Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘friends’

Fear as the Dark Mother of Moving

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Yes, I am moving to Texas – the land of big hair and blue eyeshadow. I know, I know. But it’s my fear after spending ten of my formative years in Alabama feeling under made-up and under poufy-haired.

I keep thinking about fear, fear of moving, fear of my friends forgetting me, fear of loneliness from a general incompetence in making new friends, fear of the heat in Texas, fear that I am throwing out something important. The list goes on and on.

So, I went for a walk last night around Five Points late in the evening when the scraggly trees blend with the night sky. Total patches of the earth are black and vision-proof. I kept wandering the streets, shuffling my way along pavements occasionally stubbing a toe or tripping, bouncing off tree branches, feeling the spiders from said branches land in my hair, and working my way into a panic attack.

Like most Scots, when I’m worried, I walk and walk for a while, late at night, regulating my breath so the fear coalesces, snaking back into the dark edges to lay in waiting for the next time that it can grab me.

I can’t remember ever being freaked out about walking at night. I’ve walked this area for almost 20 years. I’ve survived the night of Dropping Spiders (one April evening I found three had dropped down crowning me with 24 legs – still makes me shiver). I have listened to the trains go past with the chug-a-lug sound, never changing in these two decades, and wondered about where I was going in life. I’ve sat on the swings in the park, surrounded by the toys of happily innocent kids and speculated if the wisdom gained is worth the innocence lost. In the dark, I have admitted my failures, where I’ve been mean or thoughtless, ignored then stared in the face my aging with the creeping vista of finitude, death. I’ve cursed and cried, laughed and said “I love you” where no one can hear me.

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I’ve met Kali, the dark mother, twice in one weekend walking these streets. During yoga teacher training, I walked my beagle-dachshund mix, PooPet, at 11:30 one Friday night. My doggie loved the darks holes, where the light had disappeared with the dipping sun and would scamper into places that looked fit for Moray Eels or Jack the Ripper. Nothing stopped her thirty pounds of courageous canine, but that night, we tromped along, meandering an uneven sidewalk when a silhouette stepped into the road. In a long robe, features obliterated, with a croak she whispered, “Don’t be afraid.” I remember opening my eyes wide, struggling to remain upright as PooPet jerked the chain to run behind my legs. When I gained my balance, the street was dark, leaves slithered in the breeze, and we were alone in the darkness. I didn’t think too much of it beyond, “Holy moly, we have weird ass people in this neighborhood.” But then the next night, walking the dog, another woman stepped into the light in the middle of the road. Even backlit I could tell that she was not the same woman. She lifted her arms toward the trees, and PooPet let out a bark that morphed into a whimper. The air stopped moving. I couldn’t breathe. Now I was seriously freaked out. PooPet was still, and for a moment, I could feel my blood move through my body, like I was being watered from the inside.

This Kali was formal, “There is no need to be frightened.” I think I said, “Uh, yeah, Okay.” At that point I was scared as fuck, running down that road to the safety of my townhouse. It didn’t stop me from returning to the training class the next day, but I was really, really, very alert between yoga poses.

Maybe that’s the way this is supposed to be. I am aware, actually frightened, that things could go wrong in a big way. But. I’m still going to move to Texas. My friends, come along for the ride but hold on. This will shake us up! Anyone up for a walk?

Om Kali Ma

 

Half Waxed

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Over a decade ago, swayed by peer pressure, I tried bikini waxing for the first time. My friend warned me to go to a salon for the service. Being cheap and overestimating my smarts, I thought I would try it at home.

“Do you think that’s wise?” she said.

“Can’t be that difficult. They sell kits at the drug store,” I said blithely.

Bad, very bad idea. The drug store and their waxing kits lied.  I have managed to give myself a concussion and melt my underwear to the left side of my crotch. Here’s my story:

After perusing the personal products aisle of the drug store for an hour, I went to the counter for some help.  “What product would you suggest for home waxing?”

The woman’s penciled eyebrows lifted three inches.  “How much pain can you endure?”  That’s such a bad question.

