“Some women pray for their daughters to marry good husbands. I pray that my girls will find girlfriends half as loyal and true as the Ya-Yas.”
― Rebecca Wells,
In 1996, a wire haired dachshund named Mitzy changed my life. My dad had gotten her for me from the local shelter when I was insanely sick as a way to make me feel better. The problem was, the saying ‘have legs, will travel’ definitely applied in this situation because she ran away constantly. Fed up with having to go back to the shelter on a regular basis because animal control had picked up the little fugitive again, my parents suggested that I give her to the little girl whose house Mitzy had chosen as a regular hideaway.
“This little girl has a fenced in back yard. Her mama said she’s been outside playing with her all day, maybe we should give Mitzy to her.”
I thought it was a complete injustice because Mitzy was supposed to be my dog. I didn’t give a rip if that little girl had a fenced in back yard. Good for her, what does that have to do with me? I thought to myself. After being told that I was free to visit whenever I wanted and it was explained to me that the fence would keep Mitzy from potentially being hit or taken into the Humane Society for the umpteenth time, I agreed. And I immediately took the family up on their offer to visit Mitzy, which is when my best friend, Tabi, came into the picture.
As it turns out, the fence did little to suppress Mitzy’s gypsy soul because she ran away from their house too and never returned, which devastated her dad but had no effect whatsoever on our friendship. Because of that awful little dog, she and I became best friends instantly and for the next several years we practically lived at each others houses. We were nearly polar opposites, but we got along like siblings. She was very athletic and I painted my nails to match her softball team’s colors. I played with Barbies, she collected them and tortured me by keeping them in their boxes. I insisted on arts & crafts, and her mom banned those sorts of things because she knew we’d ruin the carpet. She tanned easily, I fried like bacon, which leads me to my first anecdote.
Like all southern mamas (and probably moms everywhere, I can only speak for those in KY), her mother told us to ‘quit running in and out’ and forced us to pick one or the other. As I said before, Tabi was very athletic and never endured a sunburn, but I agreed to play outside anyway because she had a trampoline and my mom would never let me have one because I was accident prone and she’d seen a kid break his arm on one when I was still in diapers. (Honestly, her swing-set was way more dangerous. The only time I ever got close to having a swing level with the top of a swing set was at her house. I stopped trying to do that because the chains broke and I hit the ground with a solid thud that knocked the breath out of me. Thinking I was dying, she took off running to her house screaming, “Daddy! Daddy! Manda’s hurt!” I swear, if ever a child came close to being as clumsy as Eugene from Hey! Arnold, it was me.) We spent hours on that trampoline competing to see who could jump higher. Mom didn’t know until recently that we hosed it down with water because we thought it was more fun that way and it kept us cool. No one ever got hurt, though Tabi did end up nearly falling off at one point; her bathing suit strap caught on the springs on the way down and kind of yo-yo’d her, but she never actually hit the ground! On one occasion, I fell asleep on that trampoline… in the middle of the day, in the middle of the summer, and she never woke me up. Once marshmallow white, I became Mattel logo red and experienced sun poison for the very first time in my life. My lips quadrupled in size and my mom slathered me in aloe for days after that. Fear not, reader, Tabi got hers.
My brother used to race motorcycles in the AMA Midsouth series, which just means he raced in the woods instead of on a motocross track, pretty much every weekend and my dearest Tank (if you’ve not read my older posts, my iPhone used to correct Tabi to Tank and it stuck) would tag along to keep me company. As long as we didn’t wander too far, my mom let us explore the woods to keep ourselves entertained, and during a race when the weather was just starting to turn cool, we discovered a little creek. While exploring the bank of the creek, we noticed that it narrowed a bit and there was a hill on the opposite side we wanted to climb. Slightly taller than me at the time, I convinced Tabi that if she got a running start, she could probably make it across and we could explore some more. Unfortunately for Tabi, she listened to me. In my defense, she did make it across, but she lost her balance and windmilled her arms for a few seconds before landing in the middle of the creek like she was about to make a snow angel. Like I said before, it was starting to get a little chilly out so she needed to change clothes, but didn’t have any with her since my mom didn’t expect us to get wet. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) for Tabi, my mom had some garbage bags full of clothes to be donated to Goodwill in the trunk of her car, and Tabi had to sport a teddy bear sweater and green stretch pants for the rest of the day. I like to think it was the universe paying her back for my potential case of skin cancer later in life.
So much of my childhood was spent with the girl I still call my best friend that I can, and likely will in future posts, go on and on with stories like these. Tabi was and still is like a sister to me; her family is my family and vice versa. We were in each others weddings. If
not for her, I may not have met Phillip because it was her idea to go out that night. She was there the night he proposed and she was one of the first people I told when I found out I was pregnant. She keeps Ellie for me on a regular basis and she gets it when I don’t immediately respond to texts because she, too, is busy raising a tiny human.
Last week after I went to pick Ellie up from her house following an out of town meeting, we went to eat lunch together along with our munchkins. When we were getting ready to leave, Tabi told her little boy to give Ellie a hug bye; Ellie grabbed his face with both hands and gave him a slobbery kiss. Later that day, I was telling my mom about it and how precious it was and she mentioned how she loves watching as the generations continue, and it really put things into perspective for me.
I don’t know many people who are able to say that they even speak to their childhood best friends, but I’m blessed enough that our kids adore each other and will grow up together. I’m so blessed that I can lean on her for prayer or just someone to listen to me rant about the same things I’ve been ranting about since the ’90s. She’s my brutally honest voice of reason when I need it (she couldn’t lie to me if she tried, the girl doesn’t have a poker face, bless her) but she listens without judgement. Out of all I’ve been given in life, my best friend is one of my biggest (and oldest!) blessings, and I am just so very grateful for her.
And I guess I should also be grateful for the Amazing Disappearing Mitzy: official sponsor of a 20 year friendship.