Posts Tagged ‘1985’

The ghost story

March 7, 2013

I grew up in a haunted house.

It was a hundred-year-old craftsman that had for some time served as a convelescent home. We assume our ghosts were old people.

I’ve got 15 years’ worth of hauntings to talk about, but this is my favorite.

One afternoon, when I was in high school, my friends and I went to my house for lunch.

When it was time to return to class, I followed everyone through the hardwood entryway and was the last out the door.

The door had a wood frame, but was primarily glass panes. There was a sheer white curtain on the inside of it that didn’t do much to obscure the view.

On each side of the door were vertical panes of windows. Indoors there were thick glass shelves clamped in under each pane. My mother had little blown-glass vases on them that she bought at art shows.

It was my job to clean the glass in the entryway. I hated wrestling those shelves out of those metal clamps.

I was turning the key in the lock when I realized I had forgotten my purse. I changed the rotation of the key and stepped back inside the house.

I was barefoot. I was always barefoot. Fun fact: I fed the school some story about my American Indian heritage. I don’t know if they bought it, but they said if I carried my shoes around with me they would let it slide.

When I stepped back into the house I felt cold under my feet. I was standing on a 100-year-old glass shelf. I made a noise.

My friend had turned around yelled something like ‘no way.’

Ten little glass shelves were lined up like stepping stones from the door to the living room. The clamps were empty. The vases were gone.

Most people say, ‘They were probably like that when you walked out, and you just didn’t notice.’

This is impossible. Even if we hadn’t seen the path or the absence of vases, the shelves were thick. Four teen-agers had just tromped through there. One of us would have kicked them, and I would have felt the cold under my feet.

No one had had time to move them, and they sure didn’t fall.

Over the next four years my parents and I found those vases one at a time: one morning we spotted one behind the leg of a desk; another time one turned up in the refigerator.

My friends, meanwhile, didn’t go to my house for lunch anymore.


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.

Lyrical confusion

December 27, 2012

When I was a teen-ager I used to stay at my grandparents’ a lot. One night Nana and I were in the kitchen, and I had one of my Beatles cassettes in her ghetto blaster.

I was singing along to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. “…A girl with kaleidoscope eyes. Aaaaahh.”

“Did they just say what I think they said?”


“What strange lyrics,” Nana said. “People will write songs about anything.”

This was some 25 years ago. Recently we were listening to the song again and she said, “This is that strange song about the girl with colitis.”

Her memory is better than her hearing.

Where’s that from?

November 28, 2012

I love to play guess-what-this-line-is-from.

When I was a teenager, my best friend and I would make lists of lines from songs and present them to each other in first period study hall. I remember in my sophomore year chewing on the line “Strangers making the most of the dark” all day.

I could hear the melody and hum the next line, but it wasn’t until dinner that the answer came to me.

That’s my idea of fun, for sure.

I also play this with movie quotes. There was a poster at Blockbuster –101 famous movie quotes, can you name the films? — that I wanted bad. I would have put it on the wall and then thrown a party to see how many people gathered around and tried it.

But this was when I was subbing, and no way was I going to spend $15 on a poster, knowing I didn’t have the money to throw me a see-who-gathers-at-my-new-poster party.

I found it online for $8 plus shipping, but I still won’t buy it. That’s how cheap I am.

Today I’m sharing a movie quote challenge that I have chewed on for years — and even Googled, which I frown on as the height of cheaterpantsery — and can’t find the answer to.

In 1999 my husband and I rented a VHS movie with the following line: “Yeah, but if less is more, think how much more more is.”

I thought this was the funniest ever. I don’t remember what movie it was. I thought it was American Pie, so I rented it and watched it again. No dice.

Now I’m setting the spinner to All Play.

If you know the answer, you win.

And because the chewing will finally end, I’ll win too.


October 2, 2012

Tonight we had a cut-throat game of Sorry! My family rolls up sleeves and works the strategy good on this game — takes us almost two hours for one round. We must go through the deck 10 times.

At one point, my son and husband were way ahead. My 16-year-old son announced with pride to his father that girls have cooties. Knuckle touch.

Darned if this didn’t remind me of a story from high school.

My drama teacher came to class from lunch laughing once.

He had seen elementary children yelling at each other from opposite sides of the street outside.

The girls yelled at the boys, “You have cooties.”

The boys yelled back, “Oh yeah? Well you have AIDS!”

When I heard this story, I thought it was funny, even though I didn’t know what AIDS was.

Those 7-year-olds were more worldly than I.


April 1, 2012

My daughter and I just got in from an errand. We drove by a building my mom’s church rented during my teens, before it built its own sanctuary. I gave her a little walk down my memory lane.

When I was all punky with my Pat Benatar haircut and many ear piercings, I was a member of my mom’s church’s youth group.

I had known those kids and the adults involved since I was a toddler.

One of the girls — the one I was closest too — was smart, funny and had all the Queen albums. Fun fact: Our freshman year I introduced her to a girl from my school I thought she would hit it off with, and they fell in love.

She also smoked pot.

One evening everybody sat on the youth-room floor and watched “The Breakfast Club.” In one scene, the characters get stoned.

The director directed her curiosity at me, “Is that really what smoking pot is like?”

How would I know? I shrugged.

She thought I was feigning. “It’s OK, you can tell me.”

Now I was getting angry. My friend was sitting right next to me with her Farrah Fawcett feathers, quiet as you please. I was the only one in the group being asked.

Everyone in the room stared at me until the youth director gave up.

That woman is a friend of my mom’s and grama’s, so I still see her frequently, some 25 years later. I’ve never outed my friend, who is now a minister.

I’ve just sat here, bitter as you please.

A profundity

March 29, 2012

My high school drama teacher used to say that when you call something ‘stupid,’ you’re really saying you don’t understand it.

I thought this was insightful. I still do.

Everyone else seems to think it’s stupid.

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?