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The O'Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for America's Families
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Almost everybody watched the TV show Friends on NBC. Unfortunately, some kids think that's what real friends are like. Of course, we can learn a lot of things from our Friends on television, but sitcoms are very different from real life.
In real life, true friends stand by you when things get rough. If you get sick or have a tragedy in your family, your real friends will be there to listen and to help. Sure, they do that in the TV program, but the tragedies those characters experience last only twenty-three minutes. Yours will last much longer, so your friends will have to last much longer, too.
TV friends are also always fooling around. You can't do that in real life. There will be times when you will have to do some very difficult things. If you have friends who will help you, you'll be a lot better off.
I once had a friend in high school whom I confided in. This guy and I had known each other since first grade and we were pretty solid. At least, I thought we were. Freshman year is always tough because you are the youngest in the school and are still trying to figure out the program. There was this dance I wanted to go to, but I didn't want to go alone. I wanted some guys to hang with so the girls would think I was cool. So I asked my friend, who was usually up for this kind of thing, if he would come along. He said he couldn't go. I said fine and found a couple of other guys to go with me. But when we arrived at the hop (that's what they called a dance back then), I couldn't believe my eyes. My so-called friend who told me he couldn't go to the dance was out there doing the twist like a madman. What was up with that? I cornered this so-called friend later, and he admitted that some of the guys he went to the dance with didn't like me, so he didn't want me around.
If that situation had happened in a TV sitcom, everybody would have made up and had a few laughs. But life is different. I never trusted that guy again and rarely spoke to him. Since he never apologized, I think I made the smart decision. He wasn't a true friend, and that happens a lot in life. By not wasting any more time with him, I went on to make real friends, many of whom I hang around with to this day. I'm that kind of guy: once I become friends with you, I'm in for life unless you do something bad to me. Even though I am now famous and successful, I still keep my old friends. And believe me, none of them looks like Jennifer Aniston. It would not be hard being her friend.
Okay, you know I've made money. It was a long time coming, so I don't usually spend much of it and I certainly don't show it off. (We're going to talk about money smarts later in this book.) But one thing I do that costs a few bucks is set up a trip every year to some exotic faraway place -- the Caribbean, the Hawaiian Islands -- where I sail and swim and dive with old friends.
And I do mean "old friends." I've known some of these guys since we were four years old, others from high school and college, and still others from my early years in television. I've been lucky to have such friends, but I've also worked hard at it. We trust one another. We care about one another's families. We laugh a lot. We remember a lot.
I hope you can have such friends when you're my age.
Of course, you can't control all of the circumstances that help friendships develop and last. I grew up in the same house until I went away to college. The kids in my neighborhood really knew one another. We went to the same schools, terrorized the same teachers, dated the same girls.
Now, I don't want you to think that I sat around when I was your age and carefully chose my companions because of their virtues. No way. I ran with the loudmouthed, brash, unruly kids. We looked like bums; we acted like maniacs. We did very stupid things.
But even though we would not have used these words back then, we were loyal to one another. One for all, all for one: we really were like that.
And because I had experienced true friendship, which grew over the years through many different situations (not all of them fun, by any means), I got very, very spoiled. I mean, throughout the rest of my life, I have expected new friends to be as honest and loyal as my old friends.
Is that stupid?
Maybe. But that's the way I am.
Other people will tell you to forgive a friend for lying to you. Not me. Others will say that it is "mature" to expect your friends to have faults. Agreed. They can have all kinds of faults except dishonesty and disloyalty. Either of those is poison to a friendship. Sorry, but I can't see it any other way. Someone can lie to me once, but only once, if he or she wants to be a friend.
See, you heard I could be stubborn.
And I want you to be the same way, at least on this subject. You deserve friendship with people who can be trusted. You don't need to accept a so-called friendship with someone because he or she is "popular" or good-looking. None of that matters. I am surrounded in television by people who choose "friends" because they're rich or famous or sexy. That kind of friendship is called "groveling." And it lasts, such as it is, only as long as the other person has money, gets recognized on the street, or looks good in lowriders ...