Jesse Halsey | c1933
My best friend embodies a quality that is rare in friendship. He happens to be a New England Puritan and his practice could be summer up in a verse from an Old Book; i.e., “He that hath friends must show himself friendly;” which is obvious truth, I take it, for any kind of a friendship. But, the unusual quality that my best friend possesses beyond most of my friends, is expressed in this verse: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” In other words, my best friend speaks very plainly about my short-comings.
Often we disagree in matters of opinion. He is, for example, a Capitalist. I am, to use his language, a “half-baked Socialist.” We talk things over, disagree and then agree to disagree. Political or religious difference never seem to make any difference and these are I suppose the most severe tests of any ordinary acquaintanceship, or even friendship.
My friend will come in, talk for twenty minutes and then say, very casually, something like this: “You’ve been doing too many things lately; better concentrate a little.” Or, on anther occasion, “You’re too diffuse—boil your stuff down.” Sometimes I get mad, but only temporarily. Nine times out of ten he’s right, and eventually I do the things he suggests.
And this is a give and take matter. Otherwise, I suppose, our friendship would have broken long since. The other day he said to me, “You know, I take stuff from you that I wouldn’t take from anybody else.” I hinted that it was mutual, and we went on to the next thing.