A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
Knock, knock...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tribute to an "old" friend.

I wrote this in response to Kirstin's request. She very sweetly is putting together a book of memories for her mother's (Bit's) fiftieth birthday.

Bits and I became friends sophomore year of high school. Given the fact that I'd meanly maligned her to another student during a spring concert freshman year and that her mother overheard me, it's sort of miraculous that we ever managed a friendship. But chance stepped in, slapped us in a class togetherGeometry, Mr. Ephraimoff with the really bad cow-pie comb overand my unfair,  preconcieved notions about her fell away.

Bits was always bursting with juice: gossip, humor, schemes, drama--the essential elements of fun. While I had other gal pals to make michief with (toilet papering, crank calls, late night carousingthe usual shenanigans) when I was with Bits it seemed that things were more likely to go haywire or not according to planas if there ever was one. There was something daring about her, and at that time, I was a girl who needed a little dare to keep things interesting.

That being said, it's not like we ever did anything really bad or criminal, (although as I write this, I have to admit I'd forgotten about the shoplifting), but there were a couple of events that I shake my head and wonder about. Was that really Bits? Was that really me? Good to remember that the stuff you get up to in high school doesn't define you as a person. It just means you had your chance to be a hairbrained high schooler and you took it.

Here is the letter I wrote for my dear friend. 

"Perfection" being a subjective word of course.

Dearest, Bits, aka, Elizabeth, aka, one of a few of my high school partners in crime, aka, current day media personality The Reluctant Therapist:

I was honored to be asked to dig deep down into the memory banks—back to the olden days of the mid-to-late seventies, back to the time of goofy, cut-throat high school politics, self-involved teenage angst and boy-centric diffidence. I’ve unearthed a few items I thought you’d enjoy and perhaps a few you’d prefer to forget. Because what’s the good without the bad? Be glad I don’t have a spring-trap brain that clings to every remnant because I’m quite sure I’ve forgotten lots of stuff—probably for very good reasons.

Some noteworthy gems:

·         Your mother overhearing me say unflattering things about you at a school concert before we were friends and to my absolute horror, having the story repeated back to me by you. Have I ever told you how much I appreciated your forgiveness? My big, occasionally obnoxious mouth thanks you as well. Given our tender ages that could have so easily caused permafrost. I’m so glad it didn’t. And if I didn’t do a good job apologizing at the time, let me say again how sorry I am. Insecurity can be an ugly thing.

·         Rotating birthday parties. Surprise sweet 16s, being kidnapped for breakfast and having to go to school in pajamas—was that for 17? It began with me in January, then Denise in February then you in March.

·         Sleepovers, sleepovers and more sleepovers!

·         Monterey Dunes.  The hot tub.  Jamie’s wet jockstrap landing on my face.  Jamie, WTF?

·         Breaking up and getting back together. You and I. Several times.

·         Sophomore year I started it, then you took it up, and Denise finished it: sequential crushes on Sean Trippi. As I recall, Denise won that prize; he certainly seemed like a prize at the time. I’ve gotta be honest, I got over it then and there, but I still remember the sting.

·         Our junior year road trip to Fresno State and UCSB. Remember stopping at Anderson’s Split Pea House, Casa de Fruita, and how terrified you were of my driving? Remember your dad warning us about the dangers of Pacheco Pass? Your dark green Camero survived and so did we. Of course we did. We were 17 and invincible.

·         Being included in enough Weissenborn family gatherings to wish I was a relative rather than a friend.

·         The Dwyers. I wonder from time to time how they’re all doing. Would love to see what those boys-turned-men are up to these days. I envision Brian struggling, Billy gliding, and both of them still not liking each other very much. Reminds me of another couple of other siblings I know but I’m not naming names. Ah… Some things never change even when you wish they would.

