Category Archives: friends

My Fairy Godfather Drank Black Velvet

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I posted this Last April and – just like I described in the story – when I called, he came. Shortly after I hit “publish,” Walt and I found each other again. We caught up and had a lot of laughs. We’ve talked on the phone and emailed and chatted on facebook. I was looking forward to getting together with him in the fall for our college homecoming celebration. I laughed as I pictured myself walking around the old campus, yelling, “WALT!” knowing that – as always – he would answer.

But today, I got an email from another old friend telling me the sad news. Walt – my friend – my fairy godfather – passed away on Sunday. He lived in Texas, so I can’t be there. I won’t see him again. All I can do is tell his story one last time. I’ll miss you, Fairy Godfather.

I was having a conversation recently about “the good old days” and we were bringing up people in our past who were “characters” and the one person that always comes to mind for me in that situation is my friend Walt.

Walt was a legend on the campus of my teeny-tiny (first) college. Legend had him anywhere between 21 and 27, depending on who was retelling it. He was an icon. A permanent fixture. Don’t get me wrong, he was a smart guy and loved college. Or “college”, if you will. He was a stocky guy with the white blond hair. He almost always had a smile on his face (probably because he was at least a sheet and a half at any given time).

The first time I met Walt, I was a little intimidated. Here I was, a freshman, a baby, and there HE was – a. . .well. . .I have no idea what he was, since legend had it he was in his 6th or 7th year. But he was older. He was a grownup. As a sophomore, my friend Dave would drag me to Walt’s place to party, and I’d feel uncomfortable the entire time. The crowd there was always (to me, at least) a little older, a little smarter, a lot cooler. I have to admit, the discomfort was totally on my part – everyone there treated me just fine, but I felt inferior and stupid. But in time, Walt became my Fairy Godfather.

I never really thought he noticed me. I figured he saw me as the kid Dave dragged around with him. I didn’t even think he knew my name. But one day, I was walking to Victorian Literature (otherwise known as Stick Hot Pokers into My Ears and Eyes Lest I Explode from Boredom class) and I heard a voice from across the quad yell, “Hey! MaidenName! Let’s go drink a bottle of Black Velvet!” And given the choice of going to the world’s most boring class ever and downing a bottle of Canadian whiskey with a somewhat intimidating near-stranger – no contest!

I sort of thought he was kidding – that he just had some beer or a partial bottle left over from his last party or some good bud and was just looking for some company, but when we got back to his place, he pulled out two shot glasses and a brand new bottle of Black Velvet and we got to drinking. We spent the next couple of hours drinking and talking and having a great time. By the time his roommate (another older, even more intimidating silent-type) got back, along with some of the other of the usual party crowd (including Dave, who was until now, my only ticket into the place), Walt and I were pretty much trashed and laughing like fools. The roomie gave us a raised-eyebrow and everyone else looked a bit surprised. So perhaps I right and they were just tolerating me, or maybe they were just surprised that Walt was drunk on whiskey with a sophomore they all barely knew. Or maybe they were just surprised that I wasn’t with Dave – we were pretty much inseparable and I found out years later that everyone thought we were a couple.

Regardless, from that point forward, Walt became my Fairy Godfather. No matter where I was or what I was doing, if I thought about Walt, he would suddenly be there. We’d be partying in my friend’s dorm room and we’d say, “Walt should be here”, and a minute later the door would open and he’d walk in. Or we’d be at a hotel for homecoming, and wonder where Walt’s room was. So, we’d walk up the halls and just say, “Walt!” In 30 seconds, a door would fly open, and there he’d be. I’d be walking to class and think, “I really don’t feel like going today – I wish Walt would come rescue me” and before I knew it, I’d hear the by-then-infamous, “Hey MaidenName! Let’s go drink a bottle of Black Velvet/tequila/case of beer/” and off we’d go.

