Hello,  friends and Lighter Side readers! I’ve missed you the past couple of weeks and I’m delighted to be back. I’ve been spending all of my spare time with my dad, who has been battling cancer, so I’ve been missing in action.

This week, I’m bringing you a rerun, but I like a little positive spin, so let’s call it “Julie’s Greatest Hits” and agree that it’s time to relive some of the fun I’ve had during the past three years.

I’ll be back soon with new content, but in the meantime, enjoy this post from 2016 …

When you live in Mayberry, you are bound by ancient covenant to have the same group of friends from birth until death, or until you wish you are dead. As such, some small town natives have a hard time developing new friendships if they escape … I mean, leave, those charming burgs.

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse at my sparkling personality, you might find it hard to believe that I am afflicted with this ineptitude at making friends. I’m trying to change my solitary ways and find my people. I feel certain the way to make friends is by using this public forum as a want ad, listing the qualities I seek in members of my new entourage.

Making friends as a parent seems especially tricky since you not only have to jibe with your prospective friend, but your children and spouses must at least be able to be in the same room with each other. More than once when spending time with new people, I have whispered under my breath to Hubby “Don’t ruin this for me by talking about your connections in moonshine country for the next three hours!” It would be useless to try to coach the kids into being perfect little Stepford children, so I usually just remind them not to wipe their noses on any actual people.

Speaking of my children’s bad behavior, I’m going to need your kids to be at least a little bit of a disaster if we are going to be BFFs. My self worth as a parent just couldn’t take the blow if your four year old was using her manners to ask for another serving of organic carrots (but no ranch, thank you), and my six year old is using your toddler’s face for Nerf gun target practice while inhaling Funyuns. Let’s agree to overlook the little barbarians’ antics as long as we can drink coffee and debate important matters such as why people watch The Bachelor.

Recently I planned a playdate with a new friend, and in compliance with the Southerners code of behavior, she asked me to excuse the messy condition of her house when I arrived. (Of course you know, her house was nowhere near messy.) I responded by telling her that we cannot be friends if her home is showroom-worthy when I bring my demolition crew over. Likewise, any potential friend of mine should expect my home to look like the aftermath of a Megadeth concert.

I appreciate honesty in the people around me, but a friend should always know where the line is drawn. Should you tell me if I have spinach in my teeth? Of course. Should you point out that my yoga pants still have yesterday’s oatmeal on them? Without a doubt. Tell me when I’m having ridiculous expectations of my husband? Sure. But even though I trash-talk about my kids to you, and even if you totally agree, your line is “Oh, they’re just doing what every other kid their age is doing. They are precious snowflakes and I adore them.”

Mostly, I just need to know that you don’t have it together either. If you don’t brush your hair three days out of the week, if you sometimes threaten your kids with horrible consequences, if you can’t remember the last time you shaved your legs, if you would give a non-essential organ for a girls night out, if you’re doing the best you can, if you can laugh at yourself when you get it wrong: you’re my people.

Let’s be friends.

Overheard at the salon: If I ever get a wife, I’ll make sure she has granite countertops!