Monday, January 1, 2018

Dear Lizzie:


    It’s been such a long time since we chatted, my dear old friend Lizard. Yeah, I know you never liked being called that back in college, but you let me do it for some reason. I guess you liked me. I sure liked you. Still do, in fact.
    As I’m climbing up—or is that down?---the age ladder I’m lately remembering so many of my old pals, and you dear Lizzie, were the best of the best. I was so lucky to have you in my life and I miss you.
    I well remember when I first met you in the college grille. Everyone was smoking, illegally of course, even the freshmen, many of whom had never touched the evil weed but were so eager to look cool and with it, and to not look like dorky kids who were scared out of their bloomers because it was their first time away from home.
    You were there Liz, standing sort of on the outskirts of the over-eager students. You were smoking long thin cigarettes and it was obvious you’d already had more than a nodding acquaintanceship with coffin nails. I thought you were about the snazziest girl I’d ever seen and I pushed my way though the crowd and introduced myself to you kind of nervously, because I was afraid you might reject me, your being so cool and all. You did not. We became instant best friends, or as the young ‘uns say today, “BFF.”
    Didn’t we have a wonderful year together Lizard? Somehow, we ended up roommates at our all-girls college, a decision the dean of students (along with her cohort in evil, the dorm-mother) would live to regret. Remember that awful water fight we promoted amongst the other girls in the dorm? We had white water roaring down the hallways, and it was glorious. We surfed and splashed and sailed anything that could float and that included our books, shoes, underwear and everyone else’s. It wasn’t so much of a devilishly funny thing to all the parents who had to pay for the damages, but while it was happening we were overwhelmed with joy, running and screaming in our Baby Doll nighties, destroying everything in our paths. Fortunately at least for most of us, it was our first and only foray into destructive, blithesome violence.
    Remember that time we sneaked out of college and took a bus to New York City? In those days, as you recall, we had to sign in and out of our dorms, but we finagled some deals with a few of our less moral peers and managed to make our escape. We got to Port Authority in NYC, took a cab to a hotel we’d heard was the most sinful in The Big Apple and got into our room. What on earth did we use for money? I guess I have managed to forget that part.
    And those phone calls all night---from men! Apparently when young unattached girls go to that hotel, the elevator operators alert the lascivious men hanging out in the bar, who then go on the hunt. Remember the things they offered to us? Some actually sounded pretty good but at least we were savvy enough to politely refuse. And some sounded pretty terrible but we thought they were funny because we didn’t actually know what those words meant. OMG how is it we were not---well, we weren’t. Were there guardian angels back then? I guess. When we left the hotel in the morning, did we pay our bill? If not, they’re maybe still looking for us. I don’t want to mention the name of that hotel here, because it may still be in operation.
    We roared around the big city all weekend, got a little drunk, ate amazing foods we’d never heard of, flirted, laughed, jaywalked whenever possible and finally had to find our way back to Port Authority to catch a bus back to college in NJ on Sunday night. We arrived way past the 11 PM curfew, but we were clever girls and in cahoots with other miscreants who forged our signatures on the sign-in sheet, were on the lookout to sneak us into the dorm, and we never got caught.
    Remember your friendship with your druggist pal back in your home town and how he’d send you illegal diet pills whenever you wanted them? You gave many to me, and oh my we were so thin. And happy about that too. I think it must have been speed back then so we can add that to our teen-aged wild-thangs resumes, but once I stopped using them and crashed rather horridly, my days of being high were done and today all I take is baby aspirin. I’m also not thin, Lizard. But you know that. Oh the glory days. But we lived. Don’t ask me how, but we did.
    You got expelled the next year Liz, because for fun you pulled that tempting fire alarm lever and all students had to march outside in January in those Baby Dolls and everyone ratted you out. I hope I didn’t and if I did, please, please forgive me. But you showed ‘em Lizzie—you were accepted at the University of Cambridge in England, and became a professor/teacher of Medieval history at a fine and famous university, wrote amazing books, married a rich man and had four fabulous children who today are doing extremely well. One of them works with a famous movie star, and the other three are wealthy and happy and understand they were blessed with a fabulous mother, and I know they’ve never forgotten you.
    You and I saw each other often, stayed at each other’s homes and you made me laugh so much and so hard I often thought my ribs would break. You were so clever, brilliant, and your books---oh my, you were way above me. Remember how you finally tracked down your biological parents? They ran a mattress factory in Oklahoma and you found that you had about 8 siblings, some of whom tried hard to freeload off you, some with whom you became very close. What a remarkable experience that was. One of your bio sisters looked and sounded just like you. She was named Ellie, a fact you found screamingly funny.
    But then as we got older and our kids married, you began to not answer my emails until after a year your husband finally did. He just said “Liz passed away last year.” He would not tell me how or when or why and would not return my calls or emails and I hate him for that Lizzie, I do. I know you suffered so much from diabetes and you didn’t pay enough attention to that---is that what killed you my dear friend?
           I know you’re still with me and I chat with you a lot. I know you’re hearing me. Back when we were young,     I talked with you about everything, about our boyfriends and adventures and all the naughty things we did. And I know I can talk with you still. Back in 1959 I married one of those boyfriends Lizzie, and we’re still happy and strong together after 61 years. As you know, we have 3 terrific sons and six grandchildren. It’s all good, but oh, I wish you were still here to share it with me dear old Lizard. It’s not at all true that “time heals all things.” I miss you all the time. You were the definition of BFF, and I thank you.

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