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Friendship is not a subject we give a lot of thought to. As the saying goes, we know who our friends are. But we've probably never considered the difference between, say, "convenience friends" and "crossroads friends." Judith Viorst has, and the classification of friends she outlines here will probably ring true to you.
Source: Friends, Good Friends—and such Good Friends by Judith Viorst

Please tell me, "What does this 'crossroads friends' mean?"

And also is this sentence grammatically wrong: Judith Viorst has, and the classification of friends she outlines here will probably ring true to you.

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3  
Most likely the rest of the essay explains it. I'm not familiar with the term, myself. –  snailboat Mar 30 at 10:16
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It's a grammatical abbreviation which is appropriate for language which favors brevity over precise clarity and ease of reading: "Judith Viorst has [considered the difference], and..." Similar to: "Did you eat the pie?" Answer:"I did, and it was delicious." I agree that the sentence can induce a sense of confusion (or delayed comprehension) that is not resolved until fully understood in context. Difficult sentences, however, are not necessarily an indication of poor grammar or style. –  CoolHandLouis Mar 30 at 13:41
    
Who wrote this paragraph about Judith Viorst? –  CoolHandLouis Apr 1 at 9:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The following is my line-by-line analysis of the covert rhetorical techniques used in the entire paragraph.


The author's entire bias is buried in rhetoric throughout the paragraph. The paragraph includes complications and introduces ambiguities. One might consider this poor style if they did not recognize it as advanced rhetoric. First consider:

Friendship is not a subject we give a lot of thought to.

Note the presumptuous and indirect use of "we give" rather than a more direct "you do not give". Also note the use of "not" being placed further away from the the verb. Compare with the following:

Friendship is a subject you do not give a lot of thought to.

Clearly, the original sentence is more easily acceptable to a reader. The next sentence is rhetorical:

As the saying goes, we know who our friends are.

Is there really such "a saying"? One could just as easily say, "As the saying goes, we only know who our friends are when the going gets tough." The next sentence introduces a false "we've probably never considered" along with an arbitrary statement:

But we've probably never considered the difference between, say, "convenience friends" and "crossroads friends."

The "but" is an empty segue that only seems to make sense. This is a false "we've probably never" because the referenced author is the one who is defining the difference. It would be like someone introducing Einstein's seminal paper with "we've probably never considered the theory of relativity...but Einstein has...". The word "say" hides a carefully crafted and deliberately persuasive point within an informal, impromptu voice. And the final statement is the target statement:

Judith Viorst has, and the classification of friends she outlines here will probably ring true to you.

The sentence is understood as follows:

"Judith Viorst has [considered the difference], and the classification of friends she outlines here will probably ring true to you.

Grammatically, it's similar to the following:

"Did you eat the pie?"

"I did, and it was delicious."

This statement "sneaks in" the "fact" that Judith has considered such a "marvelous thought" that "the rest of us dummies never thought about". All of that within a single word: "has". That "fact" is quickly buried in complexity and ambiguity, so by the time you figure out what it means, you can forget that the author said something questionable. In other words, the author's writing is highly rhetorical, and she is hiding the rhetoric with complexity and ambiguity.

This is not necessarily "bad". In fact, it's quite an impressive study in the use of effective, covert rhetoric. This construction is idiomatic of positive book reviews as well as book-selling copy on both the back cover and front jacket flap.

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Hi. your answer is very useful for me. Thank you very much –  user3731 Mar 31 at 9:46

Real helpful friends:

Crossroads:

  1. the point at which an important choice has to be made (esp. in the phrase at the crossroads)
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I'd rather feel that in this sense 'crossroads friends' would rather mean 'a coincidental friend' that you just happened to go along at some crossroads, not relating in any way to some important choices you've made. –  Peteris Mar 30 at 18:04

The original source puts the two phrases in quotation marks, indicating these are not established terms. That said, I can guess their meanings.

"Convenience" is often used in a disparaging way, in that one's motives are being questioned. The implication is: The main reason you are doing this is because it's expedient for you. (For example, "convenience sex" refers to the act when little or no long-term emotional commitment is involved or expected. Dictionaries define marriage of convenience as "A marriage that is arranged for practical, financial, or political reasons" – love not included.)

Convenience friend doesn't appear to be oft-used, but the meaning isn't hard to figure out.

In college, I had a close friend who eventually became a wealthy businessman. When you are a wealthy businessman (particularly a generous businessman), it's easy to find friends – but it's hard to discern why these people are your friends. When you are out of money, will they desert you?

However, I was very close to this man when he was a poor college student. He had little to offer except his keen mind and his great sense of humor. He's never questioned whether I was a crossroads friend or a convenience friend, because I was already his friend well before he was at the crossroad where he entered into business.

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