[Non-Fiction] On The Waterpark
I was banned by Melissa’s mom. It’s a real lady-and-the-tramp story, only instead of the tramp being a ratty stray dog, the tramp was an actual tramp, and that tramp was me.
Melissa and I were best friends in the eighth grade. We were the kind of best friends that were attached at the hip, the kind who spent every waking moment together. We were so like-minded, it was as if we actually shared a brain. The only differences between us were that Melissa came from the right side of the tracks, had well-employed parents who were actually married, and she even had a college fund. She also typically wore clothes that didn’t come from the “Lil’ Whore” section at Kmart. Melissa’s mom used to look at me when I walked into her house like I was a sore-encrusted pit bull with hepatitis. She was not a fan.
Melissa and I would stroll through the mall every weekend, identical from the neck up with blonde hair and matching purple sunglasses, but from the neck down with her decked out in reasonably fitted acid-washed jeans and a tucked-in t-shirt with the sleeves rolled, and me wearing a Mötley Crüe half-shirt paired with a spandex miniskirt the size of a postage stamp, an armload of silver bracelets, and, always, big white high-top sneakers, and a cigarette hanging out of my mouth.
(Although I had never even kissed a boy at that point in my life, I was trying to create the illusion that I was one of those dangerous, fast women. The kind of woman who would get it on with you in a stolen car speeding down the highway when, in truth, my first boyfriend had broken up with me that year because I had been too frightened to French kiss him. That made for one awkward bar mitzvah for that guy.)
The summer before ninth grade, my sister Bonnie and her boyfriend invited us to go to a water park in Fort Lauderdale. Melissa’s mom asked me if my mom was going to be there to supervise, and I felt so bad for Melissa that her mom was so lame. Supervision?! Jesus, we were 13, what the hell did we need supervision for in Fort Lauderdale in the 80s?
I told Melissa’s mom that, yes, of course, my mom would be there! It’s certainly not like I was raised mostly feral if that’s what you’re thinking, Melissa’s mom!
I was raised mostly feral, by the way.
When we pulled up into Melissa’s driveway to pick her up, her mom spied out the window and saw that my mom was nowhere to be seen in the car. She didn’t say anything at the time, and Melissa and I had an amazingly awesome day at the water park, but when Melissa got home, her mom banned me from their house for lying to her and told Melissa that I was a bad influence and that she wasn’t allowed to be friends with me anymore. Melissa delivered the news to me from the phone in her kitchen and told me that her mom was standing in front of her to make sure that Melissa had told me, in no uncertain terms, that our friendship was finished.
Her mom had finally found a definitive charge with which to throw me out of Melissa’s life: A lie about the water park.
Far from devastated, I laughed and said, “Whatever. It’s not like she can follow us around the school to make sure we’re not talking!”
Little did I know, once we entered high school the following month, it wouldn’t be Melissa’s mom that ended our friendship.
Melissa started spending time with a super gross crowd in ninth grade. You know, all the Jennifers and Kellys and Lisas, with their perfect tans and rich daddies. The popular girls. The mean girls. The kind of girls we used to make fun of for being so shitty and plastic.
Melissa had become particularly close to the worst of the bunch, a girl I named “Bitchface,” and started pretending that she didn’t see me when she and Bitchface would walk past me in the hallway at school. I imagined how Melissa’s mom must have adored Bitchface and encouraged their friendship, thankful that I seemed to be out of the picture for good.
Bitchface was the kind of popular mean girl who wasn’t satisfied with just dominating girls — she would make them change who they were in order for her to even consider being friends with them. Word on the street was that she told Melissa that “Melissa” was a stupid name, and that from now on, her name would be “Lissa.” Then Lissa had to run for something in the way of a class officer because anyone who was anyone had a title.
It didn’t take long before Lissa sat me down in the cafeteria courtyard to tell me that it was too hard for her to be friends with both me and Bitchface, so obviously, I was the one who had to go. Besides, she reminded me that her mom didn’t want her hanging around with me anyway. I felt like a mutt being returned to the pound.
A month later, scorned from being so mercilessly dumped by my BFF, on the day Lissa walked up to the podium in the gym to give her campaign speech for class secretary, and before she could even speak, I yelled from the bleachers, “You SUCK!”
She shot a look at me, I shot her one back, and then she started her speech. It was the last interaction we ever had.
High school went on, Lissa and Bitchface best-friending it up and being shitty assholes like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, and I became best friends with a quality human being named Anne, who is still my best friend twenty-seven years later. Despite my slutty clothes and wrong side of the tracks address, I did not become a criminal. Not even a speeding ticket!
A couple of months ago, I was bored and had some time to kill, so I decided to do some digging online to see what Bitchface was up to these days. As it turns out, she has a rap sheet a mile long and was most recently arrested for both prostitution and possession of crack cocaine.
It’s a good thing Melissa stopped hanging around with me, seeing as I was such a bad influence and all. I do feel bad for Bitchface, though—her life looks legitimately terrible and I hope she eventually gets the help she needs.
That being said, this is all really just a very long and convoluted way for me to say fuck you, Melissa’s mom.
Maggie Dove is a Southern writer (by way of South Florida) who is comically and tragically pissed off about things, is petty and immature, and has many tribal tattoos from the 90s for which she refuses to be apologetic. She has work slated to appear in 2019 in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and Bitterzoet Magazine. Prior to becoming a writer you’ve never heard of in South Florida, she was the singer of a band you’ve never heard of in South Florida, and prior to that, she was a go-go dancer for a now-defunct funk band you’ve never heard of in South Florida. She is what they refer to in the business as ‘A Triple Non-Threat’. Her blog can be found at romcomdojo.com.