Chapter 19: Let's Not Forget About the Food.
(Excerpt from We Hope You Like This Song: An Overly Honest Story About Friendship, Death, and Mix Tapes.)
When Shelly’s parents gave me her old scrapbooks to dig through after she died, I was delighted to see she’d kept the postcard I sent her back in ’93. Truer words have never been spoken (or slapped on a postcard). Food was a main theme in our friendship. Lots and lots of sugary food.
Shelly’s biggest addiction was candy. Especially Easter candy. I’ll never forget the Great Easter Candy Caper of 1999. It was our sophomore year of college. Shelly and I always looked forward to the three-hour road trip home from Ames to Walcott. It was our time to be alone, just the two of us—like the old days. We stopped at the gas station to fill up before hitting the interstate. What we filled up on isn’t what her mother had intended when she gave Shelly the family gas card.
This whole gas card phenomenon was completely foreign to me. I was dumbfounded as Shelly stockpiled Snickers Eggs and Cadbury Creme Eggs at a speed at which I’d never seen her move. She was a maniac! She paused for a moment and said to me, as if it were common sense, “I have my mom’s gas card. We can use it on candy!”
Sixty dollars later, we were on the road experiencing an intense sugar high. I’ve never seen so much fake sugary egg yolk—and I hope to never see it again. A month later, I overheard Shelly on the phone.
“Mom, it was for gas.”
“Well, we got some candy, too.”
“Yeah I know it only costs twenty dollars to fill up my tank, but it was Easter!”
She got off the phone and we burst into laughter. Her mom’s gas card statement had arrived, instantly busting us on our $40 candy spree. Our gas card privileges were revoked—forever.
I first tested Shelly’s devotion to our friendship back in 1992. We were at the mall, waiting for my mom to finish enrolling in the JCPenney Bra & Panty Club. (The word “panty” sent us into fits of giggles, so my mom handed us $10 and told us to go get some ice cream.) Shelly looked stylish in her County Seat sweater; I looked like an escaped mental patient in my aqua spandex dance pants.
“Wanna prove you’re my best friend?”
“Yes!” This was a true testament to Shelly’s willingness to do anything--even for ridiculous reasons. If I had asked her to dunk her head in a sink full of dirty dishwater, she would’ve done it. And actually, a year later, she did.
“Okay. Stick your teeth into your ice cream for a full minute. Ready, go.” I looked down at my faux Swatch watch and timed her. Her face turned red, her eyes watered, and then she laughed so hard she snorted. As absurd as this challenge was, it proved she would do anything for me. Did I prove that to her?
If not, I will try to now. Since the wedding, Court and I have gone boozeless, we’ve written snail mail to people who would least expect it, and we’ve even babysat real kids—for free. But this week, in honor of Shelly’s adventurous love of food, we’re putting our guts to the test. We must each eat as many new (and possibly scary) things as we can stomach. Bon appétit!
“Four beef tongue tacos to go, please.”