*WARNING: This post contains massive doses of syrup and sap. If you are an emotional diabetic or are expecting something along the lines of my usual jaded sarcasm, you may be in for a disappointment. Come back next week when my hormones have leveled out.
I admit, I joined Facebook under duress. A guy I’d been seeing convinced me to join so we could keep in touch while he went to school in another province, and well, I’m weak. So I did it, even though I was wary of networking sites, which seemed to me just another opportunity to expose my freak magnet. I figured I would have exactly one person on my friends list and that would be that. But it wasn’t long before I received a friend request from someone that was basically the first person on my real-life friends list – my best friend from childhood, who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years.
Facebook had brought us together again – and as weird as it seems, after 30 years, not a whole lot has changed. With Tracey, I somehow manage to simultaneously feel 7 years old and 37. Our relationship has evolved to include booze and men (instead of boys) and children (for her), but it doesn’t feel like we’re all that different. (Better clothes, though – it was the 70s, after all.)
Our Facebook friendship began with tentative comparisons of memories we had from back then, and then wisecracks exchanged over cut-throat online Scrabble games…and has now grown to include regular visits and nights of drunken debauchery. And just as nice, I’ve made some great new friends through Tracey, people I was acquainted with as a child because they lived near her, and with whom I now frequently hang out even when Tracey goes home to Antigonish.
The reason for this rant down memory lane is that she is coming to town this weekend and we plan to get our face on, and I’m pretty excited because I’ve been spending a little too much time in my head these days and it will be nice to cut loose and get stupid.
Now, I’d had friends before Tracey, but Tracey became my Best Friend. And pretty much my whole childhood is defined by memories that have her in there somewhere.
It started out rather dicey. I was seven and my parents had just moved, so I was at a new school. I was playing ball outside the school when one of my throws went astray. I watched in horror as the ball went through the air on a crash course toward this ultra-cool-looking girl leaning against the brick school wall. She had the perfect perm and total attitude. The ball hit her right in the head. I braced myself, fully expecting her to kick my ass.
I have no idea what happened next, but she didn’t kick my ass, and the next thing I knew we were pretty much inseparable. In fact, Tracey was the first person I actually loved, besides my family, my dog, Leif Garrett, and Andy Gibb.
Tracey was, throughout the rest of our elementary school days, the Most Popular Girl. She was so cool that I was almost cool by association, simply because I was her best friend. She had awesome hair, perfectly manicured fingernails (even in 4th grade), was always the girlfriend of either the No. 1 Cutest Boy or the No. 2 Cutest Boy (I got whichever one she wasn’t currently with), she dotted her i’s with little circles, she knew the lyrics to all the ABBA songs. Even her mom was cool – single and glamorous, and she smoked and knew how to French-braid my hair, and even let us play with her makeup.
When we were littler, time with Tracey was spent playing Barbies in my backyard or skipping rope, goofing off with my dog, things like that. When Tracey slept over, she would sleep on a cot next to my bed instead of in the spare bedroom, so we could stay up half the night giggling and whispering in the dark. We would fall asleep, clutching our Smurfs (I didn’t really like stuffed animals, but I wanted to be like Tracey) and holding hands across the gap between the beds. (Awwwww…..* I warned you*)
I remember the sheer panic I felt when she had a severe bout of hay fever at my house once, and her face and eyes swelled up and her mother was called to come get her. I was convinced she was going to die.
But it wasn’t long before we discovered boys and tunes and we were unstoppable.
I remember dancing all over the furniture in her living room to Billy Joel and early Madonna, which was particularly thrilling because my mother would have killed me if we’d done this at my house, and sitting on her kitchen counter with our feet in the sink, eating her invention of lettuce and peanut butter roll-ups (iceburg lettuce leaf, smeared with PB, rolled up). Plastering our faces with massive amounts of blue and purple eyeshadow and pink lipstick and truly, actually believing we looked hot.
We published the first elementary school ‘newspaper’ together – a few pages of ‘gossip columns’ and fashion articles (drawings done by me based on Betty and Veronica comics), which we stuck to the class bulletin board and insisted everybody read.
We had frequent fake marriages at our school, where ‘brides’ carried bouquets made from wildflowers we picked in the forbidden woods at the edge of the school grounds and one of the boys who wasn’t the groom would act as minister. Afterwards, a ‘Kissing License’ would be signed (a complex, four-page document on pink notepaper composed by Tracey and I, and painstakingly copied out by one of us in our best handwriting – including i’s dotted with circles). The final part of the ceremony involved the carving of initials into the ‘Love Log’, a fallen tree in a cozy little nook at the edge of the forest. Of course, Tracey and I, being realistic and modern women, also drew up divorce documents when required.
Yes, Tracey and I gave ‘boy crazy’ a whole new definition. In a magazine we found, we discovered tips on how to seduce a man. Can I hear a ‘WOOT’? We spent an entire afternoon practicing our techniques before hitting the field. I don’t remember all of the advice, but they included things such as running your finger around the rim of your glass while making eye contact across a crowded room, and the ‘flirty gaze’ (look into his eyes, close your eyes, then be looking away when you open them. I swear to god.) We were baffled by the fact that these tactics didn’t seem to work when we took them to school the next day.
We would put on what we thought of as ‘sexy’ music (‘Like a Virgin’) in the background, and phone the boy we liked, using what we thought of as husky, sexy voices, fully expecting he would fall madly and passionately into obsession with us. Instead, to our sultry inquiry of “What are you doooing?”, he replied something along the lines of, “Homework – what else would I be doing?”
Sadly, Tracey moved away right after we began junior high. In those days before the Internet, keeping in touch just didn’t happen, and it would be 15 years before I saw her again.
One night I was at a bar in Halifax when I came face to face with her. She was now grown-up, blonde, and shit-faced drunk, but it was her! I said good-bye to my other friends and we took off to a table near the bar to catch up. The rest of the night was filled with screams of “Oh my god! Your hands look just like I remember them!” and a lot of laughter.
We chatted on the phone a few times after that, but at the time, she was in school and I was playing the lead in a demanding play, and well, you know how it is.
But now, we have Facebook to thank for allowing our friendship to reach its natural drunken fruition. On Saturday night we will drink too much, laugh too much, maybe steal a few souvenirs from whatever bar we end up in, continue to fill in the gaps about what we’ve missed of each other’s lives in the past few decades, and inevitably get mushy and babble to everyone we see about how we used to fall asleep holding hands as little girls.