I Write Letters

[This was originally published one year ago today. In the interim, Bea Arthur has died, Rue McClanahan has had a stroke, and Betty White has been recruited to host Saturday Night Live. I decided to republish it in honor of these wonderful ladies I still love so dearly.]

Dear Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia:

This letter is long overdue. As you know, we have spent many joyful hours together over the last two-and-a-half decades, laughing warmly about all kinds of kooky highjinks, and I've never properly thanked you for everything you've given me.

Thank you for being a part of my childhood. Thank you for hanging out with me, in four-hour blocks on Saturday mornings, when I was in college; there has been and never will be any better hangover cure than you ladies. Thank you for always being there on some obscure cable channel or other in the middle of the night when I have insomnia.

Thank you for being feminists. Thank you for showing me that divorce isn't shameful, that being a widow doesn't mean your life is over, that love and sex are different things, that sex can be fun and frivolous and not always fraught with meaning (and judgment). Thank you for showing me women are cool. And smart. And funny as hell. Thank you for showing me that female friendships are awesome.

Thank you for being sassy. Thank you for being subversive. Thank you for being bawdy. Thank you for teaching me words like lanai and caftan. Thank you for being what I suspect is a big part of the reason I have never really feared getting old.

And finally, to each of you: Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true; you're a pal and a confidant. And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew, you would see the biggest gift would be from me, and the card attached would say, "Thank you for being a friend."

No one really understood why an 11-year-old loved you so much, nor an 18-year-old, nor a 25-year-old, and there are probably some people who wonder why a 35-year-old loves you still. But looking over that list, it seems to me the question isn't why I have always adored you, but how it is possible that anyone couldn't.

With admiration and gratitude,

P.S. Thank you in particular, Dorothy Zbornak, for making me love my voice.

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