Her Big 5-0


In my circle these days, fifty is a big f-word, not that f-word, but somewhere along that line, you understand.  It’s my best friend’s fiftieth birthday today, and there is no material gift I could possibly purchase her that’d be worthy or sufficiently deep to express my affection for her.  I’m not so arrogant to think that I’d be capable of writing anything worthy either, but I’m going to give it a go.  Happy birthday, Deb!

Recently Eric Alper, a Canadian broadcaster I follow on Twitter, posted this:  Your best friend writes a book about you. What’s the opening sentence?  I knew mine in an instant.

If you know me, you know I don’t wear a poker face often or well, and if I don’t use words to convey my inner workings, my face and body language shall speak volumes in speech’s absence.  I remember this day as if it were yesterday.  I was still desperately clinging to age 44, which by the way, I consider one of my very finest spins around the sun.  I’d lost about thirty pounds (again) that year, my hair had regenerated after periodic bouts of alopecia, and I’d found the nerve and pocket change to buy the big girl concert tickets and finally meet my favorite band.  My BFF came to Wisconsin to spend a long autumn weekend with me, and we were crushing it.  Deb and I were checking out at Target, me having picked up my first pair of prescription sunglasses.  (This was the slightly less awesome part of having turned 44, but this post is not about me, it’s about Deb.)

Anyway, as I am wont to do, I bust out singing because this is what I do.  I don’t sing especially well, but I can carry a tune and I sing with conviction.  Or utter foolishness.  Depends.  She looked at me, stated what I paraphrased above and told me how much she loved and missed being around me.  It was a pretty good way to soften the blow of admitting I’d aged into needed spectacles.

I don’t have a fifty cutesy, clever Pinterest or Etsy project for her.  Once and for all, I am NOT crafty, people.  Plus, like I said, anything material is unworthy.  I’m gonna try to capture my love and admiration in 50 items–precisely 50 this time because the last countdown I did was so bad with the math and no one noticed!  We do see what we expect to see.

It’s OK if you don’t know her, but you should read this anyway because you wish you knew her.  And you should totally tell your best friend how much you love him or her.  As far as that goes, you should tell EVERYONE who matters how much you love him or her.  So read this.  And then do the other thing.

