This week we asked Entropy contributors to share their stories of their first best friends. Turns out we loved spirographs and miss our best friends.
My neighbor Mary was my first best friend. This is not counting the bushels of cousins I have, because while they were and still are fun, hanging out with them wasn’t really a choice. Mary and I would talk for hours, just wandering aimlessly, talking about kindergarten gossip and such. She was adopted, which I was extremely jealous about. My mom went to great lengths to explain how her parents had picked her (as opposed to my brother and I who were not chosen, but rather, deposited randomly). I always thought her family was much cooler than mine. Mary and I were flower girls together when we were six, which I recall as a particular moment of glamour. We ended up in different schools, and I think that was the beginning of the separating. Then another family with kids our age moved in and they became part of the friend group, which changed the dynamic, as well. We went from being a duo to part of a herd.
My first best friend was named Lori, and we went to the same (Catholic) school together since pre-k. Both of our families were Italian, both of our families’ living room couches covered with plastic, Virgin Mary statues in the garden, fig trees, vegetable gardens, loud fighting in the house. There was a shack in her back yard and we took a basket of Barbies in there to play. We knew it was wrong and tried not to every time, but inevitably all Barbies’ clothes came off, and we orchestrated a giant Barbie orgy. I was too ashamed even to confess this to the priest during the class’s weekly confession. From her bedroom window, we watched them film a bunch of scenes from Goodfellas. I remember a dead body in the garbage and didn’t know if it was real or not. I loved her. In the 4th grade, I was taken off a waitlist I’d been on for years for a “gifted” class in a public school in the good part of Queens. Lori said that since I was switching schools, she would have a new best friend now, Veronica. We could still be friends, she said, but not best friends. It was pointless to try. I was heartbroken and I don’t think we saw each other again.
My first best friend was in elementary school. His name was Justin Stanley. When all the girls cliqued out and excluded me he would draw me Lamborghini’s and we would chill at recess. He was always there for me to hang out with and I think started a long life of me having close platonic male friends. The last time I saw him was the 6th grade dance that ended elementary school before I switched from private school to a public junior high. I saved the outfit I had worn to that dance for years in the back of my closet out of nostalgia until it no longer fit.
I had two first best friends. It was like a best friend trio. Ashley, Meg and I became extremely close in 6th grade in our middle school in San Diego. We were all in the same class so we spent a ton of time together. The thing I remember most is that Meg and I loved drawing these comic strips featuring the three of us as mermaids falling in love with the boys we liked. We’d literally spend all of our time drawing these comic strips; sometimes they’d be full printer-pages depicting one complex scene. We’d use bright markers and the mermaids themselves were super simple. Each of us had a designated “tail” color. I loved drawing the word-bubbles and filling them in. The three of us always hung out at school and at each others’ houses. My family moved to another part of San Diego where the schools were “better” for my 7th grade so I had to leave, and I was pretty devastated, but the three of us kept up talking for a long while and Meg and I kept sending each other mermaid comic strips (and then letters) in the mail for years afterward.
My first best friend is named Grace. She and her mom and her baby sister moved down the street from us when I was four. We went to the same pre-school. Our moms became best friends and so did we. We played my little ponies historical fiction with our American girl dolls. We’re still friends– she lives in Minnesota with her husband and two sons.
My first best friend was named Mako. He lived two blocks away when I was starting elementary school growing up in North Hollywood. Our biggest bonding moment was each having really bad chicken pox at the same time in second grade. We hung out together drawing and playing spirograph for a week. He moved away to Michigan and we wrote a few letters. A year later my family moved away too but we had that amazing week and some good times for a few years. A legendary neighborhood dog was near his house and we would walk by and watch it excitedly jump behind a wall amazingly high. All the neighborhood kids affectionately named the dog “pogo stick”. Mako loved to draw the dog in magical story backgrounds when we hung out.
My earliest best friend was my next door neighbor, Jimmy Cunningham. We lived across the street from the elementary school where we went to kindergarten, and walked to and from there together and hung out after school most days. We fancied ourselves little superheroes, and played all manner of TV crime fighting duos (my Emma Peel to his John Steed, his Batman to my Robin and/or Batgirl etc.) in the backyard. We also had epic monopoly games at his house, that we would come back to several days in a row, and were really into Spirographs and the Play Doh Fun Factory and baking cakes with my Easy Bake Oven. We also went trick or treating together during some epic Halloweens on our block, where all the adults would dress up and do crazy things to make it fun, like our neighbor who wrapped himself in bandages head to toe and rode a bicycle around like a deranged zombie. One time I got scared by that and tripped and spilled all of my candy on someone’s lawn, and Jimmy was of course there to help pick it up for me. When my family moved to South Carolina right before first grade, I really missed him, but eventually we lost touch. We moved back to Houston when I was 11, and later on my parents found out that Jimmy, his brother Mike, and their parents were in a small plane crash, and that Jimmy had been killed. I don’t remember if the others survived, I wish I did. My parents didn’t tell me about the plane crash till I was older, because they were close friends with the family and were devastated themselves, and they wanted to protect me from the pain awhile longer. I really treasure the time and friendship I had with Jimmy, it was very much a formative relationship in my life, and he was the greatest. I will always think about him.