Wednesday, May 7, 2008

P is for Penny

I had a photo of a Pit stop sign taken in a McDonald's I was going to put on here for ABC Wednesday's P is for... post day. Then I rememebered I did not have to put forth a prolific effort to search for P words. I had THE Pefect P in the form of my best friend Penny. Coinicidentally Penny had just sent me a recent picture of herself with her family. I'd thought about going through old photos to find THE one photo that represented how I still see her in my mind's eye... back to the nights when we were groupies to a band called Anthem.

Penny is actually my best friend Genie's cousin so Genie introduced us back in junior high school when Penny's family moved here temporarily before going overseas to Bankok. So I did not see Penny again until we were in college. One night I saw her at a nightclub all by herself which I couldn't believe. We started hanging out after that, going out almost every night.

Penny was a music major and has a beautiful voice of an angel. She was dark where I was light. Penny was very outgoing and far more gutsier than me. Sometimes Penny was too sweet - talking to rank strangers on the streets of Atlanta. I was more like her mother, pulling her away and telling her to stop doing that! That she shouldn't talk to people she didn't know! I guess I was the voice of reason.

Then one fateful night we went to a nightclub called the Chicasaw. They fired one band with a lead singer in a blue jean jumpsuit who thought he was Mick Jagger and that was all he would sing over and over. Then a weird bald guy came on stage singing about "We're gonna drink some wine and committ suicide..." Now this was right after the Jim Jones Guana tragedy so we got the heck out of there "in a New York minute" as Penny used to say. We went to a place called the Zodiac. We walked into this smoke filled bar that feels like a dream now as I remember... On the stage was a band with THE most gorgeous lead singer we ever laid eyes on. He had long, dark curly hair you just wanted to touch. It was as soft as it looked. He looked a lot like Paul Stanley of Kiss. From that moment on we were hooked, hook, line and sinker. Sunk. We went back there every night. When they were in town, we were there. Penny wore her hair similar to Ralph's. They could have passed for brother and sister although she did not want to be his sister. I wish she would wear her hair like that again. I guess I just want people to look like they did.

Penny and I wouldn't accept dates when the band was in town, thinking we would miss something and feel guilty. Some of the guys asking us out knew we were there to see the band on the night they wanted to go out. One guy got really mad at me because I was flirting with Ralph, the lead singer as he came over and sang to me. I had to tell that guy that I was not married to him, I could do whatever I wanted to do. Of course we were hoping to go out with the band. Did we really miss anything by not accepting dates? We still don't think so to this day. Our lives happened the way they were supposed to happen.

Penny and I became friends with all the memebers of the band. Once upon a time... We saw them at the Agora Ballroom in Atlanta which felt like a magical dream. The concert was so cool. I got an awesome perfect photo of Ralph on stage with colored smoke all around him. It makes me want find that photo again. Then we got to go back stage to the dressing rooms with them. Afterwards we went to Denney's with them. Penny was drinking coffee with them while I drank coke. We drove back home as the sky was begining to lighten into day.

Penny had to go to work that day. She was working for a dentist at that time. All the excitement, the lack of sleep, all the coffee she consumed caused her to have an anxiety attack. An ambulance was called for her but she was okay. After a night like that, I always slept over and we'd re-live the whole experience over and over again and again.

Back in those days, I had a Kodak 110 camera before I purchased my Minolta at JCPenney's. I always used 400 speed due to the darkness of the club, but most of the photos still came out grainy looking. Oh, the money I spent on pictures. It was a good thing I worked at JCPenney's and got a discount on the photo processing. I had albums and albums full of pictures of Anthem, Penny and I. Then I inheirited Penny's albums before she got married.

Once we drove all the way to Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina to see them in their home element. We spent a few nights in Ralph hotel room, Penny and I sleeping in the same bed, hardly sleeping, waking up, looking at each other, and saying, "Are you believing this?" at the same time. We really felt like their groupies when we went to Darling raceway with them where they performed on stage as the front band for Nantucket. We even had our own matching Anthem t-shirts we had made. It was okay. We WERE with the band.

