BFFLB!September 23, 2009 by Rita Messina
I believe I have mentioned in passing my best friend, LB. Yes, women of all ages still have BF’s. If you are lucky, as I am, you have close friends, you have friends from your childhood (future blog material!) you have dear friends and you have friends of whom you are fond. I am blessed to have LB. LB is quite small in stature, but you can hear her before you can see her. We can be on a crowded dance floor and someone will invariably come up and ask where LB is. I put my finger to my lips and say “Shhhh” . Then I hear her and point out the direction for them to find her. Think New Jersey foghorn.
My ex and I bought our home in Sept of ‘83, LB and her husband bought their home in June of ‘83. Lucky for the two of us we each had a daughter the same age. Soon after moving in, my daughter, Lisa brought Karen over. In the natural progression of things we met LB & Russ and really liked them. The years passed, the kids grew up and we enjoyed each others company. LB and I were taking Karen and Lisa to sophomore orientation to their new high school. Lisa had been a pill all week and I figured that it was payback time. LB said Karen had been the same way, maybe it was the feeling that at 14 that they knew everything and we were Moms, therefore we were just stupid. As we walked into the school with the girls I started scratching my bum and talking loudly, LB followed suit. We signed them up for every club they never wanted to be in and it took weeks for the girls to convince the Chess Club, the Math Club and the Debate club they really weren’t interested.
About 15 years ago, my husband of 20 years decided he didn’t want to be married anymore (at least not to me) and he was removed from the family dynamics. LB and Russ held me up more times than I can count. Russ even tried to set me up with every single man he knew. Yeah, not so great setting up a sobbing woman on a blind date. He eventually learned that was not such a good thing. But he did insist that I accompany him and LB on many of their Friday nights out, where LB and I would imbibe and sing loudly and very poorly to every Patsy Cline song on the jukebox and Russ would drive us home.
Then the unthinkable happened and Russ was taken from us way too soon by an unexpected heart attack. It was my turn to hold up LB. LB had moved to Seattle against her will from New Jersey about 30 years ago as it was Russ’s home town. It was going to be a temporary move as she told everybody in Jersey, on that day over 30 years ago, she’d be back in two weeks. But here she stays close to her children and 7 grand babies. We’ve got her trapped in the state of Washington permanently, I’m pretty sure of that.
Six months after Russ’s passing, LB called me and said we were going to take swing dance classes. “I don’t think so” said I. Oh yeah, the other thing I forgot to tell you is LB can whine like a two year old wanting a cookie. She does not give up and she takes no prisoners. Finally I acceded and we began swing dance classes. It was actually quite fun but there was something missing, we just didn’t quite fit into this dance community. Our dance teacher, Miss MaryLee Lykes, then announced to the class that there was a zydeco band from Louisiana at the Tractor Tavern the next weekend. We looked at each other and shrugged and figured even if we didn’t have a clue as to what zydeco was it was a night out on the town. So off to the Tractor we went, finding our way into what is known as Old Ballard. The band started up and the crowd erupted into this wonderful gyrating, hip flinging, sliding, dirty dancing frenzy. LB and I looked at each and grinned, we were hooked. How do we get a piece of this is what we wanted to know. Miss Lykes was happy to accomodate us by providing dance lessons for months. Actually, for years, I’m a slow learner.
In the eleven years since we started on our dance journeys, LB and I have enjoyed many fun adventures together. The night we were trying to find a dance in West Seattle comes to mind. We went back and forth over the West Seattle bridge at least five times, completely lost. We eventually found the W.S. Golf Club where the dance was being held but we couldn’t stop laughing because we would just not give up and go home. Thank God for GPS now. I’m too old to be wandering around in the dark looking for dance venues and gas is way to expensive in this day and age.
Then there was the time we had been at the beach in St. Thomas (yes, a zydeco cruise!) and we were returning to the ship wearing fully loaded backpacks. We stepped into this very narrow dress shop to browse. Realizing there was nothing in this shop that was going to fit me, I stepped outside only to hear this mighty crash. Running back in I saw LB cradling a lady lying prone on the floor. LB kept telling the lady over and over and over she was so sorry, her backpack had knocked her over. Then in horror I saw the women’s head several inches from her body. Looking up I saw the sales clerk mouth the words to me “It’s a mannequin”.
Same trip, sitting in the plane on the runway at Ft Lauderdale, we were exhausted and had collapsed in our seats, dozing away. We had just spent 8 days, dancing, taking lessons, sight seeing, and closing down the disco at 4 each morning. We had existed on about 2-3 hours of sleep a night throughout the entire trip. I had the aisle seat, LB had the middle and Carol had the window. The flight was delayed in taking off but the crew was making sure we stayed nice and cool. To the point of seeing our own breath, cool. LB started to whine that she was cold, I was groggy but managed to reach for my backpack under the seat and whipped out a large t-shirt and put it over her like a little blanket - truly, she is that tiny. The three of us dropped back to sleep and the plane eventually took off. In my light sleep mode, I could hear the bell ding that it was safe to get up and walk around the cabin at which time many people took advantage of this. Several people passed us going up and down the aisle to the bathroom. I barely registered this as I fell in and out of sleep. I heard the drink cart coming down the aisle and the very frosty tones of the flight attendant announcing “Someone has left an article of clothing in the aisle”. I rolled my head to the side, popped my eyes open and looked down. Down to a pair of lovely, leopard skin print panties. My leopard skin print panties. My Mother’s voice is always in my head (travel with clean panties in your carry on – and that is another blog). I looked across the aisle to the two burly gentlemen who were eyeing the underwear and I was pretty sure they weren’t going to claim them. Besides that, they matched my bra, so I leaned over, scooped them up, told the attendant “Thank you very much” and tucked them in my backpack where they belonged. And the three of us laughed all the way back to Seattle.
So see, I am lucky, I have this amazing partner in crime and between the two of us we are always coming up with some kind of wonderful. Our neighbors call us Lucy & Ethel, and if LB and I fight it’s usually over who is Lucy and who is Ethel. We scheme, we plot and we worry our children to death. Heh, heh, heh…payback time.