·         A story I wish I could forget or better yet, have expunged from the record: Altos Oaks. How exactly the whole thing transpired I can’t explain. It was then and still remains completely out of character for me and for you too—to my knowledge.  In retrospect, it seems like I only watched the movie but, no, we starred in it. Leading lady, Lyn Nave, in the back seat playing tonsil hockey with two boys a year younger. Leading lady, Bits Weissenborn, with you-know-who (at least he was in our class), practicing her lip-lock and padding her make out resume. I’m blaming you, because I cannot for a second imagine such a thing happening with any other friend of mine. As far as I know this tale never made the gossip rounds—thanks be to God. I still cannot believe it was us in that car. Strangely enough, this is one of my husband’s favorite stories about me from high school.

·         And never to be forgotten (although I know you wish it would): the flaming popcorn/exploding beer babysitting event of senior year. In short story form the title would be: “How to do Nearly Everything Wrong on a Babysitting Gig”. Thankfully, at the end of the night everyone was OK, if more than a tad bit frightened.  I can still hear that little boy asking, “Is my refrigerator going to catch on fire?” And weren’t they the same Altos Oaks boys who invaded the house playing football with a can of beer? OY! The last thing any parent wants is to come home to a house smelling of liquor, burnt popcorn, and Lysol. We did the only thing reasonable—told the truth. Talk about your crunchy moments. Oof.

Darling, beautiful, friend—
Isn’t evolution a wonderful thing? With age comes all kinds of excellent things: wisdom, patience, acceptance, and ability to see things from beyond our own perspectives. I’m so glad to have had the chance to see life through your eyes from time to time.

Just remember, you hit fifty; fifty did not hit you. Be sure to keep that as your goal in the many, wonderful years to come.

In closing, I’m including the blog posting I made when I made the 50 milestone in January. You can run but you can’t hide.

Hello? Fifty's Here

Today you are 50. Five decades. Half a century.Two score and ten. No matter what you call it or how you slice it, 50 is, well...let’s say it’s substantial. It's got some heft. It packs a punch and cannot be sidestepped. It means business. Fifty knocks on your door bold and brash as life itself, because that’s of course what it is, and you have no choice to but to answer it.

I propose that turning 50 is like a knock, knock joke.

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
Your head rushes as your heart gives a funky double beat. Holy shit! Fifty?! How did this happen?you wonder. You try to gather yourself and hesitate before responding with your gut reaction.
“The person you’re looking for is not here.”
“Oh, please! Don’t be coy. YOU are the person I’m meeting today.”
“Uh…Could you come back some other time? I’m really not ready for you today.”
“Sorry, ma'am. Today is the day, YOUR day, the day you turn officially middle-aged.”
“I, uh…could you just give me a little time to spruce up and get myself together? How about tomorrow? I could meet you tomorrow.”
“Today is YOUR day. Don’t worry. I know what you look like and how together you are and are not. Just open up. I promise not to hurt you.”

You gasp. Is it possible you heard a garbled “much” at the end of that last sentence? You fear this is the case. You calm yourself by taking deep breaths and consider logically what to do. After some reflection, and seeing no escape, as much as you really don’t want to, you determine that you will meet Fifty on your own terms. You decide if you have to do this—and apparently, you do—you will do it graciously. You have your shoulders back and head held high when you open the door and look Fifty straight in the eye.

The big Five-Oh looks decidedly older than the less significant Four-Oh and somewhat more fragile and out of shape. Five-Times-Ten doesn’t seem to be bothered by the thickening of her waist or embarrassed by the dark splotches that have begun to show on her face, although you find these changes rather disconcerting. It's been a while since Ms. Fifty has been to the hair dresser. You can tell because the gray and mousy brown is showing in her part and at her exposed temple. You notice Ms. Half-Century has brought you a copy of AARP magazine, the publication which will from now on grace your mail box every month; it’s there in her jacket pocket.
And by the way, that jacket—oof! Fifty needs to get a better stylist because plaid corduroy wasn’t a good look even fifty years ago. You think you might do her a favor by mentioning this and suggesting a nice medium weight charcoal gray wool blazer instead, but you’re distracted from saying anything because you’re not sure but you think you can hear Fifty’s joints creaking just a teeny bit as she shifts from foot to foot. Her sensible shoes—Naturalizers—make you blink, trying to clear the vision. At best, the footwear can only be described as beige, frumpy and cankle-inducing. There is a definite whiff of cantankerousness emanating from the enlarged pores of her slightly sagging skin and you wonder if she’s noticed the faint budding of jowls on either side of her once charmingly dimpled chin. The chin cleft doesn’t reach the alluring depths it used to because it's been filled in with a substantial layer of subcutaneous fat. Whatever sex appeal Fifty may have possessed hit the skids at least a year or more ago. You hold back a shudder, not wanting to hurt her feelings.

