Posts tagged ‘friendship’

Let’s Be Friends

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump never helped me toilet paper a house.

Continue Reading July 22, 2016 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

The Bubble Gum Incident

In Catholic grade school in the early ’70s, things ran mostly on fear and the ringing of bells.

Most nuns still wore full habits. All teachers were allowed to employ paddles. And discipline was both strictly and creatively enforced.

One teacher used to throw chalkboard erasers at children who weren’t paying attention. Another teacher once stuffed a noisy child into a trashcan. Another, who caught a kid nibbling on his lunch tickets, was so enraged that she placed her in-box on the child’s desk and instructed every other child in the class to walk by, single file, and place a piece of paper in the box. She then instructed the nibbler that, if he was going to destroy his lunch tickets, he could eat every piece of paper in that basket for his lunch instead.

I swear on a bible these stories are true. I saw them happen. And they all happened to one classmate:  the indomitable Paul Scott.

Zealously hurled erasers bounced right off him. He sat in that trashcan like a rag doll and made a funny sad face until the teacher put her head down on her desk and shook with laughter. In the paper-nibbling incident, he smiled at each of us as we — sorry, terrified, miserable weaklings — brought him our offerings. Then, he calmly, happily, hungrily began to eat that paper, piece by piece, until the teacher caved in and took it all back.

No tears, no flinching, no smart-ass-ery. He was fearless. A peaceful rebel and a natural comic, he just took things in stride and kept right on smiling. How someone so young knew how to do these things, I cannot fathom. They don’t track that type of brilliant on report cards.

I wish I could say that I was even one-gazillionth as brilliant when Sister Mary Grace caught me chewing gum in her 5th grade English class.

“Are you chewing gum?!” she demanded. I had seen what happens to gum chewers. They had to stick the gum on their nose and walk to the Principal’s office. I panicked. I swallowed the gum and said, “No.”

Merciful heavens! Unlawful gum chewing was bad enough. But lying? To a nun?

I was told to stand up. I stood. She asked me again. And I lied again. She knew it, too. Calmly, confidently furious, she said, “Well. Tell me then what it was that I saw you chewing on.” And I said something ridiculous, like, “I was chewing on the inside of my cheek.”

As that big fat whopper hung in the air, I knew:  I was bad. I was wicked. I was doomed.

And then. Something happened, which, although it has yet to pass the scrutiny of beatification or canonization, I am going to call a miracle.

“She wasn’t chewing gum!” Paul Scott blurted (without even raising his hand or getting permission to speak). “I sit right here next to her,” he continued, “And she wasn’t chewing gum. She does that thing she said. She chews on her cheek. I’ve seen her do it.”

I was flabbergasted. And I was saved.

I doubt that she bought it, but I had a witness. And she wasn’t going to find my gum any time soon. And, in a wonderful moment of solidarity, no one else in the class said a word. I was told to sit. I sat. And it was all I could do to not turn and stare at Paul in gaping adoration for the rest of the class.

Perhaps I am even more in awe now. Such bravado is more audacious and delightful seen through the lenses of time and experience. This guy knew things at 10 years old that take the rest of us at least 30 years, maybe a lifetime, to figure out. Things like:

  • Don’t take it all too seriously.
  • A sense of humor can soften the edges of pretty much anything.
  • A good friend has your back no matter what.
  • Don’t be afraid of nuns; they probably are not allowed to kill you.

Cheers, Paul Scott, wherever you are. 

June 22, 2015 at 5:46 pm 2 comments

Lessons Learned

This past weekend, I attended a Zeta Sigma Tau sorority reunion back on the UPJ college campus. It has me thinking about lessons learned.

Life is incredibly random. Embrace it.
Once upon a time there were some administrators in some offices, sorting forms, directing college freshman into dorm rooms and classrooms, affecting who would cross my path in September of 1981.

There are many paths. Be willing to explore.
I had planned to play volleyball and become a teacher. Instead, I joined a sorority and became a writer. If I had it to do over, the only thing I’d do differently is not stress over either decision.

Look up and say hello.
You’ll sit down next to a lot of strangers in your lifetime. One or two might be destined to be a friend for life.

There are parties going on. Attend one.
At 18, I was shy. I was nervous. I was kind of a nerd. I was not a snappy dresser. But I left my dorm room and went to a party. That one brave deed led to Zeta Sigma Tau, which became the center of my life at 18 and the catalyst for a poignant, hilarious, joyful, just-what-I-needed weekend at 50.

Everything changes. Some things never change.
From 18 to 50, we slowly, steadily transform. But it’s not like squashing and reforming a lump of clay. It’s like weaving a broader and more intricate pattern. There is always a thread that ties us to our starry-eyed, stumbling, happy youth. An unsnippable, indestructible, soul-saving thread.

