Thursday, July 06, 2006

Friendship

When I was a sophomore attending Hillsdale High in San Mateo, California, I spent a lot of time in the public library. And this odd thing was happening. In those days, when you checked out a book, the librarian stamped the date it was due on a small page attached to the inside cover of the book. So, by looking at that you could see how often the book was checked out and when that had last happened. And what I noticed was that I was checking out a lot of books that hadn't been checked out in years, and then a lot from the very same shelves, and often by the very same authors, that had very recently been checked out for the first time in a number of years. I mentioned it to the librarian who told me that there was another girl my age who was checking out the same books and noticing the same things. I went back and looked in the books I had previously taken, and sure enough, very often there was another reader within a couple of weeks. One day I was in the stacks and the librarian came up to me and said, "Come with me, your friend is here." And that’s how I met Kate.

Sometime that year my sister, Colleen, got tonsillitis. Actually, Colleen often got tonsillitis but they had never been able to take them out before because she usually got it during polio season. This time she got it when it wasn't polio season and the doctor and my parents decided that it would be a good idea to get all three of us taken care of at the same time. And so it happened that Colleen, who was four, and Forrest, who was nine, and I, who was 14, got rounded up and operated on. And while I was in the hospital after my tonsillectomy, Kate came to visit me. She brought this unbelievably funny black rabbit that she had made out of a pair of her father's socks. One arm was sewn inside out and the cotton was poking out the arm pit on the other side, so it looked like the rabbit had left off shaving her pits in the middle. I laughed and laughed. Then, Kate told me that just as she had been finishing it up, she heard her father asking her mother, "Where are my good black socks?" and that was so supremely funny that I laughed until my throat bled and the hospital wouldn't let Kate come to visit me again because she cheered me too far up! And I had that silly rabbit for about forty years and would have it to this day if it hadn't been lost in a move.

Kate and I used to spend the night with each other as often as we were allowed. Once when she was visiting me, my entire family was asleep and we were sitting up in bed reading. One of us was reading James Thurber's "File & Forget". She (I?) began reading it aloud, but it was so funny, that she (I?) laughed too hard to read and the tears began to run and her (my?) glasses fogged up. So, the book went back and forth between us, each reading as long as she could and then surrendering the book to the other, who had barely recovered from her last attempt. Somewhere in there my mother came in about three times to hush us up because, "you are going to wake up your father!" And the funny thing about that is that, although I didn't realize it until recently when I was telling this story, she really meant that we were keeping her awake. And the way that I know that is that my step-father didn't sleep with his hearing aids in.

6 comments:

Gina said...

Those are some wonderful stories. What an interesting way to meet a friend!

J said...

I never knew that that was how you met Kate. :)

What is polio season? Us younguns want to know...

Maya's Granny said...

It used to be that people caught polio during certain seasons of the year. I think it must have been summer, since there were polio outbreaks that kept people out of swimming pools. Anyway, you didn't do anything unnecessary that might compromise your health durng polio season.
Jonas Salk is my hero.

Kate said...

You have a much better memory than I do! I didn't remember how we met, and I sure don't remember that rabbit! Since my sewing skills are subnormal, I'm amazed that I even tried it!

I do, however, remember spending the night at your house (not my house, for the obvious reasons) & laughing ourselves silly over Thurber. We've always had books & reading in common, and still do. I still remember how proud of myself I was when I discovered Georgette Heyer and introduced you to her.

Many wonderful years of friendship and memories. Thank you!

Deja Pseu said...

I had a friend like that, Marian, and we used to drive our mothers crazy because we cracked each other up so badly. We'd laugh almost the entire time we were together. We lost touch in our 20's when we were both moving around a lot, which is one of my few regrets.

Maya's Granny said...

Ah, I can see that I must write a post about how J found Kate for me after we lost each other for 38 years.