The Sisterhood

Simple Man

I’ve had a few shots of whiskey to be able to write this.  But it’s time to write this.  It feels right, tonight.

I met my good friend Nan when we served on our kid’s school PTA together.  She was President and I was Vice President.  We had been spending a lot of time together, gearing up for the school year, redecorating the teacher’s lounge, going to lunch quite a bit.  We had taken the entire committee to Austin for the annual weekend long conference where bonds were forged and weaknesses like being scared shitless of bats and our true tolerances for alcohol were exposed.

The school year got rolling and I was working in the copy room one morning when the school Principal found me and told me simply “Go find Nan, I think she’s going to need you.”

I’d skipped my workout that morning, and my usual morning phone call with Nan, because I just felt strongly that I needed to be at the school.  It was one of those things that can’t be explained.  This was big because I had only lost about 12 pounds at that point in my weight loss “journey” and my gym time was steadfastly adhered to.

So I found Nan at her home, where she’d just been informed by the military that her husband had died when his Chinook helicopter went down in Iraq.

We all hear of fallen heroes.  We see them on television.  We see the families, who have to carry on without them.  We pray for them.  But it’s something else entirely to see it first hand, up close.  I witnessed her first tears as a widow, I hugged her and told her “You are loved” because I didn’t know what else to say and that was the truth, the simplest and most honest of truths, anyway.  You can’t really go back to being casual friends after that nor would I ever want to.  She’s my lifelong friend now, whether she likes it or not.

So when she told me she was dating someone a few years later, I was so happy for her.  As long as she was happy, I was happy.  I joked around at length with her and Freddie on Facebook and I liked him.  He was funny and smart and had wicked taste in music.  I was a Freddie fan, right from the get go.  Nan would let Freddie read some of our private messages, our little gaggle of girlfriends, and he loved our craziness.

I was at lunch with E very soon after that and Nan texted me “You’ve got a fan”.  I always love to hear that!  Who doesn’t love to hear that?  She asked me if it’d be okay if he sent me a friend request and I emphatically replied “Yes!”

Over the next 4 years, Fred Man (as I came to call him) and I shared a love of music, specifically Pantera, Slayer, and Van Halen.  He wasn’t an Alabama football fan but because I was, I’d occasionally get supportive text messages from him on game days.  This was our last one about football:

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Fred Man never got wordy, unless we were talking about music or Texas Rangers baseball, that would get him going.  I’ve never met a bigger Rangers fan than Freddie was.  Freddie and I could also trash the Dallas Cowboys for hours.  The mere mention of Jerry Jones would send us into full-on rant mode.

I escaped a party one night to find him on the back patio, smoking alone.  We drank some beer, I smoked a couple with him, and he told me of all the epic concerts he’d attended.  None of this reunion shit that goes on nowadays, either.  He saw the metal bands back in the day, when they were huge.  He saw some shit, y’all.  Good shit.

Fred Man was opinionated.  He never backed away from what he thought was right and was never scared of going at it with anyone.  If he believed it, he’d back it up every single time with good old common sense, never wavering.  He called out the bullshitters and had no patience for their enablers.  You got Freddie exactly as he was, no fronts, no airs put on for others, no fucks to give when common sense was being tread on, politically or otherwise.

As much as Fred Man loved to read our private messages, you wouldn’t find him in the middle of us girls when we hung out at Nan and Fred’s house.  He’d gladly watch baseball by himself or entertain Landon.

Freddie loved Batman and Landon would ply him with questions about Batman and all super heroes.  Freddie had the biggest heart and would talk with Landon about anything Landon wanted to talk about.  I’d tell Landon to give Freddie some space and not talk so much and Freddie would just tell me to go back to my hen party and that it didn’t concern me anyway, that he and Landon had things under control.  I can always judge a person’s heart by how good they are, how patient they are, with special needs kids.  Landon loved talking to Freddie.  I didn’t need anything else to confirm my affection for Freddie but if I had, that would’ve sealed it.

Fred Man would send me random texts out of the blue, always hilarious.  He totally got my sense of humor.  Most of the time, it was just a picture or funny meme.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

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As you have probably guessed, Freddie died on February 15th.  He fought kidney cancer for a long, hard couple years and still went down fighting.  I was blessed to see him less than two weeks before he died and I’ll always be grateful for that.  We talked, joked, and laughed for about an hour before I could tell he was exhausted.  I gave him about three vacation’s worth of magnets.  He collected magnets and kept them all on display behind his incredibly cool bar at home.  Gracie and Landon looked forward to picking out a magnet for “Mr. Freddie” everywhere we went on vacation.

