I have this friend. We lived in the same dorm in college during my sophomore year at Purdue. The dorm was more like barracks than anything else, and because of a glitch, where my intended roommate decided not to return after freshman year (what the hell was her name?? I remember she was from New Jersey, and she had lived across the hall from me that first year), so I ended up in a room at one end by myself. Becky was at the other end of the one-story, eight-room building, and for some reason, she and I had this kind of connection.
She lived with a farm girl (can’t remember her name either), who told us how she raised and then slaughtered cattle on her family’s farm. She claimed that there were portions of frozen meat in a freezer in her family’s basement, wrapped in aluminum foil that had labels like “Bessie’s rump.” Being the metropolitan dweller that I was, I found this story fascinating, and more than a little disturbing frankly.
Becky and I had lots of laughs. We watched Letterman together on a nine-inch screen that got poor reception from the rabbit ears attached to its plastic top. We shared one phone in the common room out front with the dozen or so other girls in the dorm. We got snowed in, with drifts against the doors so high that we couldn’t get out. And it was cold there. That was the year I tried smoking pot for the first time. Not with Becky, of course, she was such a good egg, but she was there after I smoked it, and was an excellent guide for me when I was that stupid. She had some laughs about it. I remember dropping a full, open can of soda on the floor of her room and marveling at how many slo-mo flips it did between my hand and the linoleum. After that, she walked with me to the Stop-N-Shop for munchies, no doubt thinking that on my own I’d be too stupid to find my way back. I do remember her laughing at me though. She was more amused than not, I think.
Even though I dropped out of school after that year together, she and I have kept in touch for these two-plus decades.
In the early days, the letters were exchanged frequently, and there were even gifts for birthdays and Christmas, though as the years passed, that part of the tradition waned. And that was fine with me. I just loved getting a letter from her in the mail, seeing that postmark made my pulse quicken. News from the world of Becky was always a wonderful thing.
She got married. She had two beautiful daughters. I moved a dozen times. The letters kept coming and going. I finished college finally, got married, had my own kids, and got my whole life in order. We’ve seen each other a few times since I left Indiana. Once I rode the train to her house, not far from Chicago. Another time, she and her family met me in South Bend and we all had lunch at a Denny’s. Another time, I was in Chicago and tried to get her to come up and meet me, but her husband wasn’t too keen in the idea, and the reunion never happened.
It’s weird to miss someone you’ve hardly seen in the last twenty-odd years. Sometimes, after the Chicago thing, she’d go silent if I mentioned I was coming within fifty miles of her. Don’t know if that was because she couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to meet me, but once the threat had passed, she’d write again. A couple of years ago, I made a suggestion that we go away together, like to someplace tropical, like a momcation, just the two of us. Silence followed from the other end.
Last I heard, she had finished her courses and was getting certified to be a teacher. That was more than a year ago, I think. I’ve written a few times, but there’s been no answer. I’m worried. Is she okay? Is she just too busy? Is it over?
Mostly I’m worried that she’s not okay. I hope she’s okay, just too busy to write. But I think this is the longest she’s gone without sending a note in more than twenty years. I miss her. I have lots of friends. I’m not hurting for friends, but I feel like her friendship is the most enduring of my life, which is only one of the myriad reasons why it is so dear to me.
Every day when that mail comes through the slot in the door, I search the postmarks, so far in vain. It’s never really been our thing, but maybe it’s time for me to pick up the phone and call?
I was out with some women friends the other night, and one of them complimented another on her fabulous shoes. The shoe lady said, “Thanks, I bought them as revenge when Scott took that golf trip to Arizona last month.” I was like, WHAT??? I don’t get that. Are we the chicks from Desperate Housewives? Who thinks like that? Who buys an expensive item to take vengeance on a spouse? That makes no sense to me. Isn’t his money your money? If you end up without the funds to pay the mortgage because you spent $600 on shoes, are you not both out on the street? And besides, did Scott really care? Did that $600 really make a dent in his Porche-driving pocket?
