January 16th, 2002

JOY

For Pookie

In honor of the latest voyeur of my journal, today’s boredom-inspired-childhood tale will star Pookie, my friend since age three and for all intensive purposes, my elder sister (by three months). It also has to do with the time in my life when I was to terms with the fact that yes, I can be intimidating.

I was in the color guard in high school.

While I have mustered the courage to utter that sentence nearly a half-a dozen times in my adult life, it doesn’t make it any easier. Flaggot. That was me. Although, if there is such a thing as a “badass” in a group of girls of which 90% of them saw the color guard as an appropriate alternative or even a foot in the door to cheerleading in the hopes of meeting and dating a football player, I guess I was that badass. Many of the girls on the squad were perplexed by my general apathy towards the football team and those who were involved with it. I also was not particularly concerned whether or not I stuck with the color guard. For me it was something to do; for them, it was something to commit to in the hopes of making captain one day. I also had friends outside of the squad--a rarity for sure. Pookie was one of those friends. She happened to be friends with several of us, but in her prescient wisdom, she realized that wasting 3 hours a day twirling an aluminum pole while a tone-deaf rhythm-free wannabe cheerleader clapped “to the beat” of whatever marching band number we were choreographing was a pile of horseshit.

My close circle of friends was all the offspring of either divorcees or workaholics. None of us had parents either willing or able to take us to one another’s homes, and since we all managed to live on the opposite corners of our sprawling town, the only way for us to spend time together during the week was to stay after school, hang out in the common area and then take the sports buses to our respective homes. This caused much distress among the Randolph High School faculty, who really didn’t know what to make of us staying late and causing no real problems doing so. As a result, some members of the faculty, the advisor for the school newspaper, for example, would draft letters to the vice-principal accusing us of everything from drug consumption to merely distracting the newspaper staff from their duties. These letters would be given to rahaeli, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, to deliver to the vice-principal. The letters would then promptly get “lost”.

Color Guard season was from the beginning of the school year until early December. Thus, the beautiful autumn days that I could have been spending distracting the newspaper staff were spent twirling an aluminum pole. My sophomore year, we had three captains: Wendy, Meg and Amy. Wendy was pretty easygoing and a good person. Meg was a tough-as-nails white trash girl from the airbrushed-Camaro section of town. And Amy was a pushover: a whiny, weak, crying pushover with a nasal high-pitched voice and bad posture. One afternoon, while we were practicing on the patio in front of the cafeteria, Pookie and a couple of our other friends walked past. Not on the actual patio, but on the path that lead behind it and around the patio to go into the cafeteria through the opposite door. One of Pookie and my mutual friends, Susan, who was also on the color guard called out to her, “hey Pook! Give me a call tonight!” Pookie nodded and said okay, and went on her way.

Wendy something to Pookie about how she is not allowed to interact with the Color Guard while they were practicing. Pookie said that she was just walking by, not even on the patio, and a Color Guard member called out to her, something she had no control over, and continued on her way into the building. Amy, in her courageousness, whined, “bitch” under her breath, which Pookie may or may not have heard. However, I was not about to allow some moaner call Pookie a bitch.

“Hey Pook!” I called, “Amy has something else to say to you!” Pookie pivoted on her heel, turning around to reveal a smirking smile and a glint in her eye. “Oh, really?”

“Yeah,” I said, “I don’t know if you heard her though. Yeah, Amy, what did you say to my best friend again?”

Pookie added, “I’m right here now. Go ahead and say to me what you have to.”

Wendy took a step back and snapped her jaw shut. Meg gave me the “I’ll use my Lee Press-Ons on your ass if you don’t shut the fuck up” look. I kinda tipped my chin up at her and smiled as if to welcome her to bring it. Amy, however, was more slouched than usual and her eyes grew wide. “nothing.” “What, Amy? I swear I heard you say something. What did you say to her?” Meg’s Aqua-Net eye beams narrowed. Amy’s lower lip quivered. “Nothing,” she croaked. “Oh, okay. Because I thought I heard you call her a bitch. You wouldn’t call my friend a bitch, would you?”

Amy broke into tears. “No. I didn’t say anything. Just leamme alone. I didn’t say anything.” She then ran into the building, we weren’t sure whether to wipe her eyes or rat us out.

Pookie strode off, satisfied. I was ready to commence with the twirling. Amy, it turns out, ratted us out to the band director, who had a sit down with me about how I cannot encourage distraction during practice. I explained the situation, how Pookie was going about her business when Susan called to her and Amy as a result called her a bitch. Susan was then called in and promptly broke into tears herself. The situation was resolved with no real recompense. Things continued as normal, but Pookie and I carried on knowing that we had just that much over Amy, who from that point on never gave me shit about anything during practice and never looked either Pookie or me in the eye again.