Penny graduated from college and moved back home in Savannah with her parents. That was a hard adjustment for me after being with my best friend all that time, going out every night. At first I wouldn't go out especially alone. Then I got over it and just went out one night. I'd meet up with other friends later, but it wasn't the same. Being an only child, I learned how to do things alone and am quite comfortable with myself.

Penny was in several bands. Anthem acutally folded, the guys going their separate ways forming other bands. Penny was in Anthem II with another girl and one of the founding memembers. They made a record. I have the tape. I love Penny's song she wrote herself entitled "Somewhere in Time" based on the movie with Christopher Reeve. Then Penny was in another band that toured overseas. Oh, the stories she could tell about that... I lived vicariously through her. After that Penny found the Lord and sang in church.

Penny has always been there for me when I needed her even though she might not agree. She says I am a better friend to her than she is me. Though time and distance keeps us apart, she still remains one of my best friends and always will be. She probably knows me better than I know myself. She is the one who told me I meticulously spread Blue Plate mayo on my bread like an artist (before I knew I was one) whereas she just slaps some on the piece of bread. She knows when I like someone, if I am happy or not. Penny has always made me laugh especially when I needed it most. We have been through a lot together. Sometimes it is a wonder we survived, but luckily we did.

Like me, Penny married later in life. Penny met Tom who was in the Air Force stationed in Savannah. In his flight suit, he could pass for Tom Cruise in "Top Gun" in photos. In reality, not so much in the light of day. I was deeply hurt that I was not asked to be in Penny's wedding so regrettably I would not ask her to sing in mine. Instead my cousin April did which is another story... Later we would get this all resolved when Penny's Granny died. We cried incoherently except we knew what the other was saying and that is all that mattered. This took place in the funeral home in front of God and everybody. Don didn't have a clue what was going on and asked "What was all that about?"

So if I see Penny once a year now, I am lucky. It is always so good to see her and her family. We pack so much into that little time we have together. Later I take those memories out and savor them much like she told me she does a letter from me. We once went out west & stopped to see them, but I was so sick it wasn't a good trip for me. I felt terrible coming into their house with my germs. It was a blur.

Then Penny had breast cancer and I feared I would not have my best friend, but thankfully she remains cancer-free and I thank the good Lord for letting her stay here on earth with me awhile longer. I don't know what I would do without her.

On Penny's last visit, we had THE most fun as always when I am with her. The stories she has to tell.... had us cracking up. We had not laughed that hard in awhile. Nor had Penny and I closed a place down.

At least Penny has gotten better about answering emails now so I am very proud of her. Proud to call her my best friend. I am so thankful for her. We always end our phone conversations with "I love you"'s because she is like family to me. The sister I never had. The one I would have borrowed her clothes and did as she did mine.

Well, I took a photo of the photo Penny sent me. Then I couldn't find my new memory card reader in my big bag so once again I cannot upload another photo today or the photo of Penny as planned. This is getting to be a pattern. I'd hate to have to buy a new one. I am hoping it is with my cell phone charger on the dining room table. It is funny there was a voice inside my head at the beginning of the week telling me to take the picture and upload it so I would have it just in case... I should have listened to that voice. I don't hear them very often. Next time I will heed it.

Today I have a sore throat. I bought some Peppermint twists on the way to work this morning. We were treated to a free fish lunch today because it is employee appreciation week.

Quote of the day:

Life is like a bag of peaches.
Be the juicy one.
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.-

3 comments:

Ida said...

Nice tribute to your best friend! :)

Texas Travelers said...

Great "P" story.

Thanks for sharing.

"P" is Posted.
Come visit,
Troy

Neva said...

Quite the prolific p post!!!
Mine are posted!
Neva 1
Neva 2