Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Those magical childhood friendships
My best friend in first grade lived on the next street over. Her name was Beth. She had a pointy nose and poker straight black hair. She sucked her index finger so badly that it bent forward.
Beth's father was skinny as a stick. Her mother was a walking pear. They had skim milk in their refrigerator. In the eighties, no one had heard of skim milk.
They might as well have been an alien family.
From what I can remember, I liked Beth because I could boss her around. I also liked to steal from her.
Case in point, she and I had the same dolls, but her doll clothes were store bought; mine were grandmother-made. One day, I packed up all of Beth's fancy doll clothes, put them in my doll carrying case and replaced hers with my yarny, baggy grandma clothes. Then I took them home.
That night during dinner, someone knocked on our door. It was Beth's father. He had walked over in the middle of a blizzard to collect his daughter's doll clothes. I'll never forget him shoving his daughter's carrying case in my mother's face and holding up an ill-stitched doll dress as evidence.
Like Beth couldn't have sucked it up for a night and dressed her dolls in doilies. For a friend.
Nonetheless, I continued our friendship.
That summer her dad busted me again. Beth and I were in her backyard. I had just learned the f-word.
"Just SAY it," I kept telling her. "SAY it!"
Her dad had been listening through the screen door. He called me over—"Miss Mullet come over here right now!"—and asked me if what he'd overheard was correct: Had I really been trying to bully his daughter into saying a swear word?
My heart was pounding. I lied and said no. Then I ran the hell home. I didn't go back to their house for more than a month.
Fast forward to today. I'm 36. I move back to my childhood home. I read in the paper that Beth's mother is a politician in town. Her father? In jail for embezzlement. That's right. Mr. "Your daughter stole my daughter's doll clothes" is a thief himself.
Guess what else? The family that lives in the house now baked us cookies and walked over in the middle of a rainstorm to introduce themselves and deliver them: the dad, the mom and their three little ducklings.
"My childhood best friend used to live in your house," I told the mom.
"Oh really?" she said.
Then, when she wasn't looking I stole her umbrella.
Omigawd, I'm so kidding. Come on! We shot the shit and made a playdate. Then I stole her umbrella.
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