Happy Birthday, Jenny!

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.

Pizza Party

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.

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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.

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Jenny’s College Days, My Visiting Days

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.

264698_10150300792770452_2736098_n.jpgCosmos Upstairs

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?

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Kinsmor Drug

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.

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Phil, the pharmacist is pictured at the bottom.

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.

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Grand Am

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.

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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

 

A is for Acting Out

The day I noticed my stepdad kept the keys in his black Pontiac Grand AM is the day I started planning. You can’t just take a car, at 15 years old, no license and cross state lines to skip school with your best friend without proper preparation.  It only took a few days to build up the courage and to feel as though my plan was foolproof.

I’d recently moved from Minnesota to Wisconsin and I missed my best friend… that’s how I justified this madness.

I watched the parental units pull out of the driveway, carpooling to their jobs and a twinge of excitement rushed over me. Running to the phone, I couldn’t get Jenny on the phone fast enough. She had no clue what was in the works – true schemes like this can’t be jeopardized by doing something willy-nilly like talking about it on the phone. That’s how you get caught. Duh.

“Do you want to go to school today?”

…’Well, no?’

“Pack us some lunch, and I’ll pick you up at your bus stop.”

Jenny and I had the kind of friendship where after something like that was said, no questions were asked.

I slam the phone down and get to work. I marked the garage with tape so I knew the placement of the tires – and you can’t drive as far as I planned and expect the gas gauge to keep a secret, so the tape had multiple purposes. It didn’t stop there… after I placed the cheat tape on the floor of the garage and the fuel deal – it went on the seat adjusters. My young lady legs were shorter than the regular occupant and the goal this whole time is to make sure the next time Clarence sits down to go somewhere – everything is just how it was.

I told you it was an elaborate plan.

Looking back now as an adult I’m surprised I didn’t have any concern for the neighbors, who easily could have saw me backing out of the driveway, if they did they kept their yappers shut and for that, I thank them. It was roughly an hour drive to Jenny’s bus stop and at no point do I remember being concerned. I was not worried about getting pulled over, I wasn’t worried about being absent from school and I certainly wasn’t worried about getting caught at home – I’d put the work in.

Confidence is key, apparently.  

Jenny packed us tuna fish sandwiches and I hate Tuna – everything about it, especially the smell. After she chucked the sandwiches out the window we made our way to the good ol’ Mall of America. I’d never tackled a parking ramp before so that was an adventure all in itself. We found somewhere to park, but being an unlicensed, inexperienced driver I bumped into the concrete barrier with his bumper. Our quick looks of fear didn’t take long to subside and we were back to being carefree in no time. No harm no foul.

We did some serious cruising with Missy Elliot, too. We opened the sunroof and laughed while we watched the rearview mirror shake with the bass vibrations. Eventually, the day had to come to an end and I was on a time crunch.

Often times, I wonder how I ever managed to get anywhere before GPS and then I remember the time I got lost on the way home from stealing my step dad’s car. I stopped for gas and was too paranoid to ask for directions because if I asked the gas station attendant they might ask for proof of a driver’s license. Simple 15-year-old logic.

I was on my own, lost, and that moment was the only time I felt nervous. Clarence and my mom were due home soon and all my fun was about to come crashing down around me. Not that I deserved God’s help but I give him credit for getting me home and in that garage – all lined up – approximately five minutes before their arrival. I erased the message from school, threw my backpack where it’d ususally be thrown after school and plopped down on the couch – full of relief. “Hey guys, how was your day?” I said, with a smile as they made their way into the house.

The moment of truth came and went – I got away with it.

Fast forward 3 years or so – my mother went and read all my old journals. Remember when I said, “true schemes like this can’t be jeopardized by doing something willy-nilly like talking about it on the phone. That’s how you get caught. Duh.” … I did not feel that the same standards were there for writing about it. She made me confess – three years later. We were out to eat, mowin’ down cheeseburgers when I spilt the beans.

