So I was trying to think of a lighter tone to take for the blog entry today, and if I ever need to get a smirk on my face I only need to think of a story about my friend, Susie. (If you're reading this, Suz, I promise to be gentle...)
For you to understand the irony of this story, I have to start with one of the first times Susie and I ever went out together. Or rather, the time I forced her to get off her butt and join us for a drink. We were in college at UNI and a bunch of us hung out in the lounge at St. Stephen's, the Catholic Student Center. (With that knowledge alone you should feel assured that this story is going to be fairly tame in the grand scheme of things).
Myself and two friends were talking about where to go out that evening... now that we had done our churchly duties it was only fair we partake in normal college-kid duties as well. It was at this time that we happened by a lovely, blonde-haired girl watering ferns along the window ledge, trying her best to conceal the fact that she'd been crying her eyes out.
I stopped, having met her once before, to make sure she was ok... the time before when I saw her she had commented on being homesick so I thought she may just need a friendly face to let her know college was SO much better than being at home. But after a short conversation I quickly surmised that she was crying over a boy. Stupid boys. And lucky for Susie... we had a cure for crying. She'd be joining us for a drink and did not have right of refusal.
We felt it was a critical mission to keep her from crying in the plants, in her apartment or anywhere else she could think to go. Because WE weren't crying and we were certain our good moods would be infectious. As much as she tried to him-haw her way out of it, we were on our way for our night of fun and frivolity. The fact that we had no idea the bar we took her to that evening had a gay night is really beside the point... the four of us girls at a table seemed to fit in fine. We drank, danced, laughed, sang... and found out the next day that it might not be the most appropriate place to go on a Tuesday night.
The point of all that is, in the beginning I thought I was corrupting poor Suz. And then we got to know each other and she quickly learned that going out for a drink is about the wildest thing I'd ever done.
Flash forward a few years to Susie and I living at the big house with friends of ours (not a prison, just a really big house). Susie has a condition with her heart that I can't remember the name of off the top of my head, which was causing her to have dizzy spells. When she mentioned the problem to her doctor, he made the decision to take her driver's license away for a period of time, which to anyone would be devastating. And it was for Susie as well. Because I hate to see a friend upset more than anything in the entire world, I promised we could do absolutely anything that might make her feel better. You can see how I got myself into trouble on that one.
Her license was only good until midnight, so she and I packed up her Hyundai (you have to pronounce it Hi-YUUUUUn-Die to get the full effect of our mood on that trip) and started on our way to visit her parents' farm. Because when life hands you lemons, you go home to see your mom. Susie drove until the clock struck midnight and then we stopped at a little gas station to switch drivers. It was a finality that was not making Suz feel any better, and she decided in that moment she knew exactly what would cheer her up. She wanted me to smoke a cigarette.
It drove her CRAZY that I had never smoked before and had no intention of trying. I obviously paid better attention to the Just Say No lecture and her new mission in life was to make sure I had the experience to find out just what I was saying no to. I gave in to the pressure and walked into the Prairie Dog truck stop acting as though I had been smoking all my life.
Woman behind the counter: What can I get you?
Me: A pack of Marlboro's, please.
Susie (whispering in my ear): Do you want to try those lights over there? Just to start?
Me (defiantly): No, because I don't want anyone telling me later I didn't smoke a REAL cigarette!
Woman behind the counter: Hard or soft?
I decided on the hard pack because I figured the cigarettes would stay nicer and not get crushed... ever the organizer that I am. And, of course, we needed a lighter. And this is the one I just had to have:
If the woman at the counter hadn't figured out by now I was not an experienced smoker, she certainly did when I thought all the lighters were broken. Then she showed me the child safety feature. Yep, I was that girl.
We took our smokes (like my lingo?) and our handy-dandy lighter out to the car to find that a trucker had blocked us in, and he was nowhere in sight. It was going to be awhile before we got on the road, so I (at midnight, mind you) rolled down my window, put on my sunglasses and did my best Sandy-Gone-Bad at the end of Grease impression and smoked a cigarette. And it was enough of an experience that I never felt the need to do it again.
Of course, when I had lunch with my brother Steve at the Olive Garden that week and was telling him all about it, the only part the waitress heard as she dropped the bread sticks off at our table was, "I felt like such a skank... we were doing it right there in the parking lot."
Needless to say, he never took clients to the Olive Garden for lunch again.