Monday, July 05, 2010

Friends in the Making

I wrote a book in elementary school as part of a newspaper's Young Author program.  In retrospect, I'm not sure it was much of a book...more like a short story about a scrappy, homeless dog that overcomes the odds (and the mean gang of other homeless dogs) and triumphs over adversity.  We had to illustrate our own books, so I may have chosen that subject matter because about the only thing I could draw was a dog...  Or maybe I identified with the central character somehow....  Or maybe I modeled it after an after-school special...  Hard to say.  But my little book, "Friends in the Making," was a regional winner and I got to go to a big ceremony and accept a plaque.  

I was reminded of that book title during a great conversation with Lippy today.  I've told him he's obliged to call me at least monthly and yammer at me because he makes me laugh (a lot)...and frankly, that's the only way I'm likely to get any sort of an ab workout given my current schedule.  We occasionally, in between amusing anecdotes, circle around to the fact that we've known each other for 30 years...but it's only been in the last few years that we've really become friends.  He told me tonight that he tried to write the brief history of our friendship on his blog and got stuck...  So, in an effort to spur him along, here's my version...

It would be unfair to say I "knew" him back then.  Though he lived down the street and I was hyper aware of him, I was mostly too shy to talk to him for more than a few minutes at a time.  He'd show up to church youth group functions occasionally...and I recall thrilling at the bits of conversation we had...mostly because I couldn't believe he was talking to me!  He'll scoff at that part ("why wouldn't I talk to you?")...but let's face it:  it was the 80s...and we were pretty much characters out of a John Hughes movie.

I was, though I didn't realize it at the time, a total nerd:  good at school and generally regarded as "the smart one."  No matter how many plays I was in or groups I sang with, my prevailing trait...the thing that people knew about me...was that I was smart.  And nice.  My niceness was a close second to the smart thing.  I was vanilla otherwise...fitting in on the fringes of a lot of social circles, and closely aligned with a few core friends.  There was no particular reason that anyone wouldn't talk to me...but there was no particular reason that anyone, save that core group, would necessarily think to include me either.

He, by contrast, was all counter-culture...with dyed hair and a long black trench coat and eyeliner.  He hung out with all the cool people.  Everyone knew who he was.  He knew about music I'd never heard of and could rock out to Billy Idol like something from a Friday Night Video.  He was tight-lipped...mysterious.  He spent some time making out with my best friend, which was how I would eventually learn enough about him to feel like I could speak to him.  He was always nice, even if I didn't feel like I was cool enough to really talk to him for very long...  Plus, you know, it was probably tough for him to respond with my friend's tongue down his throat...

And then he graduated and I graduated and we both got busy living life...and twenty years went by.  Poof!

Like so many stories people tell these days, we wound up back in touch because of Facebook.  He posted something one day that inspired me to tell him a story...and from there, twenty years of acquaintance turned into friendship.  We've been trading emails and thoughts and advice and laughter and phone calls and conversation over drinks for a little over a year now.  Our inauspicious beginnings are now a source of even more laughter.  It's been fun for both of us to find another kindred spirit out there in the world...

What would he say about our friendship and those John Hughes beginnings?  I'm not sure...although the phrase "NASA-smart" came up when we talked about it tonight (and I'm glad he couldn't hear my eye-roll.  So.  Not.  True.).  I'll link up his version if/when he ever posts it....

(See?  He credits me with quantum physics.  Ha!  As if!!)

2 comments:

jconwayhinton said...

I could gush here about how we wrote the same entry, I could tell the world how lucky I am to be friends with you, I could (and truthfully so) point to my new curiosity about the scrappy little puppy story, but instead I want to set a scene and then ask an important question.

It's 1986, you have just shown up at the graduation party with your new hair dyed pink and your leopard spotted combat boots. The crowd parts in awe of the smart girl's transformation and the other end I stand. Hair combed, jewelry gone, wearing a polo and argyle sweater vest combination. We do the awkward stare-look away stare thing. Then we run past the kids who wanted to save me/ beat me up and past the cheerleaders who asked you to be their tutor and then thwarted your social blossoming. We ran past them all out into the 80's and hopped into a car way too cool for high school kids (1956 Porsche Speedster) and drove off into a new happier more meaningful life! What English band should be playing when this goes down?

MonkeyMom said...

ACK! Too many good choices...

My immediate thought was, of course, Psy Furs, because of the pink hair...but that might be too narcissistic an ending for this little movie.

Then I thought Modern English because of the whole overcoming-the-odds vibe...but that doesn't really fit the car.

So I'm now torn between Simple Minds (because I have this vision of both of us flipping off the single-minded crowd out the window as the final shot for the fade-to-black) and OMD because I'm pretty sure your version of preppy would be all Duckie.