Nobody gives you more crap than your friends. If you were walking down the street and saw a stranger stumble over a curb and fall down on the sidewalk, you’d probably go over, help them up, and ask if they’re okay. On the other hand, if your friend hit the pavement the same way, your first instinct would probably be some wiseass remark: “Didn’t you see the curb, idiot?” “What, are you checking the ground for hardness?” “Look out, there’s extra gravity here.”

You don’t really mean harm to your buddy. Making fun of each other is a way of expressing your closeness. Which reminds me of a story my father told me about his youth.

As a teenager, he worked as a short order cook in a neighborhood place that served hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, and ice cream. This was so long ago (think mid-1930s) that for a nickel, you could get a banana split sundae, complete with three scoops of ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and a cherry on top. Dad usually worked the grill, but occasionally he’d be pressed into service to take customers’ orders, which he was able to do without writing them down because his memory was so good (and the menu options so few).

One day, four of his pals came in and sat down in a booth. As he went over to take their order, he noticed them trying to suppress big grins on their faces, so he knew something was up. These were among his closest friends in the neighborhood, so naturally, they had to give him a hard time. Dad pointed to each one as they told him what they wanted. They each ordered banana splits, but with three different flavors of ice cream. One wanted vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Another wanted chocolate chip, pistachio, and chocolate. The third wanted two scoops of chocolate and one chocolate chip. The fourth wanted strawberry, pistachio, and chocolate chip. After each order, Dad nodded or said, “Got it,” before moving on to the next.

Then he went behind the counter to make their sundaes, giving all of them three scoops of vanilla and none of the other flavors. “Fuck ’em,” he thought, as he served the desserts with a straight face. As he put the plates down in front of them, the boys could hardly contain themselves as they dug in and burst out laughing.

That’s what friends are for.