Sunday, August 31, 2008

Slumber Parties and Lost Friendships and How Sometimes That's Okay

I was always the first asleep. Always. Yet I don't remember anyone putting my bras in any freezers. Probably my hand was put in warm water a few times. (I forget what effect this was supposed to have). There was one morning when Sarah* decided it would be really cool to put toothpaste in Heather's* eyes, and Heather woke up crying and yelling because she was in so much pain. It happened at my house. I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive myself for that one. My only defense is that when Sarah decided to do something, she would do it, no matter how stupid it was. There was never any stopping her. She was that friend who always manages to get you into trouble, even though the only reason she convinced you to go along was because she would NOT SHUT UP until you did. Often our infractions involved her feeling guilty later, and she would tell her parents what we did. Guess who always got punished?

Mercifully, Sarah went away just before eighth grade to live with her father for good. I would make the excuse for her that she was from a broken home, but I met her in second grade, and her family life was well-intact then. Yet even then she was up to no good. Our escapades started with tying our shoelaces together in third-grade recess and eventually graduated to smoking cigarettes sometime in middle school. Things quickly grew more dangerous and disturbing from there. I think if Sarah hadn't moved away, I might have ended up in juvie with her, futilely trying to talk her out of yet another lame-brained scheme. It pains me that, while I was smarter in a lot of ways than Sarah, she was much more popular than me, which is how I think she was able to bully me so much. Popularity is power in middle school, especially when it's a relatively small middle school. She was street-smart, too, a natural schemer. I wasn't. At all. Part of that was that I was rather bookish, but I think it was mostly due to having parents who weren't street smart, either. Whatever street smarts my father had developed as a kid who was basically on his own from the time he was eleven, he lost in his transformation into a man who rose at five a.m. every morning to read the paper before he went into his twelve-hour workday.

Sarah eventually grew up to be a stripper and a drug addict—things Heather's parents predicted for Sarah as early as the third grade. (Heather, having street-smart parents and more than a little smarts herself, figured out Sarah much more quickly than I did.) If memory serves, Sarah's done some time, too. I don't think I was glad she moved away then. Sarah may have been a bad friend, but she was still a friend, and back then I had very few friends. But still, I felt a certain relief after she was gone.

Now? I'm glad she moved. Otherwise I might be writing this from prison. I'm not saying I turned out so great. But still. When I think about Sarah, I know it could have been worse.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent


Robin S. said...

It's strange, isn't it, thinking about kids you knew and the interplay between the timing of when you knew them (middle school, high school, preschool...) and how they turn out - and how it feels when you find yourself not surprised, really, but still sad for them.

One of my (many) aunts had a step-daughter several years older than I was who screwed up six ways from Sunday, and ended up married to a guy who operated what was essentially a pot farm in an rural county about an hour outside of Louisville. She was a topless dancer in a bar in the south end of town. I saw her yeas later - and I barely recognized her. She was doing the crying bit with my aunt, because her dad had died, and even though she hadn't seen him in umpteen years, she thought she should be inheriting his money.

freddie said...

Yeah. I don't know what jogged my memory about her. I haven't thought about her in years.

I am sad for how her life turned out. But this was a kid who wanted to be a stripper. I'm just sorry I didn't have the life experience to explain the specifics to her as to why that was such a bad idea. I don't know whether she ever figured it out on her own. Her life has spiraled downward since she moved away. It's too bad life had to be such a hard teacher.

I suppose what triggered it was the eve of school (well, the eve before the eve). When I look back on some of my experiences, I see how much I've changed. Some of that has been for the worse; just the wear-and-tear of everyday living. Some of it is for the better. Back then had anyone told me I would be starting school for my pipe dream now, I would have probably laughed. What's more, Sarah would have laughed. Or rolled her eyes. I'm just now beginning to see how . . . small my mentality was back then.

It sounds like your aunt's step-daughter has done some hard living. It's hard for people when they're forced to deal with a spouse's kid, I think. Especially when that kid is clearly not on a good path. Did she ever get it together? Some people do later in life. Some people turn it around. I hope she did.

Kiersten said...

This was really interesting, Freddie. It's amazing to me how early personalities develop.

It also reminded me of the summer that a friend and I decided (completely at random, in that mean little way girls have) that we didn't like one of the girls in the neighborhood, and completely ignored her. That was the summer her older brother molested every girl that slept over at their house.


Needless to say, I have a zero sleepover policy. None. Ever. With anyone.

Also, wanted to let you know that you invited me to be a contributor on your blog, which, while flattering, is not what I think you meant to do ; )

freddie said...

You're right. I was tying in the "blog authors" with my blog roll, in my head. I will remove those and try again with the reader portion. Thanks for pointing that out.

Hmm. I can certainly understand your policy. I feel sorry for that girl, though.

Kiersten said...

Yeah, that family is a long, sad story.

That was the only overtly mean thing I ever did as a little girl, and honestly, I am so grateful for it. I feel like I was protected, for whatever reason.