Old photo of youth. Eternal shaggy bangs and chubby cheeks.
My friend's family didn't eat pork because of their religion. Her Mom told me once that Yul Brynner got trichinosis from eating bacon. I incorrectly remembered it as he had died of it. I ominously warned everyone of this who had the misfortune to eat breakfast with me for the next 17 years, nervously chewing and wondering if it would eventually lead to my end, too. I didn't really even know who Yul Brynner was, but he didn't die and it was spare ribs, not bacon. He sued the restaurant, and his wife joined in the suit claiming it irrevocably altered their marriage. I was always fascinated by my friend's family. Her parents were both photographers, and they lived in a house on stilts right next to the river. Sometimes, when the river got up, they had to row a boat to their house. There had been a tragic car accident claiming the lives of two of their four children, and I would stare at the portrait of the entire family and wonder what those two who had died would have been like. I observed her family as if they were my private Tenenbaums or Glass family. They had a pottery wheel under their house in an outdoor room where the older of the two sisters threw pottery. If she wasn't throwing pottery, she would be in the living room, watching British comedy. My friend's father refused to turn the air conditioner on in the dead humidity of the south until July. They were fine financially, but my friend would roll her eyes and attribute it to him being cheap. She would spend most of her time over the summer at my house, soaking in the AC and Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. Her mom would turn on their oven, heating the house up to an even more unbearable level, and make homemade Yucca chips that she'd offer us. This was before the Whole Foods Movement and Kourtney Kardashian's Wheatgrass shots made the Top 40. I loved her hippie food, but my friend longed for the weekly spaghetti my Mom cooked. She introduced me to Tony Bennett's music. We where on a trip with her family to Europe once, and they almost didn't make the flight in time. They got stuck in customs with their cases of vitamins and herbs and film. When a college girl got tanked on the trip, they offered her ginger the next morning for her hangover. I had a blister completely encircle my right baby toe, and they offered up mole skin. The girls were allowed to paint their bathroom wild colors, and they were both effortlessly artistic and intelligent. They both were in Gifted and Talented, so named as if the rest of us where some mediocre trolls that crossed the school doorways every day. They'd often laugh at inside jokes, not bothering to explain the meaning to outsiders. Their unique family sense of humor that seemed as hereditary as their freckles.