J. Kenner Writes…About Friend Spouses.

J. Kenner Writes About friend spouses.

I don’t know about you guys, but I miss my family. Not the family that is currently crowded into my (thankfully reasonably large) house.

No, I’m talking about the extended family. Friends from high school and film school and law school. The writer and reader friends from over the last twenty years of this awesome career. (Taking a moment here to once again be amazed that I am blessed to make a living by sharing the people who live in my head.) All the awesome folks I’m not seeing in person this year because my travel scheduled has been reduced to nada, unless you count virtual hanging out, which (in case you hadn’t noticed) really isn’t the same.

Mostly, though, I miss my Friend Spouses.

What, you ask, are Friend Spouses? They are those friends who rise to the top to become the cream of the friendship bucket. The ones who know you as well (or better!) than your actual spouse or significant other. The ones you have long meandering conversations with and somehow never lose the thread of where you started and easily finish each others’ sentences. The friends who will tell you, honestly, if that dress looks terrible or if the pants area a major fashion fail or if you’re being whiny and annoying (not that anyone has every told me that…).

And, of course, you know you are Friend Spouses when you hit the level of #samebrain syndrome.

Case in point: The other day Darcy Burke texted me a writing question, basically asking me if it would be confusing to readers if she structured a sequence of scenes in a certain way. I told her I didn’t see a problem and went on to randomly rattle off an example scene. She could have the heroine do X in the first scene, then in the next scene, the hero would do Y.

Her response:

J Kenner Text

It really was kind of freaky, because I’d dead-on described the scene. But that’s the beauty of friend spouses … after a while you can just finish each other’s thoughts. (Either that or we’re clones. Hmm.)

Julie Kenner and Darcy
Me and Darcy enjoying a writing retreat at my Florida condo in January 2020. AKA a million years ago

Darcy and I have only known each other for three years, but it seems like forever. “Forever” in a good way. Not a holy crap will this boring and pretentious show never end kind of way. Honestly, that’s a little amazing to me … but then again, I only knew my married-with-children spouse for five months before we got married (June to October), and we’re past the twenty-five year mark now, so these things happen.

Also, note that there is no cheating in Friend Spouse world. My longest, closest Friend Spouse Dee Davis and I have been “married” for over twenty years now, and she’s tight with Darcy, too. (In fact, the three of us and a couple of other authors rise to the Sisters From Another Mister level … but expanding on that in this column would not only run too long, but there’s that whole sibling/spouse conundrum, and this column isn’t supposed to be a taboo romance…)

I probably would still be calling Friend Spouses “besties” or “BFFs” were it not for Dee, who one late drunken night in New Jersey realized our true relationship.

We were both attending a conference in the fall. After the day’s events, we headed to a restaurant across the street. I am constantly cold, and as we stepped outside I asked if I should go back and get a sweater. Dee said it wasn’t that far and it wasn’t that cold. (I swear, the woman is impervious to the cold!)

So away we went.

Fast-forward a sunset, a meal, and several drinks later, and we are walking back. It’s not that far—just across a street and a parking lot—but the temperature had dropped and I was hugging myself to ward off frostbite. I was also bitching, complaining that I should have gone back in for a coat, and why did she stop me, and  I was going to never defrost, and yada yada.

She stopped dead in the middle of the parking lot with that annoyed spouse expression and said, without missing a beat, “We have been married long enough—” then cut herself off. It actually took me a second to realize why she’d stopped. The sentence seemed completely natural to me. (And, later, to our husbands).

Then we both laughed. Because it’s true. We’d been married almost twenty years by that point, and I should have known to never, ever judge my need for a coat by anything Dee says.

Here we are in LA visiting our kid who was working on an entertainment news daily program at the time. (I’m sure said kid’s dad won’t mind me claiming her!)

Julie Kenner

Bottom line — I miss my Friend Spouses. Heck, I miss all my friends. So reach out and give your friends a virtual hug. And if you’re lucky enough to have Friend Spouses, too, give them a virtual squeeze!


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