I moved around quite a bit as a kid, changing schools and attempting to make new friends quick enough that I’d never be labeled, “the new girl”. In sixth grade it was as simple as having the same name, quickly becoming best friends with Jenny Hoffman.
We had notebooks we’d pass back and forth gushing over our latest crush, fully equipped with nicknames – based on their initials, of course. We lived close to each other, but not close enough to share a bus stop so we’d alternate, meeting half way between our houses because best friends do not make entrances onto a school bus alone. We also had (have, if we’re being serious) nicknames for each other… Fur-Fur and Imp – we were pretty unstoppable.
When I think about the shit we got into I often wonder how we are still here to talk about them. Both of our parents considered the other the bad influence when in reality, depending on the day and whose outlandish idea was better for that moment, we both were.
Today is Jenny’s birthday, and as a gift I’m documenting my most favorite memories of us.
Not for us, for unsuspecting folks like our sixth grade teacher and a few others. We found it hilarious to call Pizza Hut and order pie’s for people, but it did not stop there. When we were able, we’d perch ourselves up on the hill outside and watch them get delivered. Looking back we probably should have felt bad for the delivery driver more than the recipient.
College, Cat, and Cornfield
While visiting Jenny at college she had a simple question for me: Have you ever driven through a cornfield? Growing up in the cities, this sounded intriguing: Sign me up! When two nineteen year old girls borrow a car (please keep in mind that this was not our vehicle) to speed through a cornfield, what could possibly make the decision worse? Let’s bring a cat with us. This actually happened, people. It wasn’t our proudest moment, but hot damn did we laugh hard. She drove, I held the kitty. It was all fun and games until we began spinning out of control, I was screaming at the top of my lungs and looked over to my BFF – there she is, perfectly calm, claiming: I got this, I got this… The car came to a halt and while she looked for the cat I sat examining my scratched up body, just happy to be alive. This was the night we realized we were indeed, ride-or-die bitches.
Band – Last Two Chairs
We both played the flute and if you’re familiar with band you know about the “chair” system to show how great you are, or how much you suck at playing an instrument. Maybe it’s supposed to push you to be better, Jenny and I? We were last and second to last chair consistently and never got any better, and we did not care. We had a great time pretending to play at the concerts and socializing during class.
We sat up in her bedroom one night and made Cosmos. I do not remember how old we were, but absolutely not 21. I do not even know if they were actually cosmos, but I trusted her bartending skills then just as I would now. I’m not sure if ‘cosmo night’ was the same night we decided to play out an entire photo shoot and tell each other how hot we were. I mean, look at these pictures, we probably should have sent them to agents or something – is that how modeling works?
My first job, at fourteen years old, was cashiering at a drug store. It wasn’t long before I recruited Jenny and we basically ran the place. We worked a lot so we could afford to walk to the mall and buy one shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch with our earnings. We had creepy boys come in and flirt with us, and we liked it – giving them discounts on disposable cameras…because those were still a thing then. We had full access to the magazine rack, providing us free Teen Bop reading pleasure and while I hope we didn’t steal the posters, I wouldn’t have put it past us.
Karaoke Videos and Stickers
Do malls still have the karaoke booths? If not, they should. We choreographed these things, like, legit practiced dance moves and executed them (not so) flawlessly in a 4×5 box. If I had to guess, we did this at least 10 times. Picture this: Lisa Loeb, Stay, matching tye-dye gap purses and terribly frizzy hair. We’d exit the box after our stellar performance and wait for the VHS to pop out of the machine so we could run home and watch it, and talk about how awesome we were. Looking back, this hobby of ours (yes, I called it a hobby) was my favorite. The mall also provided us with picture booths and The Limited Too had the best one – it made stickers out of your photos. What more could we want? We stuck those bitches everywhere. The metal poles at the tennis courts in Richfield probably still have the faded goodness on them.
It was with Jenny that I stole my step dad’s car to skip school and go shopping. I will take credit for this idea, but let’s get real – she thought it was a spectacular one. You can read the full story here… but just know that I drove from Wisconsin to Minnesota, picked her up at the bus stop, bumped to some Missy Elliot, threw some tuna fish sandwiches out the window and got home without getting caught – until three or four years later.
Jenny is one of those people who entered my life at just the right time, I sincerely hope that our children will find friends like we were for each other… while especially hoping they don’t do half the shit we did.
Happy Birthday, Jenny!
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. -Ralph Waldo Emerson