The concept of the “frenemy” surfaced in Carolyn’s Friday column, which caught my attention because I think the first time I heard the term was the night before at happy hour. Then, it was used to describe an unliked/unlikable boyfriend’s best friend: someone you’d rather not know, but who’s not going anywhere, so you’ve got to embrace it.
This writer, and Carolyn’s other responders, seemed to define it a bit more narrowly. For them, frenemies are (mostly female) friends who make backhanded comments about clothes, dress, weight, etc. of their friends. Basically just big Mean Girls. I like the broader definition, especially since we already have Mean Girls for the narrower one (thanks, Tina Fey). But that’s neither here nor there.
The original writer’s question wasn’t really that interesting….just looking for a sassy comeback to her own frenemy’s unsolicited diet-tribes (I wish I could take credit for that pun, but the glory goes to the Lifetime network and its new reality show). Carolyn was fairly neutral (she embraces snark, but rightly reminded us that it loses its pizazz when forced and scripted), recommending that the writer remain calm when the comments are directed at her (“I’m surprised to hear you say that,” etc.), and step in to take action (saying something like “How is that helpful?”) when directed at another friend .
Wow, this is a lot of build up and background to get to what I really wanted to get to, that being other readers’ responses to the frenemy issue as published in Carolyn’s live chat from yesterday. There are a bunch of really funny ones, and some more regular generally useful ones, and I’m posting them here in order, gleaning kernels out of a long and varied chat session (full of lots of other good stuff–check it out). Enjoy.
her: You’re getting a lot of gray hair. me: I know! Sparkly!
her: You’ve put on some weight. me: I know! Voluptuous!
She doesn’t point out stuff to me much anymore. In her world of zero-sum happiness, I was taking way too much.
Carolyn Hax: Brilliant. Thank you.
This one is brilliant (oops, Carolyn just said that). But it is. It totally reminds me of a California girl I know, who manages to be sarcastic and peppy simultaneously. I wish I scowled less and said “Sparkly!” more. Goals.
Frenemy: Is the technical term for ridding oneself of a frenemy a “frenema”?
Carolyn Hax: I am both amused and skeeved. Nicely done.
This one is something Sam would say, and then look very pleased with himself, causing me to roll my eyes while also being very impressed.
Columbus, Ohio: Regarding Frenemies:
Her: That not a very attractive outfit.
Me: Uh, that’s kind of harsh. I wouldn’t expect someone as nice as you to make a comment like that.
I’ve used this before with success, and (sigh) my closest frenemy is my MOM.
Carolyn Hax: Sigh. Good adaptation, though.
Not thrilling, but useful and neutral. Sorry about the mom.
Hmm, that’s it. I thought there were more. Anyway, Carolyn readers, at least the chat participants, are mostly just as funny and smart as she is. Which is great, because then you get all the more insight and sass. And who could ask for anything more?