My favorite magically-appearing Walt occasion was after he graduated and I had left our small-town college for the last time (as did Dave). It was 1980-something, at a Dead show. It was the first of two shows and I had a ticket for both nights, but my friend Trish only had one for the second night. She came along anyway and we met up with Dave and some of his friends to party. A few hours before the show, we were making our rounds of the parking lot and a few people cut through our group, and in that sea of people, that was all it took to be separated from all my friends. I spent the next couple hours walking around looking for them and occasionally hanging out with some fun strangers. I finally gave up when it was time for the show to start. My ticket was a single, so I couldn’t even find them in their seats, since I had no idea where they were (not to mention, that at a Show? Seats, Schmeats!). I ended up running into a guy I knew who was also on his own, so I hung with him during the show. Afterward, we parted ways and I was once again alone in the lot.

I went to where they had been parked, but they were gone. I spent about an hour walking around, wondering how the hell I was going to get home (it was after city buses quit running, I had no money for a cab and it was way too far to walk, especially since I’d have to make my way through the Hill District to get home). I was feeling pretty freaked out and was about to find a group of folks who would let me hang for the night, when I started thinking about Walt. So I took a chance and said, “Walt!” And I swear – a van door popped open and there he was! That’s when I knew it was official – Walt was my Fairy Godfather.

Since last night, I can’t get him off my mind. We got in touch a few years ago and emailed a few times. He lived several states away and was married with a child. We lost touch again and I regret that. He was a good guy and a lot of fun. He was an unexpected friend. I find myself thinking about him quite often. So I have one thing to say:

“Walt!”

Yes, I know I hate the cold…so what??

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When I was a kid, our school district was broken down into small neighborhood elementary schools. I went to one in my neighborhood that had kindergarten through 3rd grade. It was a great way to go to school as a child – we all walked together in big groups, sometimes we walked home for lunch (how on earth did we have the time for that?) often bringing friend along.

It was a brand new school building. Actually, my kindergarten year it was still the “old” school – the building where many of our parents went to high school – big and ornate, with stairs that ran all along the hallways so the rooms were elevated. That summer they built the new sleek, modern school, with new desks and fold-up cafeteria tables, so it could more easily convert to a gymnasium.

I was happy there – we had recess and long lunches and art classes more than just once a week. And the teachers were great. There was my kindergarten teacher, who was also the principal. She was a kind older lady, who still understood young children. Even the next year – when my friend Tammy and I got caught carving Gina and Tammy love Donny Osmond in a door with a pop-top (remember those?) – and we ended up in her office, she knew that we really didn’t get it and treated us gently, just wanting us to understand why it was wrong, instead of worrying about punishment.

There was my beloved first grade teacher, who rarely had to raise her voice at anyone – she was so sweet, you just wanted to please her. I remember the last day of school, when I forgot to bring her gift and I cried and cried, so my mom took me to her house that afternoon to drop it off. She invited us I and gave us tea and cookies. If I hadn’t already loved her unconditionally, I would have then.

There was my second grade teacher, who…will, OK, my second grade teacher was kind of a douche – I still remember my friend Marsha and I getting in trouble for something we didn’t do and she simply wouldn’t listen.

But my third grade teacher? Oh my god did she ever make up for any ill will I picked up the year before. I credit her for my love of books. She read to us every day – long chapter books that left you crazy with anticipation for the next day’s installment. And if she saw that you took to reading, she did everything she could to encourage you – like she did for me. She took us on imaginary trips to far off places – we’d get out airline wings on and fly. Then we’d listen to the music and eat the foods and learn so much more than if we had just learned it from a lesson plan.

Plus, we had a great support staff at the school – the gentle nurse, who was forever getting my long eyelashes out of my eyes, the office ladies who knew you by name, and the librarian who made sure we had the greatest books available to us.

But the first person I think of when I think about that school is our custodian, Gus. Gus was the friendliest, sweetest, most caring person. He was always smiling, and always had time for you. When a kid had a problem, or was feeling down about something, they’d go to Gus before they’d go to anyone else. He was as likely as the nurse to put a band-aid on, and quicker than a teacher to break up any hallway squabbles. He knew everyone’s name and their parents’ names and their grandparents’ names too.

