Picking Friends

There’s something special about somebody who knew you when you were still getting money from the tooth fairy. 

Somebody who learned to read Tip and Mitten and write in cursive with you. 

Somebody who knew you when you brought your lunch to school in a Casper the Ghost lunchbox. 

Somebody who bet she could swing higher than you on the playground. 

I had lunch with an old friend this week whom I hadn’t seen in over twenty years.  Debbie and I started first grade together in 1967 and with the exception of a couple of years when I transferred to the elementary school where my mom was teaching, we went through all twelve years of school together.  

I knew her when she wore braces on her teeth. 

Debbie’s on the left looking at the camera, I’m in the middle, and that’s our friend, Amy, on the far right, during one of our junior high football games. We thought we were so big getting to march at the high school stadium.

In the fifth grade she was still trying to teach me to play softball and jump rope. 

She had incredible patience. 

We learned to play the clarinet the summer before our seventh grade year, and for the next six years we sat through rehearsals and rode on chartered busses and marched on football fields together.

Debbie was really good at playing the clarinet.  I was really good at playing. 

I could always count on Debbie as my loyal sidekick in a spree of practical jokes we played on our section leader when we were juniors. 

Debbie and I ‘honored’ our section leader, Cheri, with the ‘Turkey of the Year’ award in 1977, making her wear turkey feathers. It didn’t occur to us that we looked just as stupid dressed as pilgrims….

And at the end of our senior year Debbie actually let me play in a clarinet quartet with her for U.I.L. Solo and Ensemble competition.  Being the immature prankster that I was at 17, I thought it would be hilarious to show up at school wearing my fake arm cast the day before the contest.  I’d never seen Debbie mad until she found out the cast was fake. 

There’s something very special about being with someone who was your friend when you were a kid. 

Even more special when you realize that after 45 years you’d pick them out to be your friend all over again.


In 1979 it was common practice for senior girls to have luncheons with their closest girlfriends, and this is a picture from mine. That’s me in the middle in the black dress and Debbie’s sitting left of me in the picture. From left, Julie Sandefur, Keri Nicks, Karen Baber, Karrie Thompson, Cheri Cole, Carolyn Jones, Diane Byrnes, and Linda Marks. I knew how to pick sweet friends then – and I still do.



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