She looks at you triumphantly with a certain tinge of smugness thrown in that you suppose is meant to keep you humble. You shake off your dread, tell yourself that despite any appearances to the contrary, you are an adult and will act accordingly. With a deep breath of resolve you try to make the best of the situation by smiling, extending your hand and saying,
“Thank you. Thanks so much for coming, Fifty. You’ve brought a lot of changes with you. I want you to know I appreciate the wisdom you’ve shown me in the last decade. You've offered me a deeper perspective and broader understanding of life and how it works. I have more tolerance, am less judgemental and am trying to keep an open, questing mind. There is still so much I need to learn. I want you to know I am truly grateful for your time.”

Instead of shaking your optimistically offered hand, Madam Fifty deposits the wretched AARP magazine into your proffered palm and says,
“You’re supposed to say, ‘Fifty who?’”
“What?!” You’re confused. Here you are trying to be a good sport about all this and Two-Times-Twenty-five is ignoring your good intentions. What in the hell is she talking about?
“You’re supposed to ask me ‘Fifty who?’ That’s how the joke goes. Remember? Knock, knock?”
“Oh. Right.” You want to show Fifty that despite her disenchanting presence you are still in possession of your well-developed sense of humor. You play along. “OK. Fifty who?”
“Fifty, your new decade.Geeze, woman! Pay attention. Have you gone senile already?”

You muster a wan smile, shake your head and roll your eyes. Along with being a supremely snappy dresser, Fifty is clearly one bitch of a laugh riot.
The best is still to come. I truly believe that. Hoisting a glass in your honor: Cheers, dahlink!

1 comment:

  1. Too funny! Nice tribute to Bits. Although I never knew her, I have a friend like her. My friend is electric--when we get together, I do not know which of us is the gasoline and which is the lit match. Mischief finds us and we find it. Since we met on day one in medical school, we were soon propelled into a blurringly fast-paced 'mid-life crisis' in our 20s which escalated into our mid 30s. We were pranksters who got away with everything. Together, we discovered every hole-in-the-wall seedy dive in the state of Indiana. All we wanted to do was to shoot pool once in awhile, have a few drinks, catch a few good bands and have fun. However, the acquisition of my black-on-black Porsche 938 S4 in 1996 fueled the midlife crisis to another level. Many a time, the car came in handy as I used it to adeptly ditch the "lizards"--men who tried to cross our boundaries, which were,"DO NOT TOUCH!" Oh, and the times I took my friend to SoCA and Vegas. Yep--only SHE could flip a quiet ambience of a 5 star establishment into loud roars of laughter with her stories and jokes, only to bring everybody together for great laughs. We made new friends and re-visited those places...and yes, we escaped out the back gate of a 5-star hotel to strip down and run naked into the waters of the Pacific--only to put our clothes back on and re-enter the lounge and dance to the music of the live band of which my nerdy cousin is the bassist (eye doc by day; bassist by night). He hadn't a clue as to why we were dripping wet. The patrons were amused. Within minutes, every man in the place decided to follow suit. Before too long, everybody in the house was dripping wet and dancing (while clothed, of course). No one cared about anything. My friend said,"If anyone arrests me for swimming nude, I will just inform them that I am from Indiana, where we all assume that Californians are always nude on the beaches. I can play dumb. No one will arrest me." ...and she was right!. Yep, she has given me much fertile ground from which to produce volumes of humor. We often marvel at the fact that we are still alive and survived that era! After all, she is an ex-stripper-turned-MD.