His “office” was the supply closet. Any time the classroom needed something, we kids would climb all over each other to raise our hand the highest – everyone wanted to be picked to be the one to go visit Gus. Because you knew that you would be getting more than some colored paper or crayons – you’d get a cheery hello, a compliment on what you were wearing or your latest artwork hanging in the hall. You’d have a real conversation with a grown-up who treated you like you mattered – like you had something important to say. And sometimes, you’d even get a candy to take home and eat later. Gus was everyone’s best friend.

It was a few years before we all found out that Gus was famous. We already adored him as much as humanly possible, but knowing this thrilled us. Our Gus was an even bigger hero in our eyes.

His name was Gus Br1ckner, and he was a swimmer. Not just any swimmer, though – he was best known for long, LONG distance swimming and very cold water swims. He was the original Human Polar Bear. He started the tradition of jumping into the city’s icy rivers on New Year’s Day in 1949 (though he didn’t limit his own activities to just one day a year). He would bring old filmstrips in for us to watch of him swimming in the icy rivers and rolling around in the snow. He held Guinness World Records for cold swims (6 minutes 22 seconds in -18 degree water) and total lifetime distance swim (38,512 miles – the last of these miles were recorded at age 75). He attempted to swim the English Channel 2 times – each time making it mere yards from shore (after swimming 34 miles and 15 hours) before having health issues that required he be pulled out. He wanted to try again in 1960, but it was called off by the authorities because of the conditions.

When I joined the swim team in high school, I was a diver, but being in a small district meant a small team and my coach didn’t like to see empty lanes. So I sometimes was called on to swim backstroke or in the freestyle relay. I took to the backstroke pretty well, but freestyle – Oh My God, I thought I would die. And while I was barely struggling along hating every minute of it (while Gus’ son was serving as an official) I would think of Gus – and how he swam way longer when he was way older. When we’d have to show up for practice at 5:30 in the morning in the freezing Pennsylvania winter, I’d think of Gus rolling around in the snow in those old movies. And I’d make it. He never knew how he inspired me.

When I heard he died back in the winter of 1991, I cried for the sweet, caring, kind man I used to know – even though I hadn’t seen him in many, many years. And I thought that someday I’d like to be a Polar Bear just like Gus was. Last year, I was a relatively new reader of Uncle Crappy’s blog, and when I saw his post on his New Year’s Day plunge, of course, I thought of Gus. I found myself wishing I had known Uncle Crappy better or sooner, because maybe I could have gone (actually, I wished I had known him sooner because he’s awesome). Well, kids – I know him longer and better this time around. And I have met some of the others planning to go. So by god, I’m doing it. On New Year’s Day, I am jumping in the icy cold Mon. And just before you hear my girly scream upon hitting the cold water, you’ll most likely hear me yell, “This is for you, Gus!”

Fuck-Me Cheese

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On Sunday, the girl had a birthday party for a friend. Thank goodness it was a late afternoon party, since we had mr b’s 50th birthday party the night before and there was some serious ass-dragging going on. But we somehow managed to get ourselves to the party on time, and I managed to stay upright, and not punch anyone the entire time. What’s that? It doesn’t seem like an accomplishment to not punch anyone at a child’s birthday party? Well, I forgot to tell you the party was at Check E Cheese.

Ahhhh, now you understand, don’t you? Hungover at Fuck Me Cheese: not so fun.

The party was for a friend from day care. She is the daughter of an old friend’s sister. I’ve talked about my friend Tammy before – she died in 1992 of a brain tumor. I usually re-post my story of her every year on her birthday and this year, I was in the middle of my own crazy and I missed it – I thought about it a few days before and then forgot. I was on my way to the party when I remembered. I felt bad, though I guess it’s more about not thinking about her that day than an actual blog entry. It happens, though – she’s been gone almost as long as she was alive. It’s hard to imagine what she’d be like today. I’d like to think we’d still be friends, that we’d have kids who played together.

