Emma and Margaret, both 16, have been best friends since the first grade—and neither of them can remember ever having had a single serious argument. Margaret switched schools last year, but she still lives around the corner from Emma in Nashville, Tennessee, and they hang out every weekend. What is the secret to a looooooong and happy friendship? Read on!
SUBJECT: FRIEND CRUSH
I have never met anyone as tolerant, kind, goofy, intelligent, and loving as Margaret. I’ve known her since the first grade, and she is still a complete individual. When we first met, she was missing her two front teeth and wearing a leopard print coat and cat ears. She’s since grown her hair out, has all her teeth, and only occasionally wears (fake!) fur.
My best friend is someone who has gone to hell and back and still puts so many other people before herself. She has sat through all of my tears and bitching, and for that, I will sit through a lifetime of hers if she wants me to.
We both seem to have strange identity issues. We went through a phase where we were Dr. Dre and Eazy-E. Sometimes we’re Mick and Keith, other days we’re Jay and Silent Bob. Maybe my favorite thing about my friendship with her is how we can go from impersonating our favorite people to seriously discussing politics, religion, society, and culture. My extremely liberal friend attends a Christian school. The tolerance she has for others with differing views is tremendous. For that, I applaud her.
ROOKIE: What was it about the leopard print coat and cat ears that drew you to Margaret?
EMMA [crusher]: It was cute. She was in this phase where she was always wearing cat ears. And she had no front teeth, so she had a terrible lisp. And she had on this coat. The inside of it was leather and the outside was leopard print—it was a great coat, I wish I had it now—and my mom said, “Oh, Margaret, I really like your coat.” And she said, “Thanks! It’s wahvawsible!” And that’s always been our joke—that things are wahvawsible instead of reversible.
How did you end up becoming inseparable?
We both liked to pretend. When we were seven, we became obsessed with Johnny Depp after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean. We used to pretend to be him and his girlfriend, Vanessa Paradis. We would dress up in our parents’ clothes and do what we thought they would do, which is basically sit around and talk about how awesome Johnny Depp was. Everything tied back to Johnny until we turned 11, and we started appreciating real guys.
How did the Eazy-E and Dr. Dre role-play start, and what does it involve?
Well, we like old-school rap a lot, and we were listening to an N.W.A. song—I don’t remember which one—and there were five of us, and we just thought, “Oh my god, we are N.W.A.” And we just took on the personas from there. I’m Eazy because of the E in my name. She’s definitely Dre. She has a Chronic T-shirt. We had an Ice Cube, Yella, and MC Ren, too, but they’re not around as much anymore. There’s pictures of us from last year wearing sweatshirts, khakis, and Chuck Taylors because there’s a line in an Ice Cube song where he mentions that outfit.
But then Dre and Eazy had a falling-out. Have you two ever had a major fight?
We’ve had little fights, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a falling-out. I’m a Leo, and she’s a Virgo. I’m kind of dramatic and passive-aggressive. She’s really practical. So she can just say, “Emma, that’s bullshit.” And it gets cleared up right then and there.
What other duos do you plan to inhabit?
We’ve pretended to be Daisy and Jordan from The Great Gatsby before. We can’t afford to dress up like them, although that would be awesome. I would love to get some ’20s clothes. I think we’ve grown up a little bit, because last year we were pretending to be rappers, and this year we’ve been reading all these books and comparing ourselves to the characters.
What happens if one of you is dating someone?
If one of us is talking to somebody or dating somebody, we’re like, “Hey, do you have a best friend?” And it seems to have worked thus far. We dated best friends for about a year.
You said that Margaret “went to hell and back.” Is it OK to explain?
Well, she had a really rough time last year. It’s kind of hard to talk about. But she’s an amazing person. If I called her about something, she wouldn’t be like, “I can’t deal with that right now, I’m going through my own thing.” She would totally drop anything for me. She is just so strong, and I’ve always wanted to be like that. I don’t think that I ever will be.
Like what’s a situation that she’s helped you with?
I suffer from depression, and she copes with me being angry and upset and moody. She isn’t passive-aggressive about it. One time, I was at a breaking point, and I really needed help, and she went to my mom to let her know. I have a lot of friends who wouldn’t be able to do that. I’m so thankful for her being there. I went to the hospital this summer for a staph infection, and they put me under, and I started crying and saying, “Mom, Margaret is my best friend. Don’t ever let me do anything that would change that.” I don’t remember this at all, but my mom told me later.
You said that you two have serious political conversations. What issue are you the most passionate about?
We’re both really big pro-choice people. We are absolute Democrats: pro-marriage equality, pro-taxes. We bitch about Rick Santorum. We signed up two weeks ago to be Obama’s merch girls at the election headquarters in Nashville, but they haven’t called us back. So Obama people, if you read this, let us be merch girls!
