Archive for the ‘my high school best friend’ Category

My prom story

May 22, 2013

Tonight my son’s friends are throwing a private prom at my place. They strung little white lights in the wisteria arbor overlooking the orchard. It empties onto the carriage house deck, which they made into a dance floor.

My son will put on a tux to stay home.

I hope it turns out better than my prom experience.

Here’s what happened. My boyfriend didn’t have the money to ask me to the dance, and my best friend was between beaus.

She and I grabbed a can of Pam cooking spray and beach chairs and went to Whitewater — a creek just outside of Palm Springs — for some after-school tanning.

Our friends Craig and Eddie showed up on Craig’s motorcycle and asked us to go, as friends, to that night’s prom.

Eddie and my best friend went back in my car, and I hopped on the back of the motorcycle.

The boys left us girls at my house, where we put on our leftover homecoming dresses.

They picked us up on time. Mom took pictures. We were off.

We drove to Rancho Mirage, parked and walked up to the door of the prom facility.

That’s when the boys admitted they hadn’t bought tickets.

We leaned across the open door to exchange waves with people inside, got back in Craig’s mom’s Camaro and went to Carl’s Jr. for dinner.

Then they took us home.

It was awful.

Though he won’t say it with regret, my son and I will both be able to say we spent prom night all dressed up with nowhere to go.

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The ski trip story

February 20, 2013

My kids are gone tonight with their school ski clubs. They’re great snowboarders. They didn’t get it from me.

Two cool guys, both named Steve, invited my high school best friend and me skiing once.

We were excited. We bought outfits. We looked great.

It turns out, this is not the important part of preparing for a ski trip.

It was still dark when the boys picked us up. We bopped in our seats to the Beastie Boys all the way up the mountain, flirting, laughing, looking great.

The Steves got on the lift in front of us. Our plan was to watch what they did and copy it.

First they glided off the lift. They unbent their knees and stood. Got it.

We had less finesse. Our skis tangled together and we were lucky to fall in a heap clean of the lift chair.

I don’t know if our inexperience was evident at that point, but I know we were no longer looking great.

The jig was up quickly enough, though, because we couldn’t get up. In fact, the lift attendant had to scoot us out of harm’s way by the armpits.

After lots of humiliating sliding we came to be upright. It didn’t last.

It was dusk when we got to the bottom of the mountain. We got there through a combination of sitting on the skis and gripping the fence we discovered abutting part of the trail.

Occasionally the Steves would call  to us from overhead as they ascended for another run. There was nowhere to hide from them.

We didn’t do any bopping on the drive home, but half of us did a lot of laughing.

The dead boyfriend discovery story

January 15, 2013

I was 17, and it was just after New Year’s. My Best Friend, three friends and I were cruising around, up to no good. I was driving.

Near to My Best Friend’s house, we saw stationary police lights.

“Hey, this is one of those checkpoints they’re doing to catch drunk drivers,” one of us said. I don’t know if this was a new practice, or just new to us, but we were curious about it.

We approached, but, being teen-agers up to no good, chickened out and turned the corner a block early. We went to My Best Friend’s house.

After a period of restlessness, we piled back into my car and went to watch the police catch drunk people. 

It wasn’t a checkpoint.

There was a motorcycle on the ground, and a boy lying very still. We couldn’t get close enough to get a good view, but we parked and stared.

“Best Friend,” I started hestitantly. “Doesn’t that look like David’s bike?” David was My Best Friend’s boyfriend.

“I guess,” she said casually, “but he’s working tonight.”

I got out of the car and walked over to an officer. I found out that the motorcyclist wasn’t carrying identification. They didn’t know who it was. I didn’t look at the boy. I acted casual to My Best Friend, “Let’s go back to your place.”

When we got there, still trying to appear calm, I suggested we call the grocery deli where David worked and see when he gets off. His boss said he got off early; he should be home by now. I said, “Hey we have nothing better to do, let’s call him at home and see if he wants to join us.”

His sister said he wasn’t home. He was at work. Was he wearing the new helmet he got for Christmas? No. Does he have his wallet? No, he forgot it on the dresser. Uh oh.

