As I read Rachel Bertsche’s delightful memoir MWF Seeking BFF, I found myself thinking that a lot. After moving to Chicago from New York with her husband, Bertsche chronicles her struggles to find a “four jars of pickles,” last minute brunch date kind of friends. She had them in New York, but is struggling to make that kind of connection in Chicago, so she decides to go on 52 friend dates (not girl dates–there are at least two men in her search) in a year.
Like Bertsche, I’ve moved away from my home and my BFFs. OK, I’ve only moved one state away, and I still see my BFFs pretty regularly (I actually had brunch with one today), but I get it. It’s hard to live a state (or more in Bertsche’s case) away from the people you know you can count on. So I was excited when I heard about Bertsche’s book and knew I would read it as soon as it came out.
Bertsche’s voice is really what makes this such an enjoyable read. She’s funny and smart and someone you want to hang out with. I liked that Bertsche didn’t sugar-coat her dates. When they were bad, she told you they were bad. When they were great, she gushed about them in a way that was honest and fun. I like that Bertsche was so open about her own shortcomings, too. She acknowledged her flaws as a potential friend (she interrupts people with her own story–sing it to me, sister!), her preconceived ideas about certain people she meets, and her reactions to her dates.
Bertsche’s transitions between anecdote to research were a bit forced at times. She would choose a specific detail in her friend date, then relate it to research about making friends or keeping friends. I can’t explain why they were forced except to say that they felt “speechy.” Like an OO or an ADS transition. (How many people got that reference? Out of my 10 readers, I’ll say…1. Hey, Ryan!) I had the same issue with The Happiness Project at times, and I think that choppiness is a by-product of coming out of a blog. My other big issue was that I kept forgetting who was whom. Bertsche included a list of her dates and their distinguishing features in the end of the book, but I read the book on my nook, so I discovered it too late. I think even with the index, I would have appreciated a quick reminder of who everyone was, even if it was only briefly and only the first few times they were mentioned. I wanted to follow along and love the dates she loved, but it was hard to when I couldn’t keep them straight.
I will say that Bertsche’s book, while not exactly designed as a self-help book, made me think about my own friend woes and friend troubles. Interrupting? I do it. Friend envy when I find out my BFFs have been hanging out without me? Yup. Tendency to say no to invitations to go home and watch TV and drink wine with my husband? Yup. I found myself wishing Bertsche lived somewhere not Chicago so I could friend date her. She was an author I enjoyed spending time with, and one whose blog I now read regularly. Did it change my life? Probably not. But it did make me think and giggle, and really, what more can you ask for?