Friday, February 27, 2009

Hungry Like the Wolf

Wednesday I had lunch with someone (postworthy in itself), and that someone is one of the eponymous wolves of this blog, in fact the wolf. Lunch was at Sushi 101, also postworthy since sushi is a rare fish indeed in rural South Carabunga. And it was delicious. But I digress.

This particular friend, whom I shall refer to as Best Writer Girl Friend (or BWGF), became my friend in the early '90s. If you think waaaaaay back to that era, you might remember the two titles that were violated to form the phrase in question. They are Women Who Run With The Wolves, and Dances With Wolves. The former was the female empowerment bible du jour, and the latter was -- in case you were unborn or living on the moon at the time -- a wildly popular movie. The title refers to the protagonist's honorary Native American name. No doubt in PC-world I should be able to name the tribe/nation and dialect, but excuse me, I haven't seen the movie. And it was a movie, people.

[Oh, and anyone who confuses wolf-bitch with that appalling pop-culture artifact, cougar, should expect to be mauled in a dark restaurant sometime very soon. We are watching you from the shadowed booth in the corner, and we are sharpening our pencils. ]

Women Who Run With The Wolves' popularity coincided with the advent of female friendships in my life. Prior to my thirties I had had only one or two close friendships with women. I was profoundly distrustful of women, whether because I am one and know too well our faults and duplicity, or because I was raised with brothers, by a mother who was beautiful, intelligent, briskly efficient, and keenly sarcastic. She had no patience with the girly life (simpering and eye-fluttering produced a snort of derision) hates fussing over clothes, thinks makeup is a chore, and would rather read a good mystery than go to the mall.
Entering my thirties I had the good fortune to encounter a therapist who had a practical approach -- she encouraged me to find emotional sustenance in people other than my therapist and my husband, in activities other than therapy or marriage. She also gave me homework: read Women Who Run with The Wolves. So yes, ma'am, I did. The book has endured some backlash but I think it has held up well, and it will always hold a place in my heart and my psyche. My affection for it may have to do with my childhood obsession with The Jungle Book. NOT the Disney mishmash; but the authentic, humid, deeply British yet anti-colonialist Kipling original, beloved by my passionate nine-year-old heart and woven deep into my subconscious.

As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled
Once, twice and again!
And a doe leaped up, and a doe leaped up
From the pond in the wood where the wild deer sup.
This I, scouting alone, beheld,
Once, twice and again!
As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled
Once, twice and again!
And a wolf stole back, and a wolf stole back
To carry the word to the waiting pack,
And we sought and we found and we bayed on his track
Once, twice and again!
As the dawn was breaking the Wolf Pack yelled
Once, twice and again!
Feet in the jungle that leave no mark!
Eyes that can see in the dark--the dark!
Tongue--give tongue to it! Hark! O hark!
Once, twice and again!
Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack, by Rudyard Kipling

Having done my homework, I set out into the wilderness of suburban life. One community theater audition later,* I had several friends, all women. I nurtured these friendship all the more fiercely for the novelty of sisterhood. I am very glad that I did. Two of those friendships (hi Tinkerbell) have lasted fifteen years; without the two of them, I would have missed out on a great deal of joy, and the best things that have happened to me since have been all the sweeter for sharing with them. One of the two is BWGF, without whose support I would have given up on writing long ago.

Fast forward a couple of years. BWGF's then boyfriend, who had been taught to understand the importance of sisterhood and not get in our way, referred to her circle of friends/writers as "that pack of wolves you run with." Which phrase, being pretty funny, lodged itself in our lexicon.

Another coupla years, and a glass of wine or two over lunch with the wolves, and I went home to report on the state of the pack. During that post-prandial post-mortem, I received my honorary faux Native American name: I am Lunches With Wolves.

I am not entirely sure whether the phrase was uttered by me or The Him. I have a tendency toward confabulation and often co-opt his stories, as he co-opts mine. So I will split the difference and say that we came up with it. (but I'm sure it had to be me.)

To BWGF and my she-wolf friends, old and new, and a nod to Kipling:

Here's to the she-wolves who've kept me sane,
the sisters who ward from impending pain,
who welcome the night with a wild refrain:
Once, twice, and again!

When's the next full moon?

[*The show was Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and I was Emilie the courtesan. You know, the writing desk.]


  1. Friendships are a grace.

    I wish I had a group of friends with a name. I have friends, we just don't have a name.

    I once tried to get a sewing group together (you know, so we could be DOING SOMETHING while we talked) and call it the Sisterhood of the Darned but they were too busy. ;)

  2. Lacota was the tribal language spoken in Dances With Wolves.
    Your beautiful, intelligent, efficient, sarcastic parent!!

  3. Hey, what about the Duran Duran song, "Hungry like a Wolf" .
    God that was really fun to dance to back in the day.
    Best memory of that is Fort Lauderdale, 1983, delicious-ness!