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Rule #1 is to always have your homegirls’ backs. It sounds so simple and maybe it is: nobody is going to put my friends in uncomfortable situations on my watch, and if something goes down in public and my friend needs to flee the scene, I’m certainly going with her. But what happens when your friend is the one causing the havoc?

Some people are always putting at least one foot in their mouths. Just the other night I attended a small get together and the topic turned to Whitney Houston. One girl interrupted the somber tone of the chat to declare that Whitney was a crackhead. When the room fell silent in disapproval she failed to pick up on the social cue and repeated her statement, not realizing that we don’t talk about Cousin Nippy like that yet, and probably never will. Her sole friend in the room turned beet red and tried to change the subject. I’m not sure even that helped.

On the extreme end of things, you could always draw a hard line in the sand and end a friendship completely over reckless behavior. Your girl has a few drinks and starts speaking a little too freely, flirting a little too crazily, and stumbling way too haphazardly (there’s no such thing as the right amount of stumbling), and it’s generally not a good look. Shoot, a time or two that person has been me, but how far is too far? I helped a friend pick herself up after an unceremonious drunken public fight with a crazy ex-boyfriend, and although it was an ugly, embarrassing moment, we’re still sisters. But the one friend who had the habit of getting so drunk that she’d slap strangers and throw drinks on them, whether they did anything to her or not? She is no longer part of the circle. I’m not out here auditioning for Bad Girls Club.

What’s your threshold for sticking up for the embarrassing behavior of your friends? What do you do about it?

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