A perfect Saturday, if you don’t count having to get up early. The Princess and I had a really nice morning, running errands, out to lunch and then to the park. She was happy and fun. She was in this really affectionate mood and liberal with the hugs and kisses. It was great.
In the afternoon, she took a nap, and I grabbed a shower. Saturday night was the costume party, and as I said, I went as Zelda Fitzgerald. My hair is kind of long and curly these days, so I decided to make it shorter, more like a 1920’s bob, by putting really tight curls in it, and then taming it with a headband that went with my costume. While The Princess was sleeping, I put forty tight curl rollers into my hair. Let me tell you, I’m kind of “challenged” when it comes to doing hair. I don’t like to blow it dry or use a curling iron. It’s too much work; it always seems to take forever; and my arms or wrists always get tired in the process. My hat is off (literally) to anyone who can style their own hair or who does other people’s hair for a living. It’s something that is an elusive mystery in my book.
But, you know, I like to dream that I can do these projects myself. I let the curls set for like four hours and went about my business. Manfrengensen took delight in teasing me about my makeshift turban (made out of a white dishtowel), and if you insert your own joke there, you will surely hit on one of the images he conjured. In the afternoon, I took The Princess out into the yard, and we blew bubbles, hundreds of them, into the wind. The boys came outside soon after, and we all had little wands and bubbles were everywhere, in the yard, over the fence, making their runs in vain for the stratosphere. After a while, the boys and I played Red Light Green Light and What Time Is It Mr. Fox? with The Princess thinking she was playing too, though she was just running all over the place like crazy. In any case, it was a lot of laughs. At one point, T3 had a moment of mourning for one of the tulips that had lost its bloom. He had taken so much delight in helping me plant the bulbs last fall. It was a sad moment, and tears were shed, but I explained, hey, that’s what flowers do. Yes, it is sad when their petals fall off, but they’ll be back again next year. I made dinner eventually (pizza, though not my best effort,) and after that I went upstairs to take out the curlers. When all was said and done, yes, you could say that I had fashioned myself a bob, only it was more like a Sideshow Bob.
A few bobby pins later, we were off. Manfrengensen looked dashing as F. Scott. The party was a lot of fun. Best costume went to this guy, John from up the street, who came as Lady Godiva. What can I tell you? Sex always sells. And he had it going on.
Things kids do that I find hard to understand:
- Drink their own bathwater
- Suck the paste off their toothbrushes
- Watch the Teletubbies
Another thing J does, or I guess doesn’t do, is sleep late. No matter how late he stays up at night, he will always rise with the sun. Even when he’s sick, and I’m begging him to get some rest, he will ask me defiantly, “Mom, how am I supposed to sleep? The sun is up.” He just can’t understand when I tell him that sleeping when the sun is up is one of the greatest indulgences life can offer. There are days, quite a few of them actually, when I feel like I would give almost anything to be able to sleep when the sun is up.
Manfrengensen and I are going to a costume party tonight. The hosts sent out invitations with random letters of the alphabet, and we have to dress as something that begins with the letter “F.” We are going as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. I told this to my babysitter who said, “Nice. Wow, you really are a literary nerd.”
Another Movie Review
Last night Manfrengensen and I watched Margot at the Wedding, which was rather disappointing. It was basically the story of this woman, Margot (Nicole Kidman) who changed her mind often, and as a result she has these dysfunctional relationships with everyone around her. Her character had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and I really found myself hating her. She came off as downright psychotic. I felt sorry for her family, especially her son, and at the end of the movie, I found myself wondering what the point of the whole exercise was. It was no Squid and the Whale, and overall, I felt, a waste of my time. Should have watched Thursday’s Lost again.
