Last night, my friend Alt, who not unlike myself lived in the South for several years sent up a flare letting those of us who were around know that he was going to be in town, and were we down for hanging out?
I said yes, and then, as someone who has not seen a friend for several years has to do, had the troublesome quandary of what you’re supposed to do with someone who has become a stranger.
My initial idea was that we should go drinking, but there were all kinds of red flags with this. The first was that one of us would get much drunker than the other and that it would be weird. The second thought was that this would happen and I would be that person, regardless of whether it was out of how awkward or great things were going. My next idea was to karaoke, but Alt doesn’t do this, so things would be lopsided again. (Alt laughed and agreed verbatim when I confirmed this earlier today.)
He seemed pretty much open to whatever we wanted to do, and that’s why we ended up going on a mission to find Girl Scout cookies, because it’s something that would’ve happened to us when we were teenagers. Alt and I became friends because one of us was always bored, the other on a mission, and these things went well together. We complained about things we hated, and we raved about things we loved. Neither of us was always one or the other, but it always happening and was always constant.
After we got cookies, I resisted the urge of the mall. It was very nearby and very much something I would’ve gravitated towards in high school for the same reason it was calling me this afternoon–it was in proximity, and what else were we going to do?
Instead, we went to the arcade. It’s stupid, but I’m always surprised there are children wherever I go to do anything that kids would want to do. Someone was having a birthday party and there was a cake adorned with action figures, and that was AWESOME. Some things are timeless.
We got into Skeeball and arcade games, and as Parker so aptly put it, “gambling games geared towards youth,” won tickets, and picked out prizes not nearly as expensive as they were time-consuming in acquiring tickets.
When Parker pointed this out, I said, “HEY! We’re adults now. We’ve been indoctrinated into a world where we have to WORK for things. So now we work at a job to get money so we can use coins to spend time working at games to get prizes.” And Parker said, “This is what we’re going to spend the next few days doing so you can get the magnetic dartboard that we could EASILY purchase for a price at a store, isn’t it?”
But it’s not tomorrow yet, so I guess that chapter is to be continued.
In actually counting up the tickets, I did what I always do and couldn’t understand why we had so few tickets. Cue agonizing decisions. I know I don’t NEED a mini pool table, but it’s an attractive choice!
Parker and I ended up getting an 8 ball key chain and a friendship bracelet to SHARE. Because we didn’t have enough tickets for two, and I realized that Parker could’ve gotten off light. He got me a ring, but we could have just gotten matching friendship bracelets. And when I asked if he wanted the keychain, he said I could keep both of them, “because I love you. I might wear the friendship bracelet but only when I’m with you and NEVER outside the house. And also, I don’t care.” Alt got about a million tiny Tootsie rolls, rammed them into his sweatshirt, later commenting, “I feel weird walking around with all these in my pockets,” to which I surmised, “No weirder than usual.”
We talked about the South and routines over hot wings and a pitcher of beer. We bonded over how much we missed his truck, and how great the PNW is, and how strange it is that people from this region rejoiced when the Seahawks won the Superbowl earlier this year. When Parker went up to get a box for the leftovers, we ate, Alt looked at me and said, “I think if right now I met the me from high school, I would slap him. I would say, ‘What are you doing with your life? Stop whining, and do something else.’ ”
Then I hugged the guy I haven’t seen for 6-8 years and have known a little over half my life, and I felt sad. It’s weird when you go from seeing someone every day to only seeing them once or twice a decade. I’m not sure how it happens, but it was more than a little nice to see him.
And I bought like 5 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.