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By Amy Phillips Penn

“They say nothing lasts forever; dreams change, trends come and go,
but friendships never go out of style.” — Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

 

Every New York woman should have an entourage like Carrie Bradshaw’s; versatile — from outrageously sexy, to lawyerly and proper. Even wobbling in her Manolos, capped off by a Cosmoplitan, what a smorgasbord of advice she can choose from in crises and columns.

They huddled together at an outdoor New York café that defies depression, touting an invisible sign that boasts: “All problems solved here.” Like Charlie Brown’s Lucy, the psychiatrist is really “in.”

My own entourage that makes up a foursome (we don’t play bridge) is varied and yet….I know who to go to when I want a certain tone, level of fantasy, compassion, or (eek) even a dollop of reality.

Meet the ladies:

Leigh

She’s psychic — but not the kind that sits on a sidewalk corner, wears a turban, and speaks in tongues. We went to school together, but were in different classes. We regrouped at Le Club. Leigh tells me that we would have met, no matter what or where: Gotta love a fatalist.

She is beyond a romantic, and if there is a man that I’m interested in, she has a creative and relentless approach to “make it happen for us,” even if I’m not sure that I want to go there.

 

Joann

We grew up across the street from each other in Carnegie Hill. We even dressed alike (unintentionally). Her ex-boyfriend ran up to me in the street, picked me up and whirled me around, only to turn stoplight red, when he realized that I wasn’t Joann. It gets better.

I begrudgingly went on a blind date that my cousin had insisted on, and dragged Joann along for protection. She broke up with her fiancé and married my blind date. Not to worry, I married a man that I had fixed her up with.

 

Jennifer

Jennifer gives great guy advice. She is sober, wise, and caring in her prescriptions, except very often, when it comes to herself.

She is extremely happily married today, and I am reminded of a time, that she, Joann and I had a Vietnamese dinner together:

Joann (who was married and is now divorced): “I never want to get married again.”

Me: “I never want to get divorced again” (A succes fou solved by never remarrying.)

Jennifer:  “I really want to get married, even if I get divorced.”

A  New Yorker cartoon, if ever there was one.

 

In true Sex in the City style, I imagine us sitting outside at the Stanhope or Le Relais, New York cafes that are no longer. Truth be told, it was rare for the four of us to get together, unless it was at a dinner with husbands, or our current masculine flavor of that Manhattan month.

My bff’s, or those who passed through for a chapter or two, bring back a New York that doesn’t always exist anymore, making the memories that much more potent.

We had lunch at Schrafft’s on Madison Avenue in the seventies or eighties, where the waitresses with lyrical Irish voices brought tea sandwiches with neatly trimmed crusts.

Then there was Starks on Madison: Hamburgers, fries, and curious boys from Trinity — preppy collegiate grads with too much time and money on their hands — checking out the girls.

Breakfast was at SaraBeth’s, or the erstwhile Yankee Kitchens, now renamed more than once.

Serendipity’s frozen hot chocolate was for special occasions, often congratulatory.

Years later, when I had moved to Wellington, Florida, I made my annual visit to New York and Southampton. I listened as my friend and her sister discussed what mood their husbands were in, and sighed in relief that this was not my daily dose of ‘boring.’ When I got back to Wellington, I re-examined this exchange from a different POV. I missed having that daily interchange between girlfriends, even if, at times, it wasn’t exactly riveting.

I went out for a ride with my country friends, Annie and Roxie. Annie was keeping my horses and Roxie was grooming for her. Annie was training a green horse, and we chatted along between her horse’s bucks and other frisky alpha attempts, while Annie didn’t miss a diagonal change.

Roxie’s boyfriend appeared when we were finished, and they had a rodeo of a drag out fight — she on her high horse, he on the ground. There it was: the mounted girlfriend world, flashbacks of days spent riding in Central Park. The camaraderie, laughter, and anecdotes are etched in the bridle path that no longer has Claremont Saddlebreds and runaways.

The park vista has changed, as has so much of New York, for better or worse. But fear not. Memories are told, retold, and often reinvented by the nostalgic who treasure the bonds…friendship being the highest.

“Friendships don’t last for years; you have to invest in them.” — Carrie

Wise words from a New York columnist, with an entourage of bff’s.

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