My senior year in high school was, shall we say, adventurous. I was not a popular, cheerleader type but I wasn’t totally unredeemable either. Me and my clique of six swam in the middle. I liked that; it was safe. We did horrible things like sneak out bedroom windows, lie to our parents about said sneaking, and bribe older college guys to buy us six packs of beer. But we were decent students and other than the above mentioned, followed the rules.
My high school was predominately black. Me and my friends were not. That was ok though, we were in the middle and were extremely diplomatic. We would party with anyone who was, or appeared to be, cool. None of us really had one guy; that violated our pack rules. Oh, we had dates, but nothing heartbreaking. Girls, as Cyndi Lauper would say: Just wanna have fun. And we did. Until we didn’t.
A new guy came to Davis High School one day and stopped time as we knew it. He was super cute, dressed totally cool, and in the words of my mother; was a mulatto. His name was Leslie Thompson, and everyone loved him. And for God knows what reason, he liked me. I was hands down the least attractive of our gang. No, not boohoo, just a fact. Not a dog – but I’m not stopping traffic. However, I did have a certain swagger and I was funny. So, Leslie and I started hanging out. You know, he’d walk me to a class, maybe holding hands in the quad. The standard fare for most high school kids. It was nothing. Ok, it was something; I was gaining a whole new level of coolness, but I would die before I would admit to any such enjoyment. My mother even liked him. My mother didn’t like me.
Leslie and I had been seeing each other for maybe a month, when the buzz around the girl’s bathroom was that Lolli Williams liked him. Which also meant that Lolli Williams did not like me. This was not good news. Lolli was a very loud, proud, come up the hard way black girl. We’d been friendly in a couple of classes, but I could tell that she in no way would be seen with me or any white girl, outside of an inescapable classroom. Further rumor had it that she was wanting to “talk” to me. Nope. That my friend is never happening. Avoid all bathrooms. Check.
Leslie had dropped me off after school one day (in his red Camero by the way), and as I hit the living room, the phone rang. My mother immediately yelled from the kitchen that if that was Gwen I was not going anywhere tonight. She always said that. It wasn’t Gwen.
Let me quickly explain that back in those days, we had phone books; and in those books was the name, number and address of every living breathing soul in that community. “Hello”, I said happily. The voice I heard on the end of that line stopped my heart. It was the infamous, you guessed it, Lolli Williams. “This Evy?” Lolli barked. I stood in the living room with the phone in my hand and my mouth open. Willing myself not faint. “It is,” I said. Real casual like. I won’t go into the exact language but suffice it to say, Lolli’s opinion of my relationship with Leslie was not supportive. She was also not a fan of my hair, friends, or and this was a red line, my mother. She then proceeded to explain to me in graphic detail how she was going to kick my ass. Lolli had an admirable command of the English language.
I had had enough. I come from a long line of Irishman. When the going got tough, the Irish got pissed. My mother, one of those Irish types, moved into the doorway and was looking at me. Probably since I hadn’t said a word in several minutes and this was not like me. I had to respond. Where I got
this line, I don’t know: “Ya know what Lolli? Your ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower.” I saw the words leave my mouth. Before my very eyes, I had committed suicide. I freaked out completely and hung up the phone. Oh. Dear. God. My mom looked at me with eyes the size of saucers, shook her head and went back in the kitchen. I sat on the sofa and called Gwen explaining the current crisis. Gwen called everyone else. They all called me back. This went on for what seemed like hours with the general consensus that I would not be going back to school. Ever. It was only two weeks ‘til graduation. The last week traditionally being deemed Senior Skip Week. I could do this.
No, I couldn’t. As I set sipping coffee in the dinning room the next morning, “Don’t you think it’s time for you to get ready for school?” My mother stood with a hand on her hip and a dish towel over her shoulder. I was ready: “I think I’m coming down with mono,” I croaked. “over-night mono?” she glared back at me. I was relentless, “It can happen. Who knows where Leslie Thompson has been.” I was tossing him under the bus and could not care less. My mother was not buying it and with flare pointed me to my room. “Get dressed.” That was it; the death sentence.
The last words I heard from my mom’s mouth as I slowly trudged to Gwen’s waiting Bonneville was, “I told you your mouth would get you into trouble.” Yeah, well…you’ll be sorry when I’m dead I thought.
Plan B was not complicated – simply duck, dodge and stay with my pack. I had to avoid Lolli and her people for two weeks. Thankfully we didn’t have any classes with Lolli this last semester, so it was going pretty well. And Davis was a big school, plenty of flesh to hide behind. Until first period lunch.
