Smart Guest Post Week

Summarizing Black History Month – It is all just a joke? (a guest post)

Today on BnB, we simultaneously wrap up Black History Month and Smart Guest Post Week. Our final contributor is a future muckety-muck somewhere in DC, I guarantee it. I call him "the Captain" but others may know him as SpkTruth2Pwr, the voice of The Apathy Remedy and a driving force behind The Younger Writers' Block. Show him some love.

As Black History Month (BHM) comes to an end, I would love to do a post-BHM wrap up.

You know- a post on how the story of our black ancestors is a story of hope in the midst of struggle and how black history month is an ode and a perpetual lesson for not only black people but also all people in America.

But instead, I can only approach the end of BHM with sadness.


I went to a Black History Month play this weekend. It was a community church production called "From the Slave House to the White House."

It wasn't a large crowd - mostly teens attending as part of a program. I was looking forward to it, The message behind it was progress and how our ancestors' perseverance made each generation keep pushing to make life better for future generations. I enjoyed myself.

But when I looked around, the picture I saw was disgusting and disappointment.

The teens, who were all black, were completely not engaged. The few that managed to view every now and then could not control or stifle their laughter.

  • When the actresses performed an African Dance routine, some of the teens would mimic them between a few stifled giggles and hi-fives.
  • When the actress on stage used the vernacular of an uneducated slave, the teens would crudely mimic the accent within their cliques.
  • When an actress screamed in fear of being caught by "massah" because they were sneaking off to read the Bible, the teens ridiculed her.
  • When the "slave child" lamented as she was torn from her mother's arms, the teens laughed and pointed.

I don't know. Maybe it's because my parents both can remember going to segregated schools. Maybe it's because I know that even though my grandparents were not slaves, they were bound by a system that left them dependent on the master who controlled them - sharecropping was just a euphemism for slavery.

But I was disgusted. To laugh at that history was to laugh at themselves. And the sad thing - they could not realize it or see past it because they were living to be "cool".

In the same way they laughed at the slaves' dance of jubilation, or the servant eager to read, society has done the same to these kids. And rather than being conscious of that fact - they have joined in and laughed as well at the notion that they themselves could actually be more than what they are labeled and expected to be.

It is an ignorance of self. I could dissect the root causes, and pontificate on the disconnect between the youth and their elders, technology, media, blah blah blah. It is important to treat the problem and not the symptoms, so making the connection to the actual problem is important.

But really I believe it all feeds in to a central theme - the Millennial Generation is ashamed of their history. I mean that past is not cool right? Slaves weren't rocking the latest in fashion were they? They were clearly some Bammas. Blacks of the past were largely a bunch of have nots, right? That's wack, weak, lame. Why keep focusing on all that trivial stuff and those largely vague themes - freedom, equality, struggle, justice, and opportunity? It's embarrassing to keep bringing up those days when we were largely uneducated, largely forgotten, and largely disrespected. We have moved on up with George and Weezy right?

Well sadly those days have gotten a bit brighter, but they have not passed to yesterday.

  • Those same laughing teens represent a population with a higher nationwide proportion of dropouts from high school.
  • Those same laughing teens represent a population that doesn't "have it all" - 24 percent of blacks live below the poverty line compared to 13 percent of the nation (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Those same laughing teens represent a population where 38 percent of black teens in America live with both parents. The next lowest was Hispanics, with 69 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Those same laughing teens are being laughed at for willingly keeping themselves ignorant by neglecting their own history.

The message behind the play was good. But the teens in the audience were too busy thinking "that progress thing" was for another time, another wack/lame generation.

And it is that perpetuation of the disconnect with our history that will work against the progress so many of our ancestors fought to gain.

I was disappointed because these teens had no idea that as each chuckle escaped their lips, they were slowly drowning out the very hope and struggle that had allowed them to freely sit in that theatre. That with each joke at the expense of the "slave" in the play, they were trivializing the path to progress for blacks in America.

And if it is one thing that makes us look ignorant as a people, it is removing collective progress from our vision of success, and replaced it with our own interpretation.

