Thursday, February 21, 2008

Unexpected Treasures

Ten days or so before Precious Daughter was born, my stepfather had bypass surgery. We actually crossed paths in the hospital. I stopped in to visit him right before having my daughter by cesarean section.

Two weeks after Precious Daughter was born, my stepfather, having been released shortly before, decided he was putting the family home on the market and moving in with one of his sons. I remember my friend M calling me to tell me there was a Dumpster in front of the house and my step-buttheads were loading the thing with everything they could grab.

Ironically, this was the first day I would have been permitted to drive after delivery. I got in the car and the blasted thing wouldn't start. M came to my rescue and drove me over there with Precious Daughter in her car seat carrier thingy. That damned Dumpster was already a third full, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was still under weight restrictions, and my belly felt too raw to go Dumpster diving anyway. I hurriedly salvaged some things I could carry and took them home. Over the next few days, I had The Oracle's help, and eventually my sister, V, who was living out of state, got over there as well. By then it was pretty much too late. A good chunk of our childhood goodies were long gone.

I was digging in the basement a couple weeks ago, looking for the furnishings to my sister J's old doll house. I've been slowly trying to make the basement a kid-friendly play area in hopes of getting their perpetual clutter out from underfoot in the living room, and the empty doll house was a big enticement to play down there awhile. I found the furniture in a box and started pulling out the items that seemed sturdy enough to witshtand B's brute strength.

Anyway, in the bottom of the furniture box, I found a kinda-crusty brown wallet that must've belonged to my mother. I nearly pitched it aside, but as a last-minute afterthought I opened for a quick peek at the billfold. Hey, you never know, right? What jumped out at me had me squeal in delight and brought my kids running.
This was the wallet I carried in 1983, when I was a junior in high school. Before any of you can complain about me posting our "Almost a Swan" photos, I found this underneath the wallet in the same box and scanned it just for you. Take a look at this frightmare!!!

Dear Lord, I am almost ashamed to admit that this is me with too much fuzzy hair and those horsey hard yellow teeth. No amount of bleaching has made them any whiter.

The only redeeming thing about this photo is the Gunne Sax blouse. I was a junkie for Gunne Sax, and I had at least three of these things. I even had a "vintage" Gunne Sax formal gown that belonged to an aunt or some such thing, and I always dreamed of wearing it to my prom. Instead, I wore it in the school's musical production of Barnum, because it perfectly fit the timeline in the story. When I ripped out the hem and stained it with stage makeup, that was the end of my prom gown.

And I can see that the Blogger spacing is going to go all weird, and I'm not going to fuss with it. This is going to be a long post, and I'm not going to fiddle with formatting.

See that guy on the left? I carried a huge crush on him until he graduated. He was my first-ever kiss (on the cheek, waiting for the "late bus" after school), and I rode that bus home in the clouds. He, unfortunately, had this weird timeline in his head that every girlfriend carried a 90-day warranty, and he ditched me without much cause to move on to the girl in the nxt group of photos. She happened to become a good friend of mine. Oh, I envied her! But then, 90 days later, he dropped her too. In my mind, I then called him Fickle F, the F standing in for his last name and not the four-letter word.

The guy on the right? He was, at the time, close friends with the guy on the left, and if memory serves me well (it rarely does, but it tries), he was the second guy to ever kiss me. And while FF never bothered to write any sentiment on the back of his photo, the guy on the right did. "Hi. I love mountain climbing." R. I guess I need to mention here that I was a rather well-endowed teen. I'll leave the math to you.

This is my friend, V. The bummer here is that, much like the chicken and the egg, I can't tell which photo came first. V has this fabulous soprano voice, one that I truly didn't appreciate until a summer stock production. I think it was Hans Christian Andersen story, but I'm not really sure of that at all. I just remember that in a scene involving a chorus of vendors in a marketplace, she sang out, "Buy my fresh fish, my fresh fish" over and over. Such a simple line, but, wow, when I heard it coming off the stage like that (instead of next to me during choir practice) I was floored.

V. was also my house mate during our choir trip to Germany, and I have bunches of stories from that experience for other posts.