I got to the party and saw her sister, and then her mother, and then another sister and a cousin and it hit me. They all look so much alike. I can look at them and imagine what Tammy would look like today. I had to fight back tears. It’s a weird thing to feel grief for someone and then think, damn, I can’t let myself show it, because who am I to grieve – my grief can’t compare to theirs. But it’s still there. It’s still mine.

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OK, on to other things – like the assholes at Fuck Me Cheese. Good lord. I understand that your kids drive you crazy. I understand that you need a break. Believe me – I UNDERSTAND! However, just because the insane mousehouse has the hand-stamping kidnapping prevention does NOT mean that your child should just run around completely unattended. There was one little girl who latched onto the girl in the games area. She only had a couple of tokens left to the girl’s full cup. When she ran out, the girl was giving her some (because she is a rocking, make-your-mom-proud, OMG-my-kid-is-awesome sharer), but this kid wouldn’t quit. She wanted tokens, tickets, whatever. She wanted to play this game, not that game. When the girl had finally had enough and wouldn’t give her more tokens, she looked me square in the face and demanded more. “I need more tokens!” I told her she needed to go ask her mom or dad. She said, “They don’t have any” Well, I’m sorry then kid. Where the fuck were her parents? This went on for over an hour and I never once saw an adult anywhere near this kid. Not once.

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And let’s talk about the hand stamp system. When the girl and I left, you couldn’t even read the hand stamps anymore, after washing our hands a bunch of times. And yet, they let us out. There was no way they could tell for sure that the girl belonged with me. So Mr and/or Mrs. I Need A Break From My Kid need to step up their give-a-shit a little.

And she was the only one. During my two and a half hours there, I had to help a kid get strapped into a ride, help a toddler off of another ride, get an employee to fix a game for another kid, stop not one, not two, but THREE insane children from throwing skee balls instead of rolling them. Also – seriously – skee-ball for toddlers? Worst idea ever. I watched multiple children almost get their skulls cracked open by the flying spheres of death.

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Sadly, Fuck Me Cheese wasn’t the worst experience of my weekend. No, that would be reserved for the girl jumping on me and knocking my camera to the cement floor. The lens popped off and won’t stay on properly. Awesome. I’m heartbroken over it. I love that camera. I mean LOVE it. It’s not the best camera, but it’s the best one I can afford, and I saved and bargain shopped for a long time before I got it. And I’m not sure I can afford to have it fixed – or if it’s even possible. I know I can’t afford a new one. But damn it, I need to do something, because it’s my one “thing.” I don’t like fancy jewelry. I don’t buy designer purses or shoes. I don’t spend money on clothes. I’m not a gadget lover. I get my books free from the library. I don’t care about new, fancy cars. But I ADORE my camera.

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I can’t wait to get some photos up from the party (pre-camera/heart break). I didn’t take any candid or party photos, but I did take ones of every guest wearing a special Make Fun of Mr B Getup. It was awesome. More on that later.

They Aren’t Worth It

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REMINDER: My March of Dimes Giveaway/Raffle for Maddie is still going on! Join in!

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I was in the mall recently and overheard a couple of girls taking about some friends of theirs that were feuding over a boy. And I just don’t get it. Even when I was an angsty, needy teen, I never fought with my friends over boys. No matter how much I “loved” (or, more likely “lusted after”) my boyfriend/crush/booty call, it was never more important to me than my girlfriends. I always had the attitude that even if I married this guy today, on our 50th anniversary, I would b e celebrating my approximately 65th anniversary with Hedge. I had a friend who put boyfriends first. Every time she had one, you never saw her – it was all boyfriend al the time. This started when we were about 13 and continued well into adulthood. As in, she just grew a pair a coupe of year ago. But even she didn’t play those bullshit games that these girls seem to be playing. There were rules. You didn’t date your friends’ boyfriends. You didn’t date your friends’ exes. You took your friends’ sides in every disagreement. Because boyfriends come and go, but friends are (mostly) forever.

