Girl Scout Cookies Make Me Think of Krissy

Krissy Kercher was my best friend in the second and third grade. We were good friends until the 6th grade when she moved away. We lived close enough to each other to car pool to and from school. We also lived close enough that I could ride my bike to her house to play after school, but far enough away that I never rode by bike back home in the evening. My mom would always come and pick me up. It was probably three miles.

Krissy’s parents let her drink Kool-Aid and so I got to drink Kool-Aid when I was there. My mother would have nothing to do with Kool-Aid. Krissy and I both had the Disney Channel, and we both watched the New Mickey Mouse Club religiously. Her favorite girl was Tiffany; mine was DeeDee. Her favorite boy was Damon and mine was Chase. We watched the MMC (I was just reminded of this insiders nickname after a more difficult google search than I anticipated) in the late 80s when our favorites were the stars of the show. The second wave of stars in the early 90’s included Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and the girl from Felicity. I wasn’t watching it then. The cast I loved had moved on to a short lived band called The Party which had one or two songs that did fairly well on Casey’s top 40.

It was at Krissy’s house where I first saw Dirty Dancing. It was also at Krissy’s that I first played Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers II, and III. My thumbs would be numb after spending the night at her house. She introduced me to The Babysitters Club books and we went to at least one New Kids on the Block concert together in St. Louis. I have a lot of good memories of this friendship.

Krissy’s parents smoked. That was weird. I had never been exposed to that much cigarette smoke. Their house always smelled like stale air and smoke. It was dark and a little cloudy. They had terrible carpets and furniture. And even at the time, I knew that although there were things that I could do at Krissy’s that I wasn’t allowed to do or didn’t have access to at home – Kool-Aid, Dirty Dancing, a Nintendo - I preferred the clean air and the well-lit rooms at my house. Krissy had chronic bronchitis and was sick a lot. Probably because of the smoke, my mom told me.

I also first saw (and probably heard) of birth control at Krissy’s. She had two older half-sisters who were in their 20s. One of them had a baby in the years that I knew Krissy. She wasn’t married. I didn’t know that could happen – having a baby without being married. I didn’t quite understand the abortion subplot of Dirty Dancing.

Sometime in the fifth grade, Krissy had our friend Amy over to stay the night. Krissy, Amy, and I were all in the same Girl Scout troupe. We had some kind of an event on Saturday morning. Amy had stayed at Krissy’s Friday night and had come to the event with her and her mom. I was already a little jealous that someone else had stayed over in my place. But as Krissy’s mom dropped Krissy and Amy off, I saw something that made me sick to my stomach with jealousy and rejection. Krissy’s mom stood facing Amy on the sidewalk outside the car. She put her hands on Amy’s shoulders. Krissy’s mom told Amy how glad she was that Amy had spent the night and what a pleasure it was having her and how they would love to have her come back any time. Krissy was standing near them, and I was just a little further off and completely within earshot. I had been spending the night at Krissy’s for three years and had never gotten this kind of attention from her mom. I had always been a good guest – I thought. I still think.

I was washing dishes on Saturday when this memory came to mind. I remember it so vividly by hadn’t thought of it in probably 13 years. As I write about it, I still feel hurt. Isn’t that weird? And it’s weirder because it wasn’t Krissy who chose Amy over me. It was her mom. I wasn’t friends with her mom; I was friends with Krissy. Krissy never spurned me or brushed me off. As I said, we were friend until she moved away. I think it was unfair for her mother to show that kind of favoritism toward her kid’s friend in earshot of her kid’s other friends. I had been Krissy’s friend a lot longer than Amy and had put in a lot more quality time with the Kerchers, but I wasn’t their favorite. That really bothered me. I don’t think I got much out of that day’s Girl Scout outing. I think we were collecting canned goods set out on neighborhood porches.


A Real Dream with a Tasty Candy Coating

I had the weirdest dream last night. I dreamt that I was a kid still living in the house on Brown Street where I grew up. The house was a little different of course like those things are in dreams. The front yard was identical though.

Anyway the dream was about snakes – being overrun with snakes. The house was being bombarded and they were all trying to get in the front door. I often saw snakes in my yard as a kid. Maybe not often. But at least once a summer I would see a garter snake or two. Never two together only one at a time. But in this dream the yard was covered with pairs of snakes – two black snakes, two rattle snakes, two pythons. It was like my house was Noah’s Ark for snakes and they were coming in twos to get on board.

We tried to keep them out, but it was no use. They were everywhere and they were finding ways in, filling up the hall, and making their way to the living room. That’s where my family had gathered. We all ran to the couch. It was a sofa bed and it happened to be opened up in its bed form, which was convenient since there were five or six of us trying to sit on it to get off the floor. From the couch we could see out the front door and into the yard. This is one of the ways the dream house was different from my real childhood house. You couldn’t see the front door from the living room. They were separated by two doors and a large foyer. It made sneaking out undetected easy the one time I did it.

Anyway, from the couch we could see the yard and the streams of snakes making their way into the house and straight toward the living room. It was then that I realized my cousins John and Jake were on the bed with us. I was happy to see them at first. They didn’t visit often, but we always had a good time when they did. Then I noticed that they weren’t talking and they seemed a little plastic. Not like plastic. More like marzipan. Textured. Powdered. Do you know what I mean? Fake. I shifted positions on the bed to get a better look and accidentally bumped both of them. The slight bump knocked both marzipan cousins off the bed into the growing pit of snakes covering the floor.

They hit the floor and poof. They changed into snakes. Black and white striped snakes. They had been imposters. Oreo Snakes, my dad told me.

That was it. I woke up.

I think I should stop going to singles bars.


Family Ties

Yesterday I had lunch with my cousin, a Marine who has just returned from his third tour in Iraq. He has been in the corps for about four years. He is 21 and is finishing his commission in July. He starts college in the fall where there are as a rule less guns and insurgents. I'm glad he's back and that he's still alive.

Back in December, I started sending letters and packages. His two previous tours, I sent nothing and thought about him infrequently. When I went away to college, I lived for letters from people back home. I was lonely in a place where I knew no one and everything had changed. Can you imagine instead of going to college, going to war? And not just joining the Army, but joining the Marines in war time and being shipped off at 18 to start a war in Iraq. He was there for the beginning. He and two other guys from his unit were on the cover of the New York Times in 2003. I saved a copy, but I never wrote him to tell him I had seen it. Every time I thought about him, I thought about writing to him, but I never did.

Why is it so hard to do good things that we know we should do - that we want to do? Why is it so hard to think about other people? I really like writing letters. I really like my cousin. Why did it take four years to get my act together? What was I doing that was so important?
He's back now. His girlfriend lives in New York. He was here visiting her this week. I met her yesterday at lunch. He will probably be back to visit her regularly. It will be good to see him more once in a while. He'll also be a freshman in the fall. Maybe now that I've started, I will keep writing him and sending him the occasional care package. I really did like getting letters in college. I still like getting letters. Everyone does.


The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

I'm starting a blog. I'm scared. I don't usually let people read what I write. I don't write much though, so it's easy to keep people away. I have decided to get over that fear and start writing and letting people read what I write.

Will anyone want to read it? Will I even tell anyone about it? We shall see. But it is definitely the beginning of something.