For Melanie, For Everything

My good friend Melanie turned another year older on June 8.  After her birthday dinner, I presented a belated birthday present to my friend Nicole, who had her birthday on May 11.

I’m a bit behind.  Just a bit.  Let it be known that I am not behind because I don’t care.  On the contrary, I’m behind because I care very, very much.

I first met Melanie in Miss Warren’s third grade class.  We were seven-years-old.  She was very skinny and had big, round glasses — I had totally excellent bangs and wore awkward Jockey sports bras.  Once, during a time when Melanie and I sat next to each other in class, I was reading my vocabulary sentences aloud to our table when, quite suddenly, an ENORMOUS SNOT BUBBLE came out of my nose.  I did my best to sniff it back in immediately, but it was too late — everyone at the table had seen the ENORMOUS SNOT BUBBLE come out of my nose.  Everyone laughed, myself included.  Embarrassed that I may still have snot in my nose, I held my vocabulary sentences in front of my face.  Melanie, without missing a beat (as usual), leaned right over to me and said, “Be careful, now, don’t get any snot on your homework!”

Hours later, Melanie acted as if nothing had happened.  We practiced writing paragraphs and multiplying by 4’s — the day went on like any other.  In fact, The ENORMOUS SNOT BUBBLE Incident was never brought up again.  She could have asked Miss Warren to give her a new seat — after all, there was no real explanation for my ENORMOUS SNOT BUBBLE, and there was no guarantee that this wouldn’t be a regular occurrence — but she didn’t.  She got over it.

It really wasn’t until 5th grade that Melanie and I became Partners In Lunacy.  With 5th grade came our love for writing silly songs (favorites such as “BFG,” “When The Sun Turns Grey (El Niño Returns From His Lair),” “Bakery Goodies (Have Faith in Your Mother)”…), the invention of The Butter Girls comic strip, our obsession with Billy Madison; the kinds of things that lasting friendships are made of.  The shenanigans were endless: we used to pass each other notes using her Merry-Go-Round pencil sharpener as a means of transporting and camouflaging our precious messages; during a week long rainstorm (which, actually, must have been El Niño), we spent every precious minute of recess time writing ridiculous stories on our classroom’s brand new iMacs; we were separated during an assembly because I made her laugh by whispering “Mouth-watering marshmallows” in her ear; during Outdoor Ed we stole a pair of our friend’s underwear and hung it from a rafter above our bunk beds.

Looking at the paragraph I just wrote, I realize that very little has changed.

Melanie and I have now been friends for 14 years.  A few things are different (she wears contacts and has traded in her skinny physique for a downright slammin’ bod), but we are still very much the same people we were when we first became friends — we make up songs, think up kickass ideas for comic strips, and obsess over silly movies.  Neither of us are too proud to own things such as pencil sharpeners shaped as Merry-Go-Rounds — in fact, I think I should go find some as soon as possible — and as far as stealing underwear for the sole purpose of having a good giggle fit, well, yeah, that sounds like us.  Most importantly, though, is that Melanie is still the kind of person who will be your friend even after she’s seen ENORMOUS SNOT BUBBLES come out of your nose.

So, Mel, happy belated birthday.  Part II of your birthday card begins NOW.

I couldn’t just buy you one.   Birthday cards don’t come with pictures like THESE:

RAWR.

On Tuesday, I decided that I finally had the time to assemble your gift.  I went to the mall in search of a cute journal.  Yes, a cute journal.  I had originally planned on decorating a journal for you.  That is not what I ended up doing.

I hate the mall parking lot.  It’s full of SUVs with old Bush/Cheney stickers on them.  Parked next to me on Tuesday, however, was a BLUE CORVETTE!!!  It gave me a thrill.

I wonder what the geniuses behind Eiffel 65 are up to these days…

The first thing I did when I got to the mall was look inside Bath & Body Works to see how much they charge for bottles of Piña Colada Butt Lotion and jars of Nipple Butter.  Don’t ask.

NEXT, I went to a cute little crafty-ish store that just opened up.  They had a PERFECT journal that was just BEGGING to be ripped apart and glued back together again by moi.  Of course, it was for display only and there were no others like it.

I went to the outside shopping area to take the stairs back up to my car, and I saw THIS:

“Shop Irresponsibly SALE.”  Our country amazes me. Corporate Fat Cats have come up with a way of using The Recession to their advantage.  This ad says, “Yeah, we know you have no money…but we bet you just sit up all night dreaming of all the STUFF you could BUY if you had some, right?  Don’t you just wanna say, ‘Fuck it, I want sunglasses’?  Well just DO IT!  YES!  DO IT!  It’ll feel SO GOOD to be BAD!”  It reminds me of the kind of thing we would discuss while watching Easy Rider and drinking Lemon Drops.

As I was walking back to The Former Site of Sisley — because even though Sisley is gone I still only ever park there — I passed friggin’ Papyrus.  I thought, “Screw it.  Maybe they’ll have what I’m looking for.”  Dude, they didn’t.  I wasn’t going to buy a $30 leather-bound journal and then rip it apart and glue it back together.  I was about to leave when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of a BEAUTIFUL shade of blue.  I looked, and, oh yes, it was a journal!  Upon closer examination, I saw that it was a…

…TAYLOR SWIFT JOURNAL.  What?  She’s such a renowned writer she has her own line of journals?  Like Rachel Ray’s “EVOO?”  Or Emeril’s bottled “Essence?”  Ridiculous.

For a moment I considered buying it so I could rip it apart and glue it back together IRONICALLY.  Ultimately I decided I wouldn’t buy the journal because I never want Taylor Swift to see a single red cent of my hard earned money.  Shop responsibly, Steff.

Needless to say, I came home empty handed.  Well, not true — I did end up buying some underwear, because every damn pair I own has multiple holes.  It’s not as sexy as it sounds.

YESTERDAY, though, when I returned to the mall to purchase Piña Colada Butt Lotion and Nipple Butter (don’t ask — and yes, I’m very much making fun of Bath & Body Works), I decided that on the way home from the mall I would stop at Michael’s.  Ya know.  For craft stuff.

I wandered in-and-out of the brilliant stacks of picture frames giggling at plastic bananas, admiring the balsa wood, and never passing the cashier.  (Shameless Allen Ginsberg reference.)  I didn’t see a single journal.

And then I saw it.  I saw IT.  And I BOUGHT IT.  And I knew EXACTLY what I was going to do with IT.

I sped home, and when I got there I was pleasantly surprised to find that my most recent online purchase had arrived!  I now have THIS on VINYL!

As I listened with glee, I scoured the internet for pictures.  The RIGHT pictures for IT.  Quickly, I loaded them all on to a flash drive, jumped in the car, and sped to Kinko’s…or, ya know, FedEx, or whatever the Hell I’m supposed to call it.  As far as I’m concerned it’s a freaking Kinko’s.  Yes, I had to go there because no, I do not own a printer.  The printer is in Isla Vista.

THIS SIGN KILLED ME.

I giggled like a 13-year-old.  Seriously, they must have done this on purpose.  There’s no way I’m the only person who thinks this is funny.

I came home, put on Cry-Baby, and got to work.  First, I burned you a bunch of CDs.  Five CDs.  THEN, I got to work on IT.  Here is a sneak peak…

There you have it.  Your sneak peak of your belated birthday present.  Hope you’re getting excited.  Are you getting excited?  ‘Cause I am excited.

Happy belated birthday, Melanie.  You are one of the most charming, funny, interesting, loving, loyal people I have ever known.   I love you to bits.  Here’s to 14 more kickass years.

That guy is so cute.  Whoever he is.

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