Divine intervention or no, some friends are family

The thing about having a friend since early childhood is she knows where all your bodies are buried.

In fact, she likely helped you dig most of the holes … and cover them back up, you know what I’m sayin’?

It’s that way with my friend Shelly. I can still remember the day we met, aged 5. (Insert imaginary squiggly-line time warp effect here.)

For reasons neither of us remembers, she was a few days late to kindergarten orientation, so our teacher asked for a volunteer to be her buddy.

I scanned her sweet face with her big brown eyes and long brown hair. As my little noggin processed that we looked similar and both had surnames ending in vowels, I wondered if we were related somehow. We would be, eventually. I digress.

She seemed so fancy with her big red hair bow that I began campaigning to be her friend escort. The teacher relented: “All right, Patty. You do the honors.”

I was so excited. “I stuck out my little tiny hand and said, “Hi, I’m Patty. Wanna be my friend?”

She looked at me for a second, then shrugged her petite shoulders. “OK.”

In my typical, super-enthused perception of reality, I imagined she was just as over-the-moon as I that divine intervention triggered this veritable kindergarten miracle. In actuality, I think she was just biding her time until the snacks surfaced. Either way.

Little did she know that with that teeny-weeny handshake BAM! I had her locked in. She was gonna be my pal for all time.

Now, I don’t mean to brag about my forecasting prowess but that WAS 46 years ago. (You do the math. Shelly and I are old. We still count by abacus. More digression.)

This girl and I have seen each other through the best and worst of times in the decades we’ve been “Thelma and Louise-ing” our way through life.

From our days as St. Matthias Elementary School students (where we walked because we didn’t live far enough away to ride the bus and when we both got in trouble for talking on the first day of first grade — to each other, natch — to our high school years at Woodrow Wilson (to which we walked because we didn’t live far enough away to ride the bus — dang bus kids!)…

To people watching from the concourse-facing windows of the former Hasty House restaurant in the Southern Park Mall to roller-skating parties to double dating during the college years…

To each standing up for each other at our weddings to living within blocks of one another as young marrieds (as we did as kids)…

To offering each other support and comfort as we struggled through the early years of being moms — and the teenage years of being moms (Wait, we are still struggling. Hmm. This one may have no expiration date. I digress thrice.)…

To parties to endless phone conversations, including talking each other through the agony of Princess Diana’s funeral while watching it together to laughing hysterically about nothing in particular to 1:1 coffee and movie dates… and every old thing in between.

The point is, after a while, you cease being friends and become something so much more — you are family.

So, happy birthday to this sista from anotha mista o’ mine. I got your back… even if it means moving around a skeleton or two.

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist whose pal Michelle had NO IDEA what she was getting into in 1973. See why Shelly should have run away back in the day at www.patriciakimerer. com.


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