I've decided that I'm going to try writing some memories from my childhood. Good memories. I just feel the need to focus on the good times that I had as a child and put the bad times to bed as best I can.
Speaking of beds, while lying in mine wide awake at 5:00 this morning I began thinking about Ann. No, this isn’t going to turn into some lesbian fantasy story, so hands back up where we can see them. Ann was my best friend growing up. We were only a year apart and lived right next door to each other, and when you're a kid that's the only criteria you need for choosing your best friend in the whole, wide world.
Our families were completely different. Polar opposites. We were the religious freaks of the neighborhood and her family was well, not even remotely religious. In fact, they may have been, dare I say it? Atheists. Her family lived in a pale turquoise house while ours was sort of brownish, and their car perfectly matched the color of their house. But now that I think about it, I guess the fake wood paneling on our colossal Oldsmobile station wagon perfectly matched our house, too.
Ann's mother, Betty, had voluptuous, poufy black hair and she always wore lipstick in bright shades that were probably named something like Coral Whoreness or Ruby Rampage. Betty also watched soap operas every afternoon and couldn't be bothered while she was watching her shows. I think that we could have walked in the living room spurting blood from our eyes, and Betty would have handed us a tissue and told us to wait until after my shows are over. You know better than to bother me while I'm watching my shows. And if you’re going to bleed, go outside to do it. I just vacuumed in here. You have to admire Midwestern sensibility.
Soap operas were not allowed in our house as they were chock full of fornicating and then some more fornicating.
My mother did have Betty beat in the cooking department, though. But more often than not, at lunchtime I was at Ann’s house having Campbell’s Potato soup and half of a cheese and mustard sandwich, or SpaghettiOs and half of a cheese and mustard sandwich. And some days it would just get all crazy in Betty’s kitchen and we’d have RavioliOs and half of a cheese and mustard sandwich. I think I just figured out why I was constipated all the time as a kid. It was all that damn cheese.
Ann and I also were very different, and had very different things. She had the cool stuff and I had the stuff that ensured that anyone who came within 50 yards of me would know I was a complete doink. Ann got to skate gracefully around her asphalt driveway, her sparkly-wheeled skates keeping time to her rock music. I, on the other hand, would jerk around in my metal-wheeled skates trying desperately not to trip over the damn seam in our concrete driveway, and I would be listening to Christian music.
Is there anything dorkier than skating in your driveway while listening to Christian music? I can only think of one thing. Skating in your driveway while listening to Christian music, with your hair in a ponytail on the side of your head, wearing culottes and a t-shirt with I’m a Sunbeam for Jesus emblazoned across the front, and actually thinking you were cool.
Ann’s father had a crew cut, and washed their pale turquoise car every weekend. My father had a Baptist haircut and was a total prick. At Ann’s house there was a hanging oil lamp with a NAKED lady in the middle of it. Our house had an 18 x 24 headshot of Jesus hanging at the end of the hall. Ann’s hair was straight and shiny. Mine was curly and unruly. Ann wore short shorts. I wore dork shorts. Ann had air conditioning, I had fans. Ann had a Slip ‘n Slide, I had garbage bags and a garden hose. But the biggest difference between us, when it came to material possessions, was our Barbie dolls and the array of paraphernalia that goes with being a Barbie owner.
Which was actually the point of this whole story, but I started rambling and then I couldn’t stop rambling. It’s like some sickness I have. So, I’ll wait ‘til next time to tell you about our Barbies and the mini-epiphany I had while thinking about them.