Thursday, December 13, 2007

Intimations of Childhood

A few years ago, The Girls went out for dinner at a terribly posh karaoke sushi restaurant. We didn't exactly endear ourselves to the waitress. All bare shoulders and expensive heels, we were dressed to be seen - and we wanted to sit in the center of the room, closest to the microphone.

"Sorry," the waitress explained, "those tables are all reserved. But the corner table is free." We looked back at the corner table (it was actually quite lovely and appealing) and discussed the issue among ourselves. But unwilling to be so readily appeased, we asked what we imagined to be a very pertinent question, "Are the microphones wireless?"

"Wireless?" Not quite sighing, she shifted her weight, the heavy cardstock menus cradled in one arm. "Sorry, no."

Our rapport with our waitress did not improve after we sat down. Did we know what we wanted to drink? No. Were we ready to order? No. What were the specialty cocktails? Did they have grey goose citron? The wasabi, was it fresh, or reconstituted?

But upon remembering some advice from WC - regarding the wisdom of not alienating the waitstaff until AFTER you have received your food - I attempted to make amends. An elegant design of seagulls tattooed across her collar bones and down one arm provided me with the opportunity. "Those tattoos are great. Are they your own design?" I smiled warmly.

With a slightly surprised expression on her face, she said, "Yes, my own design." She looked at me a moment, as if gauging my sincerity, then added, "thanks." And she smiled back at me.

It was her smile I recognized.

When we were children, we were inseparable. We bought our training bras together. We imagined ourselves on Broadway, singing showtunes. When I got my period first, she was inconsolable. Then, when we were 12 years old, her family moved away and we quickly lost contact. And 20 years later, I recognized her smile.

We sat at the bar, ignoring friends and customers, and caught up over specialty cocktails and cigarettes. The conversation went mostly as follows:

"OMG, you DRINK?!?"
"OMG, you SMOKE?!?"
"OMG, you have SEX?!?"
"OMG, you finally got your period?!?"

I have yet to really learn about the woman she is now, but I have thought often of the children we once were. And to this day, my most vivid memory of childhood is of the two us, lying next to each other on piles of leaves, staring up at the sky, and truly believing that we could make it rain just by wishing hard enough.

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