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7:45 AM Mon, Dec. 17th

Do your friends scatter like the wind-blown dust in the desert in times of need?

Just about everyone trudges through life striving to improve their quality of life, hoping to make their mark on society in general, attempting to help people in need, trying to be a better person, and yes, attempting to make as many friends as possible.

Everybody loves to associate with people they consider their friends.

When you think of friends, most believe and hope all of their friends are true friends who will be there for them at all times, especially when life might have those periods as "a storm on the ocean" and there might not be "smooth sailing."

Most think their friends will be there for them always, but I must say that's not a truism. There are different degrees of friends, some whom are less desirable than others. There are: those who stand beside you no matter what is happening - thick and thin - the true-friend variety that gives it their all and asks for nothing in return; those who always seem to gravitate around you when they need something; those who want to share in your lime-light and sometimes want to take credit for things you accomplish even if they had nothing to do with the accomplishments or achievements; those who you might consider friends, but in times of need, you come to the realization they are not your friends, but are just acquaintances; and the worst of the bunch, the fair-weather variety.

One might wonder what the fair-weather variety of friend is. The dictionary indicates fair-weather is an adjective. It is a phrase preceding a noun and describes a particular person or group of people behaving in a particular way or doing a particular activity only when it is pleasant for them; thus a fair-weather friend is someone who stops being a friend when you are in trouble or they no longer need your services.

Those friends, to use the term loosely, are actually fair-weather friends. They either act as if you have leprosy when something is askew, seem to have lost your phone number when a simple call of support means a lot and act or tell everyone something was your fault even if you had nothing to do with it. They seem to "stab you in the back," not necessarily physically, but verbally when it was actually a problem or situation they themselves caused to occur.

What type are your friends? Are your friends really friends or are they the menagerie of the fair-weather variety that speaks with a forked tongue or seems to have forgotten all you have done for them in the past?

In the military, it is a tradition that true friends can go long periods of time without speaking and never question their friendships. These friends pick up just like they spoke yesterday, regardless of how long it has been or how far apart they live. The friendships fostered in the military epitomize the true meaning of friends - there are no falsehoods as can occur in the civilian community. Military friendships can be deemed BFF or best friends forever!

All I can say is choose your friends wisely and in times of "troubled waters," you'll actually learn who your true friends are and who are not.

I honestly thought some of the players in regard to a situation I'm aware of were extremely intelligent and cared about other people's feelings, but I was wrong. They have actually turned out to be the stereotypical less-than-desirable characters that have nothing better to do than attempt to inflate their own egos, verbally boaster their self-worth and attempt to make the lives of others miserable. I guess this is what makes them tick.

A morbid test would be to tell all of your alleged friends you have been diagnosed with cancer, only have about one year to live and see how fast your alleged true friends disappear. "Dollar to donut," not too many will be standing by your side to support you in times of need.

There are many questions people could ask others about what type of friends they have, but the optimal question would be today, "What type of friend are you; the true-unconditional friend or the abundant every-day-run-of-mill-fair-weather variety?" Do your ignominious actions and less-than-desirable character traits make you ashamed or are you oblivious to the fact your decision as to what type of friend you are and how it affects others?

Remember, good karma and true friendships always cause good things to happen to you, but bad karma will come back to bite you in the butt.

I would hope you'd like to have good things happen to you!