Monday, September 26, 2016

Purple Passion

I met a good friend at Camp Aldersgate when I was 15. She was 14. Let's call her Sunny (Urology resident I love - I've got two med students this month - their names are Sunny and Cherry. I feel like I'm at Woodstock.)

Sunny is still a good friend today - a furniture mogul. Back then she was the daughter of a blooming one. She lived in Salem, AR. I had the hardship, so would drive to her house to spend the night.

We met at Respite Weekend. We both volunteered. Respite weekend at Camp Aldersgate was different from the summers. No real categorization of disease. Just caregivers, mostly parents, dropping off their kids so they could have a weekend alone. Moderate to severe Down's Syndrome. Severe Cerebral palsy. There was even a Prader-Willi. He was almost one on one - trying to keep him away from food. I heard his parents put a lock on the fridge.

I was enamored with Sunny - she looked like a model. Her cool countenance belied her country upbringing. One night we left Aldersgate on break and went to a convenience store with the express purpose of buying a Playgirl magazine. In retrospect that store clerk must have been amused, but we were anxious, and being the older one I did the deed. Later that night back at camp we marveled over who in their right mind could be turned on by such foolish images.

I guess it was my junior year of high school. I drove to her house, and we decided to go running around with two of her guy friends. She was sweet on one, and hoped I would be sweet on the other. He was cute, kind of reminded me of my cousin, but nothing went beyond that. We drove to a cul-de-sac in my 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado convertible and shared some Purple Passion. Everyone but me drank a little too much - I was driving.

Next stop - Salem grocery store. Sunny was feeling a little queasy so I went to the bathroom with her and helped her recover. When we got back into my car we were startled by blue lights behind us. The officers searched my car and found a case of stolen beer. Seems the guys decided, while we were in the bathroom, to steal some beer from the back of the store.

After spending two hours under police questioning and stony disapproval from the store manager in the box (remember when grocery stores had those areas? Boxed in with tall plexiglass? Don't know what kind of business went down there maybe returns? Or purchasing cigarettes? For me it's just the humiliation of that night) they let Sunny and I go. The boys convinced the authorities that we had no knowledge or partnership in their plan to steal the beer.

I think I became marked, at that point, as a bad influence. Our friendship continued through snail mail, but we didn't really get close again, despite being at Hendrix together, for many years. Then she needed nanny help. Then she supported me through divorce - she'd been there. Now my daughter and her stepkid are in the same grade. So we see each other on occasion. If I ever really needed her, she'd be there in a second, I'm sure.

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