A light went out this week. I hope my writing followers will excuse this personal sidebar, as writing is how I process and this seems to be all that has been on my mind for a couple days.
|A recent pic, stolen from Facebook|
I hadn't seen Lonnie since we graduated high school a thousand years ago (he only attended one reunion--sadly, the one I missed), but he was my friend when I was only first beginning to understand who I was or what I wanted. I had a giant crush on him for a while there, when I was about 12, and while he wasn't my first kiss, he was the first boy I kissed and really meant it. (one-way, most assuredly—he liked me only as a friend—that is how those things went for me in the early teens)
You see, back before all the girls started dating older boys, back when even talking to a boy made me blush—clear back to Junior High, my group of girlfriends had a group of boys we did things with. I can credit Kim, I'm sure, my friend who was born with social skills from here to the moon. She knew how to talk BACK, so the boys came around in spite of my sputtering and gawking.
Lonnie moved back to Moscow after some time away when I was in 7th grade. He had straight teeth, the thickest hair you ever saw, and big blue eyes that always had a spark of mischief. More importantly, he had an easy social friendliness—teasing some, but in a nice way—that made him less intimidating than a lot of the other boys.
|Excuse the quality of these old pics...|
Lonnie and I had an odd bond, too. Both of us had lost our dads to accidents in relatively recent years and had young, pretty moms doing the best they could. We never actually talked about it, but I always felt a little more understood by him than by my friends with big “whole” families.
His house was only a few blocks from mine and was on the way to my best friend Shannon's, so during that crush era, I had a good excuse to walk by a lot—which mostly just forged a friendship with his younger brother, but did show my dedication.
Lonnie could nearly always be spotted with his basketball—he wanted to be Larry Byrd. And our friend Bruce claimed he was jinxed in the 'sneaking in' department—any time those boys got busted, Lonnie was one of them. But when I think back to some of the pranks...
REDRUM: Best Prank Ever
I've written before about the Redrum Caper, but thought it worth a rewrite, as the important pieces seem to have shifted, but forgive me if you've seen this before:
The Shining was made into a movie (for the first time) in spring of 1980. Of note is the fact that the movie came out 5 days after Mt. St. Helen's blew. In Moscow, Idaho, where we all lived, we got almost an inch of ash settling on the streets, creating a spooky apocalyptic feel and canceling school for the rest of the year, so there was a MOOD present, as well as the antsiness that comes from not being able to get out much.
Three friends and I decided to go to the movie (only my second R movie, if I remember right) and then spend the night at Shannon's house. [girls of 13 and 14 come in packs and rarely have a weekend without a sleepover, so this is all run-of-the-mill...] Kim and I had read the book, Shannon and Sharyl had not, but Kim and I had talked about it enough, they knew the basic plot, and the movie did not disappoint.
After the movie we all sat around Shannon's kitchen table doing that finger thing Danny does, saying “REDRUM, REDRUM,” and “Heeeeeeeere's Johnny!”
Kim was pretty spooked, telling the rest of us to stop. Sharyl was hysterically amused, Shannon and I... middle grounders... but still, we went back and forth a little. After a while we all went upstairs to get ready for for bed. As we walked into Shannon's room (on the second floor, mind you) across her bedroom window was REDRUM in red.
Kim screamed... and screamed and screamed and screamed. I think I screamed at first. Sharyl continued to laugh hysterically. (she has a big brother and was used to this sort of thing, I think). Shannon screamed but then got MAD (seeing this as a mean prank), her mother ran in, to see who was dying... all the while Sharyl still laughing...
In the aftermath...
And I'm pretty darned sure Shannon's mom called and made them come over and get on the roof to clean the lipstick off the window a few days later, but I might be making that part up... it would be very in character, though--Jessie has a certain undeniable authority when she gets that look in her eye, even today.
While that was the biggie, there was also the time Lonnie and Craig filled all the glasses in my mom's cupboard with water and turned them upside-down on the counter...
|Weren't we terrible?|
I wouldn't go back to Jr. High for anything. It was such an insecure time for me, but there were definitely bright spots, and for me, Lonnie was one of them.
These were great friendships. I was sad when we all shifted and drifted—high school we didn't really have classes together and my group of girlfriends shifted to an older group of guys we hung out with, but my fondness has never gone away.
Rest in peace, my friend.
If anyone else has memories to share, I would love you to do that.