I don’t know now how I got the nerve, but I mentioned there was an accident around the corner from his house. I remember saying, “It’s probably nothing, but there was a motorcycle there.”

It was him, and he was dead.

He was hit by a Greyhound bus, the driver of which hadn’t taken his insulin and was declared to be completely at fault. Apparently this approximates driving drunk.

A few days later My Best Friend and I were alone in the mortuary viewing David. He looked different, rubbery. My Best Friend was sobbing.

It was one of my first experiences with death. It was profound. He was just there the other day, and now he doesn’t exist. Where is he? And wow, David knows what happens when you die.

But I learned something, too. If blood isn’t circulating, hickeys are forever.

The funeral story

December 14, 2012

It’s been pouring rain here. My kids are about to go on winter break, and it’s cold, windy and pouring.

One day My High School Best Friend and I were home from school on a day like this. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t break.

We were kneeling against of the back of the couch, watching the rain for boredom, when we saw black-clad people begin to file out of the church across the street.

What terrible weather for a funeral.

We started guessing who the people were. One of us grabbed the newspaper, and learned it was a 48-year-old man being mourned.

We went like this: That must be the wife. I’m thinking those are the parents, and that’s his sister, Lily. Everything we needed was in the obituary.

After about 15 minutes the funeralgoers made their way to their cars, where an attendant was putting neon ‘funeral’ stickers on windshields.

My Best Friend said, “Let’s go.”

OK.

We raced up to my room and changed into black dresses, then jumped in my car. We drove across the street and around the block so we could come in the back of the church lot. As we came toward the front, we got a neon sticker.

We inched our way to the cemetery toward the back of the procession. When we got there, we put on our somber faces and made our way to the gravesite, heels sinking in muddy ground and rain pelting our hair. It occurred to us we should have grabbed an umbrella.

By the time the service was over, we were both depressed. It felt like we knew the guy.

We joined in the post-burial mingling, offering condolences to the widow — called it — and her family. We hugged cousins, co-workers and the guy he played racquetball with.

Back at my house we changed out of our sopping clothes and cried.

We heated up some canned soup and tried to get over the loss of whats-his-name.

Death upon death

December 3, 2012

By request, I’m writing about a death.

In January I told you about the time My Best Friend and I happened upon her boyfriend’s dead body.

She fared poorly in the aftermath of that, and the gaggle of us girls donned our blacks and skipped school to support her through the funeral.

David’s friends were supporting one another, too, lined abreast in their pew, trying to look tough despite their suffering.

After the service, we girls went out to lunch. We laughed and hugged and ate.

I’m not sure what the boys did, but My Best Friend was feeling strong enough to join them in late afternoon.

At eveningtime she asked them to take her home. They were mourning by drinking, and she was emotionally exhausted.

From there they got on the freeway to cross town. There were four of those boys in the car. The windows were down and the music was blaring.

They took a tight curve on an offramp at 113 mph.

When the car flipped, Conrad went out the rear window, and the car crushed him as it rolled.

One group of friends saw two boys die within four days, not even a week into 1987.

My gaggle of girls made it to today, though, and when the time comes for me to grieve, I know they’ll put on their blacks and hold me up.

The concert story

August 19, 2012

In high school, I discovered the ’60s band Tommy James and the Shondells.

I loved all oldies — Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Supremes, The Beach Boys— but Hanky Panky was one tier higher in my book of brilliance.

Because I was the one with the car, my girlfriends knew all the words to Tommy James’ complete discography, liked it or didn’t.

We would pile in my little ‘Smo-mobile,’ roll down the windows and sing along — unreasonably loudly. We bounced with such vigor, people would see us at stop signs and start bouncing in their cars, even if we were holding still at the time.

The summer after high school, I saw an ad I couldn’t believe. Tommy James and the Shondells was to headline at the Greek Amphitheater, with The Turtles, Herman’s Hermits, The Mamas and The Papas, Tommy Roe and my other favorite, The Grass Roots.

