Mrs. G. has been pretty lucky in her choice of friends, platonic and otherwise. She's been crossed a few times and suffered a heartbreak or two, but all in all she's wandered through life enjoying solid, decent and loyal relationships. Except for Barb. Barb, Barb, Barb. Twenty years later, it's still hard to say. Barb.
Mrs. G. met Barb her sophomore in college. They met in a theater class, and for Mrs. G, the connection was straightaway and deep. Barb was petite. Barb was pretty. Barb was self-possessed. She was one of those girls who could walk in a room and own it before she walked out ten minutes later. She was witty. She was smart. She was a cool cat. That Barb.
She wore vintage cardigans and cowboy boots. She rode an old Schwinn cruiser with a wicker basket on the front. She cruised around campus, her blond hair flapping in the wind, a daisy occasionally tucked behind her left ear. She tossed out exotic words like existential and Spanakopita. She drank kefir.
Mrs. G. couldn't get enough of her.
They became friends and rarely spent a day apart. They were inseparable. No kidding, Mrs. G. would have taken a bullet for her.
Eight months into the friendship, Mrs. G. woke up one bright and sunny morning in her studio apartment and thought it was the perfect day for a picnic on the Willamette River. She called her boyfriend Adam to see if he was game. His roommate answered the phone. No, sorry, Adam took off early and headed to Ashland for the Shakespeare Festival. No biggie. Mrs. G. called Barb. Her roommate answered the phone. No, sorry, Barb took off early and headed to (wait for it) Ashland...for the Shakespeare Festival. They came home two days later, smug and holding hands.
You might have seen it coming, reader, but Mrs. G. didn't. She was blown away.
The truth is Mrs. G. could give or take Adam. They weren't that serious. He was replaceable. The real blow was Barb. Just like that, the friendship was over. Done. It took Mrs. G. well over a year not to think about it every day.
By nature Mrs. G. is a forgiver and a forgetter. Her anger comes fast and loud, but it doesn't stick around. She's lived long enough to know hanging on to hate is a huge waste of time. She wouldn't have even brought Barb up if she hadn't received an email from her over the weekend — she tracked Mrs. G. down through an old mutual friend. The email was nice enough: It's been a long time, wondered how you were...a page long update on her life (actress, big city, single, no kids, happy enough) and here and there news of old college buds. No mention of...you know.
Mrs. G. has started ten different responses. Good Lord, it's been two decades; They were both young. But many of you know how Mrs. G. feels about the female code. She gets a little het up. When it comes to sister solidarity, she's unyielding and rigid. But still...twenty years? Come on.
So Mrs. G. sat down on her bed this afternoon and meditated on forgiveness and love. She sat quietly and tried to channel the lessons of Jesus and Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela through her hard heart. She dug and dug. After about twenty minutes, she noticed that three words kept floating through her body, kept swirling around and double backing to her brain. Three little words:
Dirty Dog Whore.
Nope. Not there yet. She'll keep digging.