On the first day of my freshman year of high school, in my second period social studies class, I was assigned a seat next to her. She had cool, short blond hair, plastic earrings that matched her bangles and an off the shoulder top that Jennifer Beals would have eaten with gravy and a side of creamed corn. We had known each other from middle school but were not friends at all. I had started my middle school career as a whisper thin burn out who favored unflattering, hooker jeans I could not fill out and men with yellow teeth and no future who constantly passed me over for back seat blow jobs from my older girlfriends. She, in contrast, partook in a serious relationship with The Preppy Handbook, wearing a plethora of pearls, headbands and wide wale corduroys held up by belts embroidered with frogs and whales while enjoying the company of boys named Blaire, Bradley and Buddy, all of whom had family trees that grew inward yet up.
After I shed my truck stop wardrobe and low expectations in eighth grade, we found ourselves with lockers just a few feet from one another. But again, we could not bring ourselves to become overtly friendly, even though we had somehow gravitated into the same outer clique. Middle school graduation came along, as did a summer filled with a Mormon boyfriend with a dry humping addiction and a family road trip that included my sister giving a hand job at a family friend’s wedding and needless to say, I started high school ready to be an only child and make new friends.
That first day I was surprised and nervous to be seated next to her but as soon as the syllabus was handed down the aisle, the two of us began what would be a twenty-three year relationship of fart jokes, sex talk and fashion lessons. Almost immediately upon entering the world of high school hierarchy, her preppy façade transformed into Paris chic meets Nagel sexy with a smattering of Madonna come hither in my hair. With a fifty dollar-a-month clothing allowance and a body that could stop the war in the Middle East with a simple tube top and leather mini, she became the reason to get dressed on those chilly fall mornings. She lent me cool clothes that hid my malnourished body, took me to Macy’s to buy my first set of fake pearls, casually carried the Louis Vuitton bowling bag over her left wrist making me green with envy and covered in awe. She taught me that layers were my friends and bell-bottoms were not, she bought ankle boots before anyone realized they could really accent a mini dress and hide a cankle. She wore red as a theme, not an accent, got her colors done only to discover she could pull off all four seasons like Coco Chanel’s quilted bag and she made accessorizing a form of art and foreplay, simultaneously.
She was beyond generous with her gifts, including a Seiko watch, a terrific Charles Jourdin make-up bag I used as a clutch, a Benetton scarf, a Esprit top with rainbow stripes, a leather bomber jacket that was the chocolate to my peanut butter in1987 but could now only be found on a tired pimp in a Thai whorehouse or under an old bed sheet in a Salvation Army drop box. She has purchased me numerous plane tickets including two to London so I could stand next at her at wedding in a church only a Catholic could love, while my agnostic Jewish husband shifted nervously in a pew. A few years ago when visiting her for a weekend, she went into her fabulously large walk-in closet and pulled out the old Louis bag I had coveted for so long and gave it to me on a long-term loan. I loved that brown vinyl muffin for more than two decades and I am not ashamed to say I use it as least twice a week with the enthusiasm and pluck of a teenage girl who’s going to the prom without panties on.
She has bought me lunches, dinners, pedicures, ice cream cones, sweet rolls, candy bars, Hot Tamales and flowers. She lent me money when I discovered that my credit score was 14 and I owed a year’s salary on a defunct credit card that was used to purchase groceries and motor oil instead of something exciting and cool like a home entertainment system or a mountain of cocaine. But of all the treats I have been lucky enough to receive from her, the one that really got me arrived this week after the following text from her.
I miss u so
Much and need a fix. Since we are leaving for Lebanon in the am. I can't
I love ur blog and I feel so connected to you and yours.
I just sent u a package that I got the ideas from your blog. I hope u like and think it has a little humor.
Having a friend be so supportive of my writing and so thoughtful as to send me things that pertain to certain pieces I have written blew my mind and made me feel so lucky that our seats had been side by side all those years ago. I also felt lucky that she is still dressing me up by sending me a box containing high-end workout gear so I would no longer look like a homeless beekeeper when hiking next to starving starlets in the Hollywood canyons. And, lucky that the box also contained a free copy of the Curious George movie so Otto would no longer be stuck watching the same awful episodes of George on TiVo I pilfered from PBS last year. And, just lucky.
I love you Liza.