My Mom Is Ruining My Life (Logan Bond Novels) by Beverly J. Crawford
My very first BFF was a boy. That says a lot about me right off the bat.
I was a real tomboy. Though I didn’t have any brothers, I was born in 1955 and grew up immersed in TV Westerns like “Wagon Train” and “Black Saddle.” My ambition in life at age 4 was to be a cowboy. Not a cow-GIRL, mind you, but a cow-BOY. I guess my parents actually bought me a cowboy suit, because I have pictures of me wearing one.
In the summer of 1959, we had just migrated from the city to our brand new dream house in suburban Maryland. Bethesda was a sleepy hamlet on a winding two-lane called Old Georgetown Road, and North Bethesda was a suburb newly carved out of farmland and forest. This was before there was even a Capital Beltway to draw a line between those who lived ‘inside the Beltway’ and ‘outside the Beltway.’
When friends and relatives questioned my parents’ decision to abandon their smart Northwest D.C. apartment and move to ‘the middle of nowhere,’ their response was that they wanted their kids to grow up with a yard to play in. My mother always said that the irony was that we kids preferred to play in the street.
Our new neighborhood was filled with people like my mom and dad, men and women from all over the country who had flocked to Washington to work for the government during and after World War II. Many of them had decided to stay in the area and put down roots, participating in the postwar ‘Baby Boom.’
The vast majority of mothers in our development stayed home to keep house and raise the kids, while the fathers took the family cars to work. We kids had a lot of freedom to explore and to make the rounds from house to house to play with our friends. Somebody’s mom would always be there to keep an eye on us.
Enter my very first BFF. His name was Phillip, a friendly, precocious towhead like ‘Dennis the Menace’ who owned every awesome toy ever made for boys and was willing to share them with me — my dream guy! Phillip lived four doors up the street with his parents and older sister, and his dad was a nuclear physicist. They were from Seattle and drove a Peugeot, which seemed quite exotic to me at the time. At 4 or 5, I hadn’t even heard of Seattle OR Peugeots.
I remember a lot about playing at Phillip’s house. He had every big Tonka truck ever made, including the fire engine with the real hose that squirted real water. We would go in the recreation room where his mom was ironing and race the trucks from one end of the room to the other. She would start our races by saying, “One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to GO!” I can still see her at the ironing board – the picture of suburban domesticity.
Phillip and I liked to take the braided throw rug from his bedroom out into the living room, where we would toss it up in the air and watch it land in a heap on the floor. This became a mountain upon which we would drive his large collection of Matchbox cars, zooming over the crests and through the tunnels formed by the folds of the rug. No two mountains were ever alike.
For Phillip’s birthday, we gave him a set of multicolored plastic figures from the Old West. He and I would play with these for hours, acting out the imaginary adventures of cowboys, outlaws and wagon trains on the living room furniture.
When Phillip came over to my house, the main novelty for him was my baby sister. My mother loved it when he lisped, “I LIKE your baby.” My sister would drool and smile. I liked her, too, but for me the novelty had worn off. It was more exciting to go play at Phillip’s house.
A crisis came one day before Christmas. Phillip told me flat out that there was no such thing as Santa Claus; your parents were the ones who filled your stocking and left you gifts. He backed it up by saying that his dad was a scientist, so he knew whether something was real or not.
Of course, this shook me to my very core. My parents had always given me the distinct impression that Santa lived and breathed, but could my BFF be wrong about such a grave matter? I ran home and confronted my mom immediately, seeking the 411 on the man in the red suit. I asked her if Santa was real.
Her answer was somewhat evasive. “Santa Claus is someone who loves you and wants to make you happy,” she said. Hmm. As I hesitated, she quickly followed up with, “And he won’t come if you don’t believe in him.” Slam dunk!
I quickly blurted out, “I believe, I believe, I believe.” From then on, I had my doubts, but I hedged my bets and remained mute on the subject with Phillip.
Then one day, I found out that Phillip was moving back to Washington state, and I would never see him again. I remember that his mom gave me one of his old shirts, maybe because it still had some wear in it or maybe because I had loved it so much — or had loved him so much.
I lost my first best friend, but he had made such an impression on me that I always remembered him. I found a card the other day that Phillip had sent me for my sixth birthday with his name scrawled in crayon. There was also a Christmas card with a grinning blond Phillip posing with his sister in front of their house in Seattle.
I would make other friends in that neighborhood and throughout my life, but I guess your very first BFF is the one that you’ll never forget.