  1. We’ve known one another 84% of our lives.
  2. Weiner, Weiner, Weiner!!!
  3. When I visited SoCal five years ago, she asked what I wanted to do.  She compared Hollywood Boulevard to Chuck E. Cheese’s, but went to Chuck E. Cheese’s anyway.  Because I wanted to go.  And it was totally worth it because we found metallic pink glitter stilettos made of awesome and a restaurant called Big Wang’s.  Hi, I’m 12.
  4. She meets MENSA criteria.  I’d have to Google what the acronym represents.
  5. Because of her, I know two rocket scientists.  Not many of us can say that.  I feel smarter by association.
  6. While living in Albuquerque, she enrolled her son in a part time brick and mortar school/part time home school, and led group lessons for hers and other kids in the same program.  I’d have lost my mind.
  7. When we were both completely hammered on margaritas in Monterrey that one time, I gave her number to the guy buying our many, many drinks.  Many drinks.  Many.  When he actually called the next day (yikes!), she made me talk to him and let him down easy.  Dammmit!  Lesson learned though.
  8. Eat Chow.
  9. Her husband, R, a now-retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, is a wonderful man.  They provided a stable, loving example what a good marriage looks like.
  10. When we were little, I’d ride my bike to her house (no hands all the way, man!) and we’d swim in their in-ground pool.  It was like I’d won the lottery.
  11. In winter, we’d skate on the little pond her family kept swans in.  It was like I’d won the lottery, but colder.
  12. She has fearlessly traveled around the globe.
  13. That hair!
  14. Her son and daughter are brilliant, engaging children.  I guess technically H is a brilliant, engaging adult now.
  15. K is an empowered, thoroughly charming daughter.
  16. They both still call me Aunt Weiner.
  17. She actually backpacked across Europe after high school graduation.  I think my highest achievement that summer was waking in time to hang with the Brady, Horton, and Kiriakis families of Days of our Lives.  Jaysus.
  18. She celebrates her Swedish heritage, and has traveled there to meet distant relatives.
  19. SNAUSAGES!
  20. I got your ice cream, I got your ice cream. . .  You have to chant it in the way Eddie Murphy did in Delirious.  We laughed so hard.  So hard.  Still do.
  21. She is an only child who has never been lonely.
  22. Girl can maneuver a stick shift up and down the streets of San Francisco.
  23. Sheepsters!
  24. Trick-or-Drinking in Ogg Residence Hall at the University of Wisconsin.  That girl taught me a thing or two about college life.
  25. She worked in computer science after graduation, and realized it was not the career she had imagined for herself.  She took the brave step of veering off her previously ordained career path.
  26. She then worked as a veterinary technologist because she loves animals.
  27. She later earned her Master’s of Library Science degree from ‘Bama.  Roll Tide.
  28. Her book recommendations are flawless.  Except for Still Alice.  I enjoyed the book thoroughly, but finished convinced I have early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  It remains a solid recommendation.  This list is not about me.
  29. For Christmas, she bought me the book You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day.  This passage made me spit out my water at my son’s baseball practice last year.  For context, Day had previously written that she, after being enrolled in a Lutheran school, once developed a crush on Jesus. The “my ex-boyfriend’s dad” laid me out.
  30. She is the only person who straight up told me she wasn’t comfortable with me marrying my first husband, yet still agreed to be in my wedding because she loves me, warts, toads, and all.
  31. Immediately after meeting Tom, she pinned me down, saying that he was the real deal and I had better not fuck it up.
  32. She helped me pick out my wedding dress, which was one of the most deliriously enchanting afternoons of my girly life.
  33. She made the paper for our wedding invitations, and had three different “recipes” to attain just the right shade of periwinkle for me.  (It’s the color of the sky on a cloudless, sun-soaked day as seen through my rose tinted sunglasses while bike riding.)
  34. “I’m such a piece of shit!”  Ah, Doty Street. . .  UW, y’all.  I went to Marquette and lived at home during college.  To me, Wisconsin was the land of dreams.  And frat parties.  But we didn’t really go to frat parties, we just participated as passers-by.  She may have downed a few too many just this once.
  35. Tri-tip roast.  Dee-lish-us.
  36. She went to see the Scorpions in concert with me at Alpine Valley because she knew I loved them, though 80s hard rockin’ was not her jam.  At all.
  37. Her father had a home office which we co-opted as our clubhouse for a spell.  I think we were probably not supposed to be in there, making the space all the more magical.
  38. That enormous, powder blue Cadillac El Dorado convertible!  God damn, that car was bigger than my first apartment.
  39. Having been moved around at the whim of the US Air Force, she quickly became a local expert on community events and hangouts.  She never maligned any city or part of the country in which he was stationed.  Not even Mobile, AL, which was not a first choice.
  40. She threw Tom and me a luau/wedding shower a week before our wedding, complete with grass skirt for our dog, Izzy.  And she coordinated it from New Mexico while nursing a baby and home schooling her firstborn.
  41. Varsity football cheerleading.  Good times.  No really, they were good times.
  42. She and her family raised a German Shepherd and pre-trained this beautiful animal to be a service dog for a blind woman.
  43. She knew within weeks of meeting her husband that they’d soon be married.  “Don’t be surprised if you get a call from me in the next couple weeks tell  you I’m engaged.”  I’d not known that type of certainty about anything until I met my husband many years later.
  44. To me: “You’re the only person I know who started college knowing what you were going to do and be, and are doing exactly that, still happy in your job.”
  45. She’s a fierce advocate for women’s health, especially her own.
  46. She eats more wisely and informedly than I’ll ever dream.  Will you hand me that box of Nutty Bars please?
  47. She has teasingly referred to me as a minx and uses adjectives like loopy to describe me. #nailedit
  48. She was devastated when Bowie lost his battle with cancer, and even moreso when Prince died last year.
  49. She provided the best-ever weekend of diversion when I last visited, a scant month after my son’s 2015 diagnosis.  We said and did everything and nothing, and it was the best best friend time I’d have engineered if I could have created the script.
  50. She texted me this on the eve of what she knew would be a tough neurology appointment for my son and therefore me:  Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.–Lao Tzu

I’m the lucky one. Happy birthday!

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4 thoughts on “Her Big 5-0

  1. What an awesome tribute to your best friend, Wendy! She’s lucky to have a friend like you. I’m in the fortunate position of having known my best friend for 100% of my life — nearly 41 years! — so I appreciate what a rare, special association you two have. That you’ve maintained and nurtured it for so long speaks volumes of you both. I’d say I hope you’ll be best friends forever, but something tells me that’s inevitable…

    Like

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