MWF Seeking BFF

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Rachel Bertsche moved to Chicago with her boyfriend and eventually got married. She thought her life was set. But then she realized she was missing something: a best friend. Bertsche's book, MWF seeking BFF, details her search for a best friend in Chicago. She joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.

See an excerpt from the book below.

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In the early 1900s, a German sociologist put forth the theory of triadic closure: that one’s friends will find it easy to become friends with each other. These days, scientists use Facebook and the like to prove the theory’s validity. They say triadic closure helps explain exclusionary social cliques and why we tend toward building social networks rather than a smattering of individual friendships.

That’s all great, and makes good sense. But I’m getting tired of mutual friend setups. They may help widen networks, but they come with baggage. Stories we’ve heard about each other, judgments that have been passed, endless chatter about people and places in common rather than any substantial conversation. My next two dates, Margot and Kim, are totally new. There are no preconceived notions of who the other one is. I met Margot over a year ago. She was the salesgirl on duty when I bought my wedding dress. We clicked and exchanged emails dancing around the topic of getting together, but it never happened. The same was true of Kim. We met in a cooking class, hit it off, exchanged contact information, and then never used it. I’ve sent each of them my “I’m finally following through” email and they seemed genuinely pleased to hear from me. Kim even wrote, “It will be refreshing to hang out with someone new.” Score.

Now I’ve got plans with both and am jumping out of my seat at the idea of meeting people with a completely clean slate. I’m like a kindergartner at the bus stop on the first day of school. We have no mutual friends in Chicago that we’ll feel obligated to invite along when we want to hang out. Our opinions of each other won’t be tainted by any rumblings from others that Margot’s “nice but ditzy” or Kim’s “awesome but a selfish friend” or Rachel’s “funny but snappy sometimes.”

Good or bad, we can find it all out on our own.

Basically I want a BFF to myself. Again, I’m like a kindergartner on the first day of school. I’m not interested in sharing.

I feel like these new potential buddies bring the possibility of a whole new Chicago. After only two months I’m eager, not nervous, to meet virtual strangers. I think they call this progress.

The date with Margot is first. We arrive at Market, the restaurant next to my office, at 6:30. We don’t leave until 10. At dinner, she chats up the waiter until we’ve been blessed with free drinks. I’m in awe. I’m the girl who’s overly polite to waitstaff, lest they hock a loogie in my soup, but I’m no good at, nor have I ever really tried, befriending them. I feel a little like the nerdy kid in school who’s been adopted by the cool girl, even if Margot is three years younger.

Other than the fact that we’re both white, Margot and I couldn’t be more different. She’s a pastor’s daughter from Ohio, the middle child of eight kids. She got engaged at 18, then broke it off before meeting the boyfriend with whom she moved to Chicago. She sells wedding dresses and knows pretty much every style number by heart (I learn this when I test her, as I’ve been trying to identify a dress I tried on that Callie wants for her upcoming wedding. When I show her the iPhone picture of me wearing it, she says, “Oh, Angel Sanchez, style #n3006.” Impressive).

“So, then, do you love Say Yes to the Dress?” I figure we should get to the important stuff first and I’ve been known to waste hours in front of the TLC reality show.

“I can’t watch it. Too close to home,” she says. “But I can tell you it’s absolutely accurate.”

We discuss religion. “I am, I think, an agnostic Jew,” I tell her. (If I’m not even sure of that, does that make me an agnostic agnostic?) “You?”

“I’m . . . spiritual,” she says. “I definitely believe in God, but I don’t love organized religion.”

Then Margot throws me for a loop. “Oooh, I’ve got a great one,” she says, bouncing in her seat with excitement. “Do you believe in soul mates?”

You mean, like us?

I don’t actually say that. But I want to. Instead I spend a moment formulating my answer, as if the fate of our friendship rests on my response. I decide to quote one of my favorite movies, Kissing Jessica Stein. “ I don’t believe there’s just one person. I think there are, like, seven.” She agrees. Phew.

Jessica Stein was referring to romantic partners, but her wisdom applies to my search, too. When I tell family and friends about the plan, they always ask: “What if you meet the one at, say, date ten? Will you stop?” The answer is no. There’s room for more than one best friend in my life. I could have, like, seven. Just as I don’t want to put everything on Matt—I need a BFF so I don’t dump everything on him—I’m nervous to invest everything into one friend. What if she moves away? I start a new search? A few supertight friendships would be ideal. If I come out of this year with five women I’m comfortable calling just to say hi, I’d consider it a great success.

Excerpted from MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche Copyright © 2012 by Rachel Bertsche. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

And -- watch a trailer for the book in the video below:


Rachel Bertsche appearances in Chicago:

Thursday, January 12

7:00 pm

The Book Cellar

4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.

Chicago, IL 60625

Wednesday, January 18

7:00 pm

Highland Park Public Library

494 Laurel Ave.

Highland Park, IL 60035

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