Archive for the ‘my oldest friend’ Category

The trip to the emergency room story

June 29, 2013

My Oldest Friend’s baby took a random toddler spill and ended up in the E.R. with a broken nose and battered mug. Today there is also a gruesome black eye.

Mr. Oldest Friend is across the country on a business trip.

I feel for her, balancing an injured baby on one knee and keeping her preschooler from feeling ignored on the other; and for Mr., seeing ghastly photos of his little girl on the monitor — unable to be there offering strength, comfort and protection.

I’m an hour away from her, and I feel helpless, so I’ll bet he’s crazy with it.

Being a parent is much more painful than being a kid in pain, I say.

Here’s how I know.

One afternoon we bought a steam cleaner. That year we had adopted a puppy.

My 8-year-old son saw an opportunity in the empty box, which, as it happens, slid beautifully over the carpeted steps.

And which, he discovered with delight, he fit inside.

He went up to the landing halfway between the third floor and second, climbed into the box with his bed pillow and rode belly down and feet first to the bottom.

When the box hit the landing, the top swung over. The back of my son’s head hit the hardwood floor with a sound like when you drop a watermelon.

He lay there, noisily. 

I had been making chocolates when I heard the launch. I ran to him, but didn’t know what to do. He wouldn’t lift his head. I’m not good in a crisis, it turns out.

I called my husband, who was shooting pool in Uncle Mike’s garage.

I told him our son went down the stairs in the steam-cleaner box. My husband laughed. “That’s hilarious!” he said. I was in no emotional state for his not getting it. He proceeded to say the wrong thing: He told me to calm down.

Then he said something productive: Check his eyes to see if the pupils are the same size. They were.

“Let me talk to him.” I handed the phone to my son on the floor. He had calmed, and wanted to hear about Mike’s new pool table.

He’ll be fine, my husband said. He’s just stunned.

After lying there a while my boy got up and started moving around the house. He ate a few chocolates, but he wasn’t right.

At 6:30 p.m. he lay on the couch and said his vision was blurry.

That was it. We were off to the emergency room.

My husband met me in that little room where they check blood pressure, weight and temperature. My son got off the examining table, puked my chocolates into the sink, and lay back down. He went promptly to sleep. We couldn’t wake him.

A doctor was summoned. He said something about checking for bleeding on the brain and used the word ‘fatal.’ We were off to a CAT scan.

It was much ado about nothing. My husband was right. After about 15 hours of sleep the blurry vision was gone and so were the rest of the chocolates.

I wasn’t so quick to recover.

Thinking of my girlfriend sitting in the emergency room from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. brings it all back.

So I write this in empathy for her, so she knows I know that sometimes, you just gotta hang your head and cry.

Call 911!

May 31, 2013

My daughter loved A.A. Milne poems. One evening while my son and husband were at Little League practice, she was reading When We Were Very Young — My Oldest Friend’s favorite book, which she gave as a welcome-baby gift.

The Baby was cheerfully reciting Rice Pudding.

She stopped abruptly. She was struck with an idea. “Can we make rice pudding?”

I called Mom, the knower of how to make everything. She came right over.

I opened the door to see red splatters across her T-shirt on her abdomen. She was urgent, ‘I’m bleeding! Call 911!’

I must introduce you to my mom here. My mother is not a practical jokester. She’s not even a laugher at practical jokesters. What she is is a worrier. For instance, she can’t watch when people on TV go up high. She begs me not to let my teenagers ride roller coasters. You get the picture.

I yelled, ‘Oh my God!’ and she smiled. Then she bent to pick up a dripping flat of strawberries.

Who was this woman?

I don’t know what made me remember this story, but it visited me early this morning.

Later I had to call Mom about something else. Before I hung up, I asked,  “Mom, do you remember that time you came over to make rice pudding–”


“–and you had some strawberries–”


“You’re laughing?”

“That was a good one.” A good one? It was the only one.

She defended herself,  “I didn’t plan it. I noticed that juice looked just like blood. It was spontaneous.”

Spontaneity makes it OK to scare my intestines clean?

“You had such a look of horror on your face . . . ,” more laughing.

“Well, yeah. You scared me.”

‘”Yeah, that was a good one.”

The standing on my desk story

March 5, 2013

During the year I subbed, or as I refer to it, Hell, it was on this date I finally got a job for my daughter’s class.

My daughter wasn’t there.

She was with her teacher at the school’s talent show.

At the end of the day, her friends said, “Your mom told us a story about standing on her desk.” She told me she heard this 30 times. 

