I’ve always been under the understanding that my friends “had my back”, but there is nothing quite like seeing it play out before your eyes.
My junior year of college, I spent a summer teaching improv to high school students at Penn State. The program was geared towards high school seniors whose parents thought it would be a good idea to give them a taste of the “college experience”. If memory serves, this taste was to the tune of several thousand dollars. Most of the kids were spoiled rotten. But I lucked out – my improv-kids were great. They all had a bit of an outsider vibe going on which was a-okay with me. I could relate, especially since, for whatever reason, I hadn’t really clicked with the other counselors.
Thankfully my BFF, Carrie Silverman, was studying at Penn State and taking summer classes. Carrie had a great apartment off-campus. It was a three bedroom that she shared with her good friends Kate and Jess. Jess wasn’t taking classes that summer, so they rented her room out to a random student. Lets call her Phyllis. (Phyllis is 100% not her name, but it might as well have been.)
Having Carrie minutes away was like having a sister in Pennsylvania. My six-week commitment consisted of only two nights off from rug-rat duty. I spent my two nights over at Carrie’s apartment. On night one, we had a dance party. It was a party of two – just Carrie and myself – but I’d challenge you to find a better time anywhere.
The next morning, while getting ready to go back to campus, I placed her roommate Phyllis’s contacts in my eyes. That day, I taught wearing Phyllis’s contacts, I ate wearing Phyllis’s contacts, I saw the world with Phyllis’s contacts sitting firmly atop my eyeballs. I did find that my vision was super blurry and my eyes felt strange but I rock both astigmatism and severe dry-eye, so discomfort where my balls were concerned was nothing new.
That night, when I got back to Carrie’s apartment, I was greeted by an angry-looking, spectacle-wearing Phyllis. She said, “Um…I think you’re wearing my contacts!” I was like, “Ooooooh!” Everything shifted into sharp focus, at least as sharp a focus can be when wearing someone else’s prescription. I apologized profusely and ran into the bathroom to swap out the ‘tacks. Phyllis was hot on my heels. She had a lot of questions. As far as questions go, they were good ones:
“Couldn’t you tell immediately that you were wearing the wrong prescription?”
“Were you able to see?”
“Did you, at any point in the day, realize you had put someone else’s contacts on your eyes?!?!”
I was just about charm the socks off Phyllis by telling her that this wasn’t my first “wrong contacts” offense. I had accidentally popped my boyfriend’s contacts in my eyes right before my Oceanography final a year earlier. But before I could get the story out she asked, “Also, did you use my shower scrunchie???”
Shoot. I had had a debate with myself that very morning over which shower scrunchie was mine. There was a yellow one and a blue one and for the life of me I couldn’t recall what color I had been rubbing over every inch of my body the last six months. Unfortunately, I had placed my scrunchie next to another scrunchie and when it came time to soap up…I got very confused.
I looked into Phyllis’s wide, outraged eyes and guessed, “I don’t think so.” She came back hard. “What color is your scrunchie?” I looked up to the ceiling, took a deep breath and said, “…Yellow?”
“Oh my god! You used my scrunchie too!? It was wet and soapy when I got in to the shower but…”
With that, I heard Carrie walk through the door. I zipped out of the bathroom with a quick “sorry” and pushed Carrie back out into the hallway. I confessed the different ways I violated her roommate. Carrie was confused at first but within moments we were crying laughing. I didn’t want to walk back in the apartment and face Phyllis but Carrie took me by the arm and said, “Whatever, she’ll get over it. Anyway, you won’t even see her. She always locks herself away in her room.”
The following morning, I was heading back to campus to resume my RA/Teacher duties. Just as I went to toss my overnight bag into the back of Carrie’s Montero I heard, “HEY!” I turned to see Phyllis marching towards us swinging my blue shower scrunchie above her head like a ceiling fan. I thought it was really sweet that even after our little misunderstanding the day before, she wanted to lend me a hand.
Me: “Ooops, I must have forgot to pack that. Thank you so much for running it out to me.”
Phyllis planted her feet directly in front of me.
Phyllis: “You have mine.”
Me: “No I don’t.”
Phyllis: “Yes. You. Do.”
We stared at each other for a few seconds. Carrie came around from the drivers side and stood next to me.
Phyllis: “Open your bag.”
My mind was racing. There’s no way I would have packed her yellow shower scrunchie after our distinct color clarification conversation the night before. I slowly unzipped my overnight bag. On the very top, basically waving to Phyllis, was her yellow shower scrunchie. She snatched it out of my bag, flapped it in my face and squawked, “What’s wrong with you?!”
Carrie jumped in front of me. “Nothing’s wrong with her! What’s wrong with you?!”
Phyllis huffed, rolled her eyes and marched away, clutching her scrunchie against her chest. Carrie, still riled up said, “How dare she speak to you that way. “Open your bag?” Who does she think she is?”
“Carrie, I had my way with her very most personal of items. I put her contacts on top of my eyeballs and I rubbed her shower scrunchie in and over every crevice of my bod. The way things were going, if she had a diaphragm and I knew how to operate it, it would have already been up my hoo hoo. I don’t think she was wrong to be mad.”
Carrie, “I mean, sure, but… she still can’t talk to you that way.”
We jumped into the car and sang our hearts out to Snoop Dogg’s ‘Gin and Juice’.
I remember looking over at Carrie and thinking that even though I didn’t deserve that kind of back up this time around, I’d have it forever. And I have.
Photo Credit: christiantshirtwarehouse.com