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Fifty and Fabulous

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Jo Mo Rob MT

A tribute to my Gal Pals!

So many of my fabulous, lifelong friends are turning 50 this year. It's almost impossible to believe, quite frankly, because 50 seems to be the one that somehow just snuck on up me. It just doesn't seem right that 50 is knocking on my door, but wench that she is, she's just about here. 

Now my math skills are just as horrendous as they used to be, so I know that 50 didn't just pop out of the blue, say, like right after 35. But still, it does seem to have mysteriously leapfrogged after 40 without any warning. To tell you the truth, I’m not that thrilled.

Don’t get me wrong - it is better than the alternative but with all the hot flashes and migraines and having to check the 50+ age box on doctor’s forms, well, things could be better. Next thing you know, the AARP people will be sending me their snarky little letters about reverse mortgages and long-term care. Who needs that?

So before any of that nonsense makes an appearance, I've got a few things to say to my dear girlfriends. All of you know who you are, but I'm going to name names anyway. If I miss some of you, blame it on fading memory or a bad night's sleep. Three kids under the age of nine will do that to a girl but none of it means I don't love (or remember) you.

What did you say your name was?

Darling Karen (KB), Moo, Tara, Jill (oh, your day is coming, sister), Dineen (how I miss you), Carla (a year late is fine with me), Kim, and Hara:

I love each and every one of you.

I remember every single crazy laugh that made us hold our sides and beg each other to stop because we thought we would die laughing. Now that I'm older, I honestly hope that's how I go out when the day comes.

The friends we make along the way...

KB: I can feel the melting creamsicles that ran down our hands and between our fingers on those hot summer days on Kelly Boulevard when we stayed out until the sun came down, filthy and sweaty and running with our ponytails tangled and long, and not a care about how we looked in our shorts. Not a care! Can you even imagine? It was possible we didn’t care about how our bodies looked from any angle in any article of clothing. Take me back to those days puh-lease!

We played outside all day, loved every minute of it, and couldn't wait to do it again the next day. Karen, I have no idea how many hours we clocked on your steps or on our bikes how many secrets we told each and in your room or mine. How many walks to and from the mall...how many sundaes at Farrell's? How many best friend pacts? How much do I still love you?...and how amazing to still have you across the miles and for you to have been the one to talk me through the miscarriages and IVF treatments and the miserable ups and downs until along came Morgan. I love you, sister. Happy Birthday 10/22.

BTW, just how many times did we see Grizzly or Sgt. Peppers? I want to know.  And I suddenly have a hankering for Bottlecaps.

Moo: Happy Birthday! Today! Woo hoo! What would high school have been like without each other? Or hairspray? Joan Jett? Working at my dad’s bagel bakery? Do you know I still have some of the notes we passed to each other in the hallways? Watching you lose your mom felt - and still does - feel like a loss in my own family. I think of her all the time. I see us in your bedroom using your curling iron and dancing around like we were (we really were!) something special. I can still see you doing your crazy gymnastics stretches. No human being should be sit on the floor, stretch out her legs out to either side and lean forward and place her entire upper body flat against the floor. It’s just not right.

Once you got your license, our entire world opened up. I’d mention some of the boys here but I think they’re all on Facebook and they already got more than they deserved. Let’s keep their names to ourselves.

Tara and Jill: What happens at BU stays at BU. Maybe it’s the reason Dineen left us too soon…too much evidence, God rest her soul. But the two of you are the glue and laugh track that have sustained me for my entire life. I love you both, unconditionally (and thank God--you both know too much). You have been my river of strength, my sanity (and my crazy) for so long, I hear your voices (calling Dr. Freud) for better and for worse. Tara, you are my default editor for all things professional and you, darling Jill, for all things snarky. The three of us should have embarked on a Hallmark line of our own years ago. And Tara, you are correct: if one us ever runs for office, the other one has to die. I'm so proud to be in each of your circles, ladies. I have no idea what that means, but it sounded like something I should write.

T-Bone: I'm so glad you are older than me. I cannot wait to gloat for TWO FULL WEEKS. DID I MENTION TWO FULL WEEKS? GOD, YOU REALLY YOU ARE OLDER THAN ME. Do you realize you will be IN YOUR 50’s while I will still be in my 40’s for TWO WHOLE WEEKS? I am going to torture you for 14 days. Just wait: it's coming. September 7th for all those who want to get a head start.

