Pam called me right after the first episode of The Wonder Years aired. “They stole your book!” she said indignantly. “That’s our lives, only with boys!”
She was right. Much of our lives together in Indian Hills in the mid-to-late 1960s and early ’70s was pretty idyllic — and much like that show. I even had my own Winnie Cooper, but he was an older lifeguard at the neighborhood pool named Tyler Ellendorff. Oh, how he could toss his Beatle-bangs hair.
We’d talked for years about how I’d write about it one day.
We met just as we were turning 11, and we used to talk about how someday we’d be grown-up neighbors and our daughters would play together. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Kid talk.
Except it came true. When we were young moms and neighbors in Park Hill, our kids were friends, and we played in the snow and ice together just as we did as wild kids on Blackhawk. (It wasn’t our kids who thought of spinning downhill on Frisbees, it was us. Booty on Frisbee, knees drawn to chest, arms wrapped around knees and a push to get started equalled a wild ride — we spent the better part of an afternoon taking turns with the kids until we were all dizzy.)
A sledding incident (accident) years earlier at the base of Blackhawk left one of us with a busted chin and one of us folded and stuck knees to nose with booty embedded in a tiny bush by the curb. After all these years, I really can’t remember which was which. (Pam? Did I bust my chin or you?) But I remember both of us laughing hysterically and the injured one pulling the stuck one out of the bush.
The rock-in-the-knee victim was definitely me. I leaped up to catch a football during one of a million street games (two-hand touch, below the waist), came down on gravel in the curb and went down with a bang on one knee. When I stood up, a significant pebble was embedded in my knee, as in flush with the surface. I pulled it out with my long fingernails and purple blood started spurting. Just as I was beginning to faint, Pam, the future nurse practitioner, grabbed me, led me to the half-bathroom in my parents’ bedroom, sat me down and doctored it. That part’s kind of hazy. But I have a pretty good scar from a deep wound — and a nice memory of a deep adolescent friendship, one that was prescient of the future. We just didn’t know it yet.
Pam and I used to solve the world’s problems as we sat on the end of her driveway late into the hot, muggy summer nights. We discussed serious issues, like whether The Beatles “Run for Your Life” was romantic or ominous. (Young dopes that we were, we leaned toward thinking it was romantic to have a guy sing “I’d rather see you dead little girl than to see you with another man ….” We learned better, of course.) And how could Otis Redding die right after we’d discovered the wonders of “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay”? We wore that 45 out. Or, after reading Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, we pondered whether we could stand by our men if it required being mafia wives.
Speaking of Tammy Wynette songs (“Stand By Your Man” being the transition there), we came up with a mean duet rendition of “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” that we’d use to entertain the other kids on the block, while cleverly mocking country music of course. We thought we were pretty cool, until some kids down the street who seriously liked country music told us we were great and suggested we sing on TV. Aacck! We quickly dropped that from our repertoire.
We did so many things together and have so many co-memories that I think they’re some kind of shared consciousness at this point. I’m sure we could figure out how that works if we could just go sit on that driveway again.