Do Dogs Have Ears?

Song of the moment: Tchaikovsky’s Pimpinella, Op.38 No.6 Anna Netrebko (this version is odd in that she blends the Russian and Italian versions of the song a bit)

When I was in high school, I had one really good friend. Her name was Rachel. I say “was” in the past tense, not because she’s dead, but because we don’t speak much anymore. Our friendship is pretty much dead.

As many of mine are, these days. Ah well.

Anyway, Rachel and I were the odd ducks of our class. She was a special blend of crazy that I miss every so often. I got a message from her today, and my thoughts inevitably strayed to memories from high school.

***

When we were seniors, Rachel and I were in Prather’s American Government class. Every week, we were required to find one current event news article and do a brief write up on it. For extra credit, we could present our news to the class. Inevitably, everyone tended to hit the same set of major events (the primary CNN headlines).

Rachel and I both kept up on the news anyway, so it wasn’t much of a challenge to find something unique each week. But we weren’t content with that. So we started a mission to find the weirdest news we could each week.

In the end, Rachel won when she unearthed an article about Jonathon Sharkey, who was running for governor of Minnesota at the time. You see, Sharkey wasn’t just any old guy. Oh no. Johnathon Sharkey, nicknamed “The Impaler,” was a vampire.

That’s right. Mr. Sharkey fancies himself a vampire. And a witch. And a Satanist. He had a thirteen-point platform (nice, no?) topped by a plan to literally impale terrorists and criminals on the lawn of the governor’s mansion. The guy was a total nutter.

We were in love. You don’t get any more bizarre than this guy. So we started researching him. And the more you look into his life, the weirder everything gets. He fell out of touch with his half-sister, and later met her (unknowingly), fucked her, and then married her in a Pagan ceremony. He was once a wrestler, going by the name Rocky Flash (Rachel found a photo of him in his wrestling garb, blew it up, and posted it on her locker, where it remained for the rest of the year). He sings… mostly covers of Elvis songs. He’s been arrested for harassment and stalking women.

Jonathon was also the subject of a documentary during his run for Minnesota governor. This may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever watched.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Prather struggle so hard to maintain his stoic façade as he did when Rachel delivered her current event that week.

***

After graduating from the Coast Guard Academy (Rachel is originally from Connecticut, where most of her family lives, so it’s no surprise they’re a Coast Guard family), one of Rachel’s sisters got married.

The other one became a bodybuilder.

Rachel was so jealous of her.

***

We had a habit of renting movies almost every weekend and getting together at one of our houses to watch them. Only, we rarely watched popular movies. Instead, we always picked the most ridiculous, campy, weird things we could find. We got some real gems, let me tell you.

First there was Ghost Watcher, where we invited Chelsea to join us. Chelsea spent the whole movie with her hands over her eyes. Rachel and I spent the entire movie laughing our asses off. This wasn’t even “B” horror… this was more like “E” or “F” horror. When the heroine punched through the cardboard stomach of the corpse and pulled out what appeared to be large amounts of green dryer lint and peas, I fell off the chair because I was laughing so hard.

Naturally, we rented the sequel when it came out.

We also watched Swimming Pool. We couldn’t really figure out what it was supposed to be about, but we did notice that the main character was constantly eating pudding. We decided we were hungry and scrounged around the kitchen for a box of instant pudding. Which we found. Problem was, we didn’t have any milk. We decided to make it with water instead. Which means it didn’t set up properly. Which means all me managed to make was thick, runny chocolate goo.

We ate it anyway.

And then there were the animal attacks. The scorpion during The Exorcist and the moths during The Shining. We were constantly at war with nature.

***

On Rachel’s 16th birthday, a few of us got together and stayed the night out in her garage. Which had a phone. Which we used to prank call people around town.
We were very clever with our prank calls. And by clever, I mostly mean we made up really ridiculous stories to tell to the people on the other line.

Our best one involved me calling this number, in tears, talking about how I thought I’d killed my sister with a whisk. The story was implausible (thus the humor), but we were all in theatre. Apparently, we were convincing. Apparently, we’d forgotten to *67 that number.

They called back. It turned out to be the fucking morgue.

***

Rachel’s mom got on a home brewing kick our senior year. And man, she made some tasty beer.

But there was that one time…

Rachel and I were in her room, listening to David Bowie (incidentally, it was Rachel that really got me hooked on The Bowie), when we heard this loud whistling sound coming from the kitchen. We went to investigate, only to discover the sound was being emitted from the little brewery Rachel’s mom had set up on their counter.

We yelled for her mom, because we didn’t know what to do. Her mom, who was in the shower, comes running into the room, stark naked. At this precise moment, the brewery just explodes, erupting into this fountain of beer. We were all drenched.
I never did get the stains out of that sweatshirt.

***

Rachel and I were the lead actresses in our high school drama our senior year. We did I Never Saw Another Butterfly, which is about concentration camp/ghetto life for the Jews during WWII. It was extremely depressing.

But there was this one scene where Honza (a little boy) offers young Raja (a little girl played by super short Rachel) a sausage. We all knew about the food situation and why this was such a big deal. But the dialogue was fucking atrocious. It just begged you to make fun of it.

Which Rachel and I did, becoming progressively lewder each rehearsal. Finally, our director had had enough. He marched the whole cast out to the old brickyard that looked disturbingly like a concentration camp (there were ovens and everything) in order to get us in the right mindset for the show.

Rachel and I found an old, discarded, shabby ass hobby horse. We played with it for the rest of rehearsal. Our director was pissed.

Weird to think I used to be the pain-in-the-ass actor getting on the director’s nerves, no?

***

For graduation, Rachel wanted to dye her hair black. Deep in my emo goth phase, I was a pro at doing this. But she only wanted it to last for a few days. So, we found the least permanent dye we could. It was one I’d never used before.

I dyed her hair. When it was all finished, her hair was decidedly not black. She didn’t get pissed. She high-fived me and then we went to breakfast at Garrett’s.

Because you see, her hair had turned a dusky purple- the exact same color as the car she’d received as a graduation present.

***

Anyway, the more I write, the more memories that crop up. Prom and the chocolate fountain debacle. Speech and debate. Duct tape art and the carnival music. Her insane love for the seafood salad I made for BBQs. Her webbed toes and two-tone eyes. Shopping for her birthday present in the little boys clothing section. Learning the Thriller dance. The two of us stripping onstage in Guys and Dolls. Her love of costume jewelry. Our really weird double date, where she didn’t even sit by her guy. Trying to set her up with our mutual crush by dumping her in his drunk lap at a cast party. Attempting to kayak in the Greybull River. Rocky Balboa and the wormhole of deer. Smoking cigars on her 18th birthday. German class and our fashion show, where we dressed up as the two most reviled teachers from our middle school days. Breaking into the old Masonic Temple. Getting drunk for the first time and puking in the woods. Evasive Maneuver #42.

I kind of miss her.

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