Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Junior High and Dolly

Junior high was an interesting time.  Interesting in the way one says interesting when they have no other adjective to use.  I attended Imperial Junior High in Ontario which was about three blocks from our house on Glenn Street.  Our house was on a cul de sac across from the Section 8 apartments where most of my friends lived. 

My parents bought the house new.  Within a couple of years they would lose it to a bank when my dad quit his truck driving job and mortgaged it to buy a bar.  As my mom always said, "a drinker owning a bar is a disaster waiting to happen."  And eventually, that disaster did happen and my parents lost the house.

But in Junior High, my mom and dad still owned the house.  It was the early 1980's and we had just transferred from St. George's, a parochial school in Ontario that we had attended for two years.  My mom couldn't afford the tuition or the uniforms any more so we started seventh grade back at public school.

I was happy because my best friend Melinda and I would be reunited again.  Duran Duran and Wham were all the rage and I remember my outfit on the first day of school: black leggings and a florescent pink oversized sweatshirt like the one in Wham's video.  My mom bought my twin sister Jackie the same sweater only in yellow and I begged Jackie not to wear it the first day. 

The first day of school I realized that Melinda and I didn't have any classes together.  All of my classes were GATE classes.  I remember Melinda commenting on it and I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "We will still eat lunch together."

My first class was English and I sat in the front of the class as usual.  A girl sat down next to me and said, "Hi, my name is Dolly, what's yours?" in a thick Southern twang.  Dolly and I became fast friends.  She had moved from Arkansas and lived with her parents in the condos next door to Imperial Junior High.  She used the word "fixing" as in "I am fixing to turn on the lights."

Dolly had curly blond hair and she wore her bangs over her face on a slant.  "It's new ro", she told me.  I pretended I knew what she meant, but later she explained that new ro was short for the New Romantic music phase.  I remember that she wore the coolest white overalls that had splashes of florescent faux paint splattered all over them.

We used to go to Dolly's house at lunch and watch movies on the cable channel.  Her room was covered in pictures of Duran Duran and we would always argue over who would get to marry John Taylor.  Simon Le Bon was always our second choice.

Dolly and I were close.  I would spend the night at her house and her mom would get us take out.  Her mom's bathroom cabinet was filled with medication for her "issues".  "She takes Valium to calm her nerves," Dolly told me one day her voice twanging on the word nerves.

My friendship with Dolly eventually faded.  I wonder what happened to her.  Did she move back to the South?  She didn't go on to Chaffey with us.  Where is she now?

It is interesting to go back in time and dredge up memories.  It can also be frustrating.

Dolly's story is one that that I don't have an ending to.  In junior high she was a huge part of my existence and now she is just a somewhat vague recollection.

If I had to imagine an ending, it would go something like this.  Dolly moved back to the South and graduated from high school early and went on to study film at NYU.  She changed her name when she became a famous filmmaker.

Fiction can be liberating.  I wish memoir was that easy.

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