But you also know when to let it go. I have had people wonder if it’s weird that hedge is married to someone I used to date. No. It’s not. Because we are adults and high school was twentysmrrphnngg years ago. I’ll admit, if she had ended up marrying THE high school boyfriend, it would have been weird for a while. But she didn’t. She married the Freshman Night Date. Big fat deal. I think she may have written “Good luck with Asshole (not his real name)” in my freshman yearbook. By the time she started dating him, I barely even knew him anymore, so who cares.

We did fight over him once. Recently, in fact:

Hedge: You take him

Gina: Hell no

Hedge: Come ON

Gina: No way – why would I want him?

Hedge: You owe me

Gina: What? For what?

Hedge: Well…um..ooo – I know! Remember that time we hid a bottle of Old Granddad in the bushes and then we went back to look for it and it was gone?

Gina: Yeah?

Hedge: Well, you owe me.

Gina: Why on earth would I owe you for that?

Hedge: Did we not take photos of the bushes so we could use the flash as a light?

Gina: Yeah.

Hedge: And it didn’t work?

Gina: Yeah.

Hedge: Well, it was YOUR camera.

Gina: You’re crazy, bitch. I let you wear my prom gown any time you wanted. I owe you nothing.

Hedge: Eh. You want a beer?

Gina: Yeah.

Hedge: ……..

Gina: ……..

Hedge: Seriously, though. Take him.

Gina: Fuck you.

Hedge: Well, it was worth a try.

Gina: I know. Hey – didn’t he date that skanky girl? Maybe she’ll take him!

Hedge: Give me the phone.

I wanted to tell those girls not to fight over a boy, because 20 years from now, neither of them would want him anymore.

My Fairy Godfather Drank Black Velvet

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Reminder- the iTunes giveaway is still on

This was originally published in July 06, and since I was thinking about this guy just last night, it seemed like an appropriate archive to dredge up:

I was having a conversation recently about “the good old days” and we were bringing up people in our past who were “characters” and the one person that always comes to mind for me in that situation is my friend Walt.

Walt was a legend on the campus of my teeny-tiny (first) college. Legend had him anywhere between 21 and 27, depending on who was retelling it. He was an icon. A permanent fixture. Don’t get me wrong, he was a smart guy and loved college. Or “college”, if you will. He was a stocky guy with the white blond hair. He almost always had a smile on his face (probably because he was at least a sheet and a half at any given time).

The first time I met Walt, I was a little intimidated. Here I was, a freshman, a baby, and there HE was – a. . .well. . .I have no idea what he was, since legend had it he was in his 6th or 7th year. But he was older. He was a grownup. As a sophomore, my friend Dave would drag me to Walt’s place to party, and I’d feel uncomfortable the entire time. The crowd there was always (to me, at least) a little older, a little smarter, a lot cooler. I have to admit, the discomfort was totally on my part – everyone there treated me just fine, but I felt inferior and stupid. But in time, Walt became my Fairy Godfather.

I never really thought he noticed me. I figured he saw me as the kid Dave dragged around with him. I didn’t even think he knew my name. But one day, I was walking to Victorian Literature (otherwise known as Stick Hot Pokers into My Ears and Eyes Lest I Explode from Boredom class) and I heard a voice from across the quad yell, “Hey! MaidenName! Let’s go drink a bottle of Black Velvet!” And given the choice of going to the world’s most boring class ever and downing a bottle of Canadian whiskey with a somewhat intimidating near-stranger – no contest!

I sort of thought he was kidding – that he just had some beer or a partial bottle left over from his last party or some good bud and was just looking for some company, but when we got back to his place, he pulled out two shot glasses and a brand new bottle of Black Velvet and we got to drinking. We spent the next couple of hours drinking and talking and having a great time. By the time his roommate (another older, even more intimidating silent-type) got back, along with some of the other of the usual party crowd (including Dave, who was until now, my only ticket into the place), Walt and I were pretty much trashed and laughing like fools. The roomie gave us a raised-eyebrow and everyone else looked a bit surprised. So perhaps I right and they were just tolerating me, or maybe they were just surprised that Walt was drunk on whiskey with a sophomore they all barely knew. Or maybe they were just surprised that I wasn’t with Dave – we were pretty much inseparable and I found out years later that everyone thought we were a couple – no big deal until I had some hot guys tell me they wanted to ask me out, but they knew I was Dave’s girl – DAMN! But I digress. . .

