My sisters and I never saw eye to eye; rather we heard heart to heart through our telephone receivers. We lived a good distance away for most of our lives. And so our connections, close as they were, were nearly always via long distance calls.
The ear pieces on the phone grew increasingly warm and comforting with each laugh, each tease and each word we spoke. We spent hours on the phone, twisting the curly, stretched cord around our body parts, spilling out our hearts and our triumphs and our woes. But there is no record, no evidence, and sadly fewer clear recollections.
So I made up some memories.
* * *
I began to question the wisdom of this trip as soon as the line went dead.
The call Thursday night was unexpected. Sam and Dave – customers from the burger joint I’d worked in back home — had tracked me down in Boston. I’d left home six months earlier, and was surprised that the guys had found me. They had said they were in Boston often and promised to look me up – but so had a lot of people.
Six months away from home hadn’t been nearly as fun as I expected my “coming of age” to be. I hesitated to admit that I was lonely and would love some company. But I hadn’t even thought about Sam and Dave – forgotten them, in fact. Well, I barely knew them to begin with. Sam was tall, blond, nice smile. A well done hamburger with fries; Dave was shorter with shaggy brown hair that he often pulled back. He liked his cheeseburger rare with onion rings. Both drank Coke. One of them drove my favorite car, a 1974 Datsun 240Z. Blue.
“Great, we’ll pick you up Saturday at 10,” one of them said. Was it Dave? He and Sam were on separate extensions and kept finishing each other’s sentences like an old married couple.
“Yeah, Steve gave us the address along with your number. See you Saturday!” said the other – Sam, I guessed. And then they hung up.
They didn’t leave a number so I couldn’t call them back. For that matter, they didn’t leave their last names. First names, a car (cool as it was) and burger preferences. That was all I knew. Yet I had just agreed to spend the weekend with them at the Cape.
At only 19, I hadn’t done too many stupid things with guys yet. So I called my older sister, Judy, 24, who had.
“This is ridiculous,” I told Judy, pacing back and forth across my tiny apartment like a bobcat in the zoo. “I can’t possibly go. I don’t know who they are. And I can’t possibly call them back – they didn’t leave their number. They didn’t leave their last names. They didn’t even tell me where I just agreed to go. God, this has all the makings of a Hitchcock picture.”
“Are you Tippi Hedren or Janet Leigh?” Jude roared at her own joke. “You’ve known these two cute guys for three years and never went out with them? Either of them? Or both of them – together?” she teased. “God you’re boring. You’d be Doris Day in a Hitchcock movie.”
“I’m just going to have to talk to them when they get here on Saturday.”
“Ok,” said Jude, swallowing her laugh. “You’ll talk to them on Saturday. Good plan,” she burst out again, “especially because you can’t talk with them before that because you didn’t get their number,” she said, gasping for breath.
I began to relax. Somehow, when I told my troubles to Judy, they stopped being problems and became situation comedy.
“You’re a huge help. I’ll call you back next time I need abuse.”
“Anytime,” Judy said, hanging up.
I spent Friday at work bouncing between laughing and worrying. I didn’t pack. Of course I wouldn’t go with them – I didn’t even know their last names!
At 10 am Saturday the doorbell rang. “Shit.”
“We’re here,” Dave or Sam said through the intercom system. Another reason not to go – I couldn’t keep them straight. I buzzed them in, and took a deep breath. I still didn’t know what to do.
Did it take an hour for them to climb the two flights or were they upstairs in a flash? Suddenly I felt queasy. “Oh God,” I thought as I shut the bathroom door, “what would Judy do?” I sat on the toilet for the longest time, trying not to panic. At last, I smiled, shrugged and said “oh, what the hell.” I walked back into the main room and said “I’m not quite done packing, but I’ll be just a minute.”
I threw a bathing suit, a change of clothes, and a couple of other things in a backpack. “There’s just one thing,” I said, smiling at my dates, “I’d love to drive the Z.”
* * *
Me, Judy, and Beth, a while ago
This is a reposting. Today would have been my sister Judy’s Earth Day Birthday. I wish I could call her up and give her grief.