Third Best Friend

I had a friend once, she died a little minute ago, and I was her third best friend.

I know this because I shared my Five Friend Theory with her: that we can only have a certain number of friends in our lives, real friends that is, and I had deemed that I could have five friends, maybe seven at the outside.  So we jokingly made our lists, and then, continuing on with the laugh, ranked our friends in order.  So it became the Five Friend Theory and Ranking System.

I was her number three.

Not a great result, but not bad, as I was still in with a fighting chance should number one or two get sick, die, or put one of their prancyfancy little feet wrong.  “Third with a bullet” was how I liked to think of myself.

I didn’t invent the Five Friends Theory, a friend of a friend of mine did (I wasn’t on his list).  It was revealed to me in about 1993, and I have revered it ever since.  In my life I’ve found it extremely liberating, yet practical.


Someone at work is trying to get pally, suggesting after-work drinks and the like?  Sorry mate, you’re alright, but I already have my five friends.

Someone from the kids’ school trying to meet up for coffee and  impinge on your sitting-at-home-on-your-arse-staring-out-the-window time?  Sorry, I’d love to, but you see, I already have my five friends.

And on it goes.

Having such a list also clarifies things.  For example, if you find you are enjoying a chat with someone, and are tempted to see if they want to go for a walk to the National Park, or a trip to Ikea, first: consult the list.

Do you have a vacancy?

If yes, would you like to fill the vacancy?  (i.e. Are you taking applications?)

If no, can you create a vacancy by either eliminating someone, or putting them on the ‘drop off’ list? (The drop-off list is kind of like limbo)

See?  Very simple.  Sometimes there is a need to shuffle the rankings around a little, and of course fill vacancies, but other than that, the list maintains itself.  No time is wasted, forging friendships you can’t feasibly maintain.

So you can imagine my surprise and joy when Coco came home from school with a special little letter this week.  Special because it embodies all of the Five Friend Theory and Ranking System, then takes it to a whole new level of prestige and formality.

See for yourself:

Third best letter


It makes my heart swell to see the Five Friends Theory and Ranking System has reached the primary levels at school, and is being employed by seven year old girls.  I suspect the Grace may in fact be a little hasty in bestowing this honour on Coco as they have only met twice, but the sentiment is admirable none-the-less.

I don’t know who you are little Grace, but you made me cr-augh today.

Laugh at your intelligence and good sense in utilising the Five Friends Theory and Ranking System at such a young age.  It will save you much time in misspent and inefficient social engagements throughout your life.

Then you also made me cry.  Because I immediately wanted to show Hayls the certificate (and demand one of my own).  And then I remembered I couldn’t show her.

Because my third best friend is dead.


I know she would’ve read that note, and made the room full of her laugh.

I can imagine it perfectly.

And today, for that small thing, I am thankful.


Do you have a list?  I have a vacancy and it SUCKS.

…From The Ashers xx