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Return of the BFB

Plane trip: Went just fine. She slept in the carrier for most of the flight, and didn’t seem too bothered by the pressure changes. She also did fairly well in her temporary home at the mother in law’s (whom I only wanted to stab once, when she said Maybe the next one will look like you, and yes, Bun Bun looks a lot more like Mr. Bunny, but surely she must look a tiny bit like me? ANYWAYS, that’s only like a .5 on the MIL horribleness scale) and I got a little time to myself which I used to watch HGTV in bed while eating doughnuts. On the way home she was unwilling to sleep, preferring to squirm like mad, but it was nothing an empty jelly bean box couldn’t fix. It’s astonishing the number of entertainments one can extract from an empty jelly bean box… So thanks for the wisdom. I’m glad we did it. Someday we may do it again, and perhaps even go a bit further away from home. Or not.


Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I have a somewhat…complex relationship with my official “best friend”, known here as BFB, Best Friend with Baby. The good side is illustrated well by this post, and the bad side by this one, wherein lots of people advise me to get rid of her. Which I have not done. Short version: we have a mildly competitive friendship, she’s been encroaching on my academic territory more and more over the years, she got pregnant as soon as she found out I was trying, that sucked.

And then she went away to postdoc in CA, and I was like WHEW.

And then my department decided to hire her. And I was like OH MY GOD, SERIOUSLY?

Since I knew she’d be coming back, I’ve been ruminating on what to do with our friendship. I decided not to make any grand resolutions, but just to see what happened. Maybe I’d be such a Totally Different Person after two years apart that things which used to bother me wouldn’t anymore.

So, last weekend, she came to town to shop for a house, and stayed with us. I thought it would be weird, but we had a lot of distractions (baby, talking about houses, talking about babies). She did annoy the hell out of me on a few occasions, but it felt like a fairly normal ALL PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING SOMETIMES thing, not a I CAN’T BEAR THIS PERSON WHY ARE WE EVEN FRIENDS thing.

I think there will still be times when I feel threatened by her, but I also think that two recent developments will make those occasions fewer and further between.

One: Bunlet. In the back of my mind lurked a fear that we’d go through the whole IF+Fertile Friend Show again–that I’d have to watch her all smiley and pregnant while I failed to get knocked up month after month. Not likely to happen now.

Two: It looks very probable that I will be granted tenure. (More on that topic later.) Which means she will be my junior colleague. Which would mean that, although she started grad school a year before I did, in the time it’s taken her to find a job, I will have gotten tenure. This may bring no comfort when her career trajectory rockets upward as mine declines, but I think it does help now.

So maybe I am a Totally Different Person. Or maybe I’m underestimating just how annoying it will be when she’s actually here.

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. when she said Maybe the next one will look like you, and yes, Bun Bun looks a lot more like Mr. Bunny, but surely she must look a tiny bit like me?

    Hahahah! As Gwen gets older she looks less and less like me. For the first 6 weeks or so we weren’t sure which side of the family she looked more like, since she didn’t really look either of us. Then we went back home for Christmas, and there was one day I saw her as she was waking up from a nap, squinching up her eyes and yawning, and then I walked into the other room, and saw my father-in-law waking up from a nap in the lazy-boy, squinching up his eyes and yawning, and omg we knew whom she looked like. She still resembles him more than anyone else by far.

    April 10, 2012
  2. Oak #

    Ugh. Competitive friendships. I totally TOTALLY get it. My “friend” even has the same name as me. But much like BFB and you we have the copycat thing going on – we decide to buy a house (and be smart about it), she and her hubby buy a house and get the down payment from her very wealthy father and live in a palatial estate. We decide to try for a baby, she starts trying and gets pregnant right away. I cut bangs, she cut bangs. It drives me up the fucking wall. so, yeah. I GET it.

    April 10, 2012
  3. Oak #

    Oh and just to put the exclamation point on it, we got our very first periods on the very same day in 7th grade…

    April 10, 2012
  4. I have been wondering when BFB would reappear. I hope it isn’t too stressful when she moves permanently. If it were me I would find working with her very difficult, to be sure.

    Also have been wondering what was happening with your tenure. Living in the future as I do, I was sure that you would get it, so this is promising news indeed. Will save the full congrats for when you make the big announcement. Looking forward to this post.

    April 11, 2012
  5. I…. don’t know what to say. (Reminds me a little of my contentious relationship with C, except for the competitiveness; sometimes I, too, wonder why we’re still friends.) Also, I’m very grateful for my actual-best-friend R, who is gracious and reasonable.

    My kids look like tiny clones of each other, and nothing like my spouse. Except they’re giant, like him. I bet Bun Bun looks like you AND your spouse.

    April 11, 2012
  6. Hahaha reading this my first thought was ‘Oak has this sitch going on as well’ and look there she is talking about it in her comment. I think it is hard to figure out what to do with these relationships when they have such a hot and cold/back and forth kinda dealie. But you know what? BunBun will be president someday and then you will totally win the competition. So no worries. Also, I am glad you didn’t stab your mother-in-law in the face…..if you ever decide to, make sure you have your husband’s consent, otherwise….awkward.

    April 11, 2012
  7. Well done on the flying. Not so scary after all!
    Friends with whom you compete are just so annoying. Clearly you are winning right now (and in the foreseeable future when you get tenure) but I suspect there will be periods of annoying spread throughout you periods of self-satisfied calm. Sorry. It’s just so painful when people are annoying. Which they are all. the. time.

    April 11, 2012
  8. YOU’RE ABOUT TO GET TENURE!!! Awesome. Go Bunny. I’m not surprised, but entirely thrilled. I look forward to hearing more about it.