I’ll tell this story just because I know Freddie would get a huge kick out of it.  We were on a cruise over Spring Break a few months ago.  While we were eating, I caught myself saying “I guess we don’t need to buy Fred Man a magnet…” I trailed off because I realized we wouldn’t be buying Fred Man a magnet ever again.  Just when I thought I might cry, Landon (remember he’s autistic and has a very straight forward way of thinking so literally imagine Forrest Gump saying this) sighed heavily and said very matter of factly,  “Nope.  Because Mr. Freddie is dead.”  After a few seconds, E, Gracie, and I busted out laughing and agreed that Freddie was looking down and laughing, too.

Here is Freddie’s obituary, which tells you much more about what kind of person he was than I ever could.

Fred Man’s memorial service was full of good music and laughter.  Of course, there were tears but I left thinking that Freddie would have loved it.  I’m sure he loved it.  His best friends and his brother told stories about him and there was so much laughter.  It was a true celebration of life.  There were more rock tee shirts there than I’ve ever seen at any other funeral.  Freddie would have had something to say about every single one of them.  I wore my Pantera tee shirt because Freddie was such a huge fan of them.  Pantera is from Arlington, Texas, just like Freddie was.  Freddie was a huge fan of Dime Bag Darrell.

One of the songs played during the memorial service was “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Freddie was simple but so much more than that at the same time.  What you saw was what you got.  No faking, just truth and simplicity in the best form possible.

This is how I’ll remember Fred Man, just hanging out with a beer in his hand, always rocking.

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Forever rock on, brother.  You are loved and you are missed.

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I Will Cut A Bitch Or At The Very Least Call Her A Really Bad Name

I’m in a super duper elite secret Facebook group.  This group consists of some of the most wonderful girls I know, a few of whom I’ve never even met.  It’s a friend of a friend thing, add a sister if you think she needs a place to vent.  We go there to bitch about shit we can’t post on our timelines.  We rant about things we can’t say to loved ones but NEED to say to somebody, anybody before we lose our shit and explode in an elevator with our sister’s husband.   Because Lord only knows if we blow, Jay Z ain’t leaving that fucking elevator without a high heel through the eye socket like in Single White Female.  We’ll finish the job Solange didn’t have the maracas to finish.

We also value our Baptist friends so that’s why we post the stuff we don’t want our Grandmas to see in the Secret Group and not on our timelines.  My friend “Unicorn Gurl” (you know who you are) posted this last week.  You can send thank you notes to my inbox and I’ll pass them along to her.

I’ve used upwards of 73% of these and that was just today.

I think Hallmark needs to print these out on little laminated cards, just like you find at the cash register, which lists proper gift etiquette for wedding anniversaries and the like.  This is invaluable information right here, people. Never again will you have to walk away from a verbal skirmish thinking “Damn it, I wish I would have thought to call her a dicknose sphincter hound”!

I generously pass along this information to you with all the love I have in my heart.  You’re welcome.  And will  one of you white trash taint biscuits please share this with Solange?

Sweep The Leg!

I first posted about my friend “Fantasia” here.  It’s Easter week and that reminded me of this text from last year.  Fantasia’s is a bit cropped out for some reason, so I will translate:

Fantasia:  I’d fight a bear for you.  Not a grizzly.  Or a brown bear.  Not a panda.  But maybe like a Care Bear?  I’d fight one of those sonsofbitches for you.

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I think most of my readers are pretty safe from bear attacks but probability is extremely high that you’ll run into multiple chocolate bunnies this week.  One at a time is doable, but when encountering a chocolate bunny gang, things can go South quickly.  When this happens, your innate reaction will be to first take out the ears or the ass but resist that instinct, my friends!  Go all Karate Kid on those bunny fuckers and sweep the legs.  Trust me on this.  Sweep the legs.  Then go back for the ears and ass when they’re helpless.

Also, I’m on Twitter!  Go follow me, please: https://twitter.com/OnTheRocksSteph

Monica And Rachel, We Are Not

One of my girlfriends (who wants me to refer to her as “Fantasia” here on my blog) and I have the best texts with each other. I want to introduce y’all to Fantasia with this particular one. Background: I was scheduled for a repeat mammogram the next day. This is how we show that we care.

Fantasia: Just thinking about you. Love you and all your strength!

Me: When you think of me, am I naked? Love you and right back at you.

Fantasia: Does only a gimp mask and spiked high heels count as naked?

Me: It’s your fantasy, so yes. But in mine, you’re wearing a Lucha Libre mask and a strap-on.

Fantasia: That’s what I’m wearing in mine, too!

Me: I never completely understood the lyrics to REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” until right this moment.

Fantasia: Run away with me…

I have awesome friends.