Gwen and I burst out of the double doors leading to the parking lot and joined up with Jeanne, Mary, and the two Kims. Making a bee line to the Bonneville. Get off school property and disappear, skip our last two classes, whatever. What we saw next stopped all of us in our tracks. It was Lolli. Lolli sitting on the hood of Gwen’s car; with her crew and talking smack. And they saw us.
What happened next is filmed in my head in slow motion. First, my five friends hit the bricks leaving me standing alone. No surprise really, I wasn’t the only coward. Then, as if by osmosis, the entire student body was out on The Common, a large deck area with a supreme view of the parking lot. Chanting like the blood-thirsty ghouls they were fight, fight, fight. Even the stoners from the park across the street were moving in for a closer vantage point. And they’re a tough group to motivate. I wouldn’t describe what happened next as a fight. Lolli simple strolled over as I stood there praying not to pee my pants and shoved me. Hard. I vaguely remember getting one good punch to her nose and then she unceremoniously mopped the parking lot with me. At some point I must have fainted, passed out, or was knocked out. I opened my eyes to Gwen and vice principal Crago staring down at me. “Am I dead?” I asked to no one in particular. Gwen heaved me upright and simply stated, “not yet.” At least the throngs of on-lookers were gone, and so was Lolli.
Mr. Crago, along with a school nurse, and Gwen looked me over in the office. There wasn’t much area that she didn’t get a piece of. I had two black eyes, a split upper lip, and multiple cuts and abrasions. In short, she really did kick my ass. “Am I kicked out?” I asked Crago. For some reason Mr. Crago liked me. He knew my mom which petty much told him that our household was not built on Leave it to Beaver. “No. he replied, I think you’ve suffered enough.” “But I’ve got to call your mother.”
By nothing short of a miracle, my mother was out. Mr. Crago left a hurried message and sent me home via Gwen. She sat with me in my room until the Commandant herself returned. To my utter shock, she was sympathetic. Gwen was released from her babysitting and sent home. Mom doctored me the best she could and put me in bed. I realized it was Friday. I had two days to recover.
Graduation night finally came, and I did look better. Yellow and blue, but better. Bye, bye high school. So long Lolli, who by the way, never gave me another thought. Oh, and Leslie Thompson? Apparently, Davis was a bit rough around the edges for the boy and he transferred to the Richie Rich high school across town. He turned out to be a coward too.
Two years went by, and I was living what can only be described at that time, as my best life. Gwen and I got a fabulous apartment together, we both had great jobs, and all was right with the world. So much so that I decided to treat myself to a plane ride to Vancouver Canada. I had a friend there who had an astonishingly good-looking brother.
I settled into my seat of the small puddle jumper and thumbed through the flight magazine. There were only twelve seats on the thing and the plane appeared to be full. The exception being the empty aisle seat next to me. I crossed my fingers that no one would sit there. We all have that fantasy.
I decide to lean over and check for intruders and there she was. Lolli freakin’ Williams. Lolli the terminator, bouncing up the aisle, ticket in her left hand and a…a baby on her right hip? Holy shit, I thought, Lolli has kidnapped a baby! And this criminal was going to sit next to me. Thinking quick I put on my sunglasses, snapped the window shield closed, and pretended to be asleep. I would not open my eyes until touch-down, a mere fifty-minute flight. No problem.
She settles in with the kid strapped to her lap and I feel us ascend, level off, and begin our short jaunt to Vancouver. I’ve not moved a muscle. And that would have been true for the duration had this baby, a toddler really, kicked me in my side. Dammit! My reflexes gave me away and I turned to look my assailant in the eye. He was adorable. He looked back at me and my sunglasses with a drooling smile that I could not help but return. Lolli was mortified, apologized profusely and then recognition sparked in her eyes. I did have one unforgettable smile. “Evy?” she was nearly gushing. “Oh my god girl!” The jig was up so I removed my sunglasses and with a straight face said, “Lolli? How great to see you, you look great! Who is this handsome man?” The little scar over my lip was tingling.
We spent the rest of the flight talking about a) the fight, she was very remorseful about the ass-kicking and b) the baby. Terrence. As it turns out, Lolli had been raped after a dorm party a few weeks before graduation. Which meant that she was pregnant when we had our little dust up. I couldn’t believe it on several levels but here was little Terrence. I asked a million questions and she answered some. She never pressed charges because she really didn’t know who the guy was. That’s just how things were. She went on after graduation, with the help of her mom, to get her degree in counseling. And ironies of ironies counsels’ kids at none other than Davis High School.
We exchanged numbers at the airport and vowed to keep in touch. And we have. Oh, I’ve not seen Lolli now for more years than I’m willing to confess but we do keep in touch. The wonders of Facebook. I consider her a friend. I still have no feeling in that small area on my upper lip, but still….I wonder sometimes if I would have ever gotten to know Lolli or Terrence, had it not been for my big mouth.