I have different circles of girlfriends. One friend, Nikki, I have known since I was five years old. She taught me to ride a bike and how margarine in a tub is so completely amazing on white bread toast. Another, Louise, has remained steadfast since our daughters started 1st grade together. She is a devoted mother of three, speaks with a British accent (which I sometimes unknowingly adopt when I am with her or talking about her) and has the uncanny ability to remember every accessory gift I ever gave her and wear it when we are getting together. I have friends from high school, college, summer camps, book clubs and past jobs. They all hold a special place in my heart and life for different reasons.
Then there are "the girls." Formally known as the "Mandeville girls," for the town where I moved my senior year of high school. While I had no trouble being the new kid, I was not quite prepared for small town, southern Louisiana culture into which I was dropped from suburban Kansas. A land of drive-thru daiquiri shops, Po'Boys and big hair. The first day I went to my classes, acting confident and smart. Back home I had been editor of my newspaper, a 4.0 student and boy band groupie. At lunch that day people gathered in "the pit" -- literally a hole in the ground with stairs. Like a sunken auditorium. If the bottom had fallen out the school would lose all it's popular people and then what would happen to the social hierarchy that is high school? I wasn't sure what to do. Did I just go up to someone and say "Hey ya'll!" or wait for someone to approach me and invite me to sit with them. I didn't have to decide thanks to Betty. She was a no-nonsense, short blonde girl who was wicked smart and a cheerleader. Apparently she had been impressed with something snarky I had said to one of the teachers earlier in the day and invited me to be her friend. This is significant because I am not really that funny. Which is why I probably don't have a million followers on my blog like my idol Jenny Lawson. Anyway, it was the start of what would become a nearly three decade friendship for me and Betty and "the girls."
She introduced me around to Tara, Nicole, Denece, Erin and Bridgett. I think at least half of them were cheerleaders. Keep in mind I was the uncoordinated drama dork who the Kansas girls had invited to try out for cheerleading as their partner to make them look extra good. I could not do the splits and my half-ass cartwheel would probably kick the petite cheer captain in the face. I dressed like a tomboy and colored my own hair to a slight orange tint. My mother still shopped for me. But still these girls welcomed me into their tribe. Call it Southern hospitality or maybe they just saw in me something I had yet to see in myself. Fun? Kindness? Or just that kindred girlfriend spirit no one can explain. It's like girlfriend magic. You either click or you don't. And that magic leads to reveal more magic and powers you didn't even know you had -- like dancing on tables given enough Jungle Juice, or singing hours of bad karaoke in someone's living room (yes people actually own these amazing things)...but I am getting ahead of myself.
We eventually all graduated, went to college, got married and settled down to be grown ups. At this point I would like to apologize profusely for missing all but one of their weddings since I was a poor married girl myself at the time living in far flung Washington state on a part-time reporter's salary. I'm sure they were the most awesome of weddings, but after that I vowed to take every opportunity I could to see this fun loving chicks despite my geography and income bracket.
So came the high school reunions (where we were still the coolest chicks around( and annual girlfriend gatherings usually in Texas and sometimes in Mexico (OK, I missed those too). The husbands started tagging along because as you would expect we married cool guys and they all liked each other. Alas, my hubbie is kind of a loner and has NEVER come to these frickin' awesome reunions. But I know in time he will meet these amazing Republican Southerners and be impressed by their wit, humor and ability to welcome any nature California liberal to their man cave of fun. Ok. That sounds kind of kinky but "the girls" know what I mean. I also know when I went through a very trying time with my family in which I thought they would not understand, these guys handed me a hug and a beer and said, "we get it...it's ok!" I love you "boys."
So I am seeing how long this blog entry is and realize I may need another chapter. Or entry. Hence, here's to girlfriends and friends of all sorts. Facebook friends, high school friends, old friends, new friends. People who love you for you. Even when you are mess. Even when you only see each other every couple years. Here's to "my girls."
Note; And sorry for the thong thing.