Saturday, June 25, 2011

In Lieu of Sugarbottom

Twenty four years ago, Rebecca Hanson moved with her dad and sister to Mount Vernon.  At first, I was scared of her.  Becky was strong and outspoken, confident enough to make jokes at her own expense and to call out people who took themselves waaay too seriously.  For someone like me, scared of her own shadow and opinions, Becky was something new.  We had friends in common, started hanging out more and more.  I made her laugh, and Becky's laugh is like no one else's.  She can make an entire movie theatre crack up, just at the sound of it.  We became friends.

Weekends were spent at house parties with friends, or at rural dance halls like Dance Mor in Swisher, the Loop in Monticello, and Prairie Moon in Prairieburg.  One of the best nights of my life was spent with Becky, New Year's Eve 1990, and a bunch of friends we met dancing on tables at Dance Mor, then followed to the SW side Denny's.  Becky spent Christmas Day 1990 with my family, and we cut apart all the boxed chocolates and smushed together the icky ones to leave for others, til we discovered there was a map. We smoked candy cigarettes to mock the teen smokers around us. We invented the stupefyingly hilarious game of holding a toilet paper tube to our eye, and watching objects like troll dolls dropped, while listening to Depeche Mode. No, we were not high. 

We went to prom together, graduated together.  When Cathy was born, Becky videotaped it, and the tape gets all shaky when she started to cry.  I was in the waiting room for Mitchell's birth and in the room to see Kennedy born.  One of the first things Becky said after I called her with the news my dad had died was, "How can I help?" I call Beck first, with all good news and bad news. 

The Prairie Moon Ballroom has burned down, many years ago now.  You can't buy candy cigarettes in stores anymore.  The Denny's on the southwest side of CR is long gone. And, still, we are friends, better now than we were back in the days we spent every weekend together.  Even if I don't see Becky for weeks or even months, I know we can pick up where we left off and I know that she understands every backstory to every new story I tell her.  I know her family and their stories as well as my own.  I have faith in her goodness as a human being, and with her ability to empathize, because she understands bad luck, too.

So, tonight when my truck started flashing the oil and battery "Danger, Will Robinson!" lights on its dashboard, while I was on my way to her birthday campout at Sugarbottom Campgrounds, fully stocked with tent, sleeping bag, potato chips, Bacardis, and her silly birthday card, I couldn't believe my bad luck.  Of all the things I would never want to miss, it would be Becky's birthday weekend, at a time in her life when experiences and good times with friends is what she values most.  But, here I sit, at home with my truck in the garage, waiting for morning when Karl can look it over. 

So, Becky, here is your birthday blog, in lieu of my presence at the campout tonight.  You are my best friend, and have been for more than half my life.  I think of you as a sister now, and my whole family loves you.  You are incredibly funny and make everyone around you laugh. You are kind.  I've seen you many times hold your tongue when you knew something and wanted to say it, but didn't.  You are generous, with your time and your talents and praise of others. You give more than you get back, time and again.  I'm sorry I'm not there tonight.  But, I hope you know that I am always there in spirit.  Happy Birthday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What My Girls Put Me Through

Last Saturday, Sarah sent me the following message:

"OH, MY GOB!  Baby raccoon!"  And this:

I started to panic.  On the tiny screen of my phone, the background appeared to be the back porch where her grandparents live.  Could a baby raccoon have crawled up there to die and Sarah was petting a rabid animal?  I remembered all the times the girls had liberated tadpoles from the pond, to keep in ice cream buckets under their beds, until I returned them to the pond from whence they came. 

I texted back, "Oh, MY Gob, is that a raccoon?  Has it bitten you?"

To which Sarah replied, "Oh, the minx bit me, but twas only a scratch."

Oh, no.  I was one hundred miles away and Sarah had been bitten by a raccoon.  Then, I get this from Cathy:

"Don't worry about Sarah, I was the one who got bit, but it wasn't the raccoon.  It was the bobcat."

WTF was going on?  I didn't get the full story, just tantalizing, "Oh, Mom, stop worrying.  The skunk left us mostly alone,"

until last night, when Cathy told me they had been at a fair and played with the animals (under supervision) at the wildlife preserve area.  She actually was bitten by the bobcat, whose baby teeth were so tiny and inoffensive, they didn't even break the skin. 

My girls love to tease me.  It was a great weekend for all of us, they had a nice time with their dad, I had a good time with friends at Leah's going away party, but the best part is that they included me in their good times.  And that they didn't die from rabies or death by bobcat.

This last photo is not from their time at the fair, it's one I took a month ago, when we were out walking on the gravel road behind our house.  The girls decided to share a dandelion and each try to blow the fluff off it, into the face of the other.  Such moments were made to last, even just on film:

 All my girls put me through... is worth it.  Every moment. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Unusable Wedding Toast #1: Textses From Your Exes

On this happy occasion of John' and Abbi's wedding, we all have this one chance to congratulate them on their good sense in finding each other, and then, making it work.  We all have stories to share about John and Abbi, great, fun experiences we've shared.  I was curious, though, about those not with us today, who years ago knew our happy couple best.  I'm referring to their exes.

It was tough work, getting these names.  Neither one will offer up much dirt on ex-boyfriends and -girlfriends, they are just too frickin' happy to care about what didn't work out in the past.  So, I was forced to take over several bottles of Captain Morgan and our friend Adam, to get the happy couple talking about when they were less happy.  You don't remember this night, guys?  Well, neither do I, not really, but in the morning, I had lists of names.  You both wrote down the names of your exes on cocktail napkins.  I used the back of a postage stamp, and Adam filled several toilet paper rolls, single-spaced, writing on both sides.  With the miracle of facebook, I hunted down your exes for their congratulations.  And here is what they had to say:

Alicia:  "I can't believe John is getting married.  Finally!  I thought he would never commit.  I guess that just means he couldn't commit... to me."

Pedro:  "Abbi was the light of my life, star of my nights, sun of my days.  I will miss her forever, and wreck her marriage if given half the chance.  So... do you have her number?"

Jane:  "I thought John and I were perfect together.  He didn't think so, obviously.  He just took my heart and my record player and hit the road after three glorious days and nights.  I still miss that record player."

Brad Pitt:  "Abbi's getting married?  Shit."

Cameron:  "I think I was John's first boyfriend.  I'm pretty sure I was.  Except, he didn't know I was a boy.  I went by Candace back then."

???:  "It was a night of passion and then it was over, Abbi was gone.  I have never forgotten her.  Does she ever mention me?"

Pedro:  "So, seriously.  Do you have her number?"

Shannon:  "John is the best boyfriend I ever had.  I still love him, but I know he was looking for somebody else.  He was looking for Abbi.  I'm glad they found each other.  Mostly glad."

Leah:  "Congrats, John  and Abbi!  I was John's first girlfriend back in sixth grade.  It was great the two weeks it lasted, but I knew we wouldn't stay together."


So, let's all raise our glasses to John and Abbi!  You found the loves of your lives, and you could have done MUCH worse!  Love to you both!