on that funny sap

We first bonded over a Greek slave gladiator freedom fighter.

Twenty birthdays later, we still find new and wacky ways to make each other laugh. She just texted me the other night to tell me she watched Bill Cosby Himself, because we have long enjoyed the line “Dad is great! Gave us chocolate cake!”

When we were in high school, we drew each other pictures and wrote in each other’s yearbooks about funny memories we shared. So I thought it would be a good idea to try to encapsulate 20 years of friendship with Michelle into one blog post — the modern-day, mid-30s equivalent of passing a note in class — complete with movie lines and song lyrics.

To include every song, every saying, every cocktail that reminds me of my best friend would be impossible. I wouldn’t even want to try (and no one would read that). So instead I’ve chosen a random selection of oft-recollected gems and a few B-sides that should be good for a giggle, or even a guffaw, to people of a certain age.

We’ve never made a list of the movies that most remind us of each other, but if we did, National Lampoon’s Vacation, would surely be included near the top. Everything is so great about that movie — I’m not sure there’s a line we don’t know (“Find a bush, Audrey”). I’ve already posted clips from that movie on my blog so instead I found a related song clip. And while this song may have only been in the movie for a few moments, we’ve been annoying people with our rendition ever since.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least one clip of Chevy Chase. After much deliberation, here’s what I went with:

That our friendship has endured many ups and downs (and many, many  years) is a testament to a few things. First, we share largely the same brain and sense of humor. Secondly, our brains and senses of humor are filled mainly with songs we like to sing all the time. From late-night dance parties to the Chorus Line soundtrack or my VHS copy of Xanadu, to middle-of-the-street renditions of “Cool Rider” from Grease 2 or “I’ve Got the Golden Ticket” (which resulted in one of our all-time best routines — the Golden Ticket Dance) or the Golden Goose song by that wretchedly awesome Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, we very rarely shut up when we’re together. And it typically kills (we call it entertains) everyone around us, but we don’t care. Because, even now, we’re in our own little world when we’re together.

Flipping through the stations on the radio is like hearing a history of our friendship. I can’t go far without hearing some song that reminds me of some stupid thing we did one time in high school, college or beyond. Some, like the musical stylings of our Lord Bono (“Party Girl” is one of the best), are featured prominently each day. Others, like these gems from the early ’90s, live mostly in my memory — until an exercise like this prompts me to search for them:

I tell my students that college is hard, and that they will spend all their time reading and studying, reading and studying. But, somehow, when I look back on my undergraduate years at ASU, I mostly remember the parties, and late-night movie-quoting and song-singing. I can’t remember when we studied — except when Michelle quizzed me for my Pop Rock and History of The Beatles exams. But I know we did, because we both finished school in four years — a major achievement for a Sun Devil — with really good grades to boot. I suppose we mostly remember the fun stuff.

I do know we were busy. We had jobs, sorority obligations, school and internship commitments, nearly every day. So I think the only reason we ever saw each other is because we did most of these things together. A typical day might look like this:

9 a.m. – Roll out of bed and watch TV in the living room until we had to go to class. Friends, Seinfeld and ER were big forces on our VCR, but during the day we might prefer Full House (Michelle’s choice) or California Dreams (my choice).

10-3ish – School

4:30-11 p.m. – Work at Red Robin, slinging Monster Burgers and fries, and quoting lines from random movies like Ice Castles and dancing like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance on the newly mopped kitchen floors.

11:01 p.m.-1ish a.m. – Off to wherever the night would take us. That often was The Dash, The Sawmill or Doc ‘n’ Eddy’s. Before I became a vegetarian, this portion of the evening would be capped off with a trip to Jack in the Box or (I’m so ashamed to admit) Whataburger and an in-car rendition of one of our favorite tunes from Les Miserables.

1ish-whenever – Start watching a movie we’ve already seen 100 times, fast-forwarding to our favorite parts. There are certain movies, that to this day, I can’t remember how they begin or end, because we only ever watched the scenes we loved, like:

Okay, so we’ve been out of school for nearly 15 years. But I still regularly think about the fun times we have had, and I can’t help but laugh and smile and feel gratitude for an enduring friendship that is a cornerstone of my life. I could spend years trying to capture all the moments that have left indelible marks in my memory, but I would never get this posted. So this can’t be considered a retrospective, but rather a small sampling of our greatness. My life has taken shape around my friendships, especially this one. Michelle is the funniest person I know. She shines so brightly — she’s like a much prettier version of Bette Midler’s character in Beaches. I love to wind her up and just watch her go. I don’t know how I deserve such a gift, but I’ll take it.

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