“Uh, I’m not a total wimp”.  Then a client beeped me.  So I may have missed some vital information.  The phone call took some time and when it was finished, the woman was helping other customers – customers who were buying gum, newspapers, and magazines.  No waxing products.  So off to the personal products aisle again.  I picked up the most expensive waxing kit thinking this is no time to skimp.

Following the kit’s instructions, I laid out a brownie pan, plastic gloves, the block of wax, scissors, a wooden spoon, two ice packs and my contribution to the process, a small glass of Scotch for the pain.  Some of the instructions were baffling.  I put on a favorite pair of green bikinis because I wanted a clean line for the finished product.  (Note to anyone — never wear polyester undies while waxing – the reason will become apparent later).  As directed, I melted the wax in the brownie pan using the wooden spoon.  The dogs laid their heads to one side before starting a low baying sound.  I poured some wax on the right side of my crotch and then on the left side before the pain registered.  I screamed.  The animals jumped back barking.  (Another note to anyone — always test the temperature of the wax before applying.)

From pubic bone to mid thigh was bright red. There was an interesting smell.  My skin was disintegrating.  One layer of skin, maybe two.  Definitely first degree burns.  Hoping to avoid the second degree blistering, I quickly yanked off the wax from the right side.  Immediately I passed out from the pain.  The best I can tell, I hit my head on the counter on the way down.  I woke into painful consciousness, stars buzzing around my head like in a Looney Tunes Cartoon, lying curled in the fetal position on the kitchen floor.  The two dogs and the cat were looking at me with these quizzical expressions of “should we eat her now?”

By that time, the underwear on my left side had melted to my crotch.  (Polyester melts in hot wax — very important note.)  Holding the counter for support, I got myself upright and chugged the glass of Scotch with two aspirin from the junk drawer. I corralled the animals, shoved them into the utility room, and closed the door.  Taking a deep breath, I yanked at the strip of wax on my left side of my crotch.  Off came a good inch of skin and melted undies.  I quickly found the ice pack and applied it while jumping around the kitchen.  The room was dark and hopefully the neighbors had not seen my personal auto-da-fe.  Now, what do I do?  The choices were dire.

First, I assessed the situation.  The right side of my crotch was a bright red field of blisters with small patches of scorched earth.  The left side looked worse.  One inch was oozing blood like partially defrosted hamburger.  A good four inches was covered with hard wax and melted spring green undies.

Second, I outlined my three options.  I could continue to self-mutilate my crotch by tearing off the fricassee of wax, undies, skin, and connective tissue.  I’m not sure I had the fortitude for such an option.  I could call Barbara and after she stopped laughing, she could help we with the left side.  This could be embarrassing as I conjured up the image of us tugging at my crotch.  That left option number three.  I could cut off as much of the melted wax – undies – skin – connective tissue combo as possible with my old dissecting scissors, apply burn balm, and cover the wound with a dressing then go to bed.

I picked option number three, bandaged myself, and phoned my friend.

“My crotch is toast.”

“We must have a bad connection. You’re eating toast? What about your crotch?”

“No. No. In the process of home waxing I learned some important life lessons.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. What did you learn?”

“Waxing is rocket science and should be left to the professionals. And. One should never wax with animals nearby.”

“Did they bite?”

“No but I think they were trying to decide if I was dead. Oh and never, ever overheat your polyester undies.  They will melt.”

“Should I call the paramedics?”

“Nah. Off to apply more ice. Stop laughing.  It’s not funny.”

“You’re a mess.” My friend hung up. I hear her laughter every time I shudder past the personal products aisle in a drug store.

 

Bad Hair Days

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I’ve had a two-year run of bad luck. Not horrific big bad luck but the kind of luck that wears away at you. I am the pebble in the middle of the roaring river eroding away into a mass of crankiness.

First there is my damnable car. Never ever buy a Fiat. Italian design does not make up for bad wiring and Hendricks Service Center. These people are incompetent. While the car does not meet the legal definition for a lemon, it makes my mouth pucker. I am on first name basis with a representative of Fiat who must regularly scour the FaceBook pages of all things Fiat for my posts.

“Emily, it’s me again.”

“Uh what’s the car doing?”