We have the spirituals of the slaves, the courage of the freedom riders, the honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, the teachings of DuBois, the dream of Martin, the examples of countless black innovators and originators, and the inspiration of Barack. The only thing that is lacking is the youths to take these and continue marching onward and upward in the name of perpetual advancement.

But like a lion raised in captivity - no matter how great the potential to be a proud king, the lion will never see past its cage and hand-fed meals.

The cage of these black youths I saw was the cage of their own mind, and their own lacking sense of history. And because of that, they are willing to take what they are given, rather than demanding what they have the potential to achieve. And so they sit, never knowing they should hope for more - choosing to remain as nothing more than the next exhibit in the zoo that is society.

Only when our black young minds connect where they came from with their present and where they need to go will the faith of our ancestors continue inspiring the march toward advancement and expand our black history, which in turn will add another link in the chain of progress that has been American history.

What say you BougieLand? When did you start appreciating your Black History? What's will it take to drag these Millennials towards the reality check they so clearly have coming? Any final thoughts on Black History Month?

Folks who cry Racism… when there’s none there to speak of (a guest post)

Next up on Smart Guest Post Week… Damon from This May Concern You. Dame brings his introspective eloquence to BnB with a look at racism… that isn't really racism. Show him some love…

At my best, I am a thinker. Don't get me wrong, I write. I love to write. But my love of thinking supersedes my love of writing. Hell, I think that I love to think about writing more than I like to write at times (yes, this can be a problem). At moments, I think aloud, and sometimes thinking aloud means that I take to some form of social media with my thoughts because I feel compelled to share what I'm thinking.

One of the few things I think about a lot, but I'm not to quick to share my thoughts on, is racism. I'll admit it. I do catch that "Christmas in July" spirit when it comes to writing about racism from time to time. I know that it's real. I know it's institutionalized and systemic. I've experienced my fair share of it, I suppose (I've been called a reggin in reverse by a former co-worker on a job before and had to deal with the fallout from it). I know that the term post-racial carries about the same weight as a Plies insulin analogy.

But though I think about it, I'm never quick to talk or write about it, especially in trivial "if/then" type circumstances. I feel as though that crying wolf mentality makes it so that the effectiveness of the worthwhile plea/outrage is marginalized. That, to me, is not a negative.

It's why I have a big problem with some of the discussion surrounding the Epic Beard Man fight. As I'm sure most of you know, a young black guy stepped to Saint Nick's brother Frank Whitebeard on a Norcal city bus. The black guy got handled. It was, well, epic. It reminded me back to Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura. That fool got what he deserved for laying his hands on another person, especially an elder, over a verbal dispute of any sort save his mama.

But the one thing that didn't really cross my mind was racism. Yes, I saw race. There was a black guy. There was a white guy. Race was present. But I saw age, ignorance, violence and then race, a distant fourth. To me, it was an inconsequential bystander, well, just passing by. The novelty was the age gap and the whooping that commenced.

It was a surprise of sorts (similar to the shock that the crowd got when those girls from Zeta Tau Alpha, a white sorority, won their way into the mostly black crowd's hearts during the Sprite Stepoff. They were surprised that they held their own. If you've stepped for real, you know it wasn't that great. It was OK at best. But it has garnered attention because of the novelty -- in this case, race).

But notice how I've said very little in the last two graphs about racism. Race? A little. Racism? Not so much. Yet, somehow there's been plenty of talk about the racism that can be gleaned from the YouTube sensation (I had a healthy discussion with someone I respect and admire about it on Twitter). There's the idea that if they (the fighters) were two blacks or if roles were reversed (young white guy, old black guy) it wouldn't get the same spin. There's also the idea that it's getting its run because of racial heroics, whites being proud that the black guy got molly-whopped by a white man. But why the need to twist this story beyond recognition? It's about an idiot who miscalculated the ability of a man more than twice his age and got self-defensed and then some. Fight over.

I don't care to give a voice to the people out there who see this as some sort of racial heroism, especially when they don't come from behind the veil of Internet courage. Are there people out there like that? Hell yes. They exist. But, to me, it's unnecessary over-analysis because they have no sustainable voice. Pulling them into the light for two minutes is counter-productive.

