The Friend That Made Me, Me – Penny

I get a lot of emails from people who love the “made me, me” series.  Whether it be books, or friends, these series shed light on what makes members of the AOW community who they are, on their stories and histories.  
Penny‘s written for us before, writing that makes you want to break out into spontaneous applause.  We know she wields her words like you would a knife. But this conclusion here, today?  Bam. 
Thanks, Pensky.  Over to you:   
Wasps are naughtier than bees.
Catie was the girl at my new primary school who was better at me than everything. I couldn’t stand her. She threatened the strongest belief I held about myself at the age of 11-  that I was The Best At Everything. Suddenly I wasn’t the only genius at English and Maths and Art and Drama and Music and Science anymore. And neither was she – and she hated it. We danced around each other like cross little princesses, convinced one was about to dethrone the other.

But then (with a rousing, cinematic score playing in the background) these enemies learned that by combining forces they could take on the world. And slowly we learned to like each other. Before we knew it, we were inseparable. But rather than simply using our powers for good, we decided to use them to be just a little bit naughty.

Aha! Nefarious thought strikes!
Oh how we liked to be naughty. Mostly the standard adolescent naughtiness of dressing up in sequins and heels and fake fur and pretending we were at least six years older than we actually were in order to blag in to clubs….locking ourselves in the bathroom and drinking Martini til we both threw up…but also stealing wheeled laundry pallets on a certain camping trip and racing them through the campsite…daring boys who liked us to run to the chippy naked but for a sarong and then giggling in hysterical impish glee as they race back at full pelt chased by a police car….and a lot of other things I’d rather not say in case one of our mothers (who have already spent most of our lives shaking their heads disapprovingly at the other one’s bad influence) might stumble across this. Suffice to say, whatever idea one came up with, the other would egg them on until we were both running down the road screaming, pursued by somebody in authority, wielding a baton.

What is a friend for if not somebody to hold your hand while you experience the world, push the boundaries and find out who you are?

It’s Cowboy Time! (ten t-t-ten t-t-ten ten ten….tenuous?)
And a friend holds up a mirror to you. When those awful times come around in life that make you lose you grip on the world, a friend gives you perpsective.

Catie has helped me out of the darkest dark horrible terrifying place I have ever been in, just by repeatedly reminding me who I am.  Sometimes you forget your own self. You need other people to remind you why they love you. It is not a weakness. It is simply humanity. We are lucky to have each other. We are ALL lucky to have the people who love us. The people who pick us up, dust us down and send us on our way.

I am fortunate to have my wonderful, amazing husband, my family and my friends.

But I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Catie, and that’s because we have grown together.

Our lives have intertwined to create a joint consciousness built from countless memories, mistakes and triumphs – all shared.

Cups of tea on top of a Ferris wheel at sunrise, dancing round to Sister Act II in our parent’s living room, sobbing over endless stupid boys, getting drunk on the dodgems at the village fair, dying each others hair every colour of the rainbow, dancing til our feet hurt in endless warehouses and filthy basement clubs, getting banned from school concerts for playing in our sweary punk band, childishly throwing increasingly large objects at each other from across the room when we’re bored at parties (we still do this: it’s still not big, it’s still not clever).

At the start of our most ridiculous New Year’s party ever – we had pants on our heads by the end, I believe.
Part of me wonders – what would have happened if I had never met this outgoing, ridiculous firework of a best friend? Would I still be the social tortoise who sticks her head into her shell the minute anybody speaks to her? The bespectacled girl who would rather stick her nose in a book than go out dancing? The awkward introvert who would never in a million years have gone out and met the awesome man I am now married to?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that you cannot put a price on somebody looking you straight in the eye and saying “I choose you”. You are not her family, you are not her partner or spouse, in fact – she doesn’t really need you at all, technically. She has a hundred or more friends and a thousand acquaintances. But she chooses YOU as her best one. YOU as the one she can’t live without, hasn’t lived without for twenty years, because of the person you are, because of your brilliance, because of your crap bits too, because she cannot imagine her world without you.

Who needs to be the best at anything when you can have that?

As far as I am concerned, you have your sister. You have already won.

Laughing as we still can’t quite believe somebody is stupidly about to marry one of us.
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Friend That Made Me Me, Life Experience
10 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    To be honest a little bit gutted (if not at all surprised) that the role of Penny's BFF is taken. But as usual, totes amazing writing and jealousy-inducing pictures with lashings of rock and roll. I am a Penny Fangirl loud and proud, me.

  2. Mahj
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Penny Penny Pensky. I effing love you. And your writing. And your BFF. And the way you write about said BFF.

    That is all.


  3. Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Love this, and LOVE THE FINAL PHOTO AND CAPTION! You both look so cool!

  4. Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    YES!! COWBOY TIME!!! You are the only person I've ever heard call it that apart from my dad (and me, obvs). Ten-te-teeennnn!

    Oh, and the rest of the post was amazeballs too, of course :)

  5. Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Applications open for the role of Penny's lieutenant BFF. I don't look like Catie in a bikini, though. Or have any cool in my entire being. So the odds are against me.

    Pensky, this is amazing writing and a hell of a tribute. Thanks so much for allowing us to post this. It's intimate and powerful and affirms what women can achieve together, if you let them.

  6. Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Oh Penny! I love it. You are so very clever. And I love that fact that you hated your best-friend-to-be for being as clever as you. What a formidable duo!

  7. Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    What a pair of nitwits more like, I promise you nobody in real life thinks we're cool (apart from the other one, obv). Sam constantly refers to us as "pair of dickheads".

    Thankyou for your lovely comments everybody, and thanks to AOW for posting this, I can't wait for Catie to see it. Debating whether to get her to log on now or wait til we're a bit tiddly at my birthday drinks on Friday for maximum delight. And I'm so happy that somebody knows what cowboy time is Kirsty – you win!!


  8. Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Oh I don't get cowboy time no matter how many times I read it, can someone explain?

    This is such a lovely dedication to Catie, Penny. And fab writing as always! What an amazing friendship you guys have, you're so lucky to have someone other than your husband that you're so close to.


  9. Soph
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    a) Christ on a bike you're gorgeous, the pair of you!

    b)my fiance calls my sister and I 'a pair of dickheads' ALL THE TIME. We, naturally, hear 'a pair of awesomes'.

    c) I love you quite a lot Penny. I would have thought that was weird before the joyous days of AOW, now I think it's quite alright.

    Soph xx

  10. L
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    My dad used to say cowboy time all the time too. My favourite bit of this whole post is the caption of the last photo.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post