Best Friend Chronicles
My best friend Babs and I have been friends for 21 years. We've been through thick and thin, and that's just our weight. We didn't meet in grade school, we met at the gym, side by side on the slant boards. After about 10 sit ups each, we started talking about food and decided to skip the rest of the workout and get a pizza. We've been friends ever since. Our mutual love of pepperoni was the foundation of our relationship.
But the whole double decade we've known each other we've never gone away together on vacation, until a couple of weeks ago. We went to Palm Springs. We decided, now or never! It was a poignant moment.
I flew from Ft. Lauderdale and met Babs at Laguardia Airport. She lives in New York City, where it's never too late or too early to get cursed at. We both showed up dressed in black and white. What that means, I don't know, but it was weird. We were like two traveling half-moon cookies. Our plans were to rent a car in L.A. and drive to Le Palm. I got a really good deal on a rent-a-car.
We boarded our flight and took our seats behind a group of German men who kept talking about the "bier" und "das gute sauerkraut haben wir gegessen". I understand German and I knew we were in for it. There was incredible gas emanating from these men and at one point I considered pulling down my oxygen mask.
But it didn't stop Babs and me from having a long overdue intellectual conversation.
"I hate my legs," Babs lamented, "I wish I had long legs, like yours." Meanwhile Babs is beautiful. No one unusually gets past her face (or chest) to look at her legs.
"Yeah, well I hate my hair. I wish I had your hair, naturally curly." I said. We both sighed and ordered a Bloody Mary.
After the sulfuric plane ride, we made our way outside the terminal to wait for our pick up van to take us to our rental agency. It was a very cheap rental agency, so I half-expected a rickshaw to pick us up. Instead, nothing came. After a half hour of waiting I called my travel agent and he told me the rental agency "was listed under another name". What am I renting from the witness protection program? Their moto: We'll Rent You a Car-- if You Can Find Where We Are!
I called them and our van finally arrived. We were taken to a small agency in L.A. not too far from the airport. I stepped up to the counter and gave the friendly Hispanic woman my confirmation number. She looked at it, and then yelled to someone in the back room, "Did you get dee blud stains out of dee seat yet?"
"Excuse me? Did you say bloodstains?"
"Eees nuthing, now that we got dee windshield fixed." She shrugged.
"How about bullet holes?" Babs asked.
"What are we renting from the Sopranos?" I added.
"Are they customers?" asked the woman.
"We should travel together more often," said Babs.
We ended up with a decent compact car and as far as I could tell, there was no visible blood anywhere and the windshield was intact. But it smelled funny.
"Check the trunk." Babs said. I did. No body.
All right! We were officially on our way! We got on Rte. 405 to Rte.10 East and headed to Palm Springs, land of movie stars, dead or alive.
In the two hour drive, we talked about our favorite subjects: Babs' legs and how she wished they were longer and my hair and how I wished it was as curly as hers. And we discussed how you can never really have the same fun time with a guy as you do with your girlfriend.
"They get mookie," said Babs, "The don't wanna do anything fun. Or they'll do one fun thing and then they wanna watch TV."
It's true; men on vacation veg; women on vacation vibrate.
Then of course, we reminisced about the past.
"Remember the time we (CENSORED TO PROTECT THE GUILTY)!" asked Babs.
"Do I ever!" I laughed. "But how about the time we (CENSORED TO PROTECT THE GUILTY)! I couldn't believe we could actually (CENSORED TO PROTECT THE GUILTY) in broad daylight and live to tell it!"
"Yeah and for hours at a time!" She added. We both laughed heartily. Those were the (CENSORED TO PROTECT THE GUILTY) ol' days!
We finally arrived in Palm Springs and before we even checked into our hotel, we went straight to eat sushi. After about a half bottle of Asahi beer, we got sentimental.
my best friend, " I told Babs. "You know how much I love you."
"You know, sweetie," I told Babs, "I'm so glad we were able to get away together like this. It's been too long." Silence at the bar.
"You're too funny," said Babs, pursing her lips. "And your boobs look great in that shirt." Snickering, from the bar.
Palm Springs was a delight. We shopped, we ate, we took pictures. We stopped at a little Mexican restaurant ordered ice teas.
We talked about friendship.
"I think the reason we get along so well is that we're so compatible," said Babs.
"I'm not gonna be the butch," said Barb.
"Me neither," I said. "How about we're like Lucy and Ethel?" I offered.
"I'm not being Ethel, either," she said. "She didn't have any cute clothes, like Lucy."
As we sat there, drinking our ice teas, I was grateful for this good friend in front of me. Every time I've been crazy over yet another guy, or gone through yet another crisis in my life, Babs has always been there for me; unjudmental and always finding a way to make me laugh. Spending the next few days with her made me realize what a wonderful person she really is and how lucky I am to have her as a friend. And not only that, she lets me borrow her clothes.