Friday, June 17, 2011


     My best friend in the entire world is Pocahontas.  She and I met under unlikely circumstances but ours is a bond that has lasted over a decade and will continue on forever.  I’ll keep it short and sweet, but I have to start with a little background.

     I like the outdoors as long as there is something to actually DO and the promise of a hot shower and air conditioning is not far behind.  I hate eating outside at "cook outs" because of the bugs, the stickiness, the wind, the constant sweating, and the inevitable nausea that comes from being overheated.  Also, I've never understood the logic behind, "HEY!!! It's a thousand degrees in the shade and the grass is so dry we could use it for meat skewers let's light a fire and eat with the flies and wasps!!!!"  It was at one such festive, nauseating, bug-infested “cook out” that I met Pocahontas.  A mutual friend of ours was having an engagement party at a park in the middle of August on an afternoon where the air outside was so hot and humid, it was like trying to breathe through a wet dog.  The nausea was already setting in and I hadn’t even made it to the picnic shelter yet.  I could faintly smell the aroma of sunscreen, lighter fluid, and a dirty diaper and was already on the verge of dragging myself back to the car.  I managed to make it to the shelter and find a sweaty bottle of water that used to be cold until the ice melted into a helpless lukewarm pool.  The Yankee was having a great time talking with the other guys and asking who was winning in the volleyball game being played in the sand pit next to the shelter.  Those players were so dehydrated they looked like zombies and I haven’t seen faces that red since Preacher Swanson read the youth bathroom wall out loud at my cousin’s church one Sunday.  I found a semi-shaded spot between a wall and the table of hot dog buns so when I fainted, I would have somewhere soft and vitamin-enriched to land.  Next to me was a moderately pregnant, blonde beauty queen who looked as miserable as I was.  I chugged my lukewarm water and said, “Don’t you love cook outs?”  She cut her blue eyes at me and, with a Southern drawl even worse than my own, said, “’Bout as much as I love Yankee cornbread.” 

     That did it.  We had the best time comparing stories about growing up in the South, how nauseous we were, could it get any hotter, and how we came to meet our mutual friends.  Neither one of us ate but stayed in our soft, vitamin enriched corner, willing each other to stay conscious.  It was awesome.  I found out that she had two college degrees, but was just as snarky and down to earth as I am.  We understood each other, we made each other laugh, and found out our husbands had similarities.  And when she looked over at me with her own sweaty bottle of lukewarm water and said, “Y’all come go with us” and I answered with the requisite, “Wish we could”, our friendship was cemented.  It was the greatest nauseated hour I have ever spent and to this day, we laugh every time someone mentions a cook out.  Her husband, Sarge, turned out to be as delightful company as Pocahontas and our families have somehow become intertwined.  I cried when her mother died and she cried when I struggled with secondary infertility.  She rejoices when Buttercup learns some new way of coping with her autism, and I rejoice when her genius daughter, Blondie, wins another award for writing Newberry-worthy stories at 8 years old.  

    I learned something that day.  Sometimes when you suffer through an experience you hate for the sake of loved ones, you are rewarded with something even greater.  Had I not trudged up that hill, suffered through the bugs and sticky misery of that horrible cook out, I would never have met Pocahontas and Sarge.  The Yankee wouldn’t have someone to swap military stories with and I would have missed out on the greatest friendship and support system ever known.  We will be friends forever; we know far too much about each other and it would behoove us both to maintain a peaceful coexistence.  I also learned something else that overheated afternoon: laughter really is the best medicine, no matter how worn out that phrase sounds.  If I had not had the hilarious conversation with Pocahontas, I would most certainly have needed that soft, vitamin-enriched landing pad.  Because I know the nausea would have gotten the best of me and I would have fainted.  And then I wouldn’t have a friend, but a weird, hot dog bun shaped scar on my head to remember that miserable cook out.  

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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