From that point forward, Walt became my Fairy Godfather. No matter where I was or what I was doing, if I thought about Walt, he would suddenly be there. We’d be partying in my friend’s dorm room and we’d say, “Walt should be here”, and a minute later the door would open and he’d walk in. Or we’d be at a hotel for homecoming, and wonder where Walt’s room was. So, we’d walk up the halls and just say, “Walt!” In 30 seconds, a door would fly open, and there he’d be. I’d be walking to class and think, “I really don’t feel like going today – I wish Walt would come rescue me” and before I knew it, I’d hear the by-then-infamous, “Hey MaidenName! Let’s go drink a bottle of Black Velvet/tequila/case of beer/” and off we’d go.

My favorite magically-appearing Walt occasion was after he graduated and I had left our small-town college for the last time (as did Dave). It was 1980-something, at a Dead show. It was the first of two shows and I had a ticket for both nights, but my friend Trish only had one for the second night. She came along anyway and we met up with Dave and some of his friends to party. A few hours before the show, we were making our rounds of the parking lot and a few people cut through our group, and in that sea of people, that was all it took to be separated from all my friends. I spent the next couple hours walking around looking for them and occasionally hanging out with some fun strangers. I finally gave up when it was time for the show to start. My ticket was a single, so I couldn’t even find them in their seats, since I had no idea where they were (not to mention, that at a Show? Seats, Schmeats!). I ended up running into a guy I knew who was also on his own, so I hung with him during the show. Afterward, we parted ways and I was once again alone in the lot.

I went to where they had been parked, but they were gone. I spent about an hour walking around, wondering how the hell I was going to get home (it was after city buses quit running, I had no money for a cab and it was way too far to walk, especially since I’d have to make my way through the Hill District to get home). I was feeling pretty freaked out and was about to find a group of folks who would let me hang for the night, when I started thinking about Walt. So I took a chance and said, “Walt!” And I swear – a van door popped open and there he was! That’s when I knew it was official – Walt was my Fairy Godfather.

Since last night, I can’t get him off my mind. We got in touch a few years ago and emailed a few times. He lived several states away and was married with a child. We lost touch again and I regret that. He was a good guy and a lot of fun. He was an unexpected friend. I find myself thinking about him quite often. So I have one thing to say:

“Walt!”

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WTF, Dog??

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So the impromptu I-didn’t-know-I-was-having-it party on Saturday was a lot of fun. Only a few of the invitees were able to come and I ended up extending the invitation to a few of my family members and friends, and our neighbors dropped by (no – not crazy the asshole neighbors), and it turned out to be a great time. There was drinking and game-playing and karaoke singing and crazy blond wig wearing and terrible, untalented move-bustin. And good food.

And other than the fact that the dog seems to hate my cousin’s husband, John, for no reason – a good time was had my all. Except by the dog. Because he hates wearing crazy blond wigs almost as much as he hates John. (which, seriously – wtf, Dog? Wigs are fun. And so is John. He’s loved far and wide by dogs and kids alike. And the dog used to love my cousin, but he’s not too wild about her either, now that she’s carrying his spawn. So clearly she has to divorce him now, which is too bad because he’s a nice guy. WTF, Dog??) We had a ton of alcohol left over from my birthday party, so it was a good way to get rid of it. Except that everyone brought something to drink and we somehow have more booze than when we started. Isn’t that just awful? I think I’ll go console myself with a glass of my choice of seven different wines. Or a beer. Or a mojito. Or a daiquiri. Or a rum and coke.

Oh – also – for my birthday, Hedge and Rapunzel gave me a blender, since I was lamenting not having one (I have broken two in the past 6 years by making frozen drinks. And not smoothies – big surprise). So anyway, I inaugurated it Saturday night and was feeling all warm and fuzzy about my friends being so awesome and giving me a gift that clearly shows their love and affection for me (because nothing say love like a delicious frozen alcoholic drink). Until I realized that they were trying to kill me. Yes – my dear friends clearly rigged the blender so it would malfunction and cause my death.