On the left-hand photo it is written: "Wie geht's? I just realized I wrote this upside-down. Oh well. I'm different. Mee-may-mah-moe-moooooo. You are one of my 3 best friends. the other two are Suzanne & my cat. Neither of them tell my secrets, either. Time 2 go! Your friend," V

The photo on the right is much more short & sweet: "Well, here's the picture you wanted. Now you cant' say you feel left out. I'll CU next year!" V.

So, V, which came first?

I don't know why these two friends aren't smiling in their pics, because they were (and still are) rather happy people.

On the left is my friend A. I met A during band camp. A knew how to be funky and cool long before Molly Ringwald made it popular. She twirled a silk in the band front and I played instruments despite the fact that I couldn't read a note of music. I played sousaphone in my freshman year and moved on to glockenspiel after that. I hid my dirty little can't-read-music secret well, playing by ear until I got a unique bit of sheet music for the 1812 Overture. My piece was for the glockenspiel, but the other "dingalings" had music for bells, xylophone, and marimba. The band director wanted it that way, and I finally had to confess my sins. He was shocked but impressed, and I spent my study-hall periods for the next week or so sitting in his office while he gave me the starting note and hummed the damned music. Gimme a glockenspiel today and I could probably still play it.

Again, if my faulty memory has any accurracy at all, FF up there dropped V after 90 days and moved on to A. Then he graduated and stopped messing with my friends. :)

A's sentiment: "Maybe someday I'll think of words to write on this picture. Fer sure!"

Okay, A, now's your chance!

Next to A is S (I'm sorry if this alphabet soup is confusing, but I don't want to go splattering names all over cyberspace). S was also in choir in the alto section. Again, I have no idea why she's not smiling. She's always bubbly and extroverted, even on a bad day. At a high-school dance, I danced with a guy I don't remember, but I do remember that he smelled really good. I told S she had to dance with him just for his scent. She walked right up to him and did.

S writes: "I think you're a deer (BA-HA-HA). I hate this picture, so I might as well give it to you, okay? You call me. it's XXX-XXXX. I can't wait to sing Rudolph when we go caroling. Love ya," S.

These girls are still two of my closest friends. On the left is SD. She was the "new kid" during sophomore year, and at the beginning I was thoroughly irritated by the fact that she was the only one scoring higher grades in Biology than me. She was irritated by me because I was so...irritating. Really, I am a flaky airhead. We rode the bus to school together and wound up becoming best friends, and we still see each other on occasion.

She looks exactly the same. Not a wrinkle or an extra pound in sight, even after two kids. She might color her hair, but I'm not even sure about that.

The skinny girl on the right is M. M and I lived a few houses away from each other and have been friends since we were puny kids. 32 years. It staggers me when I think of it. M's parents are like a second set of parents to me. Her baby sister is like my baby sister. If anyone can blackmail me off the planet, it's M. But, heck, I could blackmail her too. That's why she put nothing in writing on the back of her photo.

My wallet confession would no be complete without this:

First, I am not the person who did this. I know my memory is lousy, but I know that much for sure. My memory must've blocked out the guilty party, because I can't remember how or why it left my wallet in the first place and came back full of holes. I do remember it being returned to me in this condition. B rode the bus with me until I met SD. B was (and I assume still is) a sweet-hearted girl who had fewer social skills than I did. She got herself into more messes than I care to think about. She also fixed me up with the worst blind date of my life, which is fodder for yet another post.

In summary, she really tried to be a good friend, and she really drove me out of my mind with her ways. Sometimes I was a good friend in return, others not so much. that's probably the best way to put it. But I know for sure that I did not put the holes in that photo. Does anyone out there know who did?

Ah, yes. R the Motorhead. I dated R for two years. He was a year ahead of me and lived a good hour's drive away. He drove a '66 Chrysler 300, an awesomely huge car that first opened my eyes to what a classic car was. His stepfather had a whole fleet of antique and classic Chryslers and Packards, and in fact drove us to the above prom in a classic limo.

This is the pic from his senior prom. My mom made my gown. See what I told you about my endowments? I remember sitting at the table looking at pasta with tomato sauce and wondering what brain trust came up with that menu for a roomful of high-school kids in fancy dress. I took that top ruffle and jammed it down into the front of the dress to keep from dripping on it. Then, like a heathen, I tucked my napkin into my cleavage to save my gown.

