Saturday, January 29, 2022

Quote of the Day (Andi Zeisler, on ‘The Dangerous Friend’)

“When you’re young, the dangerous friend urges you to shoplift, strands you in the bad part of town when you have an argument, dog-ears the good parts of Forever and leaves it in your room where your mom is sure to spy it. She may be the person who first gets you drunk or engineers the loss of your virginity to some guy she knows. But the dangerous friend isn’t dangerous because she’s daring, or precocious, or even reckless. She’s dangerous because she makes you trust her against all logical judgment, makes you want to please her even if your own happiness is compromised, and imprints herself on your mind with disconcerting speed and force." — Writer, editor, and cultural critic Andi Zeisler, “Breaking Up with Smitty,” originally from the anthology Secrets and Confidences: The Complicated Truth About Women’s Friendships (2004), edited by Karen Eng, reprinted in The Utne Reader, July-August 2005

Ms. Zeisler is talking about a particular kind of “dangerous friend”—the dangerous female friend (DFF), to be exact. There’s some overlap with the dangerous male friend—the sort who not only gets you drunk, but gets behind the wheel of a car repeatedly, drunk and/or high, simultaneously risking your life and his.

Guys can probably list counterparts to Ms. Zeisler’s list based on male friends of their acquaintance. With my pronounced aversion to risk, my experience with the sort is extremely limited. I’d have to point to Rob Lowe in Bad Influence or something like him on the masculine side of the line.

Many women, I suspect, have come across the type of DFF that Ms. Zeisler is referencing. To use the more common labels she cites, “drama queen,” “pain in the ass,” “narcissistically disordered personality,” “high maintenance.”

Then, on different ends of the evolutionary and endearment scales, there are the “hot mess” (a term only starting to gain wide currency around the time of this article) and “psychotic friend.” An example of the second kind can be found in the image accompanying this post, from the 1992 thriller Single White Female, with Bridget Fonda as the innocent and Jennifer Jason Leigh as said psycho.

I wonder how the DFF is faring psychologically these days in the COVID-19 era? On second thought, I thought. Her fate is surely both pitiful and terrifying for those in her orbit to experience.

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