Sometimes I wonder if true, deep, and meaningful friendships are of a bygone era. A neighbor of mine called on New Year’s Eve to wish us well. When I asked her plans for the evening, she said she and her husband were having dinner and martinis with the same group of friends they had spent New Year’s with for the past 50 years. I marveled at this tradition. My neighbor agreed it was wonderful but added, “Like any good relationship, it takes a lot of effort.” I had been planning a large dinner party with dancing and a midnight toast—until most of the people I invited dropped out at the last minute.I have tried to keep a tight group of friends together to meet every month or so to catch up. But inevitably, people are too busy or life gets overwhelming and months go by. Not a day passes when I don’t envy my grandmother. For 60 years, she had a group of girlfriends who met every month without fail to eat, drink, argue, comfort each other. These women were well known around Cuernavaca, Mexico, where they all lived. There were 12 of them and their reputations preceded them. They could drink any man under the table, they outlived several husbands, they survived botched plastic surgeries and implants, they endured the deaths of children, kidnappings and divorces. They were known as the Intocables—the Untouchables.
It all began in the 40s, when my grandmother began meeting some of the young mothers at Red Cross charity dances. Several young families had recently moved to Cuernavaca, then a placid resort town on the outskirts of Mexico City. They began meeting every month for their tanda, to collect money for the Sisters of the Holy Trinity.