    Also, glad that your trip to see the MIL went well, and that Bun Bun travelled like a pro. Nothing like an empty box of Jellybeans.

    Oh, the return of the BFB. What a complex yarn of tanlged thoughts and feelings (the therapist metaphors can get a little trite. I apologize). Well, I find it very interesting that you get to re-experience your relationships with her from a different vantage point. In tennis, it would be: advantage Bunny. I wonder how your friendship will transform over time? I think you’re about to find out in the next years. I’m sure glad that you don’t have to suffer a repeat of last time in terms of watching her be pregnant while you get FUCKING DEPRESSED about not being pregnant yourself.

    April 11, 2012
  9. zomg, what is with people telling parents they don’t look like their children? i get asked whether he looks like my husband all the time. meanwhile, sugar never gets asked that, and her aunts claim to have forgotten who was pregnant, because he looks so much like her dad. (point of order, *i* think he does look like me.) anyway, it drives me nuts.

    i looked extremely like my father until late adolescence (when i was born, the nurses said, “where is her beard? where are her glasses?”) and now people recognize my mother and me even when they’ve only met one of us. so the shoe may be on MIL’s other foot (?) in ten years or so.

    April 11, 2012
    • odd! I feel the bean is your spitting image. In fact I’ve long believed you were your own sperm donor.

      April 11, 2012
      • let me tell you, snipping an X chromosome down to a Y with only embroidery scissors is not as easy as it sounds.

        (also, thanks. i do like hearing that.)

        April 17, 2012
  10. Glad to hear the trip went smoothly. And pre-emtptive congrats on tenure! That’s kind of an amazing accomplishment.
    The BFB situation sounds tough. It’s complicated when you have so much history with someone, but the present kind of sucks. I think your wait-and-see-how-it-feels plan is a good one.

    April 12, 2012
  11. Tenure is, indeed, validating. And the reemergence of BFB makes me even more delighted with Bunlet’s timeline. Yay, Bunlet!

    But, yeah, oof. Don’t start any big research projects with BFB just because you think you should. Bad idea. Repeat after me: “Oh, gee. I’ve really got my hands full.”

    April 12, 2012
  12. Also, my own mother has greatly annoyed me by commenting that my son looks like MY BROTHER, but never like me. Tres annoying.

    April 12, 2012
  13. Ana #

    OK, this just sums up pretty much everything: ALL PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING SOMETIMES.
    In terms of BFB, definitely you have the HAND in the situation now, what with upcoming tenure, and getting a jump-start on baby #2 (how long til she gets knocked up again?)…hopefully that’ll make the relationship different (better?).Also, jobs/babies are great excuses for just not having time to get together, so you may be able to avoid her without actively dumping her.

    April 12, 2012
  14. Rhianna #

    Welcome home! Whew on a happily-traveled trip! Wasn’t it much easier than you thought?

    And, holy fuck yes, rub your tenure badassery in BFB’s face. I do believe I may have been one of your past commenters encouraging you to dump her on her bootay. It all feels a little too Single White Female to me. You simply have better things to do with your time and much cooler people to rub elbows with. And obviously I mean all of us here.

    April 13, 2012
  15. TENURE? Holy crap, lady, that is amazing. Muted congratulations (yes, this is the muted one) in advance; full congratulations to follow in due time, I’m sure.

    I was wondering what became of BFB’s job offer at your institution. I’m glad to hear that the visit went OK (and yes, everyone can be annoying at times) and am crossing my fingers that this relationship stays at EXACTLY THE DISTANCE YOU WANT IT TO. It can be super awkward when people re-enter your life at a different stage from when you first knew them, no matter what the circumstances, and to add all of your history with BFB to that mix? Well… all I can say is, don’t feel any kind of obligation to become Actual Besties (as opposed to Official Besties) again with her if it doesn’t feel right to you.

    April 13, 2012
  16. Jen #

    BFB will be put in her rightful place when you are annointed with the Tenure Crown and Sceptre. Wave it around and point to theings you want her to fetch for you, as your servant amongst the untenured masses. Make her peel grapes.

    I’ve had competitive friendships and some faded away, while others are just kind of *here*. But everything you’ve said before about BFB is totally SWF, and you should watch out for her showing up to your house and putting on your clothes and trying to seduce Mr. Bunny unless you want him to end up with a stilleto in his skull. Just be vigilant. Seriously, since she has a tendency to copy/steal from you, I would absolutely steer clear of collaborations and also be a smidge guarded with information about ongoing or planned projects. Don’t show her draft grants or papers if she’s not an author (and don’t make her an author). If she followed you into the same field, she is a competitor and I know that institutions like to say they encourage collaborative spirit and cooperations and whatever, but they’re full of horseshit and everyone knows it. (Recent biological science buildings at UM were built with wide open spaces and “community” style labs, which really helps people steal reagents and supplies and spy on lab meetings and results from nearby labs that do overlapping work. What a great fucking idea.)

    April 13, 2012
  17. Jen #

    By *here* I didn’t mean in the blogosphere, I meant just laying around in my life. Just dormant, sort of. (Didn’t want to rile anyone up with poor word choice.)

    April 13, 2012
  18. Now on to my Tenure Dance that looks remarkably like “Can’t Touch This.” Why is it that I really don’t like your BFB? I feel some catty responses when I read about her. I am not the competitive friend type, but I get it. I also think that you are always the better half of this relationship in any possible scenario. Being one up on baby and career is a bonus. I do hope that her coming to town will be a good thing in the long run and not one to create some unnecessary strife.

    It’s Hammer, go hammer…

    April 25, 2012

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