25 August 2008

Why Tanya Is My Best Friend

Enjoy the story about my best friend that I never posted (this story won the photo shoot). Some day I'll have to write something about her getting a boyfriend and becoming engaged as soon as I move elsewhere, after years of me lining her up. :)

Why Tanya Is My Best Friend
Michelle Glauser

“Uh, this painting is interesting in an interesting sort of way.” Professor Paret, or Monty, as we like to call him, has one of those indescribable voices, like nasally gravel. Tanya and I look at each other with that look that means, “Here’s another one he doesn’t know about and he’s excusing his lack of knowledge by calling it ‘interesting.’” Within a few minutes, I’m struggling to stay awake. I usually take care of this problem by doing homework for other classes while listening, but in this class, the lights are dimmed so we can see the slides of 20th century art. I haven’t yet seen many pieces that I haven’t already studied.

I dig a Ziploc of carrots and wheat thins out of my bag, ignoring the rustling of the plastic. I offer some to Tanya. She takes a carrot, and I can hear her carefully chewing it to avoid much noise. I take some wheat thins myself. I become so aware of the crunching in the quiet classroom that I decide to let the cracker dissolve. Tanya has given up on her carrot. I notice that the head of the boy in front of me has fallen to the side. So we’re not the only bored ones.

Tanya is digging in her bag. Suddenly she looks horrified. “Does my bag smell like Chinese food?” she asks in a whisper. I smell it. It smells like something that could be Chinese food, but only if you really sniff. “Who’s going to smell your bag? It doesn’t matter,” I tell her, but it’s obvious she’s still worried.

As soon as class is over, we head to the parking lot, via two or three warm university buildings. I think every student on campus walks through the buildings just to let their lungs have a break from seizing up in the cold. We also take a shortcut across the lawn. I laugh and laugh as Tanya’s pointy heels of her boots sink into the grass. Trying not to lose a shoe, she says, “Slow down!” daintily pulling her shoe out with each step in a way that only a dancer would.

When we get to the parking lot, she can’t remember where she parked. We search among the rows. Luckily, it’s not hard to find her car. It’s a tiny red truck that already had a Tasmanian devil on the tire flap when she bought it. Before she throws her bag into the back of the truck, she sniffs it, squeals, “Eeeeeew!” and lets it fly so that it thuds among the leaves gathered back there. I also heft my enormous backpack into the truck bed and then myself into the passenger seat of the cab. My seat belt doesn’t work, so we interlock mine with Tanya’s. Picking up a pizza at Little Caesar’s for 5 bucks, we eat nearly the whole thing and laugh about the time we dared a red-headed boy to out-eat us and he couldn’t. Then we remember that he had a mole on his face that amused us whenever we saw him. This wasn’t any mole. This was a blue mole that contrasted . . . in a very interesting way . . . with the reddish skin of the red-headed kid.

I get out a few of the CDs I snuck from my brother’s CD case to show Tanya. One has the amusing title of “NCMO in the back row” written in my brother’s handwriting. Another is a really good collection of Weezer and a few other artists. I set it on the dashboard, carefully avoiding the goopy stuff dried there for as long as I can remember. My hair is blowing all over the place with the air from the open window, so I pull the sun visor down to get my hair in order using the mirror. Bah! There is no mirror. I quickly duck down to look in the passenger-side rear-view mirror. Oh yeah, there isn’t one there either. I do this every day, you’d think I’d remember. Suddenly Tanya turns a corner Tanya-style. I watch in horror as the CD flies out the window. “My brother’s CD!” I yell. Tanya whips the car around at the first opportunity, stops in the middle of the road, grabs the CD, throws it back in the car, and says, “Why didn’t you stop it?” We laugh about my brother having no idea what his CD has been through.

We pull up to the library about five minutes before I’m due to start working. I pull the handle to open the door, only to hear a “Crack!” and see a piece of the handle fall down. Tanya groans. I quickly roll down the window, reach over the door, and open it from the outside. Rolling her window back up, I say "goodbye" and "thank you" and head inside.

I call Tanya a few hours later to ask her about weekend plans. She always seems to be driving when I call her. “What is he doing!? This guy just pulled in front of me! I swear I’m a magnet for lousy drivers!” I shake my head and smile as I picture Tanya driving. She may be one of those people who isn’t outgoing until you break into her shell, but she is one aggressive driver. She doesn’t realize that she tailgates and that the people who are supposedly cutting her off are really getting followed by someone who speeds up when they want to change lanes.

Tanya brings me all the CDs she copied for me, including one that she has titled, “Whoa! My brother’s CD just flew out the window!” We sit at the kitchen counter and eat whatever food I can find in the fridge. “I feel bad,” she says, “Your family feeds me every time I come.” I assure her for the twentieth time that that is how my family shows people that we love them. The conversation moves on to how her truck stopped in the middle of the road. A man helped her move the truck until she could get some random cords in the engine wiggled into the right position for the truck to start up again. Then she tells me how she parked at a parking meter during dance class. The meters only allow so much change, so she ran out during class to add some more money, and a parking enforcement officer was standing there waiting for it to expire. He handed her a ticket and stalked off. Driving incidents and parking tickets—both of these are very usual events for Tanya, but these quirks stress her out. I just laugh and offer her another serving of chicken enchiladas.

It isn’t long before Tanya’s window stops rolling down, so I have to wait for her to open my door when we go to her hair appointment. I’m sure people probably think she has a kid in there or that she’s pretending to be a suave guy during a date, but it’s just me who emerges, laughing at the situation. The fancy salon intimidates the tomboy in me. We are offered something to drink and both accept water. I don’t pay to get my haircut, never have. My mom has always done it. Of course, Tanya would point out that I never pay for anything if I don’t have to. The girl who cuts Tanya’s hair has her hair bleached to a grayish color. I never knew anyone who actually wanted gray hair. She also has huge high heels on and a shirt that looks like someone cut it all over. I’m surprised to hear that she is a mother of two who go to a school near where I live. She cuts with sure motions. Initially she and Tanya talk to each other, but eventually I join in. I’ve brought a book about Costa Rica from the library so we can discuss what we’re going to do when we get there. Our mothers are both worried about us going, but we’re just as stubborn as they are. We talk about all the places we want to go to some day, all the food we like, all the books we want to read, and the boys we’ve dated or who we wish we were dating. When the beautician is done, she thanks us and tells us that we are “really funny people.” I’m not sure what she means by that, but as Tanya pays the outrageous bill, I think about how we never run out of things to talk about and how we never will.

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