With better legs

You know the part where I’m weird?

Now imagine it in high school.

Because I was generally this, just with better legs, in high school. In fact, I was even weirder, as I had not yet learned to rein it in. I wasn’t the deeply sophisticated, subtle woman of mystery brewing before you.

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Oh my god. I really was just this with better thighs. I just Googled myself for some high school photos and my high school column, “I’m Irked,” came up for me.

Classroom habits drive me mad!

I mean, what did I even have to be bitter about yet? But there I was, already annoyed. And in case anyone recalls the diary I recently shared with you–because I give and I give to you people–where I list everything I wore in 1982? Behold the gray cords, above. It’s sad that I know those are the gray cords. They had slanty pockets. And possibly pleats!

Anyway.

I was not what you’d call part of the In Crowd, what with this personality and this hair and those cords. And “I’m Irked.”

That is why it was weird when, in sophomore year, I got a call from Cardinal Hunter.

Cardinal Hunter was the shit, man. Everyone fekking loved him. My Uncle Leo had taught him in 6th grade, and somehow my uncle and Cardinal had stayed friends past, you know, 6th grade. Every so often he’d pop in at my Uncle Leo and Aunt Kathy’s house, and they’d always say to me, “You should meet Cardinal Hunter. He’s your age, and he’s so funny.”

Oh, sure he is, I’d think. I’ve always been a snob about that sort of thing. But someone tells you another person is funny and you check them out and the first thing you see is a hashtag that reads The Struggle is Real and you’re all, see. I knew you weren’t fucking funny. With your Live, Laugh, Love wall decal.

Because I’m clearly Shekky Greene, over here. Who can argue the level of hilarity that comes from old inventing-the-word-sparklefraffle June Gardens?

Me being snooty about funnyness is like being snooty about Dr Pepper when I’m Mr. Pibb.

So, I got to high school, and the entire world was abuzz about how magnificent Cardinal Hunter was, and how hilarious, and how cute, and though I’d yet to meet him I was already completely over him. It’s the same way I feel about geocaching.

Even my boyfriend at the time, Giovanni Leftwich, was all up in him. “Oh, man, have you met Cardinal Hunter yet?” he asked me while we walked home one day. I can see his tube socks as we walked. I don’t know why, but I totally can.

What I wouldn’t give to just re-live one stupid day of 1981 and see what that was like.

Probably like this, with less cankle. And more Scotty Baldwin.

At any rate, there it was, early February of sophomore year, in the early ’80s in the early days of this personality, when I hadn’t learned to rein it in, and perhaps I’ve already mentioned that. And as per usual I was grounded for whatever transgression, so I was home, Giovanni and I were broken up, and the phone rang on a Saturday night.

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It was Cardinal Hunter.

“Good gravy, what does he want?” I thought, although I wonder now what my “good gravy” of the day was. Maybe “wow” or “the struggle is real” or “live, laugh, love AF.” I don’t know.

He’d been back visiting at my Uncle Leo’s, Cardinal had been, and perhaps that seems odd to outsiders, but if you knew my Uncle Leo you could totally see being 15 and popping in to chat. He’s entertaining, Uncle Leo is. That’s why when he and Aunt Kathy divorced, we kept him.

We all apologize, Aunt Kathy. But dude is funny.

The point is, Uncle Leo was making Cardinal watch a slide show, and maybe he’s not as entertaining as we think. My Uncle Leo gets…into things. Like, he gets a hobby, let’s say sailor hats. And then for a year you gotta hear about sailor hats, and when they were invented, and then he starts making his own sailor hats and all you want to do after that year is burn down every sailor and every hat in the nation.

I don’t even know that “sailor hats” are a thing.

But the point is he was into photography then, and he’d taken pictures of me, at 15, dressing up in my grandma’s clothes. Oh, I thought I was hilarious with this. I had on a babushka and her cat-eye sunglasses and her gramma shoes. And Uncle Leo showed these slides to Cardinal.

For some reason, this enticed Cardinal, who has a little weird in him, too. He just hides it better by being socially acceptable. So he called me. And we became a high school thing.

You may have guessed that my romance eventually ended, as I am not mentioning my husband Cardinal that often. You’d think after 11 and a half years of blogging I’d have brought him up.

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But we’ve always been friends. Also, Ima have to recapture and reupload all these damn photos again, because dredging them from my old blog doesn’t really work. I really need you to see every nuance of my 1988 perm and my 1988 white zinfandel, up there, and you cannot.

IMG_7492.jpgIMG_7490.jpgYesterday I saw my high school boyfriend Cardinal Hunter. He lives outside of Seattle, and yes, we both lived there at the same time for awhile. He was here because most of his family lives in North Carolina, which is weird, right? I can’t shake that damn Cardinal Hunter. It’s like tryina get a taffy wrapper off my hands.

He was glad to meet my kittens, and he was way into meeting Edsel. “How many pets do you guys have now?” I asked him, because he’s like me with the pets. “Just two cats and two dogs,” he said.

So, reasonable. When you’re us.

There was one time he had a mastiff and two Newfoundlands. That was small, over at his house, is what it was. What dogs? You have dogs?

IMG_7507 2.jpgHe fell particularly in love with Erin, that tortoiseshell one, as she is a big starer. Eye contact is kind of her jam.

(And in case anyone’s worried, I have been feeding runty Elizabeth a bottle and she’s taking it, so, yay.)