“Well, the engine shut off and I had it towed to Hendricks Fiat.”

An hour later, Emily called back. “They can’t find your car at Hendricks.”

She’s a nice young thing. I can hear her cringe over the phone when we talk. I don’t curse or yell but I am ready to drive the thing, I refuse to call it a car – that’s giving it too much credit, over a cliff.

Second, I have had a series of painful operations and medical procedures for the last eighteen months. I am not a ‘nice’ patient being the type who does extensive research beforehand. When I don’t understand something about my care, I ask for an explanation, throwing doctors’ schedules off. I will go and cry in a doctor’s waiting room alarming other patients if they ignore me. More effectively, I will write the NC Medical Board and call the insurance company when I receive substandard care. Probably wouldn’t want me as a patient either.

But the straw that broke the camel’s back, my back, was last week when my hair started falling out from all the stress. Really folks, I have chunks of hair saying ‘bye-bye’ to my scalp to clog my sink. I have learned to use a plumber’s snake. Fudsicles or other words. I’ve never had great hair except for 1998 and the first four months of this year. And today I am getting it cut off. Again.Whine, whine, whine.

This is sucky. I am in the pits except … I have friends. Wonderful crazy ass friends who commiserate and then don’t.

Friends who take me to the Angus Barn when I have two black eyes and a beard of bruises on my face. Parents covered their children’s faces as I approached. A 40ish man fell off his bar stool after one look at me. Not my problem.  I asked the waitress, “Do you have anything soft to eat?” It’s a steak and ribs place. “Can I have a straw for my Chardonnay?” My friends kept talking between my slurps of mashed potatoes and sips of wine. I guess he made it back on the bar stool. I felt Medusa powerful.

Friends who love me no matter how silly and self-indulgent I am, for a little while. Friends who care take.

“Take your painkillers.”

“No I can tough it out.”

“Take them now you’re being a pain in the ass.”

I have the ability to work, not as much or as thoughtfully as I would like but still work. I found a voice, my medicated voice sort of like Freud or Sherlock Holmes. Ergo, a 430-page manuscript full of sex and violence written last year titled “50 Shades of Meow” meets “The Mummy.”

I have a sister who talks to me. Really. Lots of families don’t talk. We don’t agree on a lot but we are connected to each other.

I have a body that I am sure somehow, someday, will become pain-free and mobile again. Soon. Maybe not in the way or to the degree I wanted but good enough.

I had the opportunity to love something, dancing tango, for years with an obsession that was quite obsessive. Did you want to know about my collection of matching satin shoes and handbags for each of my tango dresses? No I didn’t think so. I learned there is an arc for loves, things, and events in this life. I am learning to let go.

Bad luck. I wouldn’t wish it on you but if you have a streak of it, you’ll reach deep down to find a way through and that I wouldn’t give up for all the good luck in the world. Bad luck taught me to know myself.  Count the blessings of friends. Laugh at myself. Stand up for myself. Love myself in all my crankiness. I don’t wish it for you but give me a call if it happens to you. I’ll listen to you whine then kick your ass into gear.

Off to get a really short haircut.

Friends and Shoes

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After the year of surgeries, as I refer to 2015, I am aware from toes to fingertips of the importance of friends. They shuttle you to doctors’ offices, listen to your medication-invoked ramblings, get the tissues for you after one more painful procedure, and feed you.

But I these memories are too close for me to view too closely. I need further therapy. Today I will pay homage to friendship with a goofy tale of two friends who went that extra … step for me.

Many years ago, when my heart was young or at least a tad less cynical, I danced tango. Not the stiffly beautiful ballroom tango but the achey-breakey heart Argentine tango. The dance of the bordellos or in North Carolina, the dance of late night restaurants with good wood floors where the men dressed in black to set off the bright dresses of the women in stilettos. (I wore black Mary Janes with a 3 ½ inch heel, stylish enough heels but thicker than stilettos.) And tango has drama. Hot sticky drama.