As many times she said, “Yeah, I know that story.”

My daughter doesn’t think I’m as entertaining as I do.

I had to tell it after I introduced myself, because one of the children said, “Instead of calling you by name, can we just stand on our desks to get your attention?”

Middle school kids think they’re entertaining.

The first week of high school my geometry teacher was beginning a lecture on finding the measurement of an angle when I butted in, “Can’t we just subtract the other two angle measurements from 180?”

In hindsight I get that his point that day was to show us a different way to get the answer. His response to me was “I never said the angles equal 180.”

Yeah, but don’t they?

“Show me where it says that.” Silly me, I thought he really wanted me to.

He went back to his lecture.

I found it in the book and raised my hand.

He went on with his lecture.

Undaunted, I stood on my chair.

At this point it was a showdown. I sat toward the front. He couldn’t pretend not to notice me.

He pretended not to notice me.

I stood on my desk.

He no longer had the class’ attention. He dropped his chalk hand to his side and shrugged as if to say Uncle.

“Yes Miss C?”

“Page 94!” I was proud.

He didn’t seem proud of me. He went on with his lecture.

I never did learn the other way to find the measurement of an angle.

The Playboy story

February 24, 2013

Headlines say Seth Rogan will be on the cover of Playboy magazine. He will be the eighth man to do this.

I’m excited about this headline, not because I like Seth Rogan, but because I have a Playboy magazine story.

When My Oldest Friend and I were about 11 we were on our town’s tree-lined, Main Street-type strip. We were in the corner drug store. It was an old-fashioned store, not like the corporate chains you see today.

The store’s side facing our cozy downtown was window from floor to ceiling. There was a magazine stand that ran along this.

At her suggestion we spread open Playboy magazines all along the display rack facing the window and ran out of the store.

Good times.

What would we have done?

February 5, 2013

My Oldest Friend and I had a lot of summer afternoons to fill.

Sometimes we would hop on the banana seats of our little bikes and ride to the library or the park. Mine was pink and had strawberries on it. Hers was blue with white paisleys.

Other times we would tie the wagon to the back of a bike, and one of us would pull the other to the library or park.

There was naught but the library or park to visit, if we didn’t have money for the corner store where the candy lived.

There was even handlebar riding. There were never helmets.

At some point in the voyage, one of us would usually say, ‘What would you do if . . . ?’

‘. . . I fell off; I got hit by a car; I suddenly died.’

I don’t remember what our answers were. I only remember being happy that we both wondered the same things.


January 31, 2013

This morning I drove my daughter to a rehearsal. She’s been accepted to play flute in a band made up of the best in the county, and it was important we be on time.

We had enough time to get there, but we were cutting it close.

On a narrow road that leads out of our neighborhood, a woman was stopped right in the street, chatting through her open window with a woman in another car.

I waited.

My daughter said, “Just honk at them. Why won’t you ever honk?” So I told her.

My Oldest Friend and I were newly licensed at 16,  driving through a nearby small town where her grandparents had a shop. 

It was a beautiful day. We had the windows down in her hand-me-down Datsun that you could start with a nickel if you didn’t have the key.

She was driving, and she upset another driver.

He blasted his horn. My Oldest Friend threw her head back and laughed. She called, “Ah ha! I made you honk.”

I was totally impressed.

This struck me as profound. That guy gave her the power to make him angry, but she wasn’t about to give her power away. She was so cool, she was amused.

I haven’t honked since — until this morning.

The dirty bootie story

January 26, 2013

My oldest friend is who persuaded me to blog. We e-mail each other in the evenings. Last night, this educated woman who has a baby and a preschooler asked me, “How do you have time to post a blog every day?”

“My kids wipe their own asses,” I said. Oh old friend, your time will come. But this reminded me of a story.

Will you believe I have an ass-wiping story?

We used to listen to these children’s songs tapes, which included the catchy “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

One night my son was sitting on his training potty, singing this song loudly. We could hear him from the kitchen. Then it was quiet.

Then we heard, “Wipe me up, my bootie, bootie. Wipe me up down there. Don’t be rough or I’ll start whining. Wipe me up with care….”

There was more, but my husband and I were laughing and we missed it.

I’m a snubber

January 1, 2013

I see people I know, and I don’t say anything.

My mother scolds me.

Here’s my longer-than-it-needs-to-be defense.

I remember everybody.

People use my services. For instance, My Oldest Friend is on Facebook. She remembers nobody. I get e-mails everytime someone tries to friend her that say, “Who is this? Tell me everything.”