Y’all have a great Monday (as great as Monday can get, anyway) and please share my blog with your friends if I’ve made you laugh even once in the last month. Okay, fine. Please share my blog with your friends if I’ve made you faintly smile in the last month. Oh, fuck. Never mind.

How To Deal With Mild Skirmishes And Punk Ass Bitches

A few of my girlfriends and I go on occasional weekend trips together (we are past due at this time, damn it!).  These girls are very dear to me and I love our little screwed up, dysfunctional crew very much.

We were brought together by the Texas PTA and its annual conference in Austin but the real bonding took place in the trenches of school carnivals and dances at the school our children attended at the time.  Several of us got tattoos together and an artist at the studio said he’d never seen another PTA group get inked together.  That’s right, we brought classy to the Texas PTA.

When my husband got a job promotion and my family moved to Alabama, the girls and I vowed to not only stay in touch but to get together once a year for a girl’s trip.

We met up in Vicksburg, Mississippi for our very first one.  The Texas girls drove together and riding by myself to meet them was so worth it.  Our girl’s weekend happened to coincide with the Vicksburg 100 Year Flood and we were astonishingly lucky that we had booked the only river casino hotel that remained open during the flood.  A 100 Year Flood might have ruined some other girl’s trips but we felt incredibly lucky to have witnessed it.  It was a great trip filled with sightseeing, shopping, heart to heart talks, many laughs and some very juvenile pranks on my part.

But even the best of friends have mild skirmishes.  One of our mild skirmishes occurred right before our last girl’s trip.  We were going back to Austin where it all began with the PTA but this time we had a first class high rise apartment to lodge in and no agenda to dictate our weekend.

All the girls live in the Dallas area so it was only logical that I fly to Texas for this trip.  I had triple checked with all of them before booking my plane ticket, verifying the dates and times of everything.  I was on the phone with one of them when I clicked “Purchase Tickets”.  So when a couple of them decided to get revenge on me for my juvenile pranks in Vicksburg, I did not take it very well.  At all.

The trip was a few weeks away but I first had to make it through April Fool’s Day unscathed.  I failed miserably.  Matter of fact, I had forgotten it was April Fool’s Day so completely that when two of them said they wouldn’t be able to make the trip, I was totally convinced they meant it and was, understandably, very pissed off.

A few hours of seething later, I found out that it was an April Fool’s Day joke.  My rage factor exponentially increased with that discovery and I stopped answering my phone and messages for 24 hours to cool off because that’s the kind of calm, rational person I am.  After the 24 hour cool off period, I came back with this completely well thought out, adult response (names have been changed to protect the very guilty and, believe it or not, I actually removed the vast majority of F Bombs from the original message just for this blog post):

“You punk ass bitches. Yeah, you read that right. Punk.Ass.Bitches. I just want to point out that you two (punk ass bitches) ruined our last morning in Vicksburg last year, pouting over baby powder and my wrong turn to Cracker Barrel. I don’t know if Beth was having peen withdrawals or what but that is how it went down – having breakfast with the two of you and the huge sticks up your asses.  So you at least owe me 24 hours to chill out after the total fuckery that went up my ass without one drop of KY Jelly last night. I mean, at least squirt a bitch a drop or two of some Jergens next time.

That being said, revenge will be ugly. It will be big. It will be funny as all hell, if you’re me.  It won’t be a fucking smiling penis magnet on the back of your car.  You won’t know when it’s coming. It won’t be in Austin. It may not even be in the next year. You’ll start to relax, start to take shits in the privacy of your own home without clinging to a butcher knife or automatic weapon and then BAM! That’s right. FUCKING BAM! I’ll be there.  So bring your mace and body armor and shit to Austin. You ain’t gonna need it there. I’m the ninja from your very worst nightmares, the ones you wake up crying from like the little punk ass bitches you are with wet panties and yellow stains on your Wal Mart sheets. Y’all best just start wearing Depends. That’s your safest mother fucking bet.

Also, I need measurements for our tee shirts. And y’all owe me a round of drinks in Austin. Fuckers. I love you.”

I hope every single one of you are blessed with the friendship I’ve been blessed with over the years.  Because really, what is life without the love of a few punk ass bitches?  Nothing.

Follow up:  The initial reaction to my message was righteous indignation that I’d needlessly attacked and dragged their Wal Mart sheets into the whole skirmish.  Also, to the best of my knowledge, they are all still taking shits in the privacy of their own homes armed with butcher knives and automatic weapons.  Revenge will find them one sweet day.  Yes, it will.

Steel Magnolias Can Kiss My Burning Ass

It is with ballsy swagger (because I assume you will continue reading this blog after this train wreck of a post) that I announce my new series. Damn it! I feel so authoritative right now.

