My brother, George, never had many friends.
It wasn’t that he was shy, he was just direct, a straight-talker, and people didn’t like that. He knew when to speak and when to observe. He raised his hand in class when he knew the answer, but if a teacher ever picked on him at random, he’d say, “obviously, I don’t know the answer or I’d have raised my hand”. Teachers didn’t like that. They said he had an attitude. Anyone under the age of eighteen who says things how they are has an attitude.
George never had many friends, but he did have Zippy. A treasured pal he received on his first birthday. We all befriended Zippy. He was like a pet in the family. Until one day, George met Joshua.
“Is that your sister’s?” he scoffed.
“No, it’s mine,” George said, unaffected.
“But it’s babyish.”
Joshua shrugged. “It just is.”
“He’s my friend,” George said.
Joshua picked Zippy up and turned him over in his hand. “I’m your friend.”
“I can have two.”
Joshua tossed Zippy on the sofa. “It’s not a friend, it’s a toy.”
George and Joshua were the same. They were direct, not afraid to speak their minds. Something changed in George that day. It’s like he saw Zippy in a different light. Saggy, sad, a sorry sight. A toy. Zippy had been there for George when he needed him. Now, he had someone else, someone who would challenge him and engage with him, someone who could call him a friend.