My best friend caused me a lot of grief in my childhood. She had me terrorized. There was a maniac living along the lane behind our house. Out on Station Road a witch lived in the ditch that ran down the side and along the front of Hawco’s property. At other times it was a troll. If you looked in the mirror and said Hail Mary three times you would see the devil. She was full of stories that would send chills up my spine.
And she would be dangerous to be around when we went swimming. She loved to duck people under the water and keep them there till she could see air bubbles surfacing and legs and arms thrashing wildly. Then with a laugh she’d let go.
But one of the worse things she ever did to me involved a picture of Cinderella. I had a book of children’s stories. I don’t recall where it came from. It was probably a gift from one of my many relatives. In it was the most beautiful drawing of Cinderella that I have ever seen. It was black and white but the details were lovely. I would look at that picture and my imagination would soar to castles , princesses and handsome knights. My dreams were every bit as satisfying as a 3 D movie.
I must have been the most trusting child that ever lived because despite all that she had done to me I lent HER that book because she loved it too. In retrospect, I don’t recall her ever reading another book over our entire lives. Months later I decided she’d had ample time to read it and I wanted it back. She seemed reluctant but when I became a little insistent she returned it. I was eager to look at Cinderella again. We’d been apart for a long time. So I eagerly flipped to the page. And you guessed it! The picture was not there! It had been torn out. I could see the ragged edges of the page where it had been. I was really distraught but when I confronted her she knew nothing about it.
You would think I would be on to her , wouldn’t you? . But it would take a wizard to anticipate what her next trick would be. And as we grew older her tactic changed . Obviously I no longer took witches , trolls , maniacs and devils seriously. And I would not lend her anything I valued. So she found other ways to make me miserable.
I recall the summer I got my driver’s license. I was very popular that year with the girls on the street who were all younger than me. Surprise! But I didn’t care how I became so desirable or desired ; I loved the admiration however I got it. No one had to rely on parents any more! And I was trusted , a good girl, did well in school and never got in trouble. So one day my friend and I took a trip to Botwood. A popular area to visit was the base which had an abandoned airstrip. Well it wasn’t exactly abandoned because all the young people used it as a gathering place. I rolled up searching for a parking space near some ” stock” in front of the only chip stand. And I found them; four really cute guys in a blue Mustang. One of them in particular caught my eye.
I should mention here that I was very dignified. Some people thought I was a snob I learned later when I was more mature and had realized that to be popular you had to give up dignity and refinement. But that day I was very conscious of behaving like a model and did my best exit from the car . I carefully opened my door ,swung my two legs gracefully together , placed my feet on the pavement and lifted my body through the door in one fluid movement. Then like a model I did a runway walk up to the wicket to place my order. Head held high . Feet placed more or less in front of each other but not to the extent of a Dior model. You get the idea. Dignity plus ,flavoured with a just a hint of an angelic smile. After all I didn’t want anyone to think I was unapproachable. At the same time I couldn’t appear “easy”. It was quite an effort to maintain that balance , excuse the double meaning here.
Very politely I placed my order, ensuring that my voice was soft , feminine and sultry. I hoped that it would be noticed by the young men in the car . They were close enough to witness this Oscar winning performance. And I could tell I was making an impression. Young women have an extra sense about that. You just know when a guy is interested. He might draw attention to himself by acting cool, pretend to be uninterested , or do nothing at all. But even doing nothing doesn’t fool a girl who is noticing. Then he is only playing ” hard to get”. Anyway I just knew I had made an impression and was very excited about the prospect of hooking up with one of them.
But, I wasn’t counting on my friend’s agenda. She was sitting in the car taking all this in. She knew EXACTLY what was on my mind. And she knew what to do about it so that she could eke out the most embarassment she could. Her fiendish plan was to beat the living daylights out of my ego.Had I chanced to look at her I would have undoubtedly seen her head spinning atop her neck. But I didn’t look until……………………suddenly the door to my car, well actually it was Dad’s car, opened. I heard it . There was the slightest anticipatory pause . She leaned forward out through the door and looked directly at me. Her lips curled around her beautiful teeth hiding them so that she looked like she had none . Her whole face mutated into that of a trailer park junky and from that apparently toothless mouth came a roar no fishmongers wife could match .
“Ger er er er tay! GER ER ER TAY!!!!!! Gem me a fish an chips will ya!!!”
Now there is nothing wrong with the name Gertie and I don’t want any Gerties to be offended. But when it blasts directly at you from a toothless mouth ,and particularly when it is NOT your name there is no amount of gentility that will silence the WOOSH of the ego deflating.
Grabbing the fish , chips and cokes I slinked back to the car. And by golly she was sooooooo proud!
Her wide mouthed fully toothed Cheshire smile told me she’d done it again.