My friend Nancy and I have been having an argument for over thirty years. Back in our teens when the whole world was getting physical with Olivia Newton-John, Nancy and I decided to jump on the aerobics band-wagon and get fit.
We donned our spandex pants, rainbow coloured leg warmers and went to an aerobics class that was being held in the basement of a church at the bottom of Long's Hill. It was sixty hard minutes of tough stretching, jumping and aerobic moves. We looked like Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz in a comedy routine from the "I Love Lucy" show. By the time it was over we could barely suck in the nicotine from our DeMaurier Lights.
Still in our sweaty spandex we began the long climb up Long's Hill towards home. Each step felt like we were dragging a fifty pound weight behind us. Half way up the hill a young boy on the opposite side of the street called out to us "Hey fat arse!" Then ran off into a laneway laughing.
Now I thought that was a horrible thing to say about Nancy. She had worked as hard as I did and I told her straight out "Don't listen to him. Your arse is not fat." "I know" she says, "Because he was talking to you."
Catching my breath from the climb and with sweat running down my face I told her "My butt is not fat. He's not talking to me." With a spite brewing in her eyes she said, "My butt is not fat. It's you he was talking about." So for more than thirty years we have argued back and forth.
I feel sorry for Nancy not being able to face the truth.
Wasn't her first time either. Growing up we would constantly sleep at each other's house. Nancy was lucky. She had a twin bed to herself. I had to share a double with my sister. We had a record player in my room and stacks of 45s and LPs. One night we were playing record after record as loud as the volume button would turn. Doing all the latest dance moves on my bedroom floor kept making the records skip even with pennies taped to the arm of the needle. So we decided to jump up and down on top of the bed and see whose head could hit the stucco ceilings first.
Saturday Night by the Bay City Rollers was blaring through the speakers and our voices were keeping up. Our heads were just about hitting the stucco when we heard a crash and came flying down to the floor. A second later my mother came through the door "Turn the music down. What was that bang?" She looked down to see the foot of the bed had hit the floor, the legs had cracked off. Nancy and I had fallen on our butts on top of the mattress. I quickly assessed the situation. I was jumping at the head of the bed, she was jumping at the foot. "Nancy broke the bed Mom." "I did not" she protested, "You were jumping too!" "But my half didn't break." I don't think my mother really cared either way. She took the legs from under the head and put the box-spring and mattress on the floor. No more legs to worry about. But in my defense, it was broke on her side. Must have been her fat arse.
Nancy and I are like sisters. No we are sisters. We squabble back and forth then move on. She is the god-mother to my son and was there for his birth. I had terrible back labour that went on for hours. My husband left to get a sandwich and Nancy stayed monitoring the heart beats. They were going up and down and began to get erratic. Before I knew it the room was full of medical professionals. My husband got back just in time. I was ready to deliver. The doctor told us "The umbilical cord is wrapped around his neck. Don't push." I was scared. She screamed from bottom of the table "If you push once more you will hang your child!" I went numb. It was the closest I've ever come to an out-of-body-experience. The room was a blur, my husband was standing next to me. Behind him I saw Nancy, crying, praying. Then I heard the baby cry.
He was a colicky baby. He cried for days on end. I didn't know what to do with him. I cried, he cried. He never slept for more than an hour and I was sleep deprived. I couldn't get a cup of tea in peace. To shower, I had to bring him in the bathroom in his car seat and get a quick wash. Still he cried.
Nancy was going to trades school at the time and finished every Friday at noon. She would come over take my son and let me get a nap, a shower and a cup of tea in peace. I waited all week for Fridays. One Friday she called to say she wouldn't be coming because she was going to a fellow student’s birthday party at a downtown night club. I felt like a criminal on death row who just had her last hope taken away. I cried so hard I could barely say "That's ok. You go on and have fun." At two o'clock that afternoon the front door opened and in walks Nancy. "What happened to the party?" "It was boring. Go get your shower." She took the baby for walk. The pardon from the governor had come. I would live another day.
Over the years there have been so many stories to tell. When I was in my early 20s I foolishly married the wrong man. She was the Maid of Honour. Nine months later it was over. I crawled back to my old bed in my mother's house. I stayed there for days. While gossips spread their rumours Nancy came over. She got in bed, put her arm around me and fell asleep.
Unable to say no to anyone, when a fellow at a dance would ask for her phone number, she would give them the phone number to the Mental Hospital. One time she was complaining that no one had asked her out in a while so I said phone the hospital and ask if they had any messages for you.
A few years ago we joined yoga together. The stretching and strange poses made us giggle but not as much as the guy in the short shorts with the tiny hole in the butt. At the end of every class the yoga teacher would ask us all to lay on our backs and close our eyes. She would dim the lights and talk about our inner peace. Nancy, who knows once I start to laugh I can’t stop, would always reach over and grab my hand and not let go. I would be snorting and shaking trying to hold in the laughs praying for the yogi to end the class.
After a few weeks, I didn’t laugh. I smiled. I looked forward to laying on my back next to my best friend with our eyes closed finding inner peace, holding hands. I found it comforting.
My mother says "Show me your friends and I'll tell you what you are." I must be doing ok if anyone is judging me by her. Not everyone has a friendship that lasts over forty years. Just this past Saturday night we out danced twenty-five twelve year olds when the DJ played "YMCA" at my daughter's birthday party.
She did ok... for someone with a fat arse!