I have a friend, Loo, who lives just to the east of me, not too far... around 5000 miles or so.
She's someone who is part of my family of my heart, of my soul, of my choosing...and I'm fortunate that she's made the same decision.
We met online, believe it or not... chatting away first in a chatroom...then in those odd IM's that we would occasionally hit the wrong button on, and let the conversation slip into the main room... causing our catt... um... sharp tongued comments to be read by all.
Moving to a forum, we stayed in touch, and then, started to ring each other, timing our conversations around her husband who traveled with his company, our children who's combined numbers were seven, dogs, cats, her massive social calender, and our various mom duties, along with my commitments to my little theater company, not to mention an eight hour time difference.
Magically, like the other sisters the Master of the Universe has decided to bless my life with, sisters I do not share DNA with, she always knows when to ring me... I'll answer the phone, and that plummy accented voice will say, "Hello, sweetie."... and we fall into the rise and fall of her dialect, sharing stories current and memories of times together.
Her visit here gave me one of the best holidays I've ever had... two of us driving across Utah and Nevada, in search of the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas... from the sublime to the superficial. We ate at Wendy's, and watched TV sitting on our beds in a hotel... we took photos and walked the rim of that big hole in the ground, fending off tourists who hear her speak, and fall under her spell. She attracts nutters the way a trailer park attracts tornadoes. One woman went on and on to us about this amazing species of animal she'd found at the Grand Canyon... things we had here in America, things you can't find in England, Miss English accent... we have perfectly formed miniature bunnies. Yes, they were stunning, had we seen them? Just down that path they were, you could hold them in their hand, they were that small. Little ears, little eyes, little legs, little puffy tails. Minute. Perfect. Miniature bunnies, and she could bet they didn't have those in Merry Ole England, ohhhhhhh no.
Loo looked at her, with her beautiful eyes, her perfect teeth, her graceful manners, her voice that is like butter and said, "Are you talking about the baby rabbits?"
I think I peed a little, I laughed so hard.
We stopped at every state sign, and took her picture under the sign, to show were she'd been... posing in the dim light with construction machines around and horns honking when we held up traffic going into Nevada. She waved with a cheery smile.
Vegas. The Orleans Hotel. Perfect for us to be in, perfect to sleep in, perfect in every way... the British woman and the New Orleans walking definition of oblivious. We hit town, unpacked... and did very little.
The dumbest thing? Wearing heels. The funniest thing? Going to the Bellago to give hello's to the pit boss of the craps high rollers club for the Golden Child. I mean, as if that man would remember him. The GC used to stay there saying that way I couldn't come visit, they wouldn't let me past the front door. Dressed to the nines in our heels, we sauntered in, over to the pit, and I asked for V. They brought him over, and I said, in a rather shamed voice, "Yes, I'm Quin... Golden Child is my brother, and he asked...". Before I could go further, V exclaimed, "How is he doing??? He's such a great guy, and so funny.", and went on to give a few stories about the GC, making it obvious he knew him.
I guess when you win and lose a HUGE amount of money every time you gamble, they remember you.
Shame he can't remember to pay me the HUGE amount of money he owes me.
We struggled back in our heels, and discovered craps. We were made for craps. Well, she was.
I was given the dice twice.. the first time, I knocked over the stack of chips by the dealer guy. The second time.... well, I'm sure eventually that man was able to use his left eye.
We had a system, bet $50 and play until it was gone. That kept us going for hours... and we had the busiest table there... not because it was a winning table, it was Loo.
She adored cheap Las Vegas breakfast, she loved the look of the polygamists, she laughed and cried with me, we drove and sang and talked and talked and talked.
We rode the roller coaster at NewYork,NewYork... her eyes gleaming, me screaming the entire time. "Oh, lets do it again!" Yeah, right after I volunteer to have my teeth pulled by Dr. Szell in Marathon Man II.
We never left the Orleans again, and were so comfortable, when we'd hit the lobby... our shoes came off.... now, that's comfort, and she made it classy.
This is a woman who has more underwear than any upscale shop on High Street in London. I can assure you, she's never waxed herself, and here's a secret.... she snorts when she laughs. It's not pretty when the two of us get going.
When I go to her house, I have my own room I share with a huge hairy dog.... he sleeps on my pillow after I'm gone. Somehow, that makes me feel good. I eat lovely British bacon, have tea, freeze my ass off, set off her house alarm at 2A, go up and down the stairs in a home that looks normal outside, but, inside is like a rabbit's warren, drink at a pub where everybody knows your name and they all call me Yank. Her daughters are part of my life, with one who is a social butterfly, and the other so sharp, some of the things she says don't sink in until five minutes later. She introduced me to Black Books, and for that alone I am grateful.
Loo loves me enough to not let me navigate when we go anywhere. She buys me strawberry tarts. She takes me to dinner with her parents, who are so amazing, you can see where she got her sense of humour. Her father said, "Oh, I'll pay for this." as we sat down to eat. Her mother and I were wisely silent.
"No, I said I'd pay."
"Darling, I am."
Two jaws set.
"Well, then, you pay." He leaned over to me. "Since she's going to have it her way, make sure you pick something embarrassingly expensive. I am."
And we did.
She put up with her soon to be ex mother-in-twat with grace and all of her well bred dignity. Then, we made huge fun of her on the ride home. 'Nuff said.
I hate June. It's a month of sad days for me, of deaths of many sorts, of the discoveries of words that were lies, of finding out I didn't have supernatural powers and slamming into brick walls, of making the worst second first impression ever, of spending seven hours in a car sobbing into In-n-Out bags because I'd run out of the napkins, of Father's Day, of birthdays I don't care to remember, and of anniversaries I want to forget.
It also holds Loo.
As usual, I'm late..... but, it comes from my heart.
Happy Birthday, Loo. See you soon.