When we were teenagers, my best friend was Bob (mentioned on Day 2 — Gumby earrings, remember? No? Don’t blame you), only we didnt go to the same high school. There were two high schools in our town, and we were the misfit new wavers at both of them.
But one summer, after I had flunked Geometry and Bob had flunked something else, the two schools merged and we got to go to summer school together. We were thrilled. Every day we’d meet after class and traipse off downtown or to Berkeley, wishing we did go to the same school so we could do this all the time. (Except we usually fought horribly, because we were too smart and catty for our own good. Despite flunking our classes.)
One day we decided to have a “Bag of Tricks” day, and give each other presents. I shopped and plotted the perfect bag of goods, wanting it to be fabulous. I don’t remember what I got him, but I’m sure it had a mix-tape and something Felix the Cat related. After class we were so excited to present them to one another, and we sat down in the quad and handed them over ceremoniously.
He handed over a plain brown paper bag with “BAG O’TRICKS” written on it, and I remember feeling a slight pang of disappointment. I’d decorated my bag for him with colored markers and had made it “groovy,” and it looked like he’d made no effort at all. I pulled out a wooden puzzle, some bubbles, and a THING. A thing that was a face on a brain on bendable legs that looked like string beans.
“That’s PET!” he crowed. It was the BEST PRESENT EVER.
Pet became our mascot. We took him everywhere. He was always always tucked in my backpack or purse, or rode around on the dashboard of our friend Traecy’s car and then mine when I got one. People thought we were weird, and we liked that. Pet was a great pet — he required no food or brushing or walks. But one day, at a party in my old apartment in Berkeley, Pet was stolen. I was bereft for many, many years.
Every so often I’d look on eBay, but I didn’t know what to look for. I knew that Pet had been some sort of D&D character (Bob had told me he’d found it at Woolworth’s in a clearance bin and threw away the package), but we never played D&D so we had no idea what Pet actually was. I’d Google “D&D,” “brain,” “legs,” but nothing. Pet was gone forever.
At that time, I thought Bob was gone forever, too. He’d appeared on Facebook for a few seconds, but then was gone again. I was sad — Bob was a huge part of my high school years, in fact, I think he was the biggest part. At first I was madly in love with him, and he gave me my first sloppy kiss in the MacArthur BART station bathroom on our way to a Three O’Clock show. (Wine coolers were involved.) But of course he was gay, so really we set our course to being fabulous. And as I said, we fought like crazy, because we were so bitchy and wicked and smart and campy, and stuck in the suburbs and tormented by the “normal” kids. We couldn’t lash out at them, so we took our insecurities out on one another, because we knew we’d bounce back. And we always did, dramatically, crying over Beatles or Nina Hagen songs. But we drifted apart, and it had been years since I’d seen him.
But a couple of years ago he tracked me down, and we resumed our friendship right where we left off. We’re both still weird, and we’re constantly in awe that neither of us have changed much since high school — maybe a bit (a BIT) more refined, but we’re still the same. We knew who we were back then, and I guess since we had to fight so hard to be ourselves, we were destined to stick with it for life.
Right before we planned to see each other again — at a Three O’Clock reunion show which was wildly and wonderfully appropriate — I did a Google search again, thinking how amazing it would be if I found Pet. And lo and behold, jackpot. He was on a Buy it Now on eBay (his real name is something like Groogulous or something — I blocked it out), and when I got to hug Bob for the first time in years, Pet was there and we laughed and jumped up and down, like the fifteen year-olds we will always be.
Being reunited with Bob is one of the best things in my life. Now we don’t fight — we don’t have to protect ourselves anymore — instead we text each other to say “I love you” and link YouTube videos of favorite songs and funny photos. Last night we went out and celebrated Bob’s 47th birthday at The Tonga Room. It was a lovely night of fun and laughs with friends, and as we hugged goodbye in front of The Fairmont Hotel I said, “My, aren’t we sophisticated!”
“We’re all grown up and mature and shit,” he said, while wearing a pink sport-coat with pineapples on it, white bucks, and giant blue sunglasses to match his blue hair.
“I don’t know about that,” I said, getting into Laura’s car. “I have Pet in my purse.”
And on BART on the way home, I noticed I was getting funny looks. I’m pretty used to that, and I was wearing a tiki dress and leopard coat in a sea of Giants fans, and carrying a dry-cleaning bag with a beautiful vintage cashmere coat Laura had given me. But then I looked down and saw what people were looking at:
Yeah, I had to agree. It was pretty weird.
And I still liked it.