After the kitten intros, we walked Edsel and eventually tried to get a drink somewhere, but my stupid city has decided Wednesday is a big party night, so it took awhile to find anywhere, but we did. We were like that song by Dan Fogelberg, where it’s Christmas Eve and he runs into his ex and they can’t find an open bar and they buy a six-pack at the liquor store.

And they drank it in her car. Which sounds legal.

After our drink, Cardinal had to start driving back to his sister’s place an hour away, so we said our goodbyes. I was just shutting off the lights when the doorbell rang.

“Woof,” remarked Eds.

“I forgot. I got you this,” said Cardinal.

It was a Mallow Cup.

In high school, he’d always go to the party store, which is what we called convenience stores in Michigan, and he’d get a disgusting Cadberry Egg and I’d get a Mallow Cup. And then we’d eat them in his car. Which was probably legal. Other stuff we did in there probably wasn’t.

img_7494.jpgAnd that, my friends, is how a February 1982 phone call resulted in weird June Gardens nostalgically eating marshmallow in a cup in 2018. Just for a moment I was back in school. And felt that old familiar weirdness.

Love,
June

40 thoughts on “With better legs

  1. I have looked back at these comments no less than 4 times, possibly this made the fifth…
    Was Cardinal’s current relationship status mentioned previously and I missed it?
    If it was mentioned and he’s taken, I’m so glad you had a lovely evening! Wonderful to catch up with someone from the past – something I don’t do enough of!
    If it was mentioned and he’s single, or if it wasn’t mentioned… he’s handsome, and I can’t believe no one was nosy enough (like I am) to inquire about any possible chemistry! (Although..I’m not officially inquiring, because I’m positive that would be annoying.)

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  2. Well now what should I come across today in this book I’m reading, Sleuths, by Gail Bowen:

    “Only 1 of 3,000 tortoiseshell cats is male.”

    It’s a book about writing crime fiction, by a successful crime fiction writer, but still … she’s a cat lover, bet she knows.

    -Kate

    PS I don’t read your comments (who has time, you popular chick, you!) so if someone else has already offered this info, forgive my redundancy!

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  3. I miss the two if you being around the house (You and cardinal). He was your boyfriend when your saintly step-father and I got married.

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  4. Great post! You got me thinking of a friend from high school. He always had me laughing. I lost touch and never could find him.

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  5. My husband is obsessed with Mallow Cups. We can’t get them where we live, so every time someone visits him from back home, they bring them. He saves those stupid prize thingies, and he has drawers full of them. I’M IRKED.

    If kittens stayed kittens, I would have dozens of them. They are seriously so damn cute! Thank you for the Elizabeth update. You know how I worry.

    Nothing better than seeing old friends in person. And you ARE that funny!

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  6. Great post, June. I really admire your ability to keep in touch with people. I have never been good at that. Then I remember that communication goes both ways. Then I feel bad about my ability to connect with people. Ok enough self reflection. Kitten pictures, YAY!

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  7. P.S. Both of my high school boyfriends have died in the last couple of years. It’s heartbreaking to know that we will never speak again.

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  8. Awww, this is a great post. That Cardinal has kept his good looks and his good character. One wonders if he also has a nice class ring.
    I loved this so much.

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  9. I love those round about moments that shoot me back to long ago. One of my high school friends recently posted a picture of himself in a pair of black and white checked Vans just like he used to wear in high school. I told him it was like getting in the way back time machine.

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  10. Students are testing. I am cheating. The part where Cardinal brought you the MallowCup stole my heart.

    Glad you caught up with him!

    Lovely post, lovely June!

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  11. What a lovely post. Your writing continues to charm, which is such a great talent. Such a nice reunion with a high school boy friend.

    So glad Elizabeth is eating the extra bottle really well.

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  12. What a great evening you had. Catching up with old friends is always so enjoyable! However, my high school boyfriend is now my ex-husband and I don’t care to ever see him again.

    I’ve never had a Mallow Cup and now I feel I’ve missed out.

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  13. I just love how those awkward high school days can come back and back and back. What a nice reunion for you both. Your uncle Leo sounds like a gem too. But what we all want to know is, what really irked you?

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  14. Loved this post, June. How nice to catch up with an old flame/friend.

    I couldn’t help but notice the “Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery” on the Mallo Cup flyer thingy.
    My how times have changed…

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  15. Oh, yes, pleated grey corduroy pants. And if they were like mine, they likely tapered to the ankle, because THAT’S a good look on exactly no one. I also had Lee pinstriped jeans. I loved those things. In fairness, my friend J. wore them, too, and she was cooler than me, so . . .

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  16. Great post. Scotty Baldwin, I had clean forgotten about him, now I must google him. I love, love, love that Dan Folgerberg song but some dick decided that since they talk about the snow falling on Christmas Eve that this is now a Christmas song so that is the only time it is every played anymore.

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  17. Ah, Scotty Baldwin – played by the worst actor on the face of the Earth! I had forgotten all about him!

    So, tell us what irked you in high school! I’d love to know. Or better than that . . . we should all guess. I’ll start with people who remind the teacher to assign homework.

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  18. Another stunning piece of writing. You are in the zone this week. I always enjoy your writing but you are exceptional this week. Plus kittens and the mom! I think you are incredibly right with the universe right now.

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  19. Please tell me his real name is Cardinal Hunter. PLEASE. I would have fell in love with if for no other reason than his name. Think of the fun you could have with your friends of the Catholic persuasion. Yes. I seduced Cardinal Hunter. I was ALL Maggie and he was Father Ralph.

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