At a milonga, the name of a tango flash mob, I was celebrating my approaching birthday when up meandered an ex-lover. Handsome in a calculated and soon-my-degradation-will-show kind of way. A mean as a snake, stab and watch you almost bleed to death before calling 911, ex-lover. And he brought with him his new … friend. Now this was only a couple of months beyond our break-up. A devastating affair where I felt like I had been sucker punched after three months of total bullshit back-and-forthing on his part. She sauntered in on his arm, plopped herself onto a stool, and looked around for an audience. She put on shiny high, 4 inch high stilettos with sparkly rhinestone designs on their straps. The men gaped. A fleeting image of clubbing her with them danced through my mind.

Anyone who has been in this situation knows you have two options. Leave. Damned if I will go that route. Or carry on. My friends rallied around me. I danced my heart out or numb along with my toes as my friends checked on me every ten minutes. Tension was high. Dancers and even the restaurant staff were watching. I wasn’t going to give up. I had a stiff upper lip being British and I had friends. Solicitous and goofy-assed friends who loved me. More than I knew right then.

Somehow I made it threw the night, agreed to meet my friends for dinner the next day, and cried myself to sleep. Putting on my happy face and a drawer full of make-up to cover up the dark circles under my eyes, I drove out to meet them at the restaurant. My friends smiled at me. Mischievous, wicked smiles reminiscent of “I have done something that is mildly illegal and possibly morally ambivalent.”

We drank some champagne before the chocolate cake arrived with the one, only one, candle. And a gaily wrapped present was placed beside the dessert. I made a wish, a completely unrepeatable wish and blew out the candle. I ripped through the paper to the box below, yanked off the lid, riffled through the wadded tissue, and drew out a shoe. I held out the shoe. A used shoe. Not my size shoe. I looked at them. They smiled back before bursting into laughter. I rooted around for the other shoe. Nothing.

“Why did you give me one shoe?”

“Guess whose shoe it is?”

We fell out of seats giggling, guffawing, all the laughing verbs. Eventually, I had to get rid of the evidence by burying the shoe in the backyard next to a patch of Black-Eyed Susans. These are great friends. I’m going to love these friends forever. They had my back. I can’t imagine life with all its ups and downs, loves and disappointments, without this depth of friendship. I hope you have friends like these to help you through life’s dramas.

 

To all my friends, past, present, and future, love love love.

What We Remember

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I miss the Fish-Fucker. Twenty years after his death, I don’t think of him every day or even every month. But now and then, when my face is half-turned or my body settles into the space between breaths, the death pause, I hear his laughter and expect to see his large green eyes crinkling at me. Then guilt rushes in because I haven’t been thinking of him or even missing him. Because I have moved on. Grown away. Like the lover who was once the center of your universe but now you struggle to remember his name.

While the features of his face have become fuzzy, I remember him as Fish-Fucker. He earned that name. It was given by friends one night when life had a summertime feeling of infinity. Love was taken for granted – it was rock solid.

We had gone to our friends for the night. They had a big house with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking their dock. Our usual group of friends had gathered for a potluck and billiards. We drank and ate plenty. The kids were enjoying some Disney Princess tape on the big screen TV covering one wall of the den and we were settling in for the night. Couples had grabbed extra bedrooms. We had lain out our stuff on the beds to drift back to the den.

“Let’s go skinny-dipping,” Peg said.

“Yeah,” said her husband.

“In the pond?” I asked.

“Yeah,” they said in a chorus.

Rod had looked at me. I shrugged. “Go. I’ll stay with Denise and look after the kids.”

“Okay,” he said.

I think the skinny-dippers got naked outside on the dark porch. There was a rustle of leaves and some thuds as they must have made their way down to the pond. Denise and I heard a series of loud and not so loud splashes.

“Guess they made it in. Trevor give your sister back her Barbie,” Denise said. We played with the kids as the tape wound down to the end. Various splishes and splashes were heard from the area of the pond.

The night was dark. No moon or stars to throw light so were we surprised to hear a line of feet running across the deck, hooting and hollering, then a mass of pale bodies streaking across the long line of windows.

“Is that Daddy?” asked Trevor with his toddler lisp.

“Yep,” said Denise.

There was a clamor as doors were thrown open and naked people scattered into their rooms. Denise and I turned to look at each other.

