Among any group of really good friends, you will always find some version of the Friend Card. The Friend Card is sort of like the Bat Signal; you can only use it in an emergency, but when you do, your friends have to drop what they’re doing, get in their bat-mobiles, and come help you however they can. They don’t have to show up in a superhero costume (although bonus points if they do), but they do have to show up.
Not all Friend Card-worthy emergencies are harrowing tales of woe, of course. A lot of them are the kind you eventually end up laughing about. For me, the memories of times I’ve played the Friend Card have turned into some of my favorite stories to tell. For instance, there was the time I went on a date and had to have a friend come to the restaurant to rescue me:
The Time I Went On A Date And Had To Have A Friend Come Rescue Me
It’s not that the date went badly, it’s that I’d worn an old pair of pants that split down the back seam halfway through the night. Yes, it was hilarious. Are you done laughing yet? Okay, how about now? Good. So, in the Not Great column, I was in a crowded restaurant with my “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” underwear on full display (stop judging me). In the Could Be Worse column, I was in the ladies’ room when it happened, which I’ve always taken as proof that God is a chick.
After I got done freaking out, I called a girlfriend who was about my size, invoked the Friend Card, and skulked in a stall until she could bring me some pants that didn’t violate public decency laws. It took a comparative eon and a few months off my life, but my friend finally got to the restaurant and headed discreetly to the bathroom, where she handed me a nice pair of her own pants to change into and then immediately left so I could continue my date. She even snuck my ripped pants out with her so my date wouldn’t see them—star power!
The rest of the night went very well, and I’m ashamed to say that my friend’s pants got pretty badly wrinkled by the time I returned them the next day. No, that’s not true. I’m actually not ashamed at all. So, under the circumstances, I think that was a solid use of the Friend Card and a fine performance by my friend. She still makes fun of me for it, but she gets to because she came through in the clutch. And because I wrinkled her pants.
Then, of course, there’s the time I decided it was a good idea to skip the salon and bleach my hair at home:
The Time I Decided It Was A Good Idea To Skip The Salon And Bleach My Hair At Home
I was trying to save money, and I’d thoroughly researched home hair bleaching techniques on the internet. With what I now realize was undue faith in YouTube tutorials, I followed the instructions exactly, settled myself by an open window, and tried to ignore the way my scalp had caught fire. When it was time to check under the hood, so to speak, I looked in the bathroom mirror and omigod my hair is orange panic panic panic ask google what to do—
I followed my Google search result’s instructions for mixing and applying a violet-colored toner to cancel out the (pumpkin freaking orange) brassiness, though with a little less faith than I’d had in the YouTube tutorials from the previous step. I washed out the toner, looked in the bathroom mirror and omigod my hair is purple panic panic panic why does the internet hate me panic panic just shave it all off and buy a wig–
Before I went completely V for Vendetta, I figured I might as well try playing the Friend Card. To set the scene, this was 5:40 on a Sunday evening and the stores all closed at 6:00. My friend took me to the drugstore, said nothing about the three scarves I had wound around my head, and calmed me down long enough to grab some hair dye in a fetching shade of normal. It worked thank you sweet baby jesus i’ll never bleach my own hair again and, although my hair was basically straw for the next two months, it was straw of a normal color. I’m calling that a win.
Of course, I’ve also been the one upon whom the Friend Card was played, and I think I’ve come through pretty well when it was my turn. I mean, not everyone would be willing to pry the nails out of a coffin-sized wooden box her friend found in the basement of her new house and open it up to see if there’s a body inside:
The Time I Pried The Nails Out Of A Coffin-Sized Wooden Box My Friend Found In Her Basement And Opened It To See If There Was A Body Inside
The problem with living in a big city is that, when you move into your new home and find a large wooden box nailed shut and stowed in a dark corner of the basement and you call the police because the box is just the right size to contain a body, they tell you to open it yourself and not to call back unless the box turns out to, in fact, contain a body. My friend learned this the hard way. She couldn’t bring herself to open the box, though, so she friend-carded me— and then I got to learn it the hard way, too.
My friend had tried her best to work up enough courage to open the box on her own. However, in a case of what turned out to be monumentally poor planning, we had just celebrated her last night in her old house with a horror movie marathon that included Nosferatu. After several hours of staring at the creepy mystery box and clutching a hammer that she was more ready to use as a weapon than as a tool, my friend finally caved and called me to come over and open it for her. By then, it was closing in on midnight.
Of course I came over, and I brought a crucifix, some garlic, a wooden stake, and my neighbor’s handgun (just in case). The wooden stake was really just one of my mixing spoons held the wrong way round and the garlic was the kind you buy in a jar, but I hadn’t had much notice. As I pried out the last nail, I wondered if this was the point in the movie when the entire audience starts yelling “Don’t do it! Just run!” and then I shoved off the lid before I could chicken out. My friend, who by this time had turned mint green, stood ready with the mixing spoon as I looked into the box to find….
Potatoes. Dozens and dozens of potatoes. Turns out the house’s previous owner liked to buy them in bulk and store them in the basement in a creepy wooden box because apparently that makes them “keep” longer. He’d meant to take the box with him when he moved, which is why he nailed it shut, but that corner of the basement was badly lit and he didn’t see the box during his final walk-through. Still, I didn’t know that when I looked inside, so I totally get the Friend Card win on this one.
Everyone has played the Friend Card, and everyone has had the Friend Card played on them, and I’ve never heard of someone not coming through. In my opinion, it’s one of the better qualities of the human race, right up there with empathy, imagination, and the inability to throw out your kid’s crappy handmade presents. It gives me hope.
And to those of you who like to store your starchy tubers in giant scary coffins in the basement: LABEL . YOUR . BOXES! Seriously, who does that? Potatoes. Good grief.
[all images are in the public domain via pixabay.com]