Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hurt so good ...

I went to Rochester on Friday for an annual fish fry, a fundraiser for my alma mater in memory of Princess Linda's dad, a quiet man with a nice face who must have found our compulsion to video tape homemade Miss America pageants at slumber parties pretty whacko. Every year the fish fry happens and every year I don't go and every year I regret it so this year I just went. Problem solved.

I got a pair of gas station sunglasses to add a little sass to the journey. I also got a Pine flavored car air freshener. The whole package was very "CHiPs," as though a bunch of women with frosted hair and shiny spandex rompers just might emerge from my back seat and roller skate around a truck stop parking lot.

I detoured into St. Louis Park to pick up Fanny McFanster. She had made two mixes for the trip: One in which the banjos are played at a quick pace; One where they are played more slowly. Both had a special song designated for a singalong. The former had "Don't Stop Believing," the latter had "True Blue" by Madonna. We proceeded accordingly.

When we got to the fish fry there was a bus in front and Ma Pista damn near had the door cranked open before Pa Pista could pull to a complete stop in front. "WE HAVE TO GET IN THERE BEFORE THE NUNS!" she yelped. Sure enough, the Charter was for the ladies of Assisi Heights, the local nunnery. But they were leaving, so we were safe. The first person we saw was the nun who worked at the front desk while we were in high school, Sister J.

"Hello, Sister J," I said to her.
She stopped. Same red wig and a wild look in her eyes like she had just spent the past  45 minutes doing the chicken dance along with the polka band. (Might have happened).
"Class of '94," I told her.
"What's your names," she asked, looking from me to Fanny and back again.
"Christa Pista," I said.
"Fanny McFanster," Fanny said.
Sister J clapped once, snapped her fingers and raised her hands in the air.
"I remember ya," she said and moved along toward the bus.
"Lie," I hissed to Fanny as we walked in. Although, maybe she does. I was late nearly every day of my senior year, which meant frequent interaction. Until I just learned to re-use the same late pass again and again. That stunt went swimmingly for awhile. Then, months later, my eagle-eyed homeroom teacher finally noted the discrepancy with the date on the hall pass. And then the flush era ended.

The fish fry was fuh-uh-un. Lots of familiar faces, some who seemed to have Benjamin Button'ed instead of getting older. I saw my high school Spanish teacher and greeted her with a pretty mangled "Hola Senora L." I saw my elementary school gym teacher, a man who I always believed looked like Clark Kent and who gave me one-on-one hoops tutorials before school because he believed I could be great at basketball (he was wrong). I saw former classmates and the kids of former classmates and parents of former classmates. It was excellent.

"You know," one friend's mom said. "I always see Sister J at the casino and she's always sitting there playing slots and smoking cigarettes." This was a delightful bit of scandalous news.

People kept asking us "What's new?" and Fanny and I would shrug and mumble and look around distractedly and finally we agreed that we were both between BIG HAPPENINGS and that we didn't really have a response for that question.

"Tell people you just bought a boat," Z advised, a pretty great tip. We ended up using it quite a few times.
I briefly considered responding with:
"Oh. Man. You know I'm just super into Bon Iver right now. Like huge! I couldn't believe we won the Grammy. That was pretty big for both of us. We're stoked."


Afterward my parent's dropped us off at the bar. We drank tall beers and Princess Linda made us dance. Then, right around 11 p.m., a whole line of made up, sparkly, hair du'ed kids entered the bar in a single file line and we left. We went to another bar and I ran into my cousin who had just gotten a new tattoo. Fanny played pool.



Eventually we'd sucked all the marrow from Fun Fest. So Z gave us a ride back to my parents. Fanny and I finished off the bottle from Ma Pista's ample supply of wine and found Pa Pista's stash of Girl Scout cookies. We ate cheese and crackers and cackled like fiends. When I woke at 9 a.m. to dance dangerously close to an Advil OD, Fanny didn't even open her eyes, just stuck out her palm for pellets of pain relief. Having fun hurts so much.

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