“I work in the CIA creating new identities for people. Give me a call if you need anything.”
That was the last time I talked to my childhood friend, Dory. We were all grown up and hanging at Paul’s Deli. In the years of running up tabs there I had heard a lot of stories, but this one was the best. It was late, or early depending on your perspective, so I nodded my head and took off. My old friend had suds mouth from too many pitchers of Mr. Busch’s finest.
From fourth grade until sometime in high school, I had been friends with all the kids who lived in my apartment complex. Two, Dory and May, were older girls who would prove to be my mentors into the world away from the complex. The other kids were all younger, so I was able to play like kids with them, but Dory and May were the two that I learned from.
Before I go any further, I didn’t learn any of that from them. Concepts, yes. No realities, though.
They taught me how to play cards, backgammon, and Truth or Dare (always go with truth). They introduced me to the cool older kids, although I wasn’t ever really in with them. The picked on me like a brother. Once Dory smacked me on the stomach with an open faced peanut butter sandwich. The bread just stuck there and after a few seconds of shock we ended up having a great laugh about it. Mostly, they got me out of the horseshoe where we lived and away from the house. As middle and high schoolers that usually meant Disco Night at Busch Gardens.
The Old Country used to stay open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays in the summer. The bumper cars would be shut down and turned into a makeshift disco, it was the late seventies, after all. The Bee Gees, Sister Sledge and Earth, Wind, and Fire would take over the Octoberfest Bavarian atmosphere and give sleepy old Williamsburg a taste of Studio 54.
The three of us would get there early and ride some rides. Somehow I was always getting crushed on the Spider, but it was all good because I could claim I was there with two older girls. None of my friends could claim that. The reality was that I was tagging along because I was more little brother to Dory and May than boy toy.
I learned a few lessons at Disco Night:
1. Look across the dance floor and find someone who looks like they know what they are doing. Copy them.
2. Marijuana has a funny smell. The first time I smelled it was at Busch Gardens. I wrestled with how funny everyone thought it was that there was a joint somewhere in the crowd and my allegiance to law and order due to my father’s career as a cop was put to its first test of right and wrong.
3. Middle school boys have no chance against high school boys. The same is true for the next level. Interestingly, my friend equates “potential for harmony” to the “expense of the relationship.” He told his son that the son did not have the wallet for his college girlfriend who had just found another (way richer) boyfriend. I guess those early lessons only grow in complexity as we got older.
Each Disco Night would end the same way. We made a mad dash to meet our ride home, who was usually my mother. We would get there just as she was pulling up which probably was a little late and claim the night had been kind of boring, but the truth was it had always been fun in that adolescent way.
I moved in high school and after those Dory and May could drive I lost track of them. I ran into Dory at a party in college. I was hanging with some friends at VCU and heard my name being called from a balcony apartment. I hung at her place for awhile, but left her party without even saying goodbye. May catered my brother’s funeral, but both of us were too busy to catch up.
It’s nice to know that if I ever need a new identity that there is someone in the government who can help me out. Of course, that’s assuming she really is working for the counter intelligence dudes. My instinct tells me that it’s counter intuitive, but who knows? Now for that peanut butter revenge.