Two months before my senior prom, R dumped me. Why? First, he said it was because I wouldn't "put out." That mountain climbing comment up there may make you think otherwise, but I really was a nervous nellie when it came to boys, and I didn't let my hair down until long after graduation. Just ask FF's ribcage.

R's other reason for dumping me was because my friends were "too weird." This coming from a guy who's idea of a date was loitering in the mall parking lot with his friends. Really. All the guys would park their cars in a circle. The guys stood around talking and smoking while the girls sat on the cars like hood ornaments. It was clearly the weirdest thing I'd ever done. Way weirder than any of my antics during The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

In his next breath, R then had the nerve to ask me for another girl's phone number. I gleefully refused. When I told her about it, she later confessed to me that R made a pass at her during someone's party, but she was afraid to tell me because she thought I'd be angry with her.

This last bit is hard to see, but I found some other interesting treasures that my fellow grads might remember. A hall pass, my "club" cards for J-Hall, a never-redeemed "kiss coupon," and, most regrettably, my membership card to the Kiwanis Key Club. (More blog fodder.)

Oh, no, Key Club. I can't talk about it. I can't. Not yet. Let's just say that during my year as president, they needed to change their slogan to: "Confont Direction, Discover Confusion."

I'm going to work on a transcript now.


--V said...

Whoa. Time warp, yo.

I have been looking and looking at those two pictures of me, and I cannot for the life of me figure out which one was first. Nice to know I could pick a look and stick with it, no?

I think it was the one on the right. The note on the back of it seems more impersonal than the one on the left. I only met you my freshman year, so that would fit. And I do remember having that outfit that year -- the skirt that went with that blouse was a red and black plaid prairie.

And ohmygod, HD! I didn't realize he had just dropped you before he moved on to me. He flirted with me in Music Theory class from almost Day One, and made it seem like I was the only female on the planet. I was heartbroken when he moved on to A., and if I remember correctly she dumped him for some lovely looking boy named...Rick? He was most upset, and I think it may have been the first time someone beat him to the punch. Let's hear it for karma.

And face it, Motorhead R. was right: we were weird. We read, we bantered, sharpened our wits and tongues on each other, we burst into song at the least provocation, and we valued intelligence, which is why we sought each other out [preens slightly]. Heck, we could use and understand words like "preen."

--V said...

Me again. Regarding "mountain climbing." I just cracked myself up remembering our code for "the catch on my bra just gave out" : Avalanche!

Just Me said...

Oh, man, me and my stupid insistence on wearing front-hook lingerie. The catches on those things were pathetic, and they almost always gave out during marching band practice.

Anonymous said...

Cause I'm gonna end up anonymous...I'm S:
I think in the history of having school pictures there are only two that don't have me smiling. I think one was in middle school, and this is the other one. Why am I not smiling...I was in a "I-hate my-smile-in-pictures-funk" again. I think it happens every 7 years. I haven't counted, but I know it's faster then the return of locusts, and longer then leap years. I only know that it is a returning thing because I have a rash of adult pictures that continue this little hiccup.
F never hit on me. But A's R did. And his brother too. I hope she wasn't dating him at the time. And why does MotorHead R look familiar?
I miss the silly! It's so hard to be silly anymore with people that take it seriously!
I heard that B died. I don't know if it's true or not. I heard it from a friend, but I'm not sure if that friend is reliable with his source. I wonder if there is any way to look and know.

Piano Wizard Queen said...

Ran across your blog and really enjoyed reading this entry! Especially about your hiding your inability to read music from your band instructor! What a hoot!

Can't believe your "step-buttheads" would trash all you belongings without giving you first rights of refusal. "Some people…"

Thanks for the smiles!

The Piano Wizard Queen

Anonymous said...

"Righteous Indignation!" I was framed I tell ya! .. actually, my 90-day "trial period" with you and others was nothing more than cold feet and a finicky teenage boy's idealism. Had I known then HALF of what I know now... Anyhoo, thank you for the trip down memory lane. You and V are always thought of most fondly of all my young crushes, and I am glad you and I have retained contact. V - if you're reading, I would love to hear from you again sometime.. it has been much too long and I am sorry. HD"FF"