Her yearbook is no good. She doesn’t want a face. She needs me to say, “She was in our English class in 10th grade. She was a little odd and always came over with her hand out when we had food. You’ll remember her from the eighth-grade dance when her nipple was exposed.”

The problem is that most people don’t remember me.

When I go into my tiny town, I recognize everyone. Today I stopped at Rite Aid on my way to work because I lost my sunglasses. I knew the name of the lady standing next to me choosing candy, and the name of the guy ringing me up.

I see my kids’ classmates, my own high school classmates, friends of my parents, and other parents from sports teams, PTA and band boosters everywhere. I remember their names.

I don’t always remember where I know them from, which is the other problem.

Also, I’m shy.

So people in town, hear me out. I would love to say hi to you, but I don’t think you know who I am. Please say hi first.

I swear I’m friendly.

I don’t want to be a snubber.

Exterminator tents

November 27, 2012

When we were little girls, My Oldest Friend was always interested when we saw houses being fumigated.

I used to tell her that those homes, encased in big striped tents, had kids there whose parents had rented them a private circus.

It’s My Oldest Friend’s birthday today.

Happy 40th, Tia. I love you so much, I would rent you a private circus today if they existed and I had any money.

The time my mom sewed

November 3, 2012

My Oldest Friend was having a parenting dilemma. It was the day before the first day of school, and her boy wanted a lunchbox that she feared the other kids would tease him for.

It was an expensive lunchbox, and she would have to pay shipping to boot, because it was available only by order.

At issue was paying for the thing, and then having him abandon it after a day because of the mean kids.

Which of course reminds me of something that happened to me as a child.

My mother, who doesn’t sew, made me an outfit.

She has a machine, and all the accouterments. She has always had a fully stocked sewing kit. One day she drove herself down to House of Fabrics — because she thought she was supposed to, I guess — and bought bobbins and a tracing wheel.

And then one day she decided to make me an outfit.

This coincided with My Oldest Friend, The Horrible Person and me putting on a home staging of “Annie.” The Horrible Person was the star, and My Oldest Friend and I were orphans.

The Horrible Person instructed us to bring orphan clothes with us on Friday.

On Wednesday I wore my new homemade outfit, because after several months’ labor, it was finished. The pants and blouse were made of the same fabric. Have you ever seen hand-made recycled paper? The fabric kind of looked like that, but in red.

My mom dropped me off in the morning, and The Horrible Person was in the kitchen. “Oh no!” she yelled in front of my mother.

“You didn’t wear that because you’re dressing as an orphan, did you?” She made a disgusting expression on her face that right now makes me want to smack her one.

My mom reacted strongly. That night she took the outfit and threw it out.

I wanted the outfit, teasers be damned.

Based on this, I bade My Oldest Friend get the lunchbox.

She did.

There was no teasing.

Clothes shopping

October 5, 2012

Yesterday’s post reminded me of shopping for clothes when I was my daughter’s age.

My mother would hand over her credit card. My Oldest Friend got $20 a month, which she was supposed to budget and accumulate. I was dying of jealousy. That struck me as a fortune.

I did not understand why she didn’t abuse this situation.

I  must have bugged her about it, because I remember her telling me, lots, that Brian was going to ask to see her monthly balance. Brian was her shiny new step-dad.

At one point we signed up for dance lessons together. The next day we walked to the mall to get matching leotards.

The first pair we tried on made it glaring to me this was a bad idea. Tia had glorious hooters and I had naught. Wearing identical stretchy bits drew the eye to my shortcomings.

But I’ve always had more pride than vanity, so I kept quiet and handed over mom’s MasterCard.

The leotards we bought were white cotton, with little puffy sleeves and sprinkles of pink, gray and purple triangles. They must have been pricey, because she was on about having to show Brian her monthly balance.

I double-dog dared her to go in there and stand on one foot.

She never did what I said. That was probably a good thing.

Waxing philosophical

July 1, 2012

My junior-high English teacher used to say, “If you’re bored, you’re a boring person.”

Of course, this was before the Internet, where many boring people kill time.

Not you, though.

My geometry teacher

April 21, 2012

My geometry teacher was good.

I learned and enjoyed the subject.

There was just one thing — he had body odor.

He was so odoriferous everyone speculated he had it on purpose or didn’t care.

By my second year as his student, in trigonometry, we had gotten used to it. Passing notes about it was still common, but not daily.

One rainy day during that second year everyone chose seats in the back of the room.

This was neither organized, nor for any evident reason.

