The one truly great thing about having friends over a long period of time is that you get to serve as a living record for every embarrassing moment you’ve ever shared together. Thankfully, I’m quite skilled at this game and can usually outdo my friends who use the brains for more useful information (no Anna, this is not a challenge). I was very kind to Angie during our visit and managed not to remind her of the 50 PLUS PLASTIC FRAKING HORSES that I’m not still bitter about. I even managed not to mention the excruciating horse trial. Instead, I pulled out our 7th and 8th grade yearbooks – ripe material.
We had fun looking at the old pictures of people you barely remember. The bad hair, the bad clothes, the bad teachers, etc. You can tell when Angie had more influence on the yearbook staff our 8th grade year because pictures of me started popping up. I swear she’s the reason I got an A on a report. One picture showed me playing my viola for a class (one of those painful autobiography lessons for English). Mind you I was part of a trio but you wouldn’t know it thanks to Angie’s clever cropping. The caption beneath the picture mentioned my grade – an A. I think out of embarrassment, my teacher raised my grade a tad so it would look better in print. Hey, I’ll suffer through a bad picture for an A.
Of course, the best parts of the yearbooks were the autographs at the back. We laughed at Angie’s remarks which seemed to be decorated with lots of hearts surrounding her initials and the + attached to various guy’s names. “Beth, who was L.S.?” “Luke Skywalker”. She turned bright red and laughed. “Ok, who was F.G?” I didn’t have a clue and suggested the name Frank. Angie gasped, “Oh, that’s my cousin Frank!” “Cousin? Cousin lovin’ freak!” She protested, “but he wasn’t a blood relation…” Mmm hmmm. For the record, Texas is very close to Arkansas although not quite so close to West Virginia.
I showed her the pictures from the 20 Year Reunion pointing out the people she would have known. “Here is Paula.” “Why am I having a bad reaction to that face and name?” “Well, she kind of bit you in a struggle for your notebook in 7th grade.” Sometimes, I hate the useless information I keep stored in my head. Why can’t I remember basic laws of physics instead of junior high hallway fights? Why can’t there be a job for grudge holders like me? a legal job – one that won’t involve prison time and a tattooed love muffin named Bertha?
We finished this trip down memory lane by reading some of the great autographs – from the bad alliteration “Be careful because big boys bring big babies. Mark” I didn’t date, so I would have been happy with any boy at that point. To the “Dear Beth, a girl who hated me but now is a cool friend. Shannon” That must have been a temporary truce because I honestly couldn’t recall a time that I liked Shannon. An aside, I reminded Angie that she dated Shannon, which got, “FOR A DAY!!! FOR A DAY!!! I told him it wasn’t working out by the time school was out.” And all the goofy acronyms like “TTYL”. Angie looked at hers one final time, “Beth, what is LYLAS?” “Love you like a sister.” Angie beamed, “I do!” Aww… then there was hugging and if I were a hugger, this would be a sweet cheesy way to end the story but we’ll end it with what I thought in that moment, “OMG! GET OFF OF ME!!!!! NO HUGGING! CHRIST!”