A shared perspective is magic.
It is good to take a long look at the past with those who were there. Not to white-wash or candy-coat but to see clearly from a distance. To put an arm around then and an arm around now and embrace it whole. To understand at a deep level that, warts and all, you are one lucky so-and-so.

Bonus:  A group of aging brains remembers more great stuff than one aging brain.

At 50, adult humans become capable of time travel.
Don’t ask me about the science, but it’s true.

Stages of life.
There will be drama. You’ll have good acts and bad ones. Sometimes the script will suck. Sometimes you’ll be confused or scared. There will be those who shout. Or throw tomatoes. But, ultimately, Life is an exquisite comedy. Find a great supporting cast. And stick around for the whole show.

It’s funny . . . 
Sadness and happiness get murky. Anger and joy wane. Achievements and disappointments fade away. But funny is funny forever.

It’s never about the stuff.
True friendship is not about popularity or possessions. It is about who giggles at the same dumb stuff that you do. It’s about hugging someone who hugs back. It’s about who picks you up when you fall (from hard times or too much grain punch or a skid across a dance floor). It’s about being able to join the conversation in a heartbeat, whether you’re returning from a hard day of classes or from a 30-year absence.

Graduating and grief.
Leaving your college friends at graduation is a lot like the grieving process. Over time, you cry less, you get passed how much you miss them, you get on with life. But there will be moments when that sweet ache stops you in your tracks. And you miss them all, all over again, more than can be expressed.

Women are kind, beautiful, and amazing.
If you don’t believe this one, find new friends.

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This post dedicated to my sorority sisters, some of the best damn women I have ever had the privilege to know. Til next time, don’t forget for one moment that you are brilliant and lovely and funny as hell. I loved who you were. I love who you’ve become. You have a place in my heart forever as uniquely qualified life preservers.

September 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm 8 comments

Golf, Friendship, Life

It’s official. My favorite day of the year is a Friday in August, the one day of the year that I golf.

Those of you who know me are shaking your heads in disbelief because you know, when it comes to golf, I don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground that is a gazillion yards away and to the right or maybe the left, who the heck knows?

But, this past Friday I was golfing in memory of the inimitable Damon Garde, If you knew him, you’re a lucky soul. (If you didn’t, just believe me when I tell you that, even if you are a hopeless mess on the golf course, you would show up to golf in his honor.)

So, today, some thoughts on golf, friendship, and life:

  • We cannot get where we’re going in this world alone. Especially during a golf scramble when your tee shot barely makes it out of the box on a par 5.
  • The “cool people” are not those who go to trendy places, wear branded clothes, or drive expensive cars. The cool people are those who will look you straight in the eye and call it a practice swing.
  • Life is too short to chase after every lost ball.
  • Don’t avoid a fun time with friends because you’re afraid they will discover that you’re a clumsy, uncoordinated twit. Please, believe me: They already know you’re a clumsy, uncoordinated twit.
  • Fear is crippling. And quite boring. Buck up. Show up. And keep your head up. (Or, in some cases, keep your head down and your knees bent and your forearms straight, you stupid freaking idiot.)
  • Take the mulligan.
  • Winning is fun. But–little known fact–losing is fun, too, if you do it with the right people.
  • There is always more than one way to earn a trophy. (Right, Lisa?)
  • At least once a year, put on your crazy pants.
  • There are all kinds of people in the world. You’re, uh, going to want to let a lot of them play through.
  • It’s a relatively short game. Seek out those who ease your soul, heal your heart, and make you laugh from your belly. Throw your arms around them, keep them close, and celebrate every blessed moment you have with them.

So, yes, I spoke the truth. My favorite day of the year began on a golf course.

It ended with beer and burgers and card games and late-night hyjinx, like this year’s impromptu Putting Wrong-handed in the Dark contest, which a clumsy, uncoordinated twit, barefoot and tipsy but in the company of friends, just happened to win.

Damon Golf Outing 2013

Thank you Ed and Cheri for making it happen. God bless ya, my teammates. Hugs to all my golfing Life Preservers. And cheers to you, Damon. Always missed. Never forgotten.

August 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

There Was This One Time . . .

Last night we celebrated friend Julie’s 50th Birthday. A strange occasion.

Strange, not because it was held at a Croatian Club. Strange, not because she made us drink some traditional Croatian shot (not sure how to spell it, but I’ll try:  t-u-r-p-e-n-t-i-n-e). Strange, not because we toilet papered the guest of honor. Strange, not because she allowed us to do so.

But strange because it really seems impossible that anyone in this group of friends could be 50. Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that we met?

Our paths crossed initially because of softball. I can remember the first practice I went to, and I know, rationally, that I arrived there alone and introduced myself to a bunch of people I didn’t know, but, in the brain succotash of 30 years of memories with the cells sacrificed to good cause, I can’t quite recall not being friends with these women.

But. Well.