“Kids let’s get ready for bed. First one dressed and under the covers gets a tummy tickle,” I said.

A half hour later, the kids were tucked in as the adults floated into the den, showered and smiling. Smiling pointedly at me. It was unnerving. I looked around for Rod.

“Where’s Rod?” I asked.

“Do you recall stocking that pond with bass?” asked Denise’s husband.

“Sure. We helped build the dock.”

“Well. Something out there said thank you,” said Peg.

Oh no. I walked, walked fast to our room. “Rod honey. You okay?” Muffled sounds came from the bathroom. “I can’t hear you.” Some slight whimpering came from under the bathroom door. “I’m coming in,” I said twisting the door handle.

My husband was sitting in a t-shirt, pant less on the commode. He said, “Something bit me.”

“What?”

“Something in the pond bit me,” he said with a catch in his voice.

“You’re kidding?”

“No I think it was a fish.”

“Where did the big ole fish bite you,” I said in a not very sympathetic way.

He pointed down, down there. “I can’t see it.” Rod tried to bend his 6’3” frame to look at his down there.  “Do you think I need to go to the ER?”

“Well. Let me have a look,” I said mentally squaring my shoulders. Taking a deep breath, I looked at his dinkie. Sure enough, Rod had two tiny, really teeny little bite marks.

“A vampire bass?” I asked trying to smother my giggles.

“It’s not funny,” said my husband.

“Okay dokey,” I said trying to assume a serious face.

“It was a bass,” said Rod without a hint of a smile.

“Sure, large-mouth. Uh huh,” I said.

Out in the den, I asked our friends, “Any hydrogen peroxide available. Maybe a bandage?”

Everyone fell over laughing, belly spasming, whooping laughter.

“How is the Fish-Fucker?”

“I’m sure he’ll recover nicely or his dinkie will fall off,” I said. Always the soul of practicality.

From that night on, among a few select friends, Rod was known as the Fish-Fucker. He took the name in the spirit it was given – the good-natured poke of friends. Always responding with the caveat, “It was a large-mouth bass.” I will never forget this memory.

Tonight, to avenge Rod, the Fish-Fucker, I am going to eat fish.

Weird Times

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I’m at this really weird time in my life – mid 50s where I am working as hard as possible but seeing opportunities land elsewhere. In younger people’s laps.

My friends are talking about retiring, counting down the days, and planning their last great adventure. About five years ago, I realized I would be working until I died. Through a couple of lousy turns of the luck and some bad planning on my part, I will never be able to retire. Not ever.

Being unable to see a retirement in my future has impacted most areas of my life freaking me out. How did this happen? How did I not notice? Maybe it is a combination of my friends being 5 to 10 years older and in the last of the pensioned jobs. Maybe it has to do with being single or the two major downturns, more like plummets, of the stock market. Maybe it is a realization of the probability of being single when I die. Most likely the realization became embedded with fright after last year’s string of surgeries.

My friends are settling into their last homes and having what they consider safe adventures – cruises. Paying deposits for communities that allow you to move through ever increasing levels of care. I look at my townhouse and wonder how I will get up those steps in 15 years when my knees and hips give out. But who will give a mortgage to some one nearing retirement … So I have been told to plan for my infirmity. Like a good old codger, I have. Replacing the HVAC system. Replumbing. Changing out appliances. Getting stuff out of the attic and into easily accessible storage. Definitely must upgrade my refrigerator.

My 30-year yoga practice has changed. I said good-bye to the Level 2/3 classes, taking and teaching them. In class, it seems quite pig-headed to keep attempting something apt to hurt myself to appease my ego. But on interviews for yoga teaching jobs, employers do one of two things. They assume I want the gentle and restorative classes or I get pressured into those jobs.

I’m having to hunt down new doctors – my current doctors are retiring. I understand that my new doctors will be younger than me with little empathy for aging’s undeniable march. For example, my forty-year old orthopedist said, “You will never dance again.” I will dance tango again, even Lindy. Just watch me. “Wear sneakers 24/7.” Not bloody likely. I may lower my shoes’ heels from a 4” to 3” height but I will wear the handmade leather shoes from Italy with a tight skirt and fishnets.