You see, I made a batch of daiquiris – non-alcoholic for my pregnant cousin and the kids. And since they didn’t have any extra liquid (rum) in them and I was too drunk stupid to replace the rum with another liquid – like water – they were very thick. I had to spoon them out rather than pour them. I got drinks my cousin and non-drinking SIL (not my BFF SIL, Weenie – by midnight, she was half passed out on the dog pillow – you guess if she’s a teetotaler) and was trying to spoon the last of it out for the kids when the bottom of the pitcher (with the blades) fell off and landed on my foot. At first, I didn’t realize the magnitude of my injury because it just hurts when something lands on your foot. But then, a split second later, I looked down to see my entire foot covered in blood and a growing puddle of it on the floor. My first thought was, “Holy shit, I cut my foot.” My second thought was “Goddammit, I just cleaned this floor!”

Then, I spotted something on the floor. It was pale pink and toe-shaped and covered in blood. And my next thought was “Oh my God, I cut off my toe!” I sat down to inspect it before I got anyone upset about my toe-ectomy and discovered I hadn’t in fact cut off my toe – it was just a toe-shaped drop of extra-thick daiquiri, which was definitely good news. But the bad news is that my toe was still bleeding like crazy. Everyone was running around like crazy with towels and bandages and Neosporin (except for my faints at the sight of blood friend who expressed her concern from the relative safety of the family room). My non-passed-out-on-the-dog-pillow SIL was insisting that I needed to go to the ER, and all I could think about at this point was that if I had to go to the ER, it would ruin this party.

We eventually got it to stop bleeding, after approxmately 10 paper towels, lots of pressure, 16 feet of gauze, 8 pounds of cotton, and 8 Dora band-aids. Needless to say, I didn’t go to the hospital. Which isn’t as stupid as it sounds. Because even though the current version of the story involves almost bleeding to death, an explosion, a desperate dive to safety, snakes, giant, whirring blades that narrowly missed my carotid artery, and – depending on how hungover I am when I’m telling it – insane ninjas, it really wasn’t that bad. Except for the profuse bleeding. And the ninjas.

I Miss My Friend

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I had a dream about an old friend last night, and I can’t get it out of my mind. I’m not generally much on dreams and their interpretation, but I can’t figure out why this one is so vivid in my mind and why I jus can’t seem to shake the feeling that it means something. I know that reading about other people dreams is boooooorrrrring, so I’ll keep it short (the dream part anyway).

I dreamt that I was at a Dead show (I remember when I only had to say “a show” and everyone around knew what I was talking about – I’m old). Anyway, I was there alone and I wanted to find my friend, Dave (I started to use a pseudonym, but why bother). I knew he’d be there because – duh – it was “a show”. I decided that the best way to find him would just be to walk around in the parking lot’s carnival-like atmosphere calling his name. And lo and behold, it worked (this is not that far-fetched – it’s actually worked in the past). He was sitting at a picnic table with a group pf people that seemed awfully surprised that some strange person was yelling their friend’s name and he jumped up and hugged me. We ended up hanging out together and doing various bizarre things (like when you’re in a dream and one minute you’re at a concert and the next, you’re on a roller coaster and then suddenly, you’re climbing a porch). And then – just like that – he was gone.

I woke up then and felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I don’t know if it was just “seeing” him again or what. But I felt like I needed to drop everything and find him. I have searched for him many times in the past unsuccessfully. Once, I found an email for someone with his name and I sent them a couple emails over a period of time, but never received a reply. I tell myself that the email was outdated because I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t reply to me, but there’s always that chance. I guess I could probably find some phone listings to try I tried really hard, but I am not sure what I want out of it. Finding an email address is one thing. I could write and if it’s him, he could write back and we could start up a nice, no pressure friendship again. But finding a phone number is a little daunting. The idea of calling him up and talking after all these years. What if it’s not him? What if it is? What do I say? What if he’s married and his wife answers? What if he doesn’t want to hear from me?