We made plans to go out 3 and 4 times a week—without having cell phones. We remembered each other’s Birthdays without email reminders. I could, on my way to meet you all with a 20 in my pocket, stop and fill up the tank and still have beer money left. And, once with you, I could hand the bartender a driver’s license made of paper that had no photo on it.

(Our friend Julie, the first to turn 50, was also the first to turn 21. You can sort out the relevance of the last sentence of the previous paragraph on your own.)

So, yes, I guess it has been a while since that day I borrowed my parents’ car to drive to the field on Scott Rd. in Shaler. And stereotypical jokes about aging aside, I’m proud to think that we’ve been friends through boyfriends, breakups, marriages, children, divorce, endings, beginnings, moves across town, moves out of state, scares, loss, and joys.

It’s true. I am on the verge of breaking into a loud rendition of Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For”? (As we did when that song was Top-40.)

Yes, that video is sappy and corny. And, if you want to tell me you didn’t get teared up listening to it and that I’m a big dork, that’s okay. I can freely admit my dorkitude because (A) I’m not a teenager anymore and (B) I know you know and you love me anyway.

I could, if I chose to, blog non-stop until Julie’s 51st, beginning each paragraph with “There Was This One Time. . . .”

But. Those who don’t know us would be bored. Those who know us have heard them all. And there may be those who would want us arrested. So. I’ll skip the long, sentimental, hilarious ramble that has been running through my head since the Birthday Party Invitation arrived and just note that There Was This One Time . . . last night. And There Was This One Time a few weeks ago. And There Will Be This One Time around Christmas.

It is human nature, on significant occasions in a time when we are (just slightly) beyond our prime youth, to look back. And, if you are lucky, the looking back is freakin’ awesome. But that is not what makes this friendship special. All human contact has a past. Not all has continuation. Whether fate or dumb luck, we have an unbreakable connection, a no matter what, a You’re stuck with me; deal with it, and an Of course, I do so gladly even if you are a big dork, even if you do get a cramp doing The Twist, even if you used to run really really slowly, even if you lost the Jimmy Buffett tickets, even if you are tall and blonde and we only see you once in a rare while, even if you are 50.

So, to Julie, who was once so much older than the rest of us, who led the way, who shared her I.D., who, as one of the first to own a car, did a lot of the driving, who, as the first home-owner, hostess-ed more than her share of the early day parties and did so again last night:  50 really is just a number. If it is significant, it is that it gave us a good reason to meet up once again. And it gave us a reason to celebrate you.

Yes, we gave you Bingo and colon cleanse and curlers. But, you know, that’s only funny because you won’t need such things until far into the future. A future, perhaps, like the one pictured below, in the card you made for me when I turned 30.

Happy Birthday, Jules. Great party. Thanks.

A previous post about these Life Preservers. 

November 21, 2010 at 6:34 am 3 comments

The Winners’ Circle

Yesterday, I played volleyball for the first time in about two years.

My head was in the game. My heart was in the game. My arms and legs? Not so much. Fifty percent of my serves just barely made it over the net. The other fifty just didn’t. My jumps, or the attempt thereof, weren’t what you’d call vertical. My sets were clumpy, lacking the height and the control that, at one time, I was (I’ll admit it) kinda proud of. Oddly enough, I did actually dive a time or two—apparently due to some sorta spastic kamikaze muscle memory—but the current body is way more rock than roll.

Thud.

In short (and I’ve never felt shorter), I played badly.

Worst of all perhaps, yesterday, I walked out of my house wearing shorts to run around in the heat in front of a large group of people, some with cameras.

It should have been a heart-breaking disaster, a big ol’ mid-life bum out, the final crumbling of the little shred of ego I pretend not to cling to.

But here’s the thing.

I wasn’t stumbling around alone on that court. I was part of a team. We do not wear a uniform. We have no locker room. We have no coach or strategy. We don’t even meet at the same gym on the same day of the week anymore. But we’ve known each other a long time and remain connected by a unique mix of memories, simpatico, respect, abuse, alcohol, silliness, and true affection. You know, we’re friends.

I don’t need trophies. I don’t need prizes. I have no need for any new bragging rights beyond this:   Yesterday we sat, as the playoffs continued, in the winners’ circle.

We sat in a circle of lawn chairs. Relaxed in the shade. Sharing picnic food and cold beer. We slipped out of our volleyball shoes, peeled sweaty socks, unhooked braces, and laughed our freakin’ asses off.

We used to play volleyball multiple nights a week and tournaments on the weekends. My life pretty much revolved around it. It took pretty much all of my free time and, in gear, gas, travel, fees, and entertainment, a significant portion of my income.

There is a part of me that doesn’t miss it:  that’d be my right shoulder. (And the feet, knees, and back.)

But, the rest of me? Yeah. Most of me misses it. A lot.

Cheers my friends. See you next year.

August 8, 2010 at 7:24 am 2 comments


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