I borrowed money to buy the most expensive seats, which were $50 each — a fortune — and worked extra shifts to raise the money. I was taking my best girlfriend as a birthday gift to both of us.

That would be My High School Best Friend, who turns 42 today.

On the morning of the concert, I went to an employee swim party at a coworker’s house, about 20 minutes out of town.

It was August, and it was hot. I drank a lot of watermelon punch.

Unbeknownst to me, there was everclear in it, which at the time I had never heard of.

By late afternoon, I was in a sorry state.

One of the waiters took me to his apartment, where I spent a lot of time throwing up. Somehow I managed to remember that My Best Friend needed calling, and even relayed the phone number.

I remember being surprised when she showed up to get me.

She drove me to my house to get clothes and the tickets. I waited in the car.

We got on the freeway, and my head was coming pretty clear. As we neared L.A., we started realizing we were ill prepared for the concert.

By that I mean we didn’t know where the Greek was, and I didn’t have any shoes.

My Best Friend turned the car around, and took me home.

No Hanky Panky, no Sweet Cherry Wine, no Draggin’ the Line.

But there was a lot of moany moany.

The diner story

July 15, 2012

My high school best friend is in town for a visit. She’s leaving tomorrow, but really wants to eat at Kay’s, a breakfast diner that was downtown and legendary when we were growing up.

It has since moved to a nearby town. It’s around the corner from the medical center.

One afternoon I had taken my son to the medical center for hearing tests — he has to have his hearing monitored; there are issues because of the tumors. The tests were taking a long time and we were starving.

Finally, someone came into the waiting room and told us he failed the hearing test in one ear, and we had an appointment with a different doctor in 90 minutes.

We were out the door and Kay’s-bound before you could say blueberry pie.

Then we were so hungry we couldn’t decide what to order.

It went like this: I’ll have the chicken-fried steak and eggs, no wait, the cinnamon roll, except, oooh, maybe I want a waffle….

The waitress kept glancing toward the door, but we were intent on our menus.

Then she leaned in and whispered, “I need you order quickly, because the health department is shutting us down right now.”

We looked over to see a guy in a uniform putting a huge chain and padlock on the front door — dramatic, but unnecessary, I thought — and a sign saying the restaurant was indefinitely out of business by order of the government.

My son and I were so hungry, all we could think of was that we ought to order as much as possible before they closed the kitchen.

We took one of everything.

The horse riding story

July 2, 2012

My Junior High Best Friend just got back from a family vacation in Mammoth.

Fun fact that isn’t particularly fun: Her boys are the same ages as my kids, and her oldest boy has dealt with tumors in his head, too. This makes me wonder if we were exposed to something together during our teens. The other two girls we hung out with never had children.

I’ve been to Mammoth this time of year. It’s beautiful. My dad rented a condo there for the week after I finished high school. We took My High School Best Friend.

We spent the first couple of days lying by the pool, but I woke up one morning with a chest, and my bathing suit didn’t fit anymore.

So we went horseback riding.

We had never been on horseback, any of us, yet we had the nerve to be disappointed we would be led nose to tail slowly on a narrow path. Now that I’ve actually ridden free, I can see the beauty of our Mammoth ride. Who did we think we were, Hoss and Little Joe?

There we were, meandering painfully slowly through the forested mountains, and all I could hear was my mother behind me anxiously sucking her teeth.

“What?”

“There are loose rocks on the trail. I’m afraid your horse is going to trip.” This is my mother in a nutshell.

I tried to get someone to trade horses with me. No luck.

Then the gasping started.

“Mo-om! This horse walks this trail everyday. Its whole life is walking this trail. Plus, it’s a horse. It’s not going to trip on a rock. Someone please switch places with me!”

And then my stupid horse tripped on a rock.

His front leg slipped and buckled. I almost fell off.

I think she’s forgotten about this, though I will never know, because to ask would be to remind. I hope she has, because I hate to see her nervousness rewarded.

I’m pretty sure if you ask her what she remembers about our trip to Mammoth, she’ll tell you about my visit from the booby fairy.