It might sound weird, but the phone thing is threatening to me for some reason. Maybe its because I called him once at his apartment and his roommate gave me some very vague deal about him not being there anymore. So I called his parents and they brushed me off as well. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but the basic just of it was that he was in some trouble and that he needed to cut off ties with his past. I cried for days after that, wondering if he hated me, wondering if he was OK. A few years later, I ran into a mutual acquaintance who told me he heard that Dave had some serious drug problems and ended up in rehab. This could very well be true – he had a history and it would fit with his roommate’s and parents’ odd reactions.

A little background on Dave. I met him my freshman year of college. He was a philosophy major. I met him during a class – at my 1st college, we had a month long semester where you took one intensive, all day, non-traditional class. I took physics classes both times (I know – huge geek), but they were cool classes – in one, I learned to fly a plane! That’s cool physics. Anyway, Dave was in my class and he was always trying to talk to me about “deep” shit. And I didn’t care about deep shit. He used to give me all these deep philosophy/science/math theory books to read and then want to discuss them. It drove me crazy for a while, but eventually, he started to grow on me.

He was rumpled and messy and crazy and fun. He introduced me to a lot of thing (some good, some bad) that I wouldn’t have found on my own. He was a great guy. We spent all our time together and he ended up being one of the best friends I have ever had. We were always out hiking and talking and reading and learning (just not the stuff we were supposed to be learning). It sounds corny, but at a time when I was really searching for something, he helped me find out who I was. I truly loved him.

But I could see it in his eyes. He liked me. He was a good friend and I wanted to keep it that way, so I ignored it and he ignored it and we went on for a long time like that. My roomie and I even moved into his suite (in the boy’s dorm) for a while, because he was the only one in a 4-person and there was no shared bathroom and lots of fun. He knew my deepest secrets, my favorite songs and what I liked on my pizza.

One night, when he was walking me back to my dorm, he brought it up. He stated his case very logically about how it made sense for us to be a couple (it did) and how we had the perfect relationship (we did) and how we had everything except the intimacy (true). But he just couldn’t understand that for me, the physical attraction wasn’t there. I explained it the best I could, and to his credit he accepted it. We agreed to remain friends and we really did. But he asked for just one kiss and I agreed. I guess I thought it wouldn’t hurt and hell, you never know which sparks might fly. Well, none did. It was a chaste kiss and then it was over. We stayed friends and had a lot of fun together in the years to come. (Although I found out later from a guy that went to the very small school with us that someone saw us kiss and everyone thought we were and item and that there were several non-asshole guys who would have asked me out if not for that. Fuck. Fuckity fuck. It didn’t stop the fucking assholes from wining and dining and treating me like shit, though.)

Anyway, Dave and I stayed friend for a few years, calling and writing after we both left college and visiting each when we could (we lived about 4 hours apart – me in Pittsburgh and him in Gaithersburg). We sent each other care packages – he would send bootleg tapes and other “goodies” my way. I sent him care packages for his Grateful Dead touring trips, filled with munchies and visine and trippy toys, and one year on his birthday I sent him scarlet begonias and signed the card with only “you knew right away I was not like other girls.” Of course, he knew who they were from immediately. This long-distance, yet still rewarding friendship went on for a few years – right up until the time I finally couldn’t reach him anymore. I’m not sure what I want out of finding him now, but since last night, every few minutes I think about him. I think about the loss of a friend. And suddenly after 18 years, I am feeling that loss as if it were yesterday and it takes my breath away.

He was a part of the most bittersweet time of my life. A time when I found myself and then lost myself. When I laughed more than I ever had and cried harder than ever before. A time when I really lived out loud. Maybe it’s my impending 40th birthday and the feelings of mortality setting in. Maybe I want to feel a little of that freedom and joy again. All I know is in that dream when he hugged me, I felt so good and safe and like I had found my way home. At that – though imaginary – moment, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be.

I don’t know if I will ever see or speak to him again, but wherever he is, I hope he is happy.