Ah, here's one now...
Patty(not her real name)'s mom was really, really religious. Patty was the last of the kids to leave the nest, so the maternal influence was undiluted at this end of her gene pool, at least in theory. Patty's religious upbringing by an ostensibly protective single parent was tempered by the fact her mom was either apathetic about keeping her last daughter (of four!) cloistered from the dangers of under-aged drinking. She talked the talk, but the truth was she was just plain burned out by that point in her career as a mother. As a result, she let Patty run the streets with me so long as she didn't stay out all night or come home pregnant. I regularly took Patty out to parties she knew through the grapevine were being thrown around the neighborhood. The only opportunity Catholic school boys had to meet any girls prior to the invention of MySpace was to have house parties. There was one virtually every weekend, and Patty was my ticket to them. It wasn't a whole lot of fun for me, but it got us out the house and got her some free alcohol.
My friends thought we were dating around this time, but the truth was I never made a move for her. Yes, she was very cute and was my type in most other ways, but you ever get that feeling that something's just not right? That's kind of what I got here. I can't explain it. I remember dropping her off at her place one afternoon after we'd gone out to something like a strawberry fest or whatever the local excuse for an event was. She was sitting in my car expectantly like maybe I'd lean in for the kiss. I didn't. She looked sort of disappointed as I said a generic goodbye. Girls aren't used to being put in the friend zone, especially by straight teenage boys.
Maybe because of some awareness of this hands-off approach, Patty's mom took a liking to me. I wasn't so militant about my views at that point, just a closeted agnostic and an all-around nice, clean-cut boy when she met me. I previously had David Gilmour's Dark Side of the Moon-era hair, but I cut it just before I met her. This was the late '80s/early '90s, so the late '60s/early '70s were back in vogue. I was a refreshing change from the usual crowd in that neighborhood what with their long hair and tie-dyes. Patty and her mom lived down the same street from Eric and was best friends with his little sister (who I had a great big crush on at the time that continues to this day). From Patty's awesome screened-in front porch, you could literally hear Eric's family and friends jamming the greatest hits of the headliners from Woodstock in the shed in their back yard several houses away.
I all but lost touch with Patty after I went away to college except for once when she invited me along to a very small party of some folks I knew peripherally (i.e., Cindy's brother threw it). The main basis of my invitation was that, being over 18 by that time, I was a machine that could turn their under-aged cash into beer. A couple years went by before we crossed paths again. By that time I had transferred to the same school as it turned out she'd been attending. It was a big campus, so we only ran across one another casually a very few times. She was definitely even more of a partier than back when she lived at home. She told me about some party she was going to that night and asked if I wanted to go. I said I'd think about it, but I never followed up. The conversation turned to her sister(s?) in Chicago where they were doing sketch comedy, and she said she was thinking of moving out there to be near them. I never saw her again, so I assumed she made good on that.
Hope and I both knew her way back when, so when the two of us first made contact in this part of the timestream, Patty's name came up. Based on a casual encounter years earlier, Hope was pretty sure she'd gone off the deep end and walked with Jesus in long skirts and a bible under an arm. If that turned out to be the case, it at least would have made for great material here, so I took a chance and made an effort to track her down. The paucity of information I was able to turn up on my first pass meant she was at least traditional enough to have surrendered her last name to the patriarchaic conventions of marriage, so I couldn't find her for quite a while. Then somehow I happened across her sister's profile.
Sarah was one of the pair of her sisters who had headed out into the entertainment industry. She was part of the off-Broadway performances of The Brady Bunch in the early '90s (a minor phenomenon at the time) which led to roles with comedy troupes, including one in which she worked with Conan O'Brien's future one-time sidekick Andy Richter. The two married and she landed a recurring role as the dyke gym coach on Strangers with Candy, before ultimately settling down to raise the kids.
When I found her, she had recently written a memoir of her childhood through teen years in the vein of David Sedaris (who she knew through his sis and sometime-collaborator, her co-star Amy). He and Rackoff and the rest of that crowd give her glowing reviews on the dust jacket, which is honestly not even as objective a read as you get from MySpace comments. I gave it a shot anyway, and while she isn't as inventive a writer as either of the Davids, I'll forgive her since it's her first time out. Besides, the narrative itself turned out to be interesting tour through someone else's eyes of many of the areas where she and I grew up. Patty wasn't mentioned a whole lot in it though. She lagged six years behind Sarah, and that's an eternity no youngster ever successfully straddles in trying to break into a sibling's social circle.
I wrote Sarah and asked whatever became of her littlest sister. She pointed me to Patty's profile, and I cautiously checked in with her through it, wary after Hope's speculation that she had Jesus-freaked out. Thankfully that wasn't the case. I was relieved to find her page (albeit set to private) proudly declares her agnosticism and her support of Barack Obama. Whereas Betty's and Angela's lives read like unrestrained personifications of Freud's Id and Superego, respectively, Patty came through the middle path, if you can call it the middle, leaning about as far left as both she and I do. I guess if you're held too closely to religion, you get a good look at what it really is, and that turns you away for life.
Patty and I have been doing the reminiscing thing over the past month (as of this writing), and it's about run out of steam finally. For all the talk (both with her and this rambling "now" that still hasn't reached its stated destination), there's not much exciting to tell. Her history up to this point is that she dropped out of college, then married a few years ago, It sounds like her husband makes decent money, so she's a stay-at-home mom with a two year-old, though she does some accounting work on the side. Not much drama. Were you expecting the Stations of the Cross? If so, I could introduce you to her mom.
Send me pictures out of your yearbook, photo albums, etc. I don't have any good ones of Angela except for a newspaper clipping my mom sent me when she was on the cheerleading squad.
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