“I TOLD YOU!! I TOLD YOU!!” – Clarence

Low and behold, I didn’t do as great of a job as I thought and he asked my mom about it that night and for a few weeks after, to which my mother responded

“Jennifer? No…no way, she wouldn’t do something like that.”


I am looking forward to the month of April because I’m participating in the A-Z Challenge. Mostly to get in the habit of writing every day, but also to re-enter the blogging community and make some new connections. Looking forward to reading the other submissions for day one!

Cheers. 

 

Nothing Compares To You… Or This.

I don’t know if it’s the song itself or if the uncanny memories that I’ve tied to the tune make it so wonderful. Either way, I love the song and nothing will ever compare to it.

Ever.

I wish I could remember the first time the song entered my world. There’s a chance Bridget has a story of when it all began, she was present for basically all of the Nothing-Compares-To-YouFiascos. I’m sure you’re wondering how it’s possible to keep talking about it for even this long… but it’ll get better, promise.

When we first decided to try the adult game, like best friends do, Bridget and I made the mistake of renting an apartment together. I could tell ya the best and worst stories of that dwelling, but we’ll save that for another day; I know you’re eager to see where Sinead O’Conner fits in.

We ended up with a few people hanging out on the living room floor. One of those instances when an already kinda sketchy friend you don’t know that well brings an even sketchier friend of theirs into your apartment? For some reason (because we love it) Nothing Compares To You ends up playing on the old school boombox.

Sketchier friend of kinda sketchy friend says something along the lines of:

“This song makes me so sad……… It makes me think about my mom.”

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Thinking about it now, I wish one of us would have had the courage to address how fucking weird that was. Instead, we just glanced around the room like a bunch of weirded out 19 and 20-year-olds.

Moving along…

This known heartbreak tune carried its way into my wedding. At that point in our lives, Bridget and I had allowed the song to become a significant part of our friendship. Obviously there was a need for us to have a moment with it – at my wedding. 

The combination of adult beverages and a perfectly timed request to the DJ allowed Bridget & I to give our rendition, interpretive dance included – while her husband gave his all on the air/blow up guitar. I want to go into a real wordy description, but I don’t know if that’s necessary when there were cameras.

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Do you see her? Sinead was there. Upper right corner. [Best DJ EVER]
It was so amazing that I wish every single one of you could have witnessed it.

Moving along… the other day this happened:

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…Later inspiring this (some may call pointless while I call it) stellar blog post.

If you don’t like Sinead’s version – this one may be your cup of tea. I dream of a time when everyone more people will love Nothing Compares To You as much as Bridget & I.

Flashback Friday: That One Friend

Everyone has that one friend, the one your parents hated and their parents hated you just as much.  The other one was such a bad influence.

267883_10150300792575452_2608530_nMy friend, shared my name & that’s how our story began.  Jenny & I met in 1996; Mr. Anderson’s 6th grade class in Richfield, Minnesota; Spartan Elementary.

Ah, the days of meeting half way to catch the bus, passing notebooks in class, secret code language & nicknames. She was Fur-Fur & I was Imp. [short for impatient – looking back, I’m not sure what I was so impatient for as a 12 year old].

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As I decided which stories I wanted to share with you I relized I’m not entirely surprised our parents weren’t fond of our blossoming friendship. If I’m being honest, I’m still not sure if things we did were normal childhood liveliness, or if we were downright awful human beings.

I hope it’s closer to the first, but………………

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The first mischievous thing I remember doing with Jenny H was skipping recess. Yes, it’s possible. You’re supposed to go outside with the rest of class… and we decided to sit in the stairwell instead.

Rebels without a cause; we received in school suspension for a week.

As I continue with this story, please keep in mind that we were very bitchy young.

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We used to pick on a girl named Sarah. She was the first chair flute and also played the piccolo.  For you non-band people out there, the chairs signify how good you are at said instrument.

Jenny & I also played the flute, we were the last & 2nd to last chair – and we did not care.

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We stole Sarah’s padlock from her locker more than once, which might seem innocent…but we took it to a different level when we found our band teacher in the phone book.

