With Friends Like These…

With Friends like These...
My introduction to medical care, Floyd-style

The next paragraph is from a piece I just sent in for this week’s Floyd Press. I started researching the evolution of friendships in America, but as is often the case, the piece turned to a personal reflection of how we make and keep–or make and lose–friends, and how our culture makes that more difficult for some than for our own good it ought to be. What are your thoughts and experiences, guys and gals, about friendships male to male versus female to female?

“Everyone’s “social capital” is down these days but that is no solace that my circle of friends took in so few between high school and retirement. I wonder: is it any easier for girls and women to bring other females into their sphere of confidence and trust than it is for males? Has our homophobic, cocooning, driven and competitive culture taken permission from guys to say and show they care about other males any place than foxholes, or on any other basis than as drinking buddies, golf partners or because they root for the same football team or race car driver?”

Sorry about the odd illustration for this post, I just happened to find the scanned snapshot in the archives. Date: 1997, my first year in Floyd. Place: the medical office of my nearest referring physician (in what is now the Edward Jones office and was long ago a pharmacy) and first and continuing friend in Floyd County, Dr. Joe Baum. Occasion: my first summer in town, I needed a small growth removed from my back.

Ever the practical joker, when I entered the procedure room with some consternation, there was an instrument tray complete with wire cutters, bug spray and a few other primitive and barbaric instruments of quackery. You shoulda seen my eyes. Then, of course, we had to ham it up for pictures so we wouldn’t forget. Trust me: never did.

Joe was our first friend in Floyd. We don’t see him as much as we wish we did, even though he lives just a few miles from town. We probably should worry less about intruding in their busy lives and drop in more often. Where does one find the rules on maintaining a friendship in a  realm and time where folks are busy and value their privacy?

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Our busyness and stresed out so we need our privacy-ness sure do keep us from maintaining and enjoying our friendships. As for making new ones, I make a friend out of everyone who appeals to me if our paths will continue to cross without going out of my way. That rules out a lot of nice folks.
    I know friend-making is a lot more awkward for adult men than women. I’m sorry guys.

  2. Heehee – I have a similar picture from the dentist, as I was about to have a root canal done. I had made the mistake of saying, “I wish I had a picture of this for posterity” – at which point the dentist zoomed out of the exam room and came back with a polaroid camera. Every few years, I come across my copy (he took two – one for me and one for my file) and get a good chuckle.

  3. This is such an interesting topic to me that I’ve even considered doing some research and writing about. I think we’re a lonely people, generally speaking, and it’s such a loss. It’s become increasingly difficult to make friends as I’ve gotten older. Some of it is no doubt due to how mobile a generation we are. However, part of is due to our not “needing” each other in the same way we did a few generations ago. We can so easily live by ourselves and engage with the outside world via the internet that real live friendships have gone by the wayside. It’s sad and bodes badly for our future.