My best childhood friend was a girl named Sha. I don’t really remember how we met. It was a small school, so I guess we probably just hit it off. Maybe I liked the fact that that her name fit right inside my name. Of course little girls like stuff like that. I also know that I was a tomboy, and Sha was a tomboy, too. We really liked to talk on the phone. I have no idea what we talked about for all of those hours as little girls, but I do know that the older we got the more the conversation turned to boys, makeup and softball.
I was a fast-pitch softball pitcher. Daddy got me out throwing the ball with a windmill wind-up when I was pretty young. Like everything else I do, I hated to practice. I always wanted to just wing it, but he made me practice. At some point, Sha started to catch me. I enjoyed her catching me more because we were gal pals, and we could always start being silly and talk about boys and makeup and other little girls. We ended up playing on the same softball team together – and for the life of me, Sha, and our coaches – none of us can remember the name of the sponsor of the team. How can you wear a shirt for 3 or 4 seasons – all those games – and not remember what was written on them? But, I don’t. If you know, please leave me a comment. I do know that the shirts were purple and gold mesh. I know that I had really bad hair. I can’t find my pics to share with you. But, Sha and I were not only friends, we were a pitcher/catcher team.
Click on the images for captions.
I found this article about pitchers and catchers. They have a special relationship. We had a special relationship. We talked about it this week, and Sha said she just remembered that we’d be all out of sorts about our boyfriends, crying on each other’s shoulders about some silly thing, and then we’d just suck it up because we had to go play ball. We’d have to leave being girlfriends and girls behind to go kick some ass on a cow pasture ball-field up Highway 16. Our coaches, my Aunt Carol Ann and her partner Judy were hard-core softball coaches. They taught us to play ball and to compete to win. When I first started pitching, I was fast but I was as wild as an unbroken bronco. One minute I could smoke it over the plate, and the next inning I was hitting the top of the backstop and walking every batter on the team. Judy and Carol Ann were my coaches, but Sha was my touchstone. She was not only my friend, she knew how to calm me down. She could sense when it was coming, and she could also see everything else that was going on from behind the plate with the batter. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I was in the center of a storm of events, and I wanted to see Sha coming up to tell me to focus… get my sh*t together… breathe. She was my rock. She believed in me.
I got better the second year we played, and I lost the wild streaks. But, with improvements came more pressure to perform. We could now win. We actually had a pitcher who could pitch instead of walking everybody around the bases, and we had a shot. This week Sha asked,”Do you remember the game when Willie was umpiring, and we were in field? Jamie hit a shot out in the field, and Anita was rounding third headed home?” I didn’t remember this story, but I wanted to hear it. Anita, the girl heading home, was a badass big girl about to collide with the badass catcher that I knew and loved. “The ball came in, I caught it and she ran over my ass and knocked me out.” I was starting to remember this story, but I wanted to hear her perspective. “You were behind me backing me up in case of a miss. I came to hearing you saying, ‘Sha, Sha…. wake up! Get up, Sha! She’s out!’ I saw you standing there, and Willie was shaking me. I still had the ball, and you were right – she was out!” They were our biggest rivals, and we always wanted to beat the sh*t out of them. We were a team of underdogs but a bunch of tough scrappers that wanted to win. And a big part of that for me was wanting to do it for Sha. She got so excited about winning.
She moved away from our hometown when she was 16, and we didn’t see each other for a very long time. Sha went on to play for awhile at LSU. I went on to party at Southeastern. I’ve always thought about and wondered what happened to Sha. When those security questions ask Who was your closest childhood friend? My answer is always Sha. I loved her spirit. I’ve always liked people who were tough and high-spirited. Maybe it’s because I felt like I needed to be protected and was a bit shy. I admired her ability to say what she thought – uncensored. She was a tomboy. And, she had no problem sliding into bases, knocking people down to score and throwing herself headlong into sometimes dangerous situations. She was a force to be reckoned with as a girl, and I loved her.
This week’s lunch pics.
We caught back up with each other a few weeks ago, and then this week we spent quite a lot of time together. We went out to dinner one night, lunch the next day and then planned to go out Friday. We had a blast. We danced at the Magnolia Cafe in St. Francisville. It’s been on my Bucket List Louisianne, and I’ve been out there twice before. But, I never got to dance. I guess at Christmastime, there’s just not a lot of dancing going on. But, last night, there was major dancing going on. We ran into a man named Jeff from Watson. He knew our friend Tammie who was also out with us. He danced with all of us, and we had a ball. In the course of the conversation, I found out Sha had been the Jambalaya Queen somewhere along the line in her life, and I laughed my ass off at this tomboy friend of mine being the Queen of a Louisiana Festival. Apparently, in her interview, one of the interviewers pinched her on the butt, and she turned around and slapped him. I guess they were looking for spunk because that cinched the crown for her. Jeff was pretty impressed that he was hanging out with a Jambalaya Queen, the Midlife blogger he’d been reading for over a year and Tammie, the daycare mogul who has raised half the kids in Watson. It was a big night for all of us.
I love old friends. No matter how long it has been or what has happened between you, there is a relationship that just falls right back into rhythm. We talked about men all the way to the dance hall, cursing like sailors like we always have and supporting each other’s views above all else. I made her get up and dance when she protested that she couldn’t, and she gave me the keys to drive home. “Sharon, we have to keep drinking!” she screamed. “Sha, I’m not drinking,” I added. “Okay… well, I have to keep drinking then,” she laughed. I took her home and helped her pull off her tall boots that wouldn’t come off her feet. We were both complaining and laughing about how tall they were while she tried to use a shoe horn, and I’m pulling the heel to try to get them off her feet. She made me promise to call her when I got home, and, of course I forgot. But, she texted me to be sure, and we both fell asleep texting and laughing about the night we had. This morning we were texting pics from last night back and forth with Tammie. We covered a lot of ground this week in catching up – this pitcher and catcher. And we spent a lot of time talking about boys, makeup and softball. Some things never change. And that makes me very, very happy.