It's like beating a busted pinata's spilled candy until you can't tell the difference between a Starburst Chew and a Jolly Rancher. People end up looking at you like you've got mad issues and they're scared to approach you for fear of dismemberment. Worse yet, they tune out you and your shtick.

Am I saying we need to be more cautious? Not really. I'm saying don't cry racism when you feel like someone's stepped on your toe but no one is in sight. To me, that's what this seems like.

That's not good, not when there are real issues of race that people overlook because they think we're swiping race cards that will surely return the error message "Insufficient Funds." I'm good for over-analyzing trivial stuff (I did so at the beginning of this rant while I was trying to find a way to get to my point). But genuine analysis shouldn't be wasted on "if/then" racial bits that do nothing but make people of other races hit the mute button.

That is, unless they're Martin-in-Boomerang-cue-ball-pool deep:

I'll indulge in that type of chicanery all day. Anyway, I guess I'm done thinking aloud for the moment. I'll give you a turn. Oh yeah, I love black people.

Alright BougieLand, what do you think? Are people quick to cry racism for EVERY perceived slight? Have you ever been is a situation where you had to stop and wonder… wait, was that racism directed at ME!? What did you think when you heard the Sprite Step-off was won by a non-black crew? And for the last time, who's with me to sign the petition to kill the phrase "post-racial" for once and for all? Thoughts, comments, love notes... it's Friday ya'll.

Pop Culture is bleeding and you pulled the trigger… (a guest post)

Next up on Smart Guest Post Week, it's the fellas' turn. Kicking off Thursday morning with some knowledge dropped from the incomparable thinker, Inkognegro. If you have not had the chance, check out his weekly blog talk radio show: The Black Odd Couple. Today, The Inky One will be going on of the state of popular culture today and just who exactly is to blame…

In honor of my guest spot here in BnBworld, I celebrated by actually purchasing a copy of Chele's book, Heard it All Before. I say this not because I am looking for brownie points from her, or even because I think she needs a jump on the March mortgage. I bought it because it is part of my master plan.

What Plan???

My Plan to help rehabilitate Black Popular Culture.

After spending a considerable part of 2009 watching family, friends, and strangers decry and bemoan the state of popular culture: HipHop is dead, there is nothing on TV, all our legends keep passing away in music, all the books are about drug dealers and hookers, the movies are all remakes…etc. etc. etc. I had to say something.

While the simple answer is media consolidation and the endless appeal to our baser instincts, I am starting to see things little differently.

I think history has shown our propensity to view media consumption as an escape mechanism. As someone who uses media consumption for everything from a refuge to a store house for information to therapy to a babysitter to inspiration for all manner of tasks, I completely understand how irrational the decision making process can be when it comes to just what we consume from the mass media portals.

But seriously, folks, if you find yourself watching things because you enjoy talking bad (we'll call it snarking) about the proceedings, especially in regards to these celebrity vanity shows and celebrity incubator shows… are you part of the solution or part of the problem? I am loathe to outright criticize folks' viewing habits until those same people complaining that there is nothing "good" on TV on Tuesday are huddled around the Twitterverse hooting and hollering about the Thursday night hijinks of four women from somewhere near Atlanta who may or may not be housewives.

And while I don't begrudge anyone a guilty pleasure or two, I will say that filling your diet with guilty pleasures will seriously mess up your state of being.

Don't believe me?

Come along with me, let's play Chase the Foolery. Watch as your tolerance to foolishness builds up:

Watch as RHOA (said housewives) gives way to Fantasia for Real (and her beyond-ignorant brother Teeny) which gives way to keeping up with those girls with the famous Black Athlete Boyfriends (their names start with K) which gives way to the Bad Girls Club which begets Jersey Shore. One day, you'll look up and you will be trying to figure out how some random Italian girl ended up on the business end of a 2 Piece and a Biscuit, sprawled out on the floor of a lounge like she was a chalk outline model. And you were there to witness it all. (For those not in the know, just Google it).

During that time you could have read a book, or at least watched a show you actually respect and LIKE.

Unless of course…you LIKE such things, in which case feel free to take your lovely parting gift and wait for Friday's guest post.

As for the rest of you?

