March 28, 2021 – Memory Lane

I’m not sure why I’m so exhausted because aside from taking a short walk, I’ve done nothing physically strenuous to speak of. All I did today was a whole lot of eating and talking and listening as well as trying to unsuccessfully find a website that would allow me to schedule my Covid vaccination. Despite feeling wiped out, I really did have a lovely day. I had not one, but two different sets of out-of-town visitors. That rarely happens! Both wanted to meet ‘over a meal’, so I met up with my brother (Dapper Dan) and sister-in-law for lunch and my very dear, lifelong friend ‘M’ for dinner. When I say ‘I’, I really should be saying ‘we’, because initially my husband hadn’t intended to join me, however, changed his mind at the last minute. Ordinarily, I love eating out, but this evening I realized that having two meals ‘out’ back-to-back is a bit excessive. I had Mexican for lunch and Chinese for dinner and my stomach replied with, “Ay, caramba!” Still, the conversations we had with both parties were nice. We stayed off of controversial topics and mostly talked about ‘old times’.

The ‘old times’ with my brother go back all the way to the beginning. We didn’t ‘reach’ that far back though. He was fretting throughout lunch about how dirty his car was and it brought back old memories about his fascination with cars while we were growing up. I’ve never seen anyone so smitten with an inanimate object, but I think once he got his hands on his first Matchbox car, he was a goner! On road trips (when we were kids), he drove me nuts because he had to name the year, make, and model of every single car that passed us on the highway. As a means to earn spending money, he used to walk around to the different neighbors’ houses and ask if he could wash and detail their vehicles. I thought it a bit peculiar but ‘whatever’. Different strokes for different folks. He also enjoyed drawing vehicles. They were done with such precision that it was uncanny. Not a single detail would be left out. He was really taken with some of the older cars which had a lot of chrome and unusual features (like hood ornaments and tailfins). He also was a huge fan of Ford Mustangs.

He is clearly still a fan because that’s what he drove today. And the poor guy could hardly stomach the sight of fresh dirt on the door panels and bug guts on the hood and windshield. It was immaculate when he left home but it got a little dirty on the 2 1/2 hour journey over the pass. He was insistent on taking it to a car wash because he was concerned that the paint would suffer permanent damage if he didn’t clean it right away. “It’s just going to get dirty again on the way back!” his wife insisted, “Why don’t you just wait until we get home?” Nope, he had his mind made up. As luck would have it, there was a car wash just up the street and around the corner. “Oh, great!” his wife said sarcastically, “Now we get to spend the next hour at the car wash.” I had to laugh. I wonder if she had any idea of what she was getting herself into when she met my brother. That guy has put in more hours ‘detailing cars to death’ than anyone I know. He actually worked for 5 years as a ‘car detailer’ at a rental car company. The pay was terrible but I think he got a lot of satisfaction out of the process.

After my husband and I parted ways with my brother and sister-in-law, we returned home, and flopped onto the couch. Both of our stomachs were doing somersaults. I think I heard one of them say, “What on God’s green earth have you done?!” I tried to soothe mine with a cup of tea but she wasn’t having it, she knew my intentions. I’m pretty sure I heard her say, “If you’re trying to placate me with a cup of green tea, it’s not going to happen. I know that in about 3 hours, you’re going to go right back out and load up on spicy Chinese!” Yes, it was true. I had every intention of climbing back into my car and heading across the bridge to one of the local Chinese restaurants. My friend ‘M’ wanted to meet up for dinner and we’d already agreed on a time and a place. The food was really good. It’s not the best Chinese I’ve ever had but it’s the best the community has to offer. Because they also offer fresh, made-to-order sushi, it worked out well for my friend because he’s a pescatarian. He ordered two different sushi rolls and a plate of edamame and my husband and I split an entrĂ©e.

Everybody was more than satisfied at the end of the meal. When the waitress brought the ‘check’ to the table, I was getting ready to grab it, but my friend got to it first. I intended to pay for his meal, but once I saw how much he ordered, knowing that it would be rather costly, I was actually relieved when he insisted on paying. “Happy Geburtstag!” he said. “Awww…thank you,” I replied, and then teased, “Had I known you were going to treat us, I would have ordered two entrees rather than one AND a dessert.” He really is a wonderful friend, very gracious and generous. Following the meal, we all decided to return to our house and visit a bit longer. He’s leaving in the morning and wanted to spend a little more time together. Because we’re the same age, and went to the same high school, it is no wonder that the conversation we had was all about ‘schoolmates and bullies and crushes and boyfriends/girlfriends’ as well as ‘what happened to whom’. Fortunately, I hung onto all of my old yearbooks, so I was able to look up a face whenever he’d mention a name.

When he first sat down, I actually handed him a scrapbook that I recently completed. It contains every school photo from kindergarten through 12th grade, along with all of my report cards, and assorted memorabilia. “The first boy that broke my heart,” he said aloud, as he read the caption under the photo of me and my first love at a high school dance. I glanced over at my husband after my friend said that. I know I had a life before ‘we’ were an item, but it makes me uncomfortable to talk about my exes in front of my husband. Fortunately, my friend turned the page quickly and moved onto something else. We eventually got around to talking about sports. According to my oldest sister, I was a ‘jockette’. I loved to run, it was the only thing I seemed to do fairly well, so each year I competed in Track and Cross Country. In high school, my friend ‘M’ was less ‘an athlete’, but was very athletic. He was actually a male cheerleader for our school. Today he’s a super-fit personal trainer. He definitely does NOT look his age!

We talked about bullies, too. I don’t understand why, but I was targeted on a number of occasions by two different sets of girls with blonde hair. I felt like I had a ‘kick me’ sign or a bullseye on my back for my entire junior year. What the hell was that all about? My friend is an identical twin; however, he is gay and his brother is straight. Not only is his brother straight, but he’s also big and powerful. My friend was lucky because when people found out who his brother was, they didn’t bother him because they didn’t want to get pummeled. I didn’t have any siblings at my school to look out for me so I did a lot of ducking and dodging. What I found really amusing is when ‘M’ talked about dating a girl in his sophomore year. Surprise, surprise, it didn’t last long! He shared a funny story I hadn’t heard before. One time he went on a double date with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s best friend and her boyfriend. While his girlfriend was ‘crushing’ on him, he was ‘crushing’ on her best friend’s boyfriend! How funny is that?!

Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I’m not in high school any more! You couldn’t pay me enough to go through that sh*t show again! The raging hormones, the crushes, the heartbreak, the mean kids, the cliques, the pointless classes I had to take in order to fulfill credit requirements. I am grateful to at least have the memories of eating lunch each day with ‘M’ and my other ‘weird’ friends in the senior lunch room. We would always laugh like a bunch of lunatics and usually someone would end up spraying milk all over the table, after taking a big swig from their container of ‘2 percent’ and then bursting out in laughter. That, along with ‘chasing’ all of the cute boys in Track and Cross Country, were the best parts of high school. I never did manage to ‘catch’ any on my own team, but I ‘caught’ a couple on some of the opposing teams. Needless to say, it’s been a full day. Taking a walk down Memory Lane, while fun, can be exhausting. I am not only ‘walked out’, I’m ‘talked’ out. Geesh. I hope my brother Turtle doesn’t call tomorrow. If he does, I’m going to have to let it go to voicemail. My jaw needs at least a day to recover.

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