That’s what good friends do

This morning I find myself still nursing a headache and queasy stomach — a souvenir from a Saturday night at a not-so-reputable eatery where my friend Amy’s boyfriend’s band was playing.

It all started when, during our weekly coffee date, she asked me if I wanted to come watch her boyfriend’s band play. My first internal response was along the lines of “No, not really. I was kind of planning on falling asleep watching the hockey game”.

Of course, since I’m not a fan of the boyfriend or his music, I would equally rather watch paint dry while banging my head against the wall than spend Saturday night watching his band play.

But I knew Amy had spent the previous Friday night alone in a bar while the band played, and I’d been unable to go since I had a charity event to run for work.

I’d felt bad then, and I knew I’d feel equally bad if I said no and let her sit alone for the second weekend in a row.

So I said yes.

It was fun at first. I went over to Amy’s and we got ready to go out — something we don’t do as often now that we’re in our late 20’s. The ritual of finding an outfit, doing make-up, deciding on hair was nice. As was chatting over a drink before we left.

But when we got to the pub, I immediately regretted my decision not to eat dinner before we came.

It was a dive, off the beaten track of down town bars, catering to an older but not particularly discerning crowd.

But I smiled gamely and settled in at a table near the front with Amy, where we could see the band and she could keep an eye on the blonde fan girls who, though in their 30’s, for some reason hadn’t grown out of the adolescent fascination with musicians — even poor ones.

The music was loud, ringing off the walls of the pub — acoustics were not part of its original design. But we ordered drinks and yelled back and forth over the noise, so I was still having an ok time.

Our less-than-enthusiastic waitress brought us menus after an hour or so. Starving, and wanting to eat so I would be sober to drive us home (Amy was following one drink with another at a brisk pace), I ordered fish and chips, thinking the deep fryer would kill any questionable parts of the cooking.

Therein lay my mistake.

About an hour after eating my lukewarm, soggy meal, I started to feel queasy and my head began to pound. At first I thought it was just from the music and fried food, but it kept getting worse. I’d switched to water when we ordered our meal and was perfectly sober after just two drinks in 4 hours, so I knew the beer wasn’t the problem.

On a trip to the bathroom for some quiet and cold water on my face, I found myself being violently ill — twice.

By the time I made my way back to our table, I was feeling horrible and must have looked it because Amy asked if I wanted to call it a night.

Since her boyfriend was paying no attention to either of us and I really felt like shit, I said yes and we made our way to the car — stopping so I could be sick once again.

Amy suggested we take a cab, but I told her I’d rather just drive than deal with a cabbie who might kick us out if I got sick.

Somehow, I managed to drive us back to Amy’s apartment, stopping twice to get sick. All I wanted was to crawl home, but Amy insisted I shouldn’t try to drive any further and made up the couch for me.

As I lay there in the dark, bucket by my side, I thought about what I might have done with my Saturday night instead of getting food poisoning and having my ears assaulted by poorly-played, third-rate 90’s grunge rock.

I could have gone out for a nice dinner, to a play, met some friends for a few drinks and watched the hockey game. Or I could have stayed home and watched a chick flick in my comfiest sweats, painted my toenails 4 different shades only to wipe it all off, read a book and gone to bed by 10.

All viable options — and things I’d rather have done.

But honestly, even after waking up Sunday morning to a renewed bout of sickness and dragging myself home where I showered, changed into sweats, and spent the day alternately lying on the couch in agony and kneeling with my head in the toilet, I didn’t regret saying yes to Amy.

Even now, with my head aching and my stomach rolling while I try to meet a work deadline, I know I’d do it again (except maybe the fish part).

Because that’s what you do for friends — you support them, you go to events you’d never have chosen to go to otherwise so they’re not alone, and you don’t hold it against them later.

(Just like they don’t hold it against you when you have to leave the bar at 12:30 because you’re sick or when you miss the table and drop an entire glass of water on the rug — sorry, Amy!)

Good friends will do things for each other without a second thought, and they don’t keep score. Innate to friendship is the give and take, the security in knowing that if you need something a good friend will give it almost before you ask simply because it will make you happier or ease your mind in some way.

Those are the friends you need in your life, and those are the ones that, if you’re good to them, will stick around for the long haul.

I should know — Amy and I have been friends for over 20 years, which is saying something considering neither of us is 30 yet, and I fully expect we’ll still be friends in another 20 years.

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