A friend from high school sent me an email last week proposing a terrific idea.
My high school girlfriends – more accurately womenfriends -- have remained close. Back in the 1950s, we called ourselves The Mob. I don’t remember why. There were about a dozen of us, give or take a few. High school female friendships are notorious for waxing and waning.
But 60-something years later, 11 Mob members still keep in touch. Our friendships have waxed, even though we live in different parts of the country and lead different lives. We look forward to a talk-and-laughter-filled long weekend at a resort in Michigan every other year.
Last year, we decided to gather every single year from now on because . . . well, let’s face facts . . . time is running out. We will celebrate our 80th birthdays this year.
All have moved on from high school into interesting lives. Of the current 11 members, one lives in Arizona, one in Utah, two in New York, one in Virginia, one in California, and five of us still live in Michigan. We all earned bachelor’s degrees; a few earned master’s degrees and one has a PhD.
I’d say this is a pretty good academic record for a bunch of girls who were raised with the idea that finding a good husband was Very Very Important!! Some of us were inoculated with the idea that an MRS degree was even more important than finding a satisfying career.
Eight of us followed directions and married what we considered (at the time) suitable husbands. One of the group has a long-time significant other. Some of these men have stood the test of time. Some turned unsuitable and didn’t work out quite as expected. Two of the women are widows. Four are divorced.
Last week’s email arrived in the inboxes of all 11 Mob members.
The writer said she heard a story about somebody who had been faithfully following the current frequent hand-scrubbing routine recommended for halting the spread of coronavirus. He washed his hands so much, she heard, he uncovered a cheat sheet from a long-ago high school exam.
This made-up anecdote has been passed around on Facebook and other social media. But my friend expanded on the idea and posed a question to the Mob.
“It made me remember, and will confess now,” she wrote. “I put a couple of French words on my hand to pass a vocabulary test in Madame Gillespie's class so many years ago. Forgive me my transgressions please. It's time to fess up before I kick the bucket!
“Any of you want to make a confession to all of us?” she challenged.
As the day wore on, I started getting email confessions.
“I was shopping at Wrigley’s with my mother and dawdling behind her. I spotted an open bag of candy in the candy aisle and was reaching in to take a piece when there was a heavy hand on my shoulder belonging to the store manager. I told him I had not opened the bag but he didn't believe me and carted me off to my mother. Luckily, she believed me but I never helped myself to something in a store after that. I can still feel that hand.”
Another: “In English class we had to write an original poem. It was the night before it was due and I had true writer’s block, so looking back in old issues of American Girl magazine I found one that seemed about right. I planned to change the words, but the devil said
“What the Hell” and I turned it in word for word. Not only did my teacher have me read it to the class, it also got printed in (a magazine published by the school’s English department.) I never told anyone and I have the guilts once in a great while when it comes to mind. As a Catholic maybe I need to confess it next time they open the church.”
My confession: For some reason, in high school, I took a speech class. I was terrified about giving speeches, so maybe I thought it would be good for me. Getting up in front of my classmates and actually giving talks scared me to death.
I guess I got through a few of the first speeches, the short, easy ones, but an assignment came along that freaked me out. I was so unprepared and so anxious about this speech that my mother !!! my mother!!! actually told me to pretend I was sick and stay home. My mother, my straight-laced stick-to-the-rules mother!!! She lied for me and wrote a note saying I was sick. She lied!
I don't remember if I eventually had to give that speech. I just remember my mother and I as liars and co-conspirators.
Two other Mob members emailed back, remembering the same speech class. They even remembered the teacher’s name. But nobody else came up with a confession.
Yet. Maybe I’ll have more to write about next week.
Our True Confession exercise was a nice respite from round-the-clock, ever present, depressing and scary coronavirus news.