“In the beginning, I hated her guts. That is– until I found out she was just like me.”—Kim Sisto Robinson
I heard about her second hour from my friend, Keeker, whom continually informed me on such matters of importance.
“Have you heard of Sue Rangie?” He asked.
He hesitated, shifted his lips around like a slow moving washing machine.
“Because she’s in your gym class, and she’s, um, going out with Mike Lombardi, too.”
A surge of heat traveled from my toes to the top of my scalp. Oh, god, jealously could slay somebody.
“She’s in your fifth hour, just ask her.”
“Believe me, I will,” I said. I acted all secure and cool, but I knew I’d probably remain quiet and just stare at this person who was most likely everything I wasn’t. I visualized her as a long legged, blonde cheerleader.
I thought, ‘this is how wars begin.’
We had Mrs. T. for gym class. A horse of a woman. A Nazi. A mean as Hell dictator. Once, and I don’t have all the facts, she slapped Jan Anderson across the face for lying about having her period. Several of us lied about having our periods to get out of swimming, but Mrs. T. had our numbers and eventually all of us girls who despised getting our hair wet, our lipstick smeared, had to bring in doctor notes.
When I walked into class, I asked one of the gym monitors who Sue Rangie was. The monitor pointed to the thin blond on the tiled floor performing arm circles. I was right to envision her precisely as I did. Her appearance was even more than I anticipated.
Bitch- Bitch- Bitch. She was probably a nice person.
Completely out of character, I stood next to her and started circling my arms, as well.
Mrs. T. strolled around the aged floor like SS soldier. “Arms strait! Don’t bend your elbows! That’s not right, Rolizo! What’s wrong with you people?” I waited until she walked past me before I spoke.
“Are you going out with Mike Lombardi?” I abruptly asked, still circling my arms.
She looked at me. Unsmiling. A puzzle inside her big brown eyes.
“Why?” She asked.
“Because he’s my boyfriend.”
She scanned me up and down slowly, deliberately, and I remember thinking, ‘Shit, she has nice arms.”
“Well,” she said, “He’s my boyfriend, too.”
We continued circling our arms in silence.
Mike Lombardi. I mean, the name alone gave me shivers, made my hands sweat, caused my ovaries to stretch inside my body. Apparently, he wasn’t who I thought he was.
“What an asshole.” I finally said.
She smiled. A huge Farah Fawcett smile with a million shining, white teeth.
“I agree.” She said.
Since I hadn’t expected that kind of reaction, any of it, I started giggling. It came out of nowhere like a cough or sneeze or fart, and Mrs. T. began to yell at me.
“Sistooooooo, want to tell us what’s so funny?”
“Yeah,” I said, pointing to Sue Rangie. “We have the same boyfriend.”
We walked out of that class together agreeing to dump Mike Lombardi. He would get the shock of his life. Everything he deserved. Everything we deserved, too.
I still find the removal of him from our lives satisfying.
Sue and I became quick friends after that, root friends, lifetime friends, really.
Even though we were from different places in our lives, diverse backgrounds, we soon realized we were pretty much alike, wanted the same things, (had the same taste in boys!)
To this day, I cannot put on black eyeliner, inhale Halson perfume, or listen to Prince’s, Purple Rain without imagining her, seeing her smiling face in gym class, and clicking our glasses together at the Cove.
….Or her picking me up in that little red Mustang on 61st and 8th street to go out drinking white Russians, discussing the meaning of life, and expressing ourselves through dance.
It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.