Today Manfrengensen brought J and T3 up to his parents’ house for a visit. Ee and I went out to run some errands, and then we went to lunch at a little diner near our house. She is so much fun! You know, I’ve waited 30 years to renew this mother-daughter bond, and she is bringing it to me in the most special way. We sit; we eat; she talks about the things that catch her eye; she leans over and kisses me in the booth or whispers her secrets into my ear. Then we went to the park, where she called, “Watch me Mommy” over and over as she made her loop up the stairs and down the slide. Up the stairs and down the slide. It’s just the most amazing thing.
Went out with my girlfriends last night. Some of the few things I remember:
Awesome dessert. Peanut butter ice cream covered in chocolate and sprinkled with nuts. Mmmmm.
K, telling us more than we wanted to know about the Kardashians. I still don’t understand why they are fodder for reality television, but then, I don’t get the genre in general.
That all moms can, at any moment, turn into the Incredible Hulk. I’m not the only one. And I need that reminder from time to time, because I only remember my own mom from a child’s perspective, so I have no reference point for her faults. My cousin, who’s older than I am, tells me that I remember her just as she was. That she was, in fact, the perfect wife and mother. And I kind of believe that, because we are talking about a woman who ironed absolutely everything. I can remember her ironing sheets, my father’s handkerchiefs, his boxers. But I also remember a few fleeting moments when she went Incredible Hulk on us as well. Any mom with kids, at any time, can turn into the hulk.
I am often reminded, whenever I drive a certain on-ramp of the interstate, of a moment 40 years ago when my brother and I were arguing over a rubber wrench in the back seat of the car. It was green and it had a little pin in the center that allowed the jaws to open and close. It went with a whole rubber tool set my brother had. But I liked the wrench. My mother must have gotten sick of hearing “It’s mine,” “No, it’s mine,” etc. So she called to us from the driver’s seat. “Let me see that,” she said innocently enough, and so we gave it to her. She then rolled down the window of the Impala, threw it out onto the highway and gunned the engine. We were left dumbfounded, looking out the back windshield as the thing skipped in the dust in our wake.
Manfrengensen and I went to the movies tonight to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which was very funny. But I don’t want to talk about Sarah Marshall. I want to talk about the preview I saw for The Incredible Hulk. Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m really looking forward to this movie. I don’t have any problem with Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. I don’t know why some Hulk fans are up-in-arms about the casting. I think Norton will be awesome as Bruce Banner. See, Bruce Banner is not some muscle-rippled athlete. He’s a scientist. I’m not saying that there aren’t any muscle-rippled scientists out there, but I do think, when you think scientist, you don’t think of this guy:
So, my problem is not with Edward Norton. My problem is with the size of this Hulk. He looks too big to me. How are they going to cover his gnads? In the 70’s show, he wasn’t that big, he was just an extra-large man. Bill Bixby’s jeans turned into cut-off bermudas for Lou Farrigno, and everything was on the up-and-up so to speak. When Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk, what’s he going to wear? I’m not a reader of the comic, so maybe this question has already been addressed, as I am sure the Hulk has increased in size over the years. My guess is that in the film Banner’s always wearing pants with Spandex. Lots of Spandex.
I hate to get forwarded crap, especially from people I hear nothing from other than the forwards. Pardon me, but that’s just poor form. Bad etiquette, don’t you think? I’m in a book club with these women, and two of them send out forwards all the time. One is a doctor, and I can’t believe how lewd the ones she sends are. They just make me cringe. What pisses me off is that I once emailed her a professional request, just asking her if she knew anything about a particular specialist, and she never responded. When I next saw her she made an excuse about not having access to her computer. Whatever, but the first thing she did when she got back online was forward a bunch of crap??? Then the other woman who forwards, she’s kind of laid-back, a little naive, even. She always sends these forwards that are like five years old. Seriously, she just sent me one yesterday about the eerie similarities between Lincoln and Kennedy. I think Johnson was president when that made the rounds.
On another note:
Which do you think there are more of in the world? Fisher Price Little People, or real ones? I know in our house, they outnumber us by at least 20 to one. These folks appear to be going on a nice vacation. Private jet — can’t beat that.