Thursday, March 03, 2005

The fondue incident

In eighth grade, I had managed to scrape together some kind of social life ... whatever that means when you're in junior high school. I was the unofficial leader of a small band of guy friends, and we had a parallel group of girls that we hung around with. We were all smart ... not too horribly geeky ... the creative types. The newspaper, the yearbook, band. Those kind of people. Okay, a little Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings-related wargames here and there, but come on. It was 1980.

So, the girls' group was headed by my ex-girlfriend Paula. A quick backstory: Paula moved to Tucson from San Luis Obispo and showed up in sixth grade as the new girl from California. Blonde, smart, pretty. Into horses. I immediately set out to make her my girlfriend, ditching my current girlfriend, Meta, the kind, sweet, pious fundamentalist Christian girlfriend who kept every note I'd ever given her. For Meta, I'd gone to after-school Christian classes (and won a souvenir bulletin board for memorizing Bible trivia.) For Paula, I would eventually join Library Cadets (the sole male member) so we would spend every lunch period together. (Okay, maybe I had a fascination with Paula and the Dewey Decimal system. Is that so wrong?)

After a showdown at Skate Country where I competed for Paula's affection with another guy in our class, Patrick (I can't skate all that well, but I managed to somehow out-skate him), Paula and I were going together. I gave her a mood ring.

It was a good choice of gifts, because she was damn moody.

Our boyfriend-and-girlfriend-ness broke up sometime during the hell that was seventh grade. Paula kept a secret list of Things I'd Done Wrong; when I amassed a certain number of Wrong Points, she would give me the silent treatment. Of course, if I wanted to know what I'd done, the reply was along the lines of, "If you don't know, she's certainly not going to tell you."

This would be delivered to me by her bitchy friend Heather, because Paula, of course, wasn't speaking to me.


For some reason, typing out the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence" on my mother's Olivetti typewriter and slipping them into Paula's locker failed to thaw her. I don't know why.

Eventually, when it was clear things were over, she returned the mood ring to me. She had put it in the freezer, where it turned black. Permanently.

But, time passes and we get over these things; after the summer, we were able to be friends again. We still liked hanging out together and having parties; in fact it was easier now that we weren't boyfriend and girlfriend.

I started dating Paula's "second in command," who was, like me, interested in drama. She was eccentric, neurotic, funny. Her nickname was Shaggy Mafer. You don't have to be a genius to figure out what her name was.

So, Shaggy and I were going together. We read various contraband Judy Blume books - like "Forever" - as they were smuggled around chemistry class. We read plays together. I put my arm around her at movies - that's as far as that went.

Meanwhile, Paula and I were still planning the various parties that our little social group had. Paula wanted to do something called a "progressive party," where you go from house to house, having a different part of the meal at each house along the way. Keep in mind that we were in eighth grade, so this involved a lot of parental persuasion; somehow we convinced enough parents to drive our crowd all over Tucson for this shindig.

My house was first - appetizers. At Paula's we would have the entree, and we would wind up at Shaggy M.'s house for dessert and swimming. Somewhere in between these places we would stop for salads at someone else's house and, I don't know, green beans somewhere besides that. This kind of party is mileage intensive.

Well, of course it wouldn't do to just slap out some chips and dip. I was only 14, but by golly, I knew what it took to cater a party. I had been fascinated by my parents' fondue set left over from the 60s, with its color-coded skewers. So, I talked my mother into making a swiss cheese fondue. Along with that we would have club soda into which I dumped various flavored extracts - sort of like an Italian soda, although, since I'd never heard of those at that age, this was more like my own Frankensteinian invention.

Everyone arrived, and we sat chatting in my mother's black-and-white-toile-covered living room. People managed to choke down the club soda, but the fondue was a definite hit. I mean, who doesn't like yummy cheese? The party was off to a good start.

We were talking about whatever we talked about in those days ... chemistry class? English class? Xanadu? when we all noticed that Shaggy had gone quiet. This was rare. We all looked at her. Was she upset? Sometimes Shaggy had moody spells or pitched a fit now and again. She was always interesting, to say the least. She scowled. She clapped her hand over her mouth.

She vomited swiss cheese through her nose, in long streamers. Like silly string.

Chaos erupted. My mother was thrilled at the new addition to the living room decor. Shaggy fled to the small downstairs bathroom and locked herself in. No amount of pleading from me or any of her girlfriends could manage to get her out of there. We told her it would be all right - we just hoped she wasn't sick. Nobody cared what had happened. She wouldn't budge.

Eventually, like the caring boyfriend I was, I left along with everyone else, trundling off to the next house on the list to have salad.

We kept thinking that Shaggy would catch up with us at some point along the way. I think she finally turned up at her own house, the last on the itinerary. But as I recall, she didn't join the party, but hid in her room. There was much eye-rolling. Nobody cared that she had shot fondue out her nose. But she extracted the maximum amount of drama from the situation.

Somehow, of course, the whole thing was my fault, and that was the end of us as a couple.

So. Who's up for fondue?


Blogger David said...

Hmmm. You DID mention serving fondue last week. Are you trying to send me a message? :)

6:56 AM  
Blogger Lady Rosemary said...

You are a beautiful writer, and it sounds like you have a beautiful soul. I just found your blogspot today as I was going through them waiting for my shift at work to be over. I envy your choice of work, (theater-wise) . It definitely beats sitting in front of a computer all day. But thats okay too, I find I have time to blog at least. Anyway, have a good day. ~The Lady

7:56 AM  
Blogger Lady Rosemary said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Hanuman1960 said...

We had a fondue set in the 70's as well. I believe it was a gift, but for the life of me, I don't think that it was ever used. Of course, my sisters and I would chase each other around the house with the fondue forks, but, that's another matter all together.......

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

The image of Shaggy shooting cheese fondue out her nose should keep me from wanting string cheese ever again, but strangely now I'm craving it.

Poor Shaggy.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

By the way, if The Fondue Incident isn't the title of a Robert Ludlum novel, it should be.

10:34 AM  

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