When the teacher came in, he gave a dramatic visual sweep of us and acted offended.

“Why are you all sitting against the window? Do I have B.O. or something?”

We all had the same thought: Oh my God, he doesn’t know.

You never saw so many frozen smiles of fake nonchalance.

The horrible person

April 19, 2012

I’ve avoided talking about The Horrible Person. I will sound whiny and bitter. It’ll read ‘poor me.’

I don’t really know why I’m doing it, now. I just can’t stop myself, being the victim of such great trauma.

My Oldest Friend and I were actually part of a threesome. The house we stayed in from first through sixth grade came with a girl, two years older. (My Oldest Friend had a year on me. She was there also for kindergarten.)

The Horrible Person boosted herself by choosing one of us to be in the good with her, and teaming up against the other. This always involved cruelty.

For instance, once they locked me in the sunroom and made cookies. They waggled them in the window. They waited until they were sure I was watching to eat them.

When we were in our 30s My Oldest Friend called to tell me it was time to set aside my anger and call or write. The Horrible Person had fallen asleep driving. She was alive, but badly injured. She is permanently mangled. Fine.

There are three possibilities to my being the only one with hatred in my soul: My Oldest Friend is more mature and forgiving; I was on the wrong side of the trio more than she; or her memory sucks. It’s probably a dash of each.

I rue my extraordinary memory, as you know.

I’m thinking about this tonight, because we just got back from the theater. I was raised on Broadway musicals, and so were my children. Two weeks ago we went to see Avenue Q; last week we went to The Producers; tonight we went to Little Shop of Horrors; and next weekend we’re seeing both Once Upon a Mattress and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

When I was 9 the sensation was Annie. We all knew the soundtrack by the time it came to the Shubert in Los Angeles. The Horrible Person and My Oldest Friend went to see it together. They came back all smiles and tales of greatness.

Then my grandparents took me for my 10th birthday.

I was excited, and it was great. I couldn’t wait to go back and talk about it with the girls.

When I was on the porch the next Monday at 6 a.m., hand on the knob ready to enter, I heard The Horrible Person telling My Oldest Friend, “She’ll be all hyper about ‘Annie.’ Don’t talk about it with her. If she tries to talk about it, get up and leave the room.”

So I acted as if I hadn’t gone.

Just like tonight, I remember it fresh every time I see a show — just for a moment, when I want to share my excitement.

Now you can put away your violins. I’m done talking about her.

link to photos

I’m with the band

April 16, 2012

I have an aunt and uncle who lived and raised three boys in Modesto. The youngest boy and some friends formed a band in my aunt’s garage.

The next thing we know we’re getting reports they’re touring, making albums, showing videos on MTV. David Bowie named them as his favorite artists. We heard them on the “I am Sam” soundtrack. Two of their songs were in car commercials.

I was a proud cousin. I got a button made that says, “I’m with the band.”

One year they played at the Troubador in Los Angeles right before Thanksgiving. Later that week my aunt and uncle, my parents, the band and their spouses joined us at my house for dinner.

My Oldest Friend and her husband were in town from the coast, having Thanksgiving with her parents. They were supposed to stop by to see us.

After dinner she called to apologize for running late, “My husband has just discovered this band called Grandaddy, and he’s downloading all their CDs off Napster. He’s almost done, and we’ll be over then.”

“Grandaddy’s here,” I said.

For the first and last time in our lives, I got to be the cool one.

My Oldest Friend cracks me up

March 18, 2012

Today I was desperate for gas, and had to go to a place that wasn’t my usual gas station. Also I was starving, so I went in the station’s mini-mart.

I was pissy about this, because I was paying more for my gas than I would have at my usual spot, but I took a turn for the happy when I saw Freshen Up gum by the counter.

I thought this stuff had gone the way of the Sunshine Family and Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific.

For people younger than 30, Freshen Up was a gum that had gel in the center. It squirted you when you bit into it.

I was happy to see it, because it reminded me of an afternoon driving around with My Oldest Friend in the ’80s.

By my memory, we were listening to the radio, and a commercial came on for Freshen Up that went, “Smack dab in the middle, smack dab in the middle of the gum.” (If you listen to the attachment, you’ll see my memory is faulty. It was a Chewels gum commercial.)

My Oldest Friend shook her head, “I’m not getting it.”

What was she talking about?

“I am never going to chew that gum.” Oh.

“You don’t like it?”

“I’ve never tried it, but I don’t want to eat anything whose greatest selling point is the centeredness of the filling.”

How lucky am I, to have this person in my whole life?