Friends With Susan

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“Mom, you told me once that I didn’t have to be friends with Susan, right?”

“Actually,” her mother replied, “I told you that I would rather you not be friends with Susan. But basically, yes.”

“Well, in the last couple weeks she has asked me to two different events. A get together at her place this week, and then to a skating party next weekend. I put her off, but I owe her an answer tomorrow.”

“And you don’t want to go, I take it.”

“I am desperate to not go. And she is sure to ask me why . . . she is acting like she really wants to be friends.”

“Well,” her mother said, “it seems to me that you should tell her the reasons.”

“Tell that the rest of her friends dress like skanks? That the movies they watch are foul? That her stepdad tries to flirt with me?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.”

“But Dad told me once that I didn’t owe anybody explanations for when I say no to things.”

“That is right . . . you don’t. But he was talking about people who would just want to argue with your reasons, and especially boys who would just try to get over them. From what you are saying, it seems like Susan is acting like she really cares what you think.”

“I think you’re right. But I am afraid that if I tell her straight out, she will just think I am being horrible, and self-righteous, and all the rest of it.”

“In order to tell her the truth, you don’t have to be unkind. And you might be surprised . . . she might be doing this in order to be able to talk to someone. She might see everything you do, and not know what to do.”

“But what if she just gets mad?”

“That might happen. And, if it does, you have at least solved the problem presented by the invitations.”

“You know, of course,” her daughter said, “that being a teenager is no fun.”

Ha,” her mother said.

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