Remember as you snark and chuckle it up, that time is the only thing they aren't making more of, and time you spend watching escapist TV is time not spent stepping your proverbial game up.

The moral of the story?

You really shouldn't brag about how many eggs your chickens produce AND then complain about how much chicken shiggity ends up on your shoes. It's a package deal.

Alright folks, Monsieur Ink has spoken. Let's hear it. Fess up – who's guilty of escapist TV watch-n-tweet? What are your thoughts on reality TV today? Is there any redeeming value to these shoes (if so, please share!) And while you're in a sharing mood, please share what you feel is the best show on TV right now and why. The floor is yours, BougieLand… let me hear it.

Cue Aaliyah: “Dust yourself off and try again…”

Smart Guest Post week rolls on here in BougieLand. After yesterday's somewhat melancholy post, we're coming with the happy post today. A story of stepping back up to the plate and swinging for the fences and finally… FINALLY hitting a home run. Join me in showing some love to Tiffany in Houston. She isa charming, charismatic Texas chick newly engaged and newly unemployed (she did NOT see that one coming… damn economy). She blogs about the trials and tribulations on The Unemployed Bride. And just cause it's relevant, I've inserted a dance break before Tiffany's story: The lovely Aaliyah (RIP – Miss her still!) with Try Again from the Romeo Must Die Soundtrack:

Back to our program. Ms. Tiffany:

I was talking with a friend the other day and she was saying how she was excited that I was gonna blog this wedding planning thang and how I gave her hope that she could be married. And I do believe I have spoken to some of you in real life about how quickly my relationship moved. I met my fiancé in June 2009, we got engaged in December 2009 and the wedding is September 2010. That's pretty fast, at least for some.

And I hope that the fact that I'm getting married, at age 36, can be a testimony for some and give hope to others, especially with the bombardment of negative press that black women have been getting in the media as of late. (I realize that it's hard for ALL single women, when it comes to dating, for sure).

But the fact of the matter is: I was like many of my friends. I would date randoms and it wouldn't work out. The dude would look perfect on paper and be a complete asshole. I'm not a prude so there were probably some times that I probably slept with a man too soon and he got ghost. I was in a relationship with the same man, twice. (I am, OBVIOUSLY, a glutton for punishment.) I moved to Minnesota to be with a man without a ring, and then once I got there found out he didn't want to commit. I've been fortunate actually. I've dated some pretty decent dudes… they just weren't the dudes for me. Those who know me very well know that I have been very candid about my dating adventures and mis-adventures. Some of them were hilarious. Some of them were very painful. All of them were necessary.

I speed dated. I online dated. I asked my married friends for introductions. I got involved. I started going out by myself. I got my confidence up. I started working out. Didn't leave the house looking busted. I did all that. I tried to get busy living.

I would call my homegirls and cry. I would go to happy hour and bitch. I would pray. I would pray then cry. I joined the singles ministry at church. I journaled. Worked on my mental. Tried to get rid of the 'baggage'. Still tried to get busy living.

And yet, I would try again. Meet someone new. Date. Didn't work. Go through all the stages. Still was getting busy living. Notice a pattern there.

And yet, I would try again. Meet someone new.

I'm not a preachy chick. That's not my steelo. But the thing I really want to leave you with is this: You can't give up. If your heart's desire is to be married (not just a wedding), then you can't give up. You can't lock your feelings in a bottle, you can't withdraw from relationships. You may want to, but you can't. You have to keep trying, you have to keep putting yourself out there. Yet, you MUST try again.

I sat at my mom's kitchen table in May 2009, and told her that she needed to accept the fact that I was not going to get married. I told her that I had accepted it and evidently it was God's will too. She looked at me like I had two heads. She wasn't used to hearing me talk like that, like I was giving up. Like I was quitting. She said she didn't believe me. I met my fiancé the very next month. God has quite the sense of humor. Evidently, He didn't believe me either.

So, I'm getting married. To a man that I LOVE to bits and pieces. And who loves ME more than I know.

Because I tried. Yet again.

