I have a lot of acquaintances and people that I am friendly with, but I have a small group of very special friends. My good friends may be few, but they are unbelievably awesome. These are the girls that I call when I am sad, and they are the ones who show up on my doorstep when things are bad. These girls have been in my life for years (some for 15 years, some for 30). They know all of the bizarre things that have happened to me and they never judge. I seem to attract crazy people (stalkers for example), so I am very thankful for my relatively normal friends. So after one of those fabulous friends left yesterday, I found myself thinking about some of our first memorable experiences. These early experiences taught me about the value of friendship, the sheer unpredictability of life, and the importance of a good sense of humor.
Yesterday I was trying to organize the kids’ playroom. I was up to my eyeballs in polly pockets and little die cast cars, when the phone rang. My friend said, “I’m on my way home from the beach and my GPS says I’m pretty close to you. I’m sick of driving. Do you want to have dinner?” I say “of course” and she heads to my house. After we have loaded all of the kids in my car and have pulled out of the driveway, I ask her how the beach was. She said, “Well, the Outer Banks were beautiful but, I am never going in the ocean again!” I asked why and she said “It was so terrible. I got caught in a riptide and swept out into the ocean. I could not get back and I had to be RESCUED!” Most friends would be horrified, and I was, but I started giggling as I told her how “truly awful” it was. I then said, “I’m so sorry that I’m laughing, but these things only happen to YOU and ME. I mean, if I had been there, I would have been floating away with you. I would have been screaming for help and saying how dangerous we are together.” I could just picture us both being drug up on the sand while people gathered, pointed, and whispered about the two beached women. Only If I had been there, I would have had a bikini “malfunction” and flashed the entire beach; the whole ordeal would have made the national news and probably YouTube. She and I have bad luck, but a good sense of humor.
I remembered the time when we were teenagers and had gone to an amusement park. We decided to ride a new roller coaster (called The Cyclone) that went upside down and in corkscrews. We rode it once and loved it. When the roller coaster was coming to an end and pulled back up to the loading area, there were no brave people standing in line for our first row seats. The man who worked there walked up to us and said “Hey, if you want to ride again it’s cool. There’s nobody waiting. It’s a slow day.” We said “Great. Sitting is better than walking” and we sat back down.
Well, the ride starts and we have made it over the big hill. We clutch the harness and close our eyes already preparing ourselves for the twists and turns ahead. We make it through one loop and are starting the corkscrews when the roller coaster stops; the ride just completely stops in midair. As it was grinding to a halt, we were still hanging to the side of the corkscrew. My side was leaning toward the ground and I was forced to stare at the place where my body would go “splat” if I were to fall from the seat. Suddenly one last chug pushes us forward and through the corkscrew. We were now sitting more upright, but we were definitely stuck. We were stuck on that roller coaster for about 20 minutes and we were pretty convinced that we were going to die up there.
After the panic and sheer disbelief passed, I was cracking jokes even then. “This is not how I want to die” I told my friend. “Not with a mass of tangled hair, smeared mascara and wet pants!” “Did you pee your pants?” she asked. I said “Not yet, but that was a really big frozen lemonade. It’s no longer frozen and almost ready to come out!” She started laughing and it lightened the mood.
Then, about two years later, we got terribly lost. We took the wrong exit and ended up in a town where dreams, and probably other things, go to die. We needed to stop and get directions and our only options were a very scary motel, or a very sleazy pool hall. We looked at the motel and found that there was no lobby, just a sign labeled “Office” on one of the guest room doors. Since the motel reeked of “horror movie”, we opted for the super creepy pool hall. The men inside had minimal teeth, but lots of hair (which was not necessarily on their heads). A man walks over to us and we ask for directions back to the interstate. This creep says that they will only help us if we play pool with them. I was a fairly sheltered child, but my friend was not. She was the youngest child and like 12 years younger than her big brother. She adored her brother and grew up playing pool with him. In fact, she played pool with him from the time that she could reach the table. I would watch her play pool in her basement and she was really good, I just didn’t realize how good.
So these Neanderthals say we have to play. My friend steps up and says “I will play you. I’ve actually played before.” This creepy man laughs and I am just trying not to cry. This was around 1991 and before the days when every teenager had a cell phone. Most cell phones were still bolted in cars or carried in big black bags. This was also before the days of Facebook when I could have just updated my status to: “Help! Being held captive by Billy Ray Cyrus’s toothless twin and I want to get the “Achy Breaky” out of here!” I was looking frantically for a pay phone but none to be found!
So my friend starts to play pool with this guy and other super scary people are gathering to watch. I am trying to physically disappear onto a green stool that was against the wall. My friend gets a smile on her face; she is actually going to enjoy this. She put on her game face and whipped Bubba’s butt. He was ticked, she was elated, and I was terrified. My friend was only 16, I had just turned 15, and once again I was sure that we were going to die! He accuses her of cheating and some old guy steps in and helps us. Long story short, we got out of there with a cocktail napkin sketch of our route back to the interstate. This was one more time that we escaped death, or at least serious emotional trauma.
We managed to get ourselves into these precarious situations every couple years. The positive side is that, so far, we have also managed to find our way out of them (just sometimes more scathed than others). I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if we had great luck, or terrible luck? For many years I thought that it was just me. I thought that they are only drug into these situations due to my sheer presence. My friends’ story today reassured me that it is not just me. She is also a victim of crazy luck. Maybe that is what connects us. I mean these girls don’t even flinch when they hear my daily drama. My friends are the best! It is so nice to have other people who actually understand my level of crazy! I love you girls! P.S. I am going to the beach next week. Be sure to watch the news in case they have to fish me out of some tide pool. It will be amusing, I’m sure!