Mr. Fairweather; he was interesting.

He always wore a floppy cowboy hat on his way into work. Occasionally, the group of us sitting outside before school would bust into, “Where Did All The Cowboys Go” by  Paula Cole in decent harmony.

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But anyway… we called him.

“Hello? Mr. Fairweather?

Hi…

This is Sarah.

I’m sorry to call you at home but I was wondering if you

could tutor me?”

Jenny, pretending to be Sarah basically begged him to reconsider every time he declined. The conversation ended  when she screamed:

GOTCHA!!

OOGACHAKA!!

OOGACHAKA!!

 OOGACHAKA!!     

*click*

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The dancing baby was big at the time…  so…

It wasn’t long before we threw our homeroom teacher, Mr. Anderson into the mix.  We ordered multiple pizzas, with lots of delicious toppings for him. Super nice of us. I wish a pizza would just show up at my door – even if I did have to pay for it.

I think there’s a chance he considered it a random act of kindness rather than a prank; it’s possible. Once that got old… we wanted to see our plan play out. We started ordering pizza for a girl in our class who lived up the road. We’d sit at the top of the hill & watch it get delivered.

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Yeah…these are stickers. We stuck them all over the tennis courts in our neighborhood.

Prank calling was kind of a specialty of ours. We’d call random names from the white pages [oh the struggles before the intraweb] and conduct surveys on smoking Meritt Cigarettes.

The surveyor was, “Suzie Severson” & she had a terrible lisp. The survey always concluded with:

“Thank you for your time. Shhmoke on & have a shhmoke free life!”

Again, I like to imagine we gave people a good laugh, but…

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Gosh, to have this kind of time on our hands again would be amazing.

When we turned 14 we both got a job at the local drug store up the street. We’d give the cute boys discounts on disposable cameras and they’d buy us chocolates & the super romantic flowers you can buy at a drug store. We were kind of a big deal.

The Drug Store Days
The Drug Store Days

I moved out of Richfield my sophomore year of high school but when I got my driver’s license the shenanigans continued.

Actually… it was before I got my license. I had my learners permit the first time I decided to drive from Wisconsin to Minnesota in my step-dads black GrandAm, on a school day [I think it was a Tuesday].

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Jenny…do you want to go to school today?

No?

Me either… I’m coming to pick you up at your bus stop.

Pack us some lunch.

She brought us tuna sandwiches & I made her throw them out the window [sick]. 

No license… an hour drive [one way], Missy Elliot, Simple Plan, The Mall of America and a set of young-super-good-decision-making gals.

[via: motormaniabuzz.eu]
[via: motormaniabuzz.eu]
I got home roughly 20 minutes before my mom & step-dad. The day went off without a hitch, until my mother read my old journal.

“I TOLD YOU SO!” was directed at my mom more than once when she made me fess up……………6 years later.

Apparently I didn’t park the car correctly & it’s been weighing on my step-dad ever since.

“Jen would never do something like that!”

-My Mom [for 6 years].

We got through our braces & frizzy hair phase together.

We’ve recorded ourselves singing to Martina McBride…to hear how good we sound.

I cut her hair with a pair of kitchen scissors in her bedroom.

We’ve taken a cat on a joy ride through a corn field, which ended horribly, with lots of scratches & a terrified cat.

We made cosmos in her bedroom with her mom hanging out downstairs.

We went on a search for a real prostitute in Minneapolis…to see if they really exist [they do].

There are many stories I did not include. Some I believe you’ll judge us pretty harshly for, some I don’t think Jenny would appreciate me sharing & some things are better left to the imagination.

Moral of the story #1: All that mumbo-jumbo about your kids being 10x worse than you were… I really hope it’s not true.

Moral of the story #2: I hope my kid finds a friend like Jenny.

I know they’re contradicting but I mean them both.

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Yes, we’re aware it’s a miracle we ended up looking as normal as we do

PS: Sarah, Mr. Fairweather, Mr. Anderson…and the other girl we sent Pizza to [Lisa]…

I speak for both Jenny & I:

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