Inside a Best Friendship: The Good, The Awful, The Hilarious
Susan: Okay. This is my story of the blanket. Simply, I saw it. I picked it up. Kathryn saw me holding it. She said, "Those are my colors." I said, "Well, they're mine, too; that's why I'm buying it." And we were suddenly 6 years old. Mine. No, mine. How about, I'll give it to you on your 50th. (Though when the time came, I tried substituting another blanket. It didn't work.) She gave it back to me on my 60th. It folds over the arm of my couch, which, it isn't hard to notice, has the same colors as the blanket!
Kathryn: Okay, this is the truth about the blanket. We were in Virginia because I got Suz a job performing her play. I believe we both spotted the blanket. I remember saying that the pale pinks and fifties greens were my colors. I was stunned. How could she not see that it was meant to live at my house? And she would never have found it if I hadn't helped her get this gig! As consolation, she promised to give it to me (its rightful owner) on my 50th birthday—until her 60th. I assume she'll know exactly what to get me for my 70th.
Kathryn: I just had an image of us walking to the children's hippo park with our first grandchild. Mine's a girl.
Susan: Mine's a girl, too.
Kathryn: Remember the day I walked into a restaurant and you said, "You are either pregnant or having an affair." I couldn't believe how well you knew me. Contemplating an affair. And you wrote me a letter warning me of the dire consequences and I took it to heart.
Susan: I was more worried you were having a baby.
Kathryn: We don't really talk about plastic surgery much, do we?
Susan: Would you ever get it?
Kathryn: No, I just want you to tell me I don't need to get it. And mean it. Don't you hate the little skin tags? I can't find a way to love them.
Susan: I have so many things I cannot love.
Kathryn: I haven't looked at myself naked in ten years. That's just not a kind thing to do.
Susan: Come here. In my closet. I want to show you something.
Susan: I show her a picture, of me naked on a raft, just slightly hidden. "That is so you," she says. "Artful, eloquent, subtle. Thinking. A naked writer."
Some days later, Kathryn unveils her naked picture. She looks like a fifties starlet. Her back arched. Gorgeous. Posed. An actress. "Showoff!" Even in our naked pictures, we're in character. Kathryn never edits. Susan edits too much.
Kathryn: I don't think I've ever spent time with you without bursting out in great guffaws. Even after sobbing.
Susan: That makes me want to cry.
Kathryn: You have this burst laughter, this relish of laughter. I love hearing you laugh. I love making you laugh. I love laughing with you. I can count on you for laughter.
Susan: We help each other get over ourselves.
Kathryn: We do.
Kathryn: Here are some boldfaced differences in who we are. Suz is delicate. She is a tiny thing and I can practically circle her wrist twice with my comparatively enormous hand. She is delicate inside and out, and I am a Russian peasant. She has one breast. I have two (knock knock). She was married to her high school sweetheart for ten years, had intense love affairs, and has been with Lida for ten. I have been married (so far) to the same husband for 26 years. She has never been fat.
Susan: Once, when I was 11.
Kathryn: Suz has the very best taste and is never wearing something that I don't covet and often ask for. Only recently did she tell me where she buys her T-shirts, and truthfully she regrets sharing the info. She does not like gyms. She does not like my reminding her of the importance of exercise, though she loves to dance and does so often all by herself all around her apartment. I agitate for weight-bearing exercise and vitamins. This is an old argument. Years ago when we took ourselves to the Plaza, she opened a small vial, and I congratulated her on finally taking her supplements. She still can't get over the fact that I could not tell the difference between a vitamin C and Valium.