LOOK AT LIFE / COCO HAMES

 

With friends like these…

 

 

By Coco
Hames

 

Some might say I am bossy
and controlling.  To those people, I say “duh”.  Basically,
I just know what I want and I go and get it.  I like to think of these
traits as “resourcefulness” and “gumption”.  We moved
to a new neighborhood when I was two years old, and I found myself in the
market for a new best friend.  As it was, I currently employed a best
friend, albeit an imaginary one named John Provost.  John Provost was the
name of the actor who played Timmy on Lassie.  He was a good friend, and
everyone treated him with respect.  But one day, you know, he had to
leave, so he hitched up one of those long sticks with a handkerchief (you know,
tied up on the end with his travel victuals) and hit the road, so I found I had
a vacancy in my limited friend space: anyone can tell you, I can kind of only
handle one at any given time.

So my mom had gone over to introduce our family to our new neighbors, and it
turned out they had a two-year-old little girl, too.  Mom came home and
reported this to me, and so I walked over there and knocked on the door, and a
man answered.  I said, “Yes hello, I believe you have a little
girl?”  And the man said, “Um yes we do, would you like to meet
her?”  And I said, “Yes please, just bring her on down, I’ll
wait.”  Then I knocked over his bike.  Twice.  But
eventually a tiny Lebanese/Serbian Catholic mute appeared, and I said to
myself, yes, this will work just fine.

Her name was Midge, and we had a great time.  Or I had a great time, and
she did a good job and pretending to have a great time.  Yes, I always
made her be Ken when we played Barbies.  Yes, I stole her clothes. 
Yes, I kept her from doing her chores, therefore getting her grounded. 
But we were best friends, and that was that was that.  Until grade school.

Midge went to private Catholic school and I went to the local public school, so
while I assumed general social pleasantries were expected whilst AT these
separate institutions, it was well understood that the friend position was
filled, for both of us, in terms of serious friends stuff, like sleepovers and
play dates.  Until one day, when I noticed a strange girl playing with
Midge in her front yard.  So I quickly devised a totally plausible excuse for
strolling over there (I piled my little sister’s dolls into the Radio Flyer)
and made my visit.

 

I said, “Oh hello
MELISSA [which was her real name, only to be used in very serious situations,
Midge was a family nickname] who is your little FRIEND?”  And Midge
said, “Oh that’s just blah-blah-blah from school.”  And I am not
kidding, this girl gave me a REALLY snooty look, I mean REALLY snooty. 
And Midge saw it and said to me, trying to change the subject, “So, what
are you doing today?”  And I looked at the dolls in the wagon and
said, “Oh, I’m just walking my sister’s dolls for her, you know, afternoon
stroll.”  And Midge’s little friend goes, “That is the dumbest
thing I’ve ever heard, walking your sister’s dolls?”  And so, I
pounced on her.

I swung that girl around Midge’s front yard by the hair on her head, like the
Trunchbull in Roald Dahl’s Matilda: I shot-put that sassmouth clear over
to the mailbox.  And then I left the dolls and scooped up Midge’s cat (a
little crosseyed Persian named Velvet) and marched home.  There were
windows alongside the front door to my house, and both girls came running up to
my front door, banging on it and saying “Give back Velvet!!!” 
And I held Velvet by the scruff of her neck in front of one of the windows,
swayed her gently, and said quietly, “Send her home, Melissa.  Send
her home, and I will happily give back Velvet.  Or…”  Then the
mafia thumb-drawn-across-the-neck gesture that was very clearly
understood.  Midge sent the girl home (who I never did see again) and of
course, always true to my word, I gave Velvet back, just as sweet as could
be. 

 

Some might say that is not a story representing a very well-adjusted third
grader, but let me ask you this: if I’M the crazy one, why is Midge still
voluntarily and actively best friends with me?  Hm?  Stir that into
your cup of coffee and just think about THAT.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

Blurt “co-co-editor”
Coco Hames fronts The Ettes – Hames on guitar, Jem Cohen on bass and Poni
Silver on drums – whose latest album
Look At Life Again Soon (Take Root) is still a hot item, and they also have a
new EP,
Danger Is, released by Take
Root on April 7 and also available digitally,
www.myspace.com/theettes), and a Dan Auerbach-produced limited-edition
single this month. They tore it up at the Hold Steady showcase At SXSW in Austin, by the way. The
real Austin, not the Sims-world Austin.

 

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