Jilligan, Jilligan: My sister from another mother. Somehow that only works with the word brother. Note to self. FYI, don’t feel too badly - you only look 49 which is good, since you are only 49. Next year will be your time, but I wouldn't want you to feel left out this go-round. I would say we were sisters separated at birth but then that would make Myrna your mother, and I love you too much to do that to you. September 17th.

See? This is what it means to have lifelong girlfriends. You look back and you remember laughter so hard that you can still feel the wonderful pain in your ribs (but you can't remember the joke). You remember crying so hard over painful breakups (and you always remember those boyfriends, even when you want to forget their names, go figure) but you never forget how your girlfriends nursed you back to health.

And now for my dear friend, Carla, aka Chooch. Carla is the best cook I know, hands down. She is also the craziest (in a good way) human being I know, hands down. I say that as a joke, because I'm convinced she knows a lot of leg breakers. She is also the least judgmental person I have ever known. You could call her with your one phone call from prison and tell her you accidentally killed, say, the Pope (God forbid) or your favorite aunt (also, not intentionally, but still) and she'd find a way to spin it so it would be (almost) believable, and more importantly,k forgivable, and cause for a drink.

She also has a way of making just about anything better with a big bowl of anything covered in vodka sauce. Which is one of the reasons that make her such a good friend. We used to throw the most outrageous cocktail parties in Chicago where we would literally cook for 50 people in a kitchen that didn't even have enough space for a table or standing room for one. Still, an invitation for those shindigs was pretty coveted and the reviews were pretty darn good, if I might say so myself. On one memorable evening we made lobster enchiladas, tostadas, Mexican baked mini pumpkin custard (in mini pumpkins-to die-for), killer guacamole (10 pounds!) and about 100 empanadas in that tiny kitchen. Amazing. And that was before we served dinner.

Carla (and Jill) and I closed down many a bar (or two) in Chicago and God knows, we've seen our share of some crazy in that fabulous city. There were some interesting incidents involving (from the top of my head, of course): Kevin Costner, Gibson’s, a glass of champagne, a fur coat and a police officer (although not in that order), a man we liked to call Less-is-More, another who looked like John Gotti, and several we prefer to forget. One goes by the name of Peeps. Let’s not forget the Big G.

Kim is my sage BU partner in crime, whose friendship I cherish and with whom I can have an entire conversation with a single eye roll. Oh, dear Kim, if those Dugout walls could talk, we'd be in a helluva lot of trouble and banned from the city of Boston. At the very least, there would likely be a warrant out for our arrest. Let's put it this way, she and I have a very long memory. Sadly. And just to prove just how in sync we are, I took a break from writing this blog today to check my mail and received a fabulous Happy Girlfriends Day card from Kim today, and in it, a little silver key, with the word Laughter on it. Kim, I love you too. This is what I'm saying.

And last but not least, God did not give me a sister, but he gave me Hara, who is my first cousin, which is almost the same as a sister (at least when our mothers are sisters, and in our case, it's pretty much the same thing). This past week, my cousin Hara, who is ONE YEAR AND SIX DAYS OLDER THAN ME, AND IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, LET ME SAY IT AGAIN - MY COUSIN HARA IS ONE YEAR AND SIX DAYS OLDER THAN ME! THERE. I said it. 

Anyway...this week, my wonderful cousin Hara, in cahoots with my husband and daughter Julia, gave me an Easy Bake Oven. When we were kids, she got one and I didn't. Did you know that you used to be able to make a chocolate cake with a tiny light bulb in like... three minutes?

Anyway, my darling cousin Hara had no idea I had been harboring this terrible sadness (animosity) about not having an EBO of my own for these past 45 years. So this week when my family and I were on vacation in Florida visiting my mom and aunts and cousins, etc., who should be there but Hara (yes, the one who is one year and six days older, don't think I mentioned that yet).

She just happened to learn from my darling husband about my childhood trauma of not having said EBO. Well, to my great surprise (and hopefully, their eternal relief at never having to hear this insanely annoying tale again) they gave me one as a gift. Woo hool!

My cousin Hara who taught me so much: how to swim in the deep end, do somersaults underwater (nose plugs required), who traded makeup with me for hours, taught me about boys and life and everything that she knew and I possibly couldn't because she was so wise and smart and beautiful and sage (being one year and six days older) and gave me someone to look up to from the time I was born and someone to aspire to be like, gave me an early 50th birthday wish come true:

By getting my coveted EBO, I got my true coveted wish from my childhood... to be just like my childhood hero, my perfect wonderful, perfectly perfect, cousin Hara.

Ladies, I love each of you so very much.

xoxoxo Jo 

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