Devotee

Young Jenny has an ardent friend; so devoted in fact, she seems to view Jenny as perfection personified. Jenny is cuter. Jenny is smarter. Jenny is more talented. She says those things to anyone who will listen. Yet every compliment paid to Jenny herself comes with a disclaimer, pointing out the proverbial fly in the ointment.

The friend says, “You are cuter than I am. Remember the time you went to class with spinach in your teeth? You are smarter than I am. Remember when you misspelled Massachusetts on the geography quiz? You are so talented. Remember the day you spilled your milk on Mister Wilson?”

Jenny has always thought of them as equals, each with different strengths, and is puzzled by the comparisons. “Has she made it her mission to keep me from getting uppity? I get the feeling she actually believes I am better than she is. Instead of stretching herself to reach my level, she wants me to drop back to hers.”

Jenny continues to be kind and gracious, urging her friend to develop her own (quite significant) talents and to make her own decisions. Now she wonders if, by elevating Jenny to the role of heroine, her friend can feel justified in drawing strength from Jenny? “It is as if she were drinking heavily from a well she believes will never run dry, and has every right to do so,” Jenny says.

I don’t understand mind games or the people who play them. I’m no psychologist. Jenny is smart enough to be one some day. Today we just drink our tea and ponder the attributes of friendship.

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