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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday 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?
He 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.
And 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.