Okay gals and gents, you've heard Tiffany's tale and what say you… have a "try again" story to share? Words of encouragement and wisdom for Tiffany? Words of encouragement and wisdom for those of us trying again? Fellas, any of you feel ready to take the plunge? Any of you "already plunged" have words to share? Engagement stories? Basically – here's your chance to weigh in on engagement and marriage… whatcha got?

Saving Superman(Woman) from Relationship Kryptonite

As Smart Guest Post Week continues, we turn the keyboard over to frequent commenter, the wise and witty, Jayme C. That's Dr. Jayme to you. Jayme is a professional life coach, mentor, licensed psychiatrist, marriage counselor and friend. She has been married for close to 20 years and seen all manner of relationship tomfoolery yet for some reason, given the opportunity to write about ANYTHING in the world on my blog, she decided to write about me. Serious side-eye. At any rate, I did not (though I was SORELY tempted to) edit her discourse but instead present it to you in all its goodness. Without further ado – Dr JaymeC:

Sometimes my roles as mother/wife/life coach/counselor/friend/sistagirl overlap, merge and meld together. Such was the case when Chele called me the other night in what she calls "a state of überPisstivity". Her ex-boyfriend (the one I used to root for) had been calling and they were (for lack of a better term) negotiating the terms of reconciliation. A détente if you will. People, these talks were more delicate (and more explosive) than the Geneva Convention. They held nothing back, pulling out beef they had held onto since they were aged 15, 26, 33 – they went all the way there and back again. In the middle of their negotiations, Chele found out that he lied (again) about something major (again) and when she confronted him, he tried to repair the damage by acting as if she misunderstood the situation (can any of you imagine Chele falling for Ye Olde Okey-Doke - picture that!). It was the last rip in an already fragile and over-mended fabric.

Needless to say, she was understandably hurt and ticked off at him for pulling her back in and at herself for falling for it. When she finished telling me the story, I sat quietly and let it sink in for a minute. Though she sounded only a little down, she is the type to assess and analyze and dissect something over and over again trying to see if something different could have been done, if there was a clue she missed to avoid this outcome. And I knew she would beat herself up about it long after she flashed her trademark 1000-kilowatt smile and said all was well. Rest assured, she will bounce back as she always does and in time we will read a completely hilarious and candid post about it. But until then…

I hurt for my friend but I was also mad at myself for encouraging her to give it one more shot. If ever there was an example of love (even a great deal of love) just never being enough this relationship was it. I always felt that in his heart, her ex-SO really (truly) loved her and wanted to do the right thing. But now I realized he loved himself more. At his core, he was incapable of being who she needed him to be and instead of making a clean break and allowing her to heal, he kept coming up with new and different ways to deceive and hurt her. Whether he did this intentionally or not, I don't know nor do I care any longer. But at this moment, I did realize that my role was reassuring her that walking away (and never looking back) was absolutely the best policy. Finally, she noticed I hadn't said anything in a while.

"Umm, hello?" she asked.

"Yep, I'm here. I just figured it out." I told her.

"Please share."

"He's your kryptonite."

She laughed, "My what?!"

"Your kryptonite. That thing that takes away your power, makes you weak and puts you in fight or flight mode. The one thing against which you have found no viable defense." Chele loves her superhero movies so I knew relating this situation to Superman (she calls him Supey) would get my point across the quickest.

She snorted, "Hmmph, more like Lex Luther."

I disagreed, "Hmm, I don't know. Sure, Lex is evil but he needs help to bring down Supey. Kryptonite destroys just by showing up and existing. Lex is just an archenemy, you can put him behind bars and not think about him for awhile. There's no cure for kryptonite except staying the hell away from it… forever. Kryptonite may come from a place you love but it's no damned good for you."

"That's kinda deep... and ironic. Okay, I follow."

"The thing is – you keep bringing the kryptonite into your Fortress of Solitude. When the fortress is threatened, Supey doesn't have any safe place on the planet to hide. Long story short, I'm telling you: Jettison the kryptonite into outer space, rebuild the fortress, re-tie the cape and go make the world a better place."

"Jayme, you went all in on the analogy."

"Hey," I told her, "if you aren't the superhero in your own life, who is?" We ended the conversation soon afterward.

