Sunday, July 31, 2022

A Visit With The Tootsie Sister

Not too long ago I finally had a good visit with my friend, my Tootsie Sister. We are friends from our high school days and had the opportunity to work together as the first women ticket takers at the Minnesota State Fair way back when we were 18. It is then when the guys on the all male crew we worked with gave us the name “The Tootsie Sisters”. 

The beautiful part of our friendship is that it is pretty low maintenance. We can go months without having contact with each other and just pick up where we left off when we do finally get together. There aren’t many friendships in my life where there is that comfort knowing that even if we don’t have contact often all is still well. 

I got a text not too long ago from her saying we needed to get together soon. It had been about 6 months since we last saw each other. Wow, 6 months. Time just keeps traveling so fast and dragging me along in a whirlwind. But after figuring in graduation open house for grandson and babysitting so her kids could go to a wedding, we finally got a date set a month away. And this time we would include our spouses. A BBQ at our house. 

There’s always a chance, when including the spouses, that they may get left in the dust by us when we start visiting. But luckily our spouses like each other and can carry on a conversation together apart from us. 

The day came and my Best Half started the smoker to put a pork loin in it and guard it for the hours it would take to finish it. I had all the other food ready and got a text from them that they were on the way. Figuring about an hour out and they’d be at the house. 

Well we didn’t figure in Minnesota road crews and construction on a weekend. They always say Minnesota has two seasons…winter and road construction. And road construction is in full blown annoyance these days. It took them 2 hours to get up the freeway and over to our house. But they finally arrived just as the meat was taken off the grill. 

So we finished getting the rest of the food on the table and we ate as we all were pretty hungry having delayed our lunch by an hour or more. We sat around the table for a while after we finished eating and while our husbands talked about smoking and barbecuing, we had a chance to catch up on the kids and grandkids and our siblings. We have been friends so long that the rest of our families have also become important to each of us.

We cleaned up the kitchen quick and then left the guys to hang out on the deck while we went to the garage. We have Ebikes and my Tootsie Sister was wanting to look at them and see if she could give it a try with her two total knee replacements. Getting old and acquiring new body parts seems to be the norm these days with family and friends. 

After showing her how to operate the bike and how to go slow until she felt comfortable, we donned some helmets and walked the bikes out to the driveway. I hopped on my bike and she hopped on the other bike after adjusting her bike seat to “tall giant( she is 6 feet+ tall). And off we went down the driveway and out on the dirt road.

Riding alongside her and coaching her for a few minutes on how to change gears and speeds, she got the hang of it. We went up and down the road a few times until we both were getting too hot. Off came the helmets, bikes put away and we were back inside grabbing some ice water. We joined the guys for about 2 minutes on the deck and gave in to the humidity and were back inside at the kitchen table.

The four of us continued to chat about many things… and then it happened. My friend, the Tootsie Sister, started telling stories about our high school days.You know those stories you don’t tell your spouse or your kids or anyone who knows you present day. She told about how I was always in trouble with the nuns for one thing or another. But the one story that got my Best Half giving me “the look” and then laughing loudly was the story of me and a few other girls climbing a ladder attached to the wall and sneaking up into the attic/roof of the school building. We made it up there and the area was pitch black so we stumbled around and realized it was a storage area for many things no longer in use. Like the huge marching band bass drum I fell into. It made quite the ruckus. Figuring we probably had been heard, one by one we started groping our way to the ladder. I was last coming down and the other 2 or 3 girls had managed to get down and hide in a closet in the empty classroom. 

I got down and could hear someone coming down the hall. All of a sudden I looked at the floor and saw that the ones before me had tracked chalky dust from the ladder to the closet. The closet door whipped open and one of them threw a towel at me. So as fast as I could I was on my hands and knees mopping the tracks with the towel.

I was wiping the dusty footprints madly and had started at the closet and heading towards the ladder when there in front of me stood two legs. It was Sister Lois, the chemistry and physics teacher. I just remained on my hands and knees motionless and started to stare up at her towering over me. I don’t remember the total conversation, but it went something like me saying “Hi Sister Lois” and her staring down at me with her arms folded saying, “clean up the mess and get to class right now or you will be in permanent study hall until you graduate.” I was only a freshman at that time. As she was walking out, she looked over her shoulder and said “And that goes for the rest of you in the closet”. I learned to appreciate Sister Lois during the three years I took Basic Chemistry 101. My junior year I finally passed it never to take another class in science until I went to Nursing school. Sister Lois intimidated the heck out of me and most other students, but I'll have to admit on graduation night that kind lady gave me a card full of kind words and hopes for my future. She told me she was one of the many nuns in my life praying for me and my future. 

I can only say that after a few more stories from my Tootsie Sister about the escapades of our youth, I had tears running down my face from laughing so hard at her take on growing up Catholic in all girls’ schools. There was a lot of laughter from our spouses too. I don’t remember laughing that hard and at myself for a long long time. The saying that laughter is the best medicine for what ails a person, well it holds true in my life. As our visit came to an end, I was refreshed with happiness and the joy of having gotten together with my friend, the Tootsie Sister, once again. Here’s to more times to come when we can get together and laugh at ourselves. And here’s to Sister Lois and the other nuns in our lives who prayed for us. I’m not sure I turned out exactly how you were praying, but I have to say I have a life that is good.

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