Dear Grown-up Woman I Do Not Know But Who Is Now My Facebook Friend,
You don’t remember me, I’m pretty sure. Some things are best left unremembered, I think.
I spent a lot of time with you in your house, a long time ago. You were four and what is euphemistically known as “a handful”. Maybe you’ve outgrown that now, but it’s hard to tell from your Facebook profile.
I was a teenager. I came over to your house a lot while your parents were gone doing some sketchy seventies “marriage retreat” thing, which was probably swinging or visits to an opium den, but I don’t like to dwell on that and who are we to judge, right?
While they were gone we played Boggle and Concentration a lot and you cheated, but I tried to forgive you because you couldn’t actually read yet. And then after you and your older sister went to bed I would sit on the couch for hours and try really hard to stay awake. Didn’t you have a TV? I don’t think you did. Here is what was on your walls:
Sometimes if your parents were really late from their
swingingmarriage therapy sessions, I would hallucinate about the cat with the guitar and all the bloody mouse torsos.
One time, as usual, I confiscated a giant glistening wad of Bubble Yum from your mouth before sending you off to bed. Only this time, unbeknownst to me, you managed to find another tempting pack in a drawer. Apparently you chewed most of it all at once while lying in bed wearing your little summer sleeveless nightgown, and then you fell asleep.
I wasn’t in your room at the time, I think I was staring at the cat picture and thinking about Michael S, who was so cute and wouldn’t be arrested for Grand Theft Auto for another four years, but pretty soon your mouth fell open, the giant mass of wet gum rolled from your lips and down your chest, and then came to rest gently in the crevice of your right armpit.
You were so cute wandering out of your bedroom a couple of hours later, all confused and cranky.
“Did you have a bad dream?” I asked.
Instead of answering, you just raised your right arm to a ninety degree angle like a little Hitler Youth, and there, under your arm, were long pink strings of gum stretching from your armpit to the underside of your arm.
I wanted to do the right thing, Grown Up Lady, I really did. I was pretty sure the answer to gum removal was the application of either hair spray, peanut butter, or ice cubes. At least that’s what you did with clothes, and it seemed like it should be the same for armpits.
I looked for hair spray, but it was the late seventies, not the eighties, and big hair and arching bangs weren’t commanding large bulk purchases of Aqua Net yet. Then I looked for peanut butter, but I guess you’d had a lot of sandwiches recently.
You can see I had no choice. I gathered up a big bowl of ice cubes from the kitchen, a dish towel for the run-off, and a paper bag for the picked off gum bits, and then I spent two hours icing your armpit and picking little frozen flakes of gum from your skin.
Sure you screamed some, and maybe, in hindsight I should have found some nice warm baby oil or something, but you and I are beyond that now. We’re adults,and, may I point out, you are currently free of armpit gum, although this is an assumption on my part, as your armpit is not really visible in your Facebook profile either, and you did really love grape Bubble Yum especially. It was like a monkey on your back.
Anyway, last week your mother called me after twenty-five years, out of the blue, after hunting me down on the internet, which was a little weird, but o-kay. My daughters are on Facebook, she said. They’re looking forward to hearing from you. It’s been so long!!
Honestly I had my doubts, but she was so insistent.
See, I meant to just send you a little “howdy-do” message, but apparently I don’t know how to do that without friend-requesting. You accepted, but my ‘howdy-do’ has been left unanswered, and now I am a silent, unacknowledged stranger on your friend list. Kind of a mixed message. It’s awkward, is what I’m saying, and I’m now I’m like a stalker, which hurts a little after all we’ve been through together.
Maybe if I sent you some flair, or a pack of gum, just to break the ice?