My point to Chele and to you, BougieLand is this: Learn to recognize the differences between the Lex Luthers and the Kryptonites in your relationships. One is survivable and you can stay and fight, the other will kill your spirit if you don't get away. Don't beat yourself up if you cannot recognize the Lex's right away. In most comic books, the archenemy generally starts out as the hero's ally… right up until he's not. Own up to your inner SuperHero and claim the power! If you fail, get back up. Even Superman didn't save the world on the first try.

Readers- If you have encountered an archenemy or a power-sucking spirit killer, what did you do? Do you have a fortress of solitude (a place you go to renew and revive)? If you could be any superhero, which one would you be? Why?

(For the record, I'll take Wonder Woman or Jaime Sommers <- -you young folk don't know nothin' about the Bionic Woman. Wonder Woman had the kick ass boots and Jaime could hear everything, run really fast and never have a hair out of place). Thanks Chele for letting me share (even if I did put some of your business in the streets). Okay BougieLand… the floor is yours.

Beefs, frenemies and BFFs – the ever evolving challenges of friendship (guest post)

For the record (and in case I haven't mentioned it eleventy thousand times), I love smart people. People who can communicate, engage and be witty (without malice). This week you will get to meet some of those people. Yes indeed, it's Smart Guest Post Week on BnB. Because I want to hear other voices, I appreciate the brainpower and I have a deadline in nine days. Today, I bring the always vibrant and verbose A.Smith of Diamond Dust. Enjoy and show some comment love…

What's the old saying? "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime." It's really a feel good statement. It helps us recognize that not everyone is supposed to be in our lives forever. It can keep us on the lookout for those people who, if we let them stick around for awhile, might drain us of all the goodness we can muster in a sometimes not so good world. I mean this is a really good saying, full of all kinds of...uhh... well... stuff that makes clichés good. The only problem with it is it doesn't do the best job of explaining how you know which person fits into which category.

I actually believe we had it right as kids. Do you remember when you were younger and another kid would walk up to you and ask to play with the toy you were playing with and ended their request (which, now that I think about it, was more often a demand) with "I'll be your friend..."? I do. I think we had it right back then. Simple. Very simple. You give me that toy, we'll be friends. You don't give me that toy and we won't be friends. As adults we can hear all the nuances in that. The manipulation, the suggested temporary time limit, etc... but as kids, it was straightforward. When the toy was done with, the friendship had run its course -- unless the two of you found something else you both liked -- then the friendship kept going and if you realized that you seemed to always like doing the same things, well, eureka! Lifelong friend. No muss, no fuss.

Sometime during middle and high school, though, we learned that there's nothing simple about friendships. Your BFF today might be your greatest enemy tomorrow. Your enemy from yesterday? Oh, we like her now. Makes me think of a time in high school...

My Senior year in high school my then BFF had some serious beef with another girl in our class, Amanda. The specific details are lost but it had something to do with the fact that rumor had it Amanda was trying to push up on the then-BFF's ex. One random afternoon I was at her house, as usual, lying across her bed. We'd played the "what will we do tonight?" game ad nauseum and I was about to give up and go home. Out of nowhere then-BFF whirls around in her chair and says, "do you have Amanda's number?" I scrunched up my face and slowly nodded yes. "Well, call her and see if she wants to hang out with us tonight."

Flabbergasted is not the word for what I was feeling. I just knew she had some sort of really bad plan in mind that involved humiliation on a level that only a high school girl can create. I asked, "why do you want to hang out with her? I thought you didn't like her." Then-BFF just laughed, like I'd told a really funny joke, and responded, "Oh. That was last year! We've moved on from that." That night was the first night of many that Amanda kicked it with the then-BFF and I, as if we'd all been lifelong buddies. There was never an explanation, never a conversation. Everything just kept trucking like it all made sense.

Of course, what I fail to mention is that Amanda joined our 3-musketeer routine in part because we had an opening. See, the then-BFF had just kicked the other BFF out of the group. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends and you have no idea why.

