Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bonnie, part two

In part one, I described when Bonnie moved into my neighborhood in Wilmette two doors down from my house.  She was my age, I think we were in second grade.  It's funny I don't remember feeling that little.  Bonnie had an older sister, the instantly popular and cool Robin, and a little brother--also blond, David.  These three became my salvation from predatory bullies as I no longer had to walk the long seven blocks to and from school alone.

Bonnie was a regular kind of kid.  She had thick, shoulder-length, very blond hair, brown eyes, nice smooth skin, and a space between her front teeth.  She smiled a lot and laughed all the time.  She was medium height, medium weight.  Her family had moved from Connecticut.  She dressed pretty much like I did in those days--plaid jumpers, stretchy shorts--70's stuff. 

Her dad worked for Trane, and he had trains in their wood-paneled basement.  Her mom was pretty, elegant, and gracious--she had luxurious long wavy brown hair that she wound up in various hairdos, wore nice ladylike clothes and a bit of makeup.  She had a slight pleasant accent and a very loving and motherly demeanor.  She taught piano, played tennis, and kept the refrigerator stocked with carrots and celery sticks for the kids to munch on.  She called Bonnie her "bunny" because she liked carrots so much.  I couldn't believe Bonnie fell for that.

Bonnie quickly became my constant companion.  We spent most of our time at her house.  She and Robin had the whole third floor of the house for their bedroom--sort of a finished attic apartment with bright orange-flowered wallpaper.  It was very cool.  Robin was rarely home and I can remember spending hours up there playing records on Bonnie's portable phonograph, talking about TV shows like Gilligan's Island, Here Come the Brides, The Brady Bunch, and The Partridge Family.

We would also play board games like Monopoly and Parcheesi, sometimes in her family's carpeted den.  That was only if Schultz, the not-so-cuddly German Shepherd, was outside. We had a favorite activity we played in Bonnie's room called "Sounds of the Studio."  She had a small cassette player with a microphone and we would try to come up with sound effects to record.  Not being all that creative we inevitably ended up with mostly flushing the toilet.  We would listen to the latest 45's and albums of our favorites--Bobby Sherman and of course The Partridge Family. 

We would save our money and buy records for a couple of dollars, which could be found--oddly--at the Jewel in the Plaza del Lago, a short two blocks from home.  Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine were also available at the Jewel for I think about fifty cents.  Once, we rode our bikes all the way into town to Lyman's Drugstore to get some special magazine that was not available at Jewel.  That grand adventure was Bonnie's idea--in fact, most of our adventures were.

I had become somewhat introverted due to the torment I had endured at the hands of my peers that first solo year and a half in Wilmette, but Bonnie was not shy.  She quickly had me into the home of the people who lived between us--the Leisches, an elderly couple I knew nothing about.  That is until Bonnie dragged me over there, and next thing I knew we were in Mr. Leisch's basement studio, where he fired ceramic owls and other such oddities.  We also played cards in the Leisches' kitchen with Johnnie, their maid.  At other times we merely spied on the Leisches from Bonnie's house with binoculars she had procured.  That turned out to be not very interesting.  

One day, Bonnie and I went out to lunch.  There was a Howard Johnson's by the Plaza del Lago, and we walked over there by ourselves and had a sit-down restaurant meal just like a couple of grown-ups.  I remember I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, and I think we left ten cents for a tip.

We would ride our bikes around the neighborhood and I would often try to ditch Bonnie.  I don't know why but I was just kind of a jerk sometimes.  Once when I was trying to lose her I came around the corner too fast and ran full speed right into a telephone pole. 

Another rotten thing I did to Bonnie was when I bet her five cents that I had Partridge Family paper dolls.  As soon as she accepted the bet I went home, cut out pictures of Partridge Family stars from my magazines, glued them on cardboard and made homemade "paper dolls."  Bonnie's mom was not too happy about it when she found out, and there was no betting allowed after that.

The thing is, Bonnie never got mad at me.  I would play stupid tricks on her, and she just didn't care.  She was always as nice and mild mannered and sweet as pie.  She was always there for me.  She never said a mean thing to or about anyone--ever.  I am so thankful to have had such a lovely friend. Some years ago we lost touch, though I have tried to find her.  All these years later Bonnie still holds a big place in my heart, and I will always hold her in highest esteem.

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