Marlette recently gave me a book.
Well, “Marlette” isn’t her real name, but it’s the name chosen to describe her. A name that is as singular as she was – is. A name that will stick in your head, long after my name is gone from your memory banks. Oh wait, you don’t know my name, so I suppose that last point is sort of moot. Never the mind. Growing up, Marlette was to me the Punk Rock Queen of my little suburban jungle. Despite all the others (myself included), Marlette was the real deal. And despite all the others (myself included), she treated me like I mattered. Like I had something to offer. Possibly the first to ever do so besides the most decidedly Not Punk Rock Queen Debbie. A could-have-been-friend from grammar school (but I was an idiot in grammar school, and pissed away my friendship with Debbie by picking on her mentally-challenged brother, all in a vein effort to gain an acceptance from the rest of the class. An outcome that was ultimately unrealized, and a story I am still far too ashamed to tell, even though I have a gut feeling that one day Jesus will want to have it recapped).
Anywho, Marlette and I grew close enough that the one day she abruptly ran from the classroom in tears, Mr. K. (a VERY cool person in his own right who was a math teacher by trade and happily married, yet soooooo gay. He had an unbridled love of Tina Turner and sported a bolo tie while having a paper skeleton hanging from his wall that he called “Karen Carpenter.” I know, it’s not funny, but we all thought it was at the time – the skeleton bit, not the bolo) gave me the immediate task of running after her to see what was the matter. And I did. What followed was a conversation I can’t remember, but an honor I never forgot. She was possibly the first true best friend I ever had, and one that – while occasionally slipping from immediate memory – has never left my heart. Via the wonder of facebook, we reconnected many years after our youthful adventures. And while the majority of my high school friends have long since unfriended themselves as a result of me unfriending them, due in part to our never actually being friends in the first place, I have never once allowed Mrs. Marlette (now married to a good man who shares with her a beautiful daughter) to slip away.
So, this year she decided to drop off a used book at my house that she happened to have two copies of. A book that she had promised twice before, but twice before had been unable to deliver. This time however, with beautiful daughter and a rather silly dog in tow, she decided to slowly drive down my street (as a result of her not remembering the exact address), in the hopes of finding “something telling” about my abode that would make her realize it was my house (she mentioned the possibility of there being a large anarchy “A” emblazoned upon our front window or some such thing to that effect. I have no idea why…). Rest assured, there is nothing particularly notable about my house, outside of it’s being a color that while I could SWEAR is grey, C knows FOR A FACT is blue – and based on this alone, Marlette would have never found it. To her surprise and mine however, I just happened to be leaving my house at the EXACT moment she came into view, so my eyes were already trained on the crazy Ontario plates (we’re used to seeing them up here) that I saw attached to the car that was coming at a painfully slow (even for a Canadian) speed down my street. When our eyes met, I knew, and so did she. All those years later and she hadn’t aged a day. Well, that’s not true. That would be rather stupid, in fact. She has aged, but she’s aged well. Much like former Marine Corps friends I have reconnected with (and unlike many of the high school ones), she is a wholly new person as a result of years of experiences, and yet still totally true to the Marlette I once knew. In short, she’s allowed herself to grow, but without losing sight of who she is.
Past the surprise of recognizing and meeting each other literally in the middle of the street, we shared a brief moment, a hug and an introduction to a beautiful daughter and the rather silly dog – neither of whom felt very talkative. A one-way present exchange later and she was on her way, her Ontario plates back up to a New York speed and vanishing from view.
It was a mere several minutes spent between us, and I was OK with that.
She is still the “Punk Rock Queen” of my youth, but I’ll never tell her that. In part because I don’t feel she’d be too pleased with the crown. I’m none to sure she’d be cool with crowns of any sort, actually. The book she gave me turned out to actually be two – one devoted to Heavy Metal coloring activities (didn’t know that existed, did you?), and the other, the one promised twice before titled – as you might have guessed from the picture above – “Roman Candle”. A book (my fourth to date), about the life and times of Bobby Darin.
The original intent of this post was actually to describe some of the things I have been discovering about B.D. as a result of obtaining this book, even after having already rabidly read the three others I already own on him. I may still at some point decide to put all those nuggets of info into a post for you (be forewarned, a great deal of it ain’t pretty – and some even less so). But as for this post, I guess it has turned instead into a recollection about Marlette and how having one good friend – one great friend in fact – can help you to make a life worthwhile. And while – even after reading four books about him – I still don’t truly “know” the man, I’m thinking that Bobby would be pretty cool with the idea of being bounced for something as important as that.