I have a cadre of friends in this life that are of various sorts. The thing that they all have in common is that the real ones are unmistakable, like a welcome albatross that I wouldn't part with no matter how smelly or terrible it became.
A real friend is still your friend even if he asks you to a dance and you opt to go with someone else because, as you tell him, Person X asked me first and I'm afraid he'll be really sad if I don't say yes and you're really good looking - you can FIND a date. That real friend not only forgives you when you toss a card from your locker at him and say "Hey, I got this for your birthday but forgot to give it to you." - that same friend will then give that card BACK to you on your own birthday. That same friend is STILL your friend if you had a habit in high school if ignoring him when you had boyfriends, even though he might yell at you about it later. A lot. You had it coming though, so it's OK. It sounded something like "YEAH I LETTERED IN SWIMMING BUT YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT BECAUSE YOU WERE GOING STEADY WITH SIMON AND NO ONE ELSE EXISTED." That's actually verbatim, but to be fair I think wine coolers were involved.
Every person I'm "friends" with isn't this sort of friend, but my real friends - the ones whose funerals I will go to or who will go to mine, who I will or did cry when their parents die(d) because they are like my own family, they are a precious commodity. I don't have to question who I am in their lives, if they care, or if I matter to them. When I'm with them, I'm reminded of who I am. It's easy to forget who you are sometimes as a parent of four, two of whom are special needs. In fact when I'm with them I'm more myself than I was before they arrived.
Not Fred of course, that son of a bitch is perfect. :)
I'm on this course of thought today mainly because I got to spend a few hours with this guy who once gave me the Millennium Falcon in 8th Grade and I love him as much as can be. But also because one of my favorite authors has been going through the ringer with a best friend, a not real friend that disguised himself as something true. Watching her write about the devolution of the closest relationship of her life has given me pause in all my relationships, and made me hold the real ones closer in my brain. It's a sick condition that so often other people's misfortune gives us reason to appreciate what we have, but it's true. I work on trying to appreciate things for their value - not just because they aren't the bad alternative.
But I too, am a flawed human.
I am truly the luckiest person in the world. My friends are amazing, numerous and belligerent. I love them all.