Making Friends

Curtis called me an awkward tomboy the other day. Not in a mean way, just in an honest way.

It happened when we were leaving the beach. This little freckle-faced girl I’ll call Susan rode past us on her bike. She circled around us a few times, complimented my surfboard, and then told us that her parents were gone and she was home alone. Remember that Curtis and I are full-grown adult strangers to this Susan, who was probably no more than 11-years-old. If I were to grossly exaggerate what she said to us, it’d be something like:

“Hey, stranger grown-ups. Hey, did you know my parents are gone? They’re off, probably drunk. Probably won’t even come home tonight. It’s just me, a child, alone in my house.” Susan pointed to a house. “That house right over there, the yellow one. The keys are under the welcome mat. I am so weak and dumb, it would be really easy to kidnap me. You tall, powerful-looking adults ever kidnap anyone before?”

It seemed like after Susan told us about her empty house, she realized she shouldn’t have. She mumbled something else real quick and sped off toward a gaggle of boys on bikes. When she was out of earshot, Curtis said, “Aw, she was just like little Allie. All awkward tomboy!”

And it’s true – I am. You don’t have to look any further than my relationship with my first best friend for proof.

His name was Jake, and here’s what a typical day in our friendship was like:

Jake would invite me over to the crib. I’d spent the first half hour there sitting cross-legged in the field next to his house pretending to talk to dead people. After a while I’d get up to go to the bathroom, do my business, discover the toilet paper was out, and use the cardboard TP roll to wipe. Then, since I don’t understand plumbing, I’d try to flush it and end up having to fish it out with my bare hands. Later we’d eat Nutty Bars and play hide-and-seek and we’d both pee our pants at the same time, but without having talked about it first.

Those are all real things that happened at Jake’s house. It was fine at the time because he was a 10-years-old and a boy and my ride-or-die.

That type of friendship, as wonderful as it was, was not sustainable. Like all children do, Jake grew up, shaved off his rattail, and got a girlfriend. I, on the other hand, went home and made fitness videos by myself.

Now, since I’m 25 and it’s no longer cool to hang out with elementary-school-aged boys, I try to make friends with people my own age. Here’s what a typical day trying to make friends as an awkward tomboy adult is like:

A few Saturdays ago, I had plans to meet up with a girl I studied abroad with, but whom I hadn’t seen since our program ended. We were finna get dinner together in Portland.

On my drive into town to meet her, I noticed that my breath was smelling stanky fresh. Like, straight up garlic-out-the-clove, everything-bagel-with-tha-veggie-cream-cheese, never-been-flossed type of situation. No disrespect to the man but my breath was out there smelling like T-Pain just ate a can of cat food and gurgled it down with coffee brewed with bat poop beans. Breath was kicking.

Fortunately, I make sure to keep a small tube of toothpaste in my car. When I realized the intensity of my stank breath I was stopped at a light, so I dug out the toothpaste and squeezed a line of it onto my right index finger (I did not have a toothbrush).

By the time I started scrubbing, the light had turned green. As I drove down the road rubbing toothpaste on my teeth, I remembered that fingers don’t have bristles. And without bristles, ain’t no good way to work up no kind of lather. Toothpaste was mad runny. Before I knew it, I was dribbling toothpaste juice all down my chin and onto my only good pair of jeans.

Everybody knows you can’t get toothpaste stains out with anything less than a full-blown clothes-washing. I was already running late so without having time to turn around and change, I poured water on my lap and accepted that I was going to have several white stains all over crotch for my first meeting with a potential future friend.

And in the end, I showed up looking like if not a 10-year-old, then certainly at least a 13 or 14-year-old one. You know, looking like I had…

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