Is it pretty common for your friends to be politically engaged?
At my school, there’s lots of city liberals, but Margaret goes to a Christian school, and it’s really strict and Republican. Another thing I admire about her is that she’s really tolerant. If I went to that school, I would be really rude all the time. I will argue something to a point where the person is like, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.” She is capable of letting someone else have their own opinion.
Were you sad or angry when she switched schools?
I remember the day that I found out. I had just gotten out of a movie with my family, and we’d had a great day, and Margaret texted me something about how she was officially switching. And I was talking to my mom about my school and how things were changing there, and she’s like, “You’re just saying that because Margaret’s saying that.” And my mom and I got into this huge fight. I was really sad, but I wasn’t mad. We still talk to each other every day. Maybe it’s good that we don’t distract each other.
What’s the weirdest thing about her?
I don’t know if this counts, but I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life, and she can talk me into eating meat. I can think of multiple situations where I’ve eaten chicken or hamburgers because of her. It’s always fried chicken. And it’s good!
What do you think she appreciates about you as a friend?
Oh, I don’t know. I guess I feel like I’m easy, and I listen to her, and I would never tell her secrets, and I would never talk about her.
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ROOKIE: When did you go from being just friends to best friends?
MARGARET [crushee]: Well, we had five really good girlfriends all throughout elementary school, and we would get in those little-kid fights that were just so silly, like who got to be what character while playing house. But, in my mind, we were always on each other’s side. So I guess that’s kind of where it started. And we would get really infatuated with certain things. I think people were jealous that we had these little obsessions.
Like Johnny Depp?
Yes! We thought we’d discovered him. We didn’t understand that he was a very famous man already.
Yeah, he has been the crush of several generations of women! So what makes Emma unique as a friend?
She’s the perfect mixture of really goofy and really intelligent. I can sit down with her and we can talk about what’s going on in Syria or the presidential election, but then I can also call her up and tell her about a new shirt I got. And anything I say, I know it’s between us. I trust her with everything.
She said that she wished she could be as selfless as you are.
Emma doesn’t give herself enough credit. I don’t think she thinks of herself as highly as she should. She fails to see the really great things that she does and is going to do. Any time I need to talk, she will listen. When I have a problem, she doesn’t ever try to one-up me. She’s never like, “Well, I have this going on, my life is much more difficult.”
That’s exactly what she said about you! Did you struggle with the decision to talk to Emma’s mom when she was depressed?
OK, yeah, I would never tell her mom certain things. This is hypothetical, but if she was like, “I skipped school” or “I lied”—things like that are different than saying “I’m depressed, I’m struggling, I’ve been going through some things that I don’t know how to handle.” That’s so much more serious, and it’s putting her life in jeopardy. I’m personally not qualified to deal with that, and I didn’t want her to be on her own or just have to rely on my advice. So I was like, “Look, Emma, I’m sorry, if you’re not going to tell your mom, then I am.” So I’m glad her mom listened, and it’s getting better.
Were you forced to switch schools last year?
It was actually my decision. It was kind of an impulsive thing. I woke up one day and was like, “I need a change. I need to meet some new people. I need to leave some other people behind.” I was restless. And it was pretty hard. A lot of my friends from my old school didn’t keep in touch with me. But the one thing that helped me get me through it was Emma. She would ask me questions about my day and my teachers and my classes, and she told me what was happening at the old school.
She said you had kind of a hard year but that you’d been really stoic about it.
I guess. I don’t think of it as anything that I’ve done as much as having my friends and my family around.
How do you manage to stay as level-headed as Emma says you are when you go to school with people who are generally a lot more conservative than you?
Well, sometimes I do get worked up. I’m very opinionated, and I didn’t really understand how conservative the school was until I got there. But I like it. I went to peace rallies when I was little, and I would hold up signs for John Kerry. I like seeing the other side. I had preconceptions about going to a private school and being with a bunch of religious people, but I don’t like assuming things before I get to know people.
Emma told me she couldn’t recall you guys ever having a serious fight. Is that true?
She told me you asked this, and I was determined to think of something! But the only thing that kind of resembled a fight was last summer when she had two coupons for this clothing store, and she refused to use them and gave them to our other friend. I was like, “You’re being really unreasonable. Use your coupon, you know you want to.” And then we were really sassy to each other during lunch. But we’ve both experienced some friendships where people have built up lots of silly things. We don’t want that to be us.
She describes you as a really happy person. Do you think you balance each other out?
Yeah. You know how some people assume the worst and say, “Don’t get your hopes up so you don’t get hurt”? That’s not how I am. I do not prefer that thinking. If she’s down, I’m usually in a good mood and say, “Let’s go do something fun!” Or if I’m not happy, she’s a good person to talk to. She calms me. ♦
(Interviews conducted by Phoebe.)
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