The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - 103
BFF | THE REAL THING
HERE SEEMS TO BE quite a bit of misunderstanding about just what a "best friend"
is. Merriam-Webster defines it thusly: "One's
closest and dearest friend." That would be the singular
Trouble is that people don't often limit the definition to a single person, except in rare cases. We often
hear, "She's one of my best friends." Or, "He's my best
friend. And so is she."
It's so confusing that MIT did not one, but two studies and discovered that people can have "no more than
five best friends," which would contradict the dictionary
definition. Another MIT study says people are kidding
themselves: "Almost half of all the friendships reported
in the survey weren't reciprocal."
A study at Yale tells us that genes have a lot to do with
those we consider alone at the top of our friend pyramid.
Your best friends, it concludes "are often genetically similar, and can share as much as one percent of the same
gene variants [with you]. In genetic terms, that's a lot."
Finally, there's this: Researchers at the University
of Plymouth in England, apparently with little to do,
"found that people who insult their friends aren't necessarily mean-spirited. [They] just want the insult-ees to
benefit in the long run."
Insults and genes aside, we went looking for some
best friends and found them. Some in this group of 14
people have other close friends who seem almost like
family, but these pairs have been together for quite a
while, weathered life's challenges and made each other
better, almost without exception.
Here are their stories:
ANGIE CHEWNING (50) &
MELISSA BLANKENSHIP (50)
They met 45 years ago at Vinton's Hardy Road Elementary School kindergarten and have rarely been farther
away from each other than a full-throated shout would
cover. They cheered William Byrd High School teams
together, slept over, rode bikes, talked late into the night
under the covers, lay in the summer sun at the pool, dated friends, roller skated, married and divorced, planned
class reunions, shared kids, grieved the death of parents.
Angie lived in Myrtle Beach for 18 years, following
Angie Chewning (left) and Melissa Blankenship: "We both have other best friends, but our bond is long and we cherish that."
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 | 103