Thursday, April 12, 2012

Marlene Shigamabob

I have some really great friends.  Some I've known and kept in touch with since elementary school, others since high school or college.  I can probably count on one hand the number of true friends I've retained for ten years or more, and I love all of them.

There is one person, however, who always ends up at the very top of my list.  Today is the birthday of my oldest and dearest friend, Marlene Shigamabob.

Okay, that's not really her name, and I'll explain why I call her that in a minute, but first let me tell you all a little bit about her.

I first met Marlene when she was four years old and I was five.  She was walking down the street to her grandma's house (which was three blocks from her own house) all by herself.  Her parents were very...permissive.  Upon talking to her, I found out that she was the sister of my new best friend who I'd met in kindergarten that year.  His name was David, and we used to sit by each other at lunch.

She and I struck up a friendship, and after an unfortunate incident involving a wagon, David on his bike, and skid marks across my legs, I had a new best friend in Marlene.

Since we only lived a block apart, Marlene and I would spend pretty much every waking minute together.  She quickly became the fourth daughter my parents never had.  In the summers, she'd spend entire weeks at my house without going home to her parents and four brothers even once.  I often had to remind her to call home and let her mom know that she was still alive.

1st day of school, 1991
Her nickname came about one day when we were in Wal-mart with my family.  Looking for something fun to do that wouldn't get us into too much trouble, we decided (as we often did) to page people.  There was something thrilling about hearing your name over the loudspeaker at Wal-mart--it made us feel famous.  We thought it'd be funny if we made up the silliest name possible and I'd ask an employee to page that name.  Then, she'd come up and claim that it was her.  We came up with "Marlene Shigamabob", and it's been an inside joke ever since.*

One thing you should know about Marlene is that she is a copycat.  If we were at McDonald's and I ordered a Big Mac, Marlene was having a Big Mac.  If I went vegetarian for a months, she went vegetarian for a month.  We had the same haircut at the same time (aside from one time when she tried to get layers like mine and ended up with a Carol Brady cut), wore the same clothes, liked the same music, had the same favorite movies--everything.

 I once tested her resolve by giving her this really disgusting yogurt that my dad had brought home as a sample (he was in the food business).  My sisters and I all deemed it inedible, but when Marlene came over that day, we gave it to her, pretending it was the most delicious thing we'd ever had.  She swallowed it down with a "yum!" until we told her we didn't like it and she spit it out, thanking God that she didn't have to take another bite.  The girl is definitely loyal.

Every day after school, Marlene would come over to my house and we'd watch Kids Inc. (and later The Brady Bunch re-runs, after Kids Inc. was cancelled), followed by The Mickey Mouse Club.  We didn't miss an episode.  We were super-fans, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  That show was everything to us.  We had posters and sent fan mail and copied the Mouseketeers' dance moves in ridiculous contests we'd hold in the bedroom I shared with my younger sister. 

Marlene, Lindsey Alley, and me
You can imagine my excitement when I discovered that former Mouseketeer Lindsey Alley would be performing her cabaret show in Columbia, Missouri--a two hour drive from me, and even closer to Marlene--on April 7th, the weekend before her birthday.  It was fate!

So, in addition to Easter, that's what I did last weekend:  took my best friend forever to see one of our childhood heroes do standup and sing.  It was marvelous. Just like old times--but with more profanity and sex talk, less running man and roger rabbit. 

We went out to dinner before the show, where I ordered a veggie wrap and cottage cheese and Marlene ordered...a veggie wrap and cottage cheese.  It's comforting to know that some things never change.

This post is for you, Marlene Shigamabob.  Happy birthday.  You are the best friend a girl could have, and one of my favorite people in the whole wide world.  I hope you know that I really do Love You Like A Sister. 

*My dad actually called me recently and asked me, "What is Marlene Shigamabob's maiden name?".  Seriously.  He could remember "Marlene Shigamabob", but he couldn't remember her real name.  True story.

I'd also like to wish a happy birthday to Vanessa, Una, and Jennifer, who all have birthdays either today or tomorrow.  It's a blogger birthday bonanza!
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