Getting Together With Old Friends

Last week I wrote about Part 1 of my birthday celebration, which was my sisters coming to visit me and how much fun it is to be around people who already know everything about you. Part 2 of my birthday was with my own family, where I got a super cool iPhone and a funny card that the kids made me with a picture of Sarah Palin (knowing your kids have senses of humor that could one day earn them a small salary is the best gift of all). Part 3 was last weekend, when I got together with the girls from my old neighborhood. The theme of my birthday this year seems to be Comfort Zone. My birthday week was spent being surrounded by people who I could be comfortable around. It’s like I was immersed in a big vat of cotton balls, satin sheets and kittens. A good place to be when turning 50.

The girls I grew up with are the Stewart Street Gang. The seven of us represented pretty much all categories of high school students: We had a couple of cheerleaders, a majorette, some members of choir, a nerd (that would be me), and even a couple of bad girls. (Connie was grounded until she was 18 approximately 350 times from sixth grade until we graduated.)

But who knew we would all be so flipping funny? I thought that the reason we were wetting our pants and spitting milk through our nose on a semi-regular basis was that we were just silly. That’s what our mothers told us. “You’re being silly.” “You’re just being silly.” “Stop being silly.” Silly my foot. We were budding comedians. I walked away from last weekend thinking our kids/husbands/boyfriends are darn lucky to have us as moms/wives/girlfriends. We kill.

While growing up - and remember this is a time when there were only three channels unless your dad was working steady and then you might have a big antenna on your roof and pick up the station in Cleveland that carried Captain Penny, the Laneys being not that fortunate - we were told to go outside and play until the 9 o’clock whistle blew. None of us went to camp, we weren’t on any sports teams or anything, so our summers and days off school were spent playing in the neighborhood. Our big decisions were whether to play Barbies or stone school; listen to The Jackson Five on Jill’s portable record player or listen to WHOT on Janet’s transistor radio; jump on the bed or spin around until we got dizzy; play library with my new date stamper and ink pad or roll down a hill; go to Isaly’s and get ice cream or go to Guy’s Drug Store and get penny candy. We could make a game of fling flang floo last an entire afternoon and when we got bored with then we would see who could keep milk in her mouth the longest without laughing and let it come out of her nose. Janet’s mom was always telling us to “Go watch the cars go by” when we complained we were bored. So we did. And we managed to make a game and a contest out of it.

We were so lucky. We now have years of ridiculously pathetic incidents to reminisce over. These were times when a garden hose, a pile of tree bark and an old rusty piece of fencing was enough to play house.

Our 50th birthday weekend was similar. We only needed a couple of hotel rooms, matching t-shirts and some ready-made pina coladas to have a great time. These girls are the definition of friends. They are the least pretentious, least judgmental, most genuine and most caring, loving people I know. And did I mention that they’re funny?

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