BFFs and Mean Girls, Part 1

The symbol for enchantment and love at first sight!

My best friend. Sort of. I was her wing man, her less-pulled together wisecracking sidekick. She had it all: good looks– like a young Cybill Shepherd –a doting mother, baton lessons, an array of new dresses for school every September, and oh yes, boys eating out of her hand. I was the one sent on scouting missions to determine whether the boy of the week “liked her,” or if she needed to anoint another to be the Chosen One. And this was in elementary school!

I loved but also hated going over to her house because I would nearly get sick with envy over her canopy bed, her private phone, her record player and collection of 45’s, and her nice mother. Her mother grew lavender roses, and I have loved them ever since. Not too many people grow them. They are rare and beautiful. Also, the Persian cats. They had at least two that I can remember: long, lush, creamy fur and gigantic gold-green eyes. My friend’s mother brushed those cats with great care and a lot of patience. And her father had a train room! Behind the house (near the lavender roses) he had a whole little house, really, all set up with his trains and  villages and people and everything. We got to go out there and watch him run the trains sometimes. I wished I had a train room. I loved those trains and the bridges and the trees and the mountains. I even loved the metallic smell and the sound of the little whistles as the trains clacked around the tracks in an endless loop.

She really did look like this

So she and I ended up being best friends somehow. I guess she kept me around for comic relief. I certainly didn’t have much else to offer: nothing as good as trains, roses, cats, or my own room with gold and white furniture.We’d listen to her records (I think this is where I heard the Beatles for the first time) on her record player in her room, and we’d talk about boys and stuff.We’d also talk on the phone a lot after school. Of course, hers was in her room, but I had to drag ours into the room I shared with my sister, trailing the long cord from the living room around the corner and down the hall. It wasn’t easy to have private phone conversations at my house.But we tried– almost every day, especially in seventh grade.

I was too dumb to realize it, but she tried to break up with me a few times. Once, she didn’t call me when she said she would and when I asked her why the next day, she said, “I forgot your phone number.” What? She wasn’t a good liar and I wasn’t picking up her break-up signals. I actually wrote down my phone number for her. Can you believe it? What a dope.

Then there was the time in junior high when she thought it would be a good idea to have a fake fight and see whose side everyone would be on. I agreed. What else could I do?
Once the poll results came back, she called off the “fight.” It seems that I had more friends on my side than she did. Whoa! I think she was surprised and none too pleased. I was also surprised and had an inkling that maybe she wasn’t all that after all.

 I think most women would agree that mean girls have always been around. I remember “slam books” in elementary school, which were a primitive kind of Facebook. It was like starting a “What I Hate About You” page, and forwarding it around the classroom, until the teacher caught you passing it and sent you to the principal’s office. Those books were horrible — anonymous entries that were just out and out mean. I saw them, but never wrote in one.

Tit for tat?

My friend and I were mean to another girl we actually liked. The three of us were great pals and had secret nicknames for each other — Tiger, Stingray and Mustang, for some reason. She was kind of a “late bloomer” so the two of us made her a little kit with some helpful aids, like a pair of Hershey’s kisses to augment her flat chest. Stuff like that. Really thoughtful. We cracked ourselves up putting it together, but I’m not sure how well received it actually was. I think she thought it was funny, but I can’t be sure.She got us back with something — wish I could remember what it was.

More to come, sadly.

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