
- Valerie always, always, always makes me laugh. She is so funny. Can be goofy, sarcastic, off the wall. Sometimes accidentally. But always gut-splitting humorous.
If you are looking for a funny, tender, easy read to finish up the summer with, check out Nobody’s Cuter Than You. Pick up a copy here. Then let me know what you think. Get to know a little more about Melanie on her blog Big Mama.
Would LOVE to hear about your BFF. Please leave me a comment below…how long have you been friends? How did you meet? What are some of your top reasons for loving her?
Thank you for spending a bit of your day with me.
Hugs and kisses,