I will call the series: “My Top Five Girlfriend Commandments”. Actually, they’re in no particular order and I can alter or amend them at any time as the situation arises or experience is gained. You could liken me to God, telling Moses what to tap out on those huge stone tablets except I’m not God and now I just really pissed Him off and instead of carving in stone, I’m typing this blog post with black glittered fingertips on my crappy laptop.

I should have also forewarned you about my run-on sentence problem. I’m so sorry but please trust this will be far from the last time I let you down.

GIRLFRIEND COMMANDMENT #1: If you are not totally prepared to inspect my cooter in an emergency, keep movin’, sister.

My first real initiation with true adult female friendship happened when I was around 25 years old, which admittedly was a bit old to still have my sacrificial female friendship cherry intact but I have an innate lack of trust in most women. Little did I know when I met Aimee at work that she’d be the one to break my sacrificial female friendship cherry. Boy, did she ever.

Aimee’s husband worked a lot of night shifts, mine worked days but was a young engineer, working long hours and some weekends. We became inseparable and laughed constantly. What follows is how Aimee proved her weight in girlfriend gold and taught me a valuable Girlfriend Commandment.

One day, my cooter started itching like a redneck’s trigger finger on a shotgun and burned with a hellfire I had never felt before. Oh, calm down, Sister Christian. Keep reading, it’s not what you think.

It was way back in the days when a Major Bath Shit Retailer didn’t realize some cooters were very sensitive (nor did I apparently) and I’m pretty sure they put battery acid in their bubble bath shit at that time. I took a long soak and the next day, my cooter became angry. It wasn’t just regular old angry, it was Rambo-thrown-back-into-the-Vietnam-jungle-for-the-third-fucking-time angry.

I didn’t make the connection between Major Bath Shit Retailer and what I’m now sure was their intentional and malicious use of battery acid in products that were guaranteed to come into contact with my flower blossom. I confided my cooter woes to Aimee, desperately wanting to hear a completely harmless explanation. I did not get a completely harmless explanation.

I sat and listened in horror while Aimee guessed that I probably had a yeast infection (I did not but hindsight is 20/20 and I just said “hindsight” in a blog post about my cooter, HA!). I didn’t want to believe this horrific scenario so I came up with other, easier culprits like maybe my husband had branded my cooter when I was asleep. Maybe the last sex I had was so hot that my cooter’s internal temperature regulator had a complete meltdown. Maybe Bill Clinton (who was in office then) had my cooter under surveillance with some sort of laser thingy that had malfunctioned. That one makes no sense but I blamed Clinton for everything back then.

Aimee was skeptical of those explanations so she volunteered to not only drive me to Wal Mart, which just so happened to stock Cooter Goop, but to actually purchase the Cooter Goop on my behalf.  This may seem like no big deal to you but it was huge to me. Huge.

We lived in a very small town and I was mortified at the thought of actually putting Cooter Goop in my buggy and then onto the little conveyor belt to purchase (side note: If you don’t know what a buggy is, you are not Southern. I’m so sorry).

I can sense your intense and sudden love for Aimee and your pure joy that a woman such as this could exist. She did! She does! Aimee’s offer to buy my Cooter Goop was selfless enough but reign it in, sisters! Put down that VHS copy of Steel Magnolias and continue reading. This is like a trail mix of Girlfriend Wisdom right here. When you think you’ve got nothin’ left but the shitty raisins at the bottom of the bag, you find not one but two more bonus M&Ms.

Here is the first of those precious M&Ms. I put on my big girl panties and bought the Cooter Goop myself that fateful day but not before Aimee dropped this nuclear bomb of wisdom on me: The highly skilled and precise art of Checkout Deception by Camoflauge. Basically, just toss all your horrifically embarrassing shit in with a huge heaping pile of random boring shit you really don’t even need and pray to the Cooter Gods that the nice elderly man you go to church with in line behind you does not notice your Cooter Goop in amongst the boring retail shit potpourri. The boring retail shit potpourri is the only thing saving you and your itchy, inflamed cooter from being added to the Over 60 Men’s Prayer Request Phone Chain.

Do you feel the full weight of the knowledge I just dropped on you, sisters? If not, have a shot of whiskey, go back and read it again. We’ll wait.

If you think you’re ready, I will now reveal to you how Commandment #1 was born, aka the last M&M. Aimee offered, in my time of severe distress, to take a close gander at my cooter to determine what the hell kind of mutiny was going on down there. I declined her offer but her kindness and complete lack of selfishness lives on in my heart and cooter and also firmly instilled in me a rare friendship trait to this day: I will totally look at your cooter in an emergency.