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  • Felice Cohen

What’s Up, Girlfriend?

Descending on a friend’s apartment last week, four of us arrived like a pack of teenage girls – giggling and starving. Munching hors d’oeuvres and drinking Prosecco, we slipped into the relaxed atmosphere as the aroma of dinner sizzled on the stove.

Our ages ranging from 29 to 69, we were a jumble of ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions, representing single, dating, separated and divorced women. Seated around an actual dining room table, we ate a delightful meal as the sun cast a magical glow through the trees outside the windows. Then we “retired to the living room” where, shoes off, feet curled comfortably underneath ourselves, the five of us fell into a comfortable rapport. Over carrot cake, the discussion flowed smoothly across topics such as books, love, politics, and even our personal goals for the coming year. Before we knew it, four hours had passed. Reluctantly we split apart, promising over hugs to do it again soon.

Walking home I felt a kick in my step. Why?

In a recent class at Stanford University, the head of psychiatry, while discussing the mind-body connection, said, “One of the best things that a man can do for his health is to be married to a women whereas, for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health is to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.”

And I just had me a whole evenin’ of proof.

As adults it takes effort to maintain friendships. Growing up with two younger sisters, our house was constantly filled with gaggles of girls, but today many of my close friends – along with my sisters – live far away. Catching up over phone calls is nice, but after that dinner I realized it’s not the same.

Girlfriend time, this professor explained, helps “create serotonin, a neurotransmitter that works to generate feelings of well being and fights off depression… and failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking.”

Now I know why Sex and The City and The Golden Girls are two of my favorite TV shows. It was never because of the sex or even the cheesecake. It was the camaraderie between the women. Watching both programs made me feel as if I were a part of their tight knit group. And who knew, but it was also good for my health.

Thanks girlfriends!

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