"You want to come with us to McDonalds?" Sue asked me, casually. I looked up from playing with my Speak and Spell, completely stunned. Was she messing with me?
"Yup" I mumbled, while scrambling to find my shoes. I didn't want to show too much enthusiasm, she might decide I was acting stupid and change her mind. I climbed into the passenger seat of her red Chevy Nova. I had never paid much attention to cars before, but I was definitely going to have my Dad buy me a Chevy Nova when I was old enough to drive.
We drove to her friend Beth's house to pick her up. I moved to the backseat, then sat way forward to listen to their conversations. As a 9 year old, high school gossip was fascinating and exotic to me. I tucked away some of the new vocabulary to use on the playground later. "He's such a loser" sounded so much more grown up than, "He's a dummy".
The next stop was to pick up Dave, another friend. I mulled this over. High school boys and girls can be friends with each other? In my class boys and girls worked very hard to never speak to each other at all.
Sue hopped out of the driver's seat and pushed it forward so Dave could get in the back seat. I moved as far to my side of the back seat as possible. Third grade habits die hard. Then I looked up at him. He had long, feathered hair. For reasons I still can't quite articulate, this terrified me.
For the entire rest of the ride to McDonald's Dave tried to make small talk with me, asking about school, what my favorite color was, whether I had seen the movie, E.T. and I just stared at him, both amazed and appalled by his long, flowing hair. I had seen long hair on a boy before, but it was on MTV, and it was attached to David Lee Roth, or that guy from Journey. Dave talked like a normal person, but was he a rock star? How was an average third grader supposed to make small talk with a person like this?
Sue turned on the radio, an Ozzy Osbourne song was on. I knew all the words to his songs from sitting around in Sue's room while she listened to records, promising that I would act cool and begging her not to kick me out. I momentarily forgot my Dave-fear and started to sing along. Dave said, "Your little sister knows all the words to an Ozzy song? Cool!" He held his hand up to me for a high five. I stopped singing, hunched down in my seat, and stared out the window.
"Wow, she really doesn't like me!" he announced to Sue and Beth. They all laughed hysterically.
After we went through the drive-thru (where I managed to quietly order a coke) we drove around, and I wished we could just go home. Maybe I wasn't cut out for being around high schoolers after all.
When we dropped them both back off at their houses and started our drive home, Sue said, "Why were you acting like such a goon-bucket?"
"Shut up! You're the goon-bucket." I replied.
I stared out the window and smiled. I had just had one of the most exciting afternoons of my life.