Friday, March 05, 2004

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Ahh, a Friday Five focused on nostalgic navel-gazing - now that is something I can sink my teeth into!

What was...

1. ...your first grade teacher's name? She had the most colorful name of any teacher I have ever had . . . the late (I assume) Mrs. Genevieve Parrott of Commodore Sloat Elementary School.

2. ...your favorite Saturday morning cartoon? I must have been a very strange kid, because I really cannot recall even one cartoon that I watched regularly. I mean, I watched Underdog here and there, and I saw a lot of Superfriends but that was mainly because my little brother was obsessed with it for a time. I have much stronger memories of watching hours and hours of game shows - $20, 000 Pyramid, The Match Game, Family Feud, The Price is Right, and this bizarre one called "Almost Anything Goes," a sort of "Double Dare" for adults involving a lot of pie-throwing and swimming in pools of whipped cream.

Now that I think of it, there is one cartoon I was way into for awhile, and - okay, this is really embarassing - it was "The Brady Kids." The worst thing is that I really did not watch it for the plot, which involved the six characters, along with a talking Mynah bird and twin pet pandas, forming a rock band. No, what I loved most were the musical performances at the end, featuring cartoon versions of the Brady Bunch singing hideously catchy bubblegum pop tunes. Some of them - sadly - I still remember to this day. "Ain't it crazy . . . you've got me lovin' you now . . . "

I wonder if I could possibly find that on Kazaa?

3. ...the name of your very first best friend? Oh Cidelle, Cidelle, what happened to us? Cidelle is not actually her real name, but my grandma used to always call her that. I thought it was very odd until years later, long after my grandma died, when I went to a family wedding and met a long-lost cousin named . . . Cidelle! I was very excited and eagerly tried to explain the significance to the real Cidelle, who politely listened and pretended to understand my ramblings, bless her heart.

So anyway, Cidelle was my best friend so early on that I clearly remember how thrilled we were to be in the same nursery school class. Our parents met at synagogue when we were babies, so she has been a part of my life from the start. We dressed alike, went to camp and elementary school and Sunday School together, spent every weekend playing and cried when we had to seperate. Even after we moved to the suburbs, I cannot think of any major event - getting Bat Mitzvahed, going to sleepaway camp, going on my first date, going away to college - in which Cidelle did not figure prominently.

Our paths started to diverge in college. She went straight to a top university, pledged an exclusive sorority, and graduated in 3 years with honors. I dropped out of one school, meandered around junior college for awhile, and finally ended up shacking up with Chef in very unfashionable Humboldt County, where I took my own sweet time finishing up my degree. She moved to NYC and got a job with a prestigious publishing house, while I hung out in the country, working a few minimum wage jobs in between hanging out at the beach, getting high, playing cards with my brother, and generally avoiding adulthood.

I'd like to blame our rift on her scarcely-hidden snobbery and disapproval about my lifestyle, not to mention the fact that she strongly and vocally disagreed with my decision to marry the broke and non-Jewish Chef - but I must admit that I played a big part in it too. Despite whatever feelings she had about it, she did fly across the country to be at my wedding, and that's where I really blew it between us. I was so disorganized and so overwhelmed that I didn't make enough time to spend with her and include her in the festivities even though she was actually a member of my wedding party. Then I made matters worse by neglecting to write her a thank-you note for the gift she bought me, a beautiful pitcher from the Museum of Modern Art, which I still cannot look at to this day without feeling guilty.

After that we didn't speak for several years, because I was too embarassed and she was (I assume) too irate. She didn't acknowledge the birth of my kids or invite me to her wedding. I did show up at her shower, with much trepidation as I had no idea how she'd react to seeing me after 5 years. She was very gracious, cooed over Baby Bug and told the other guests a few funny stories about our escapades in nursery school. It was all very fake; I felt like a divorced couple putting on an act for the kids. I bought her a modern art mezuzah which I somehow knew was absolutely wrong the moment she opened it (though she was very polite). On the surface it went fine - but I left knowing the friendship was over.

A few years went by and I found out she was pregnant. I thought I would give things one more try, and sent her a long chatty email congratulating her, expressing my best wishes, updating her a little about my kids, and offering to loan or send her anything she might need in the way of books or supplies. I also threw in a comment about how we were trying to convince our shul's gift shop to carry her newly-published Yiddish translation of Cat in the Hat. Her response (which I can recite by heart):

Thanks for your note. Keep spreading the word about Der Kats de Payats!

After that heartfelt reply, and a consultation with J (who had a run-in with Cidelle in college and found her to be extraordinarily cold and unfriendly), I decided not to invest one more moment of my time and energy into what was clearly a dead issue. Of course as soon as I saw the picture of her sweet baby girl, born just a few weeks ago, I immediately broke down and sent her a gift.

Chef thinks I am crazy, and so would J if she found out. But as estranged as we are, and as hopeless as the situation seems, I never want to keep the door completely closed.

Strangely enough, the day after I wrote this entry I received a note from her mom, inviting me to a brunch in the baby's honor, to be held when Cidelle and her family come to town in two weeks. I had to laugh, because I was all ready to be VERY insulted at not being invited - and now that I am I really have no choice but to do the right thing and attend, which is much, much worse!

4. ...your favorite breakfast cereal? Many of my friends had moms who forbid sugary cereals in the house in favor of wholesome organic grains. Thank goodness my mom was not among those! My favorite childhood cereal is the same cereal I prefer as an adult who does my own grocery shopping and has the freedom to eat it in the mornings, as an afternoon snack, or a dinner substitute. Thanks heavens for sugar-infused, marshmallow filled, Magically Delicious (TM) Lucky Charms!

5. ...your favorite thing to do after school? Depending on what age I was, either:

1) Eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, crash on the couch and watch "The Brady Bunch," or

2) Go to my friend Barbara's house and play Space Invaders on her brother's new Atari.


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