Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



All of My Friends

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

When Cool Isn't Cool

Yep. That's me. Heart-breaker extraordinary.
1965.
I had just realized that boys didn't have cooties.
I also discovered that I was capable of being a two-faced non-friend.
The two went together.
Perhaps I should explain . . .
Grade five.
The year when math problems became more . . . problematic.
Times tables proved important.
Story writing, more intense and personal.
Mrs. Herbst officially turned into Oh-Teacher-of-the-Blue-Hair.
And boys became . . . interesting.
The latter started with a note, passed to me during free reading.
“Will you go to the movie with me on Saturday?”
It was signed, 'Paul'.
What???!
A boy?!
Wanted to go to a movie with me?!
What should I say?
What should I do?
What should I wear?!
Shakily I wrote, “okay” on the note and passed it back.
He unfolded it, read it and smiled at me.
And that was it.
My feet didn't touch the ground for the rest of the day.
For the rest of the week, actually.
Saturday was a long time coming.
I should mention, here, that Paul was one of the cool boys.
The popular, cool boys.
And way out of my league.
But his group adopted me as one of their own.
For the first time in my life, I was hanging with the cool crowd.
Back to my story . . .
I don't remember much about the movie, other than it was an Audie Murphy and involved something called 'cactus torture' which made me, quite literally, sick to my stomach.
And that Paul held my hand through the whole thing.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
After that, we met every day on the playground and on Saturday afternoons at the movies.
For about a month.
Suddenly, Paul had his eye on someone else.
And I was no longer one of the cool crowd.
Bitter and angry, I rejoined my old group.
Who took me back in without so much as a frown.
For half a morning, I complained bitingly.
Making acid comments about 'the cool kids' and how fickle they were. And mean. And nasty. And . . .
You can see where this is going.
“Well, you're with your old friends now and that's all that matters,” one of my group said.
“Yes,” I said. “I wouldn't go back with them if they begged me!”
Just then, three of the cool girls came over to us. “Diane. Lloyd likes you. Do you want to come back to our group?”
I sprinted to join them.
Didn't even look back.
Now I met Lloyd every day on the playground and held hands with him at the Saturday afternoon movies.
I know what you are thinking.
Fickle non-friend.
And you're not wrong.
Ahem . . .
This went on for some time.
Throughout the rest of Grade five in fact.
Then my popularity waned.
And died.
And do you know what?
My old group again took me back.
Without even a sideways glance.
This time, I stayed.
We went through grade six together.
Then Junior High.
Then Senior high.
And we had fun.
I discovered that it all comes back to math.
♀ + ♀♀♀ = ☼♥♫.
♀+  = brain-dead non-friend.
I learned my lesson.

P.S. At our class reunions, I've discovered that we are no longer divided into the 'cool' kids and the 'dweebs'. The 'cool' kids have had just as many challenges in life as me and my group. The same heartaches. The same joys and reasons to celebrate.
Life is the true leveller.

19 comments:

  1. I especially loved the little surprise ending to your walk down memory lane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it amazing how often our little walks end with a little surprise?! :)

      Delete
  2. I love your math!!! So cute and also true :)

    You are so right about life giving all of us challenges and joys, no matter what "group" we fell into in our school days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. Life can be reduced to a few math equations pretty easily! :)

      Delete
  3. I'm not sure I have ever seen a life lesson taught as a math equation ... but it makes sense! Fifth grade is the beginning of a tough few years to navigate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someone asked the question 'If you could revisit one period of your life, what would it be?' Let's just say it wouldn't be grade five . . .

      Delete
  4. School can be good and it can be cruel. I had a few friends who are still my friends to this day, but when I entered those awkward teenage years, everything escalated, and hormonal emotions set in. I remember my first date; she went home with someone else. My second date never happened because she told me to drop dead. Maybe it was the dark T-shirts, well-worn levis, scuffed boots and motorcycles?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Motorcycles would have drawn ME right in, I've loved them all my life.

      Delete
    2. Ha! See, George? You should have asked River out . . .

      Delete
  5. Sweet--and so true. It's kind of comforting to know the "cool kids" turn out to be pretty much like everyone else, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very comforting to the bruised adolescent ego . . .

      Delete
  6. I loved the story and life does equalize things when you see old friends again.
    I too had my first date in 5th grade and it was memorable. We went to a movie and he put his arm around me during the show. As you know we didn't have the 16 year old age rule at that time. It was an innocence time.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a new world it was! I remember the thrill of having someone say they liked me. And also the devastation when they said they didn't. Sigh.

      Delete
  7. Bouncing from one group to the other like you were a yo-yo on elastic. And each time your true friends were there for you. Friends to cherish for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure could tell who the true friends were!

      Delete
  8. Sounds like you ended up with the right bunch.

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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