My first friend was named Kathy and she was my next-door neighbor. Her family used to live in our house, but they built a bigger house next door and then sold my parents’ the old house that was built in the late 1800’s. I was one year old when we moved in to that house on Park Place (it was named that not because it was a hoity-toity neighborhood, but because it was near the park) and Kathy was 3 years older than me. I was the youngest of 3 children and she was the youngest of 5 children. Her Mother was once the Mayor of our town. I do not recall the specifics of when our friendship started, but we played together almost everyday of our early childhood. I got a bad rep with her family, because one time when I was playing at her house, I pooped behind the sofa in the family room. I was only about 3 years old, but ever since that day her Dad would always tell me to go sit on the toilet whenever I was over. It also did not help that when I was 5 years old, I got drunk on beer at her sisters wedding and ended up dancing on the tables and throwing up all over their house.
On most days, we would roller skate or ride bikes or run around free in the walnut orchard all day. Sometimes we would make up songs as we pulled off the legs of spiders or cut off the pinchers on pincher bugs. On rainy days, we would play Barbie’s. She had the whole set up of Barbie dream home and pink van and a million clothes. She also had two Ken’s, one older version and one newer version. Her Barbie was always a doctor or lawyer, whereas my Barbie was usually a stripper. It was fun to dress Barbie, but it was also fun to UN-dress Barbie. Inevitably, we would make the two Ken’s make-out with each other.
Kathy could be sweet, but mainly she was from hell. Her behavior probably stemmed from the fact that her Father could be quite abusive and in turn, each of her 4 older siblings (3 brothers, 1 sister) were also quite abusive to her, physically and mentally. This left me as the person on which she let out her frustrations. She had long nails and would sometimes just scratch the shit out of me for no reason.
Her family had a membership at a private pool. Sometimes she would allow me to go with her, other times she would not, depending on her mood. One time she took me with her and tried to drown me 4 different times that day. On other days, we would ride bikes. She would convince me to ride on her handlebars and then she would crash on purpose. One time my stomach was cut open with a deep gash that stretched across half my belly.
I was spending the night at her house one night. There was a bowl of sweet and sour candies on the counter, so I snuck one into my mouth and promptly began to choke on it. She was mad that I stole the piece of candy, so she would not help me. I could breathe enough to run home to my Mother, who made me soak in the bath telling me it would melt the candy faster.
Mostly she was just plain mean. There was another girl in the neighborhood that was 2 years older than Kathy. She was a blond beauty named Dana and Kathy dreamed of being her best friend. On the occasional day that Dana deemed Kathy worthy, she would consent to come out and play. On days when they did not just ditch me, they would inevitably try to get me to eat dog poo saying it was fudge (sure did not smell like fudge) or dare me to eat dog biscuits or try to electrocute me on the ungrounded wires in the garage. Most often they would invite me to play Hide and Seek, make sure I was “IT” and then hide in the house while I was restricted to searching outside. I caught on fast and just went home.
We did have a lot of fun times: playing doorbell ditch, breaking into homes, churches & schools, shoplifting, damaging public property, etc. As we became teenagers, we saw each other less and less and then not at all.
Eventually, I moved away to San Francisco and she stayed in our small town. I was home visiting one weekend when I was 21. I found out that my family was invited to her Father’s surprise birthday party. At first I did not want to go and then I decided “what the hell”. She seemed happy to see me, but later on I swear she grabbed a couple of her friends and DITCHED me, like we were 10 years old again. That was the last time I saw her.
About 6 years ago, her Dad had a stroke. He became despondent about being in a wheel chair and in time refused to eat and then refused to take any water. He died two weeks before Kathy’s wedding. I never sent her a card of sympathy, but I wish I had.