I am the patient doctors keep badgering to schedule a colonoscopy, a skin cancer exam, but no one asks me about birth control or safe sex anymore. Maybe they think I’m too old to still be having sex.

Then there’s the men and dating.

No, I don’t want to go antiquing – never liked it so why should I like it now?

Yes, I do want to go for a hike at a decent pace.

No, I don’t want to have dinner at 5pm and go to sleep at 8pm.

Yes, I like to nap but I have liked to nap since I was 4.

No, I don’t want a sexless relationship. Sometimes it feels as if I have aged out of the sexually active category. I could stand naked by a motel with a sign reading, “The room is already paid for” and no one would take me up on the proposition.

Then there are the well-meaning people sending me articles to settle, for a man, any man who is breathing. No thank you. I deserve love as much as someone in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

I am under pressure to go on that last great vacation. One doctor told me to do everything on my bucket list before 50 because after that I would need really, really good trip insurance. “All kinds of medical things happen.” Wow, groovy, I still plan to go to Argentina.

Maybe, quite possibly, I should replace the word ‘weird’ with ‘irritable.’ I am at this really irritable time in my life.

“Lululemon-Wearing Yoga … “

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A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on a bar stool drinking a lovely cheap Chardonnay waiting for my friends to arrive.

The three of us had survived yoga teacher training together. Getting up at the ungodly hour of 5:45 to make a 7am three-hour yoga class one hated Sunday each month. Yogis emoting all over the place. Wishing I could squeeze out some tears when everyone else was snot and tear-covered. The therapist in me wanted to say, “Boundaries, everyone, boundaries.” But I mentally strangled myself to withhold the words.

Almost five years later, I have taught many yoga classes including a number that have choked me up. Yes, I cried, without the drama of teeth gnashing, wiping away the tears unashamedly in front of the class. I have watched and cared for class participants as they have cried. But it seemed natural and organic and spontaneous. Our tears came from struggle and victory and community.

During my second glass of wine, my friends showed up to sit on either side of me. We caught up on the goings-on in our lives. One friend was enjoying, for the most part, being a mother. The other friend was living on the west coast, creating a new life. I was trying to get back into life after four or five foot surgeries and one arm surgical reconstruction. Each of us was wrestling with how to fit a yoga practice into our daily lives. Lives that were crazy full and a tad disjointed and to some degree fulfilling.

We began talking about going back to our old studio. Each of us had some misgivings about returning. My friend on the other coast had a distance problem, east coast-west coast. I had the issue of being un-bendy and less than fit creating the real, already done that, terror of falling over, taking out people on either side of and in front/back of my mat. My other friend was pondering if she could cram yoga into a full family and work reality.

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Finally my fertile friend said, “Damn Lululemon-wearing yoga bitches.” She was descriptive, wry, and accurate.

Well, we died laughing.

“Bat shit crazy,” I said.

We laughed so much I thought we would fall off our bar stools.

“Crazy,” said my other friend. I’m not sure if the remark’s target was the yoginis or us.

Yoga has developed a culture of elitism. We have forgotten some basic concepts. So here are my thoughts about the distressingly hilarious world of “Lululemon-wearing yoga bitches” –

  • Yoga developed a long ass time ago. Its aim was to keep 14 and 15 year old boys, living in dormitories, out of trouble. We can only pretend to be 14 for so long in our practice before we hurt ourselves
  • Yoga is a method to enhance your life – live yoga off the mat by developing a life
  • Yoga has nothing to do with Kombucha tea gulping, gluten-free bondage, or juice fasting self-abnegation. Yoga has to do with living with the purity and thoughtfulness that aligns with your body and soul
  • Yoga is not all about the poses – the poses are methods to experience yourself
  • Yoga is not about what you wear to class – keep your fucking eyes on your own mat
  • It’s fine if you cry in class and it’s fine if you don’t – who are you to judge the tears or non-tears of others? REALLY

So get a glass of your favorite beverage then think about using yoga to enhance your life, moving yourself out of the “Lululemon-wearing Yoga Bitches” category.

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