I remember being very excited about going to college because of all the mature adults I would meet. People who were ready to put aside childish things and be for real about creating and maintaining real and true friendships. Boy was I wrong. College seemed to be the perfect opportunity for everyone to practice all the manipulation skills they learned in high school. And this post-graduate life? Well, look no further than the desk one over from you, or the cubicle behind you. We don't do friendships anymore. Like I said -- we had it right on the playground in elementary school.

Through trial and error, I've come up with a few "rules of thumb" and a handful of questions one might ask themselves as they navigate the treacherous "friendship" waters.

First, keep it simple. Friendships don't have to be overly complicated and it's usually about the time they get complicated that it's a good sign that it might be time to let go.

Second, don't be afraid to cut ties. This is one I struggle with. I'm not a fan of burning bridges -- and that's not what I'm suggesting. Rather, don't be afraid to tell a person (as a friend told me once, about another person) "you may be a good person, you're just not good for my life." If it doesn't feel like a good fit, it probably isn't. You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes that hurt your feet would you? Then why stick around in a friendship that's no longer working for you?

Third, don't be afraid to fight for a friendship. I know, I know -- this seems to fly in the face of what I just said, but all relationships hit rough patches. It's ok to want to fight for a friendship. Good friends, true friends don't come by all that often. If you have one, do your part, hold up your end of the deal and don't be afraid to fight for it.

Ok, ok, you're thinking, we know how to do friendships, but what about knowing what kind of friendship we're in?

Good question grasshopper. I'm glad you asked.

The reason that handy dandy cliché doesn't do much by way of explaining how you know who is who is because it's not cut and dry. You don't mix in a little baking soda and get your answer. But you can ask yourself a few questions...

Do you find yourself talking to this friend but really having nothing to say? Perhaps there was a period of time, typically before some major event, where you guys had all kinds of things to talk about but now, after this event, there's nothing to say at all. Lots of empty (and uncomfortable) dead space? More than likely this was a friend who was in your life for a reason. The tricky thing about "reasonal" (yes, I made that up) friends is sometimes they can grow to something more, if everyone puts in the effort. Be careful not to trick yourself into thinking that a friendship can be more than it is without any real work. All relationships take work.

Is this friendship on an even keel? Do you feel like you're giving more than you take (or, perhaps, taking more than you give)? If the friendship's not on an even keel and hasn't been for a while even though it used to be, it's probably a good sign that this is a seasonal friendship.

A lifetime friend is probably not someone you need a checklist for. They're the ones you struggle to imagine your life without. The ones you call first (or second, if you're lucky and have more than one) when something major happens. They've seen you cry, seen you happy. They're encouraging in times of doubt and honest when you're a bit too gassed up. They're far from perfect and they piss you off sometimes, but even then you appreciate what they bring to your life.

The biggest mistake we sometimes make is ignoring the signs. Wanting a seasonal friendship to be more than it is (without putting real work into it). Allowing people who are in our life for only one reason to stay around for more reasons until they've sucked us dry. We have to take stock of what's going on in our space because if we don't, we relinquish control.

To close, let me fill in some holes from the story I told earlier...

While we never had a conversation about why Amanda was suddenly cool (or why Lauren, the ousted friend, suddenly wasn't) I realized in the weeks before graduation that then-BFF had a master plan that involved a lot of trickery you'd never expect a high schooler to be capable of. Everything had been calculated. (This is a story for another time, but let's just say she managed to not only convince a girl her boyfriend was cheating on her, but get him to admit to it when he didn't actually cheat) When then-BFF realized Lauren was too much of a threat she put her on the outs and when she realized I wouldn't be a good fit for what she needed (someone to accept a lot of lies without asking questions) she called on an unsuspecting person -- Amanda.

Before we made it to our first year of college, then-BFF had stopped talking to me. She never told me why and I never got a chance to ask. In the years that followed I deduced that she had a much better handle on our friendship than I did. I was seasonal. I served my purpose, she let me go. I'd been following along, watching the way she dropped "old" and "trusted" friends like they were nothing, thinking our friendship was bigger and better than that. Truth was, it wasn't and if I'd spent more time paying attention and less time being self-assured, I probably would've seen the hammer before it knocked me out.

BougieLand -- how do you determine which of your friends are worth the effort? Any rules of thumb of your own to add? Any stories of mistaken friendship identities?