It's not about the house.

Monday, July 7, 2008

How I Met My One Friend

One Friend was up visiting for the 4th of July weekend, and it got me thinking. So in honor of Random Memory Monday, I've decided to walk back eighteen years and tell you how we met.

I moved to Boston in 1990 to work at the Rocky Horror Picture Show

No, wait. Sorry. I forgot.

I moved to Boston in the early '90s to go to graduate school. Also, in my free time, I worked at the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Harvard Square.

For those of you who are not aware, Rocky Horror plays on Friday and Saturday nights at midnight. Has done for going on thirty-five years. Actors – or, I should say “actors” – perform the entire thing, while the movie plays, on the floor right in front of the screen. People scream and throw things, not because the troupe is in the way but because it’s just what you do – although Harvard Square did not allow the throwing. Toast, mustard, and toilet paper can do a lot of damage to a hand-sequined corset, and the Harvard Square Production (I think the troupe had a name but I can’t remember what it was) was Very Serious Business.

We paid dues for the right to work there, and the money went to Bettering the Show. Everyone was responsible for his or her own costume, so dues went to things like props and lights (and sometimes, we all suspected, towards supplementing the director's section 8). We had barbells just like Rocky's, an honest-to-god coffin for Riff-Raff to burst from, we even had a creation tank that somebody built to frame-by-frame specifications. All ridiculous, in retrospect, but we were certainly impressed with ourselves.

I took myself to Harvard Square at midnight the very first Friday after I moved to Boston. For six months I grocery-shopped at Store 24 for fear of getting lost on my way to the market, but I had no qualms about braving the Callahan and crossing the Charles at the witching hour. This was important. This was, after all, why I was here.

I mean grad school. Grad school's why I was here. This was just an extracurricular activity. albeit one I would attend more faithfully than I did certain classes.

It just so happened that one of my old campers from the 4-H camp I worked at did costumes for the cast. Her name was Angel (it really was, back when she was eleven years old and everything); she introduced me to her boyfriend, Bulldog (not his eleven-year-old name), and the diminutive director of the show. Diminutive Director looked me up and down and told me maybe, maybe, they had an opening in the props department. The girl they had was tired of working both nights, so I could train with her and then, if I worked out, The Girl They Had would pick which night she wanted to keep for herself and I would get the other.

And that's how I met my One Friend.

After we worked together for a couple weeks, she confessed to me the real reason she wanted to stop working both nights was an unrequited crush on a Friday Night Boy. I guessed who it was, and this impressed her – it may, in fact, be a large part of the reason we became such friends – but it wasn’t hard. The boy she liked was the only straight and human boy who worked there. I wouldn’t have liked her too much if she’d liked anybody else.

We started having sleepover parties – at her house, usually – and gossiping about other members of the cast. Who was sleeping with whom, whom we would never sleep with despite the nasty rumors, and who was about to discover they were gay. Then, sometime in November, on one of the rare occasions that I up and went to class, there sat my One Friend, looking altogether shocked to see me there.

It turned out we’d been in the same eco/evo lecture all along, but we’d been haphazardly skipping it on coincidentally opposing schedules. We synced up right then and there – skipping, for the remainder of the semester, on a deliberately opposing schedule – and traded notes to study for the final. I don’t remember what I got, but it doesn’t matter, because I dropped out after that semester anyway and worked retail until I quit that, too, and went on to a Fabulous Career in Something Else That Has Since Fizzled Out.

But we neither of us ever did give up a night at Rocky Horror. We both worked both nights for the best part of a year, until we both outgrew the show and quit. She had a better excuse for leaving when she graduated from BU and moved away (she’d been an undergrad, in her second senior year). I, on the other hand, told the director I was taking some time off – which was not a lie: I’m just still taking it, is all.

One Friend has not lived in Boston since, but for our 30th birthdays (we’re the same age, three weeks apart) she came to visit and we went to see the show at Harvard Square. We couldn’t be bothered to get dressed up for it, so we were the squares sitting in the back in t-shirts, tennis shoes, and jeans. And we couldn’t stay awake till it was over, so we were the squares sneaking out the back in the middle of “You Better Wise Up, Janet Weiss.” We went with the intention of remembering what it was like to feel young and invincible, but no one we knew still worked there (not even the Diminutive Director), everyone was pierced and tattooed, and we just felt old.

That was nine years ago this month. I just looked on line: they are still at it – though just on Saturdays, now, and they do let you throw things. My One Friend got her PhD this year and moved back into the area for the first time since our Rocky Horror days, with a Real, Impressive Job at an Ivy League School That Isn’t Harvard.

Me, though, I’m still a flake.

But at least I don’t just up and quit things, anymore.


Sparkle Plenty said...

I'm still sitting here, goggling like Bertie Wooster, impressed by the billy club in the last post! (As well as by the Corn Larceny.)

Hmm. Mebbe you two should dress up and go back to the show this year for yer 18th anniversary? Slap on some fake tattoos and piercings. Sit in the front row and knit. (Note: Apparently, porcelain is both the traditional and modern 18th year anniversary gift. So, if you're in need of a bathroom update you might want to lob a hint over to One Friend. Who, of course, might counter with a demand for a "Travel Anniversary Gift" of a trip to Denmark or China.)

jen said...

If theres one thing I've realized, its that One Friends do not come along all that often.
Hopefully you will still be one of my One Friends, and I will immediately stop being a flake. Kind of. Because if being a flake is what you are doing, then, I want more flakitudeness.

jen said...

Oh, also, too? Rocky Horror is my favorite thing ever.