I Enjoyed Reconnecting With My Childhood BFF


I spent this week with Bonnie, my best friend from childhood. Bonnie and I lived a few houses apart and across the street from each other, but we were thrown together by my mother, who tossed me out the door on move-in day with the directive, “Go make friends.” My brother Jimmy was with me. He was 5, and I was 7.

“But we don’t know how!” we wailed.

“Just say, ‘Hi,’ and tell them your name,” mom answered. Thump. The door closed. Jimmy and I made a mental note of what it looked like, in case we had to find it again. Then we stumbled onto the sidewalk and turned right. We weren’t allowed to cross the street, but evidently Bonnie was because she came slowly into view on our designated sidewalk. Jimmy spotted her first and raced toward her, yelling at the top of his lungs, “Hi! I’m Jimmy! Hi! I’m Jimmy!” Of course, I had to follow suit. “Hi! I’m Debbie! I’m bigger than him!” (Had to play the age card, since he was a good 10 yards ahead already.)

So poor little Bonnie, previously alone with her thoughts, was startled into friendship by too weirdly enthusiastic new neighbors on a mission. To this day, Jim feels cheated that Bonnie ended up as my friend just because she was a girl. (“I saw her first,” he’ll pout.)

The following Monday morning, when I discovered that I had been put into Bonnie’s class, the die was cast. We were almost required to be best friends. We walked to and from school together for the next 11 years and spent well over half our free time together. That’s a lot of face time.

I would go to Bonnie’s house when I wanted peace and quiet. Her parents were older, and she had a half-sister so old she actually had her own house. Her two brothers kept mainly to themselves. Plus, the TV had been banished to the basement.

We’d listen to records, play games and plan adventures. On Sundays, I always hoped that her mother would invite me to dinner, since they had root beer floats and popcorn for dinner every Sunday. Can you imagine that? Soda and popcorn for dinner!

At our house, soda had been banished to the basement because if there was one thing my three younger siblings and I did not need, it was a sugar high. We were bouncing off the walls as it was. We would ride laundry baskets down the stairs, ski off the roof of the garage, invert the frames on our bicycles to put them together a whole new way. At one of our barbecues, my dad gave Bonnie a bun containing a rubber hotdog. She told me the only fun she ever had growing up was at my house.

It was great to reconnect with her as I was the first one to get married, and it was a sad parting of the ways. Bonnie was my maid of honor, of course, and I was hers, yet I had the better wedding — her mother threw me a shower, on a Sunday. Root beer floats and popcorn for everyone!