By Deb Baer Becker
Woman Newspapers

My friends say I have no filter. Maybe they’re right.   I’d like to think my words are true.
Let me first say that I was classically trained in etiquette by Boscov’s department store’s charm school; six-weeks of summer Saturdays spent acquiring politesse. 
Among polite company, I finesse my words.  
But within my circle of good friends, the decorous white gloves come off.  
The first time my dear friend Pam said, “You’re funny!  Ha ha—no filter—you  know?” 
Ha ha—I didn’t know.  In the moment I was too ferhoodled to ask her exactly how she meant those words.  
What exactly does unfiltered mean when you apply it to me?  Am I the truthsayer I like to think I am, or have I become an insensitive bitch? Thoughtless nonsense fruit loop?  
At the time, Pam and I were sitting by the glimmering waters of Ruby’s swimming pool.  The sun beamed its rays on us from a pure and unclouded blue sky.  Ruby had gone to get us more ice for our sweet tea—okay, it was wine.  You know it’s hot when you need ice for your wine.    
Pam’s younger than Ruby and me. Let’s just say Pam’s perimenopausal, and Ruby and I have recently moved beyond all of that fuss, and we’ll leave it at that.  
Pam’s black bikini barely contained her abundantly blessed boobage, and bottoms so spare she calls them “cheeky shorts.”
I wore a one-piece tank suit, the turtleneck of swimwear.   
“Pam, I think you’re sweating estrogen, you lucky girl,” I said.  
Ruby had returned with ice in a pink plastic bucket with matching scoop, which complimented the peony flowers print of her swimsuit.   
“Ice!  My savior!” Pam said.  She held her glass out to Ruby.   
“Yes Ma’am,” Ruby said as she bent to scoop frosty cubes into Pam’s wine glass.  
Ruby was raised in the genteel South; her good manners are ironclad.  
“Ruby, I’d like some ice, and some of Pam’s estrogen,” I said, and raised my glass to the sky.  
Ruby looked up at the sky and said, “I miss my estrogen.”
Just for an instant, Ruby and I, were lost somewhere between wistful and rueful.  I think Ruby sighed.
“Let’s take this moment to remember our estrogen-filled youth,” I said, and pretended misty eyes.
“Here, Here!” Ruby said, from her chaise, her broad-brimmed hat covered her blond bob, and maybe a tear.  Maybe.   
Just then Pam dove into the pool water, and then swam to the steps.  Ruby and I watched her as she walked out, sun glistening off her lovely curves, long hair streaming water down her back.  
“She could be a trucker’s mudflap girl,” I said to Ruby.
“Debby!  That’s awful!” Ruby said, and got up and headed toward the pool.  
I quickly followed.  
“What?  I’m just sayin’.”  I said and sat poolside while Ruby told Pam what I’d just said.    
Ruby, aka Miss Manners, said, “You could have said something more polite, Deb, like Greek goddess or Rubenesque.”
“Since I’m choosing my words, I like them to be precise and true,” I huffed. “Though lovely, Greek goddesses have almost no waistline, and Rubens’ ladies were, um, let’s just say pleasantly plump. Even Botticelli’s Venus on the half-shell didn’t have Pam’s curves.”
We all laughed and laughed.  
“Thank you. I’ll take all of your words as a compliment,” Pam said.  
“It’s the truth,” I said while I applied more broad-spectrum-46spf sunscreen to my face and neck.     
Pam said, “Thank you, Deb.  Like I always say, you’re fun.” 
“Yeah,” Ruby said, “Here’s to no filter!” 
“Cheers,” we said, in unison, and clinked glasses.  
Here’s to all of the gals who speak their mind, and especially to the few who can do it with the magic of great wit and joy, like one special lady, named Judy; someone I knew only by her firecracker reputation. And let’s keep on marching to CURE breast cancer. Cheers!