...General: Life Lessons

True Friends

I pushed my best friend freshman year of high school. She skidded on the concrete, ripped her jeans, skinned her knee, scraped her elbow, and cut her upper lip. Nine years, a tattered pair of jeans, and an upper-lip-scar later, I’m happy to say that she is still my best friend. Even more impressing, I’m still hers.

No, I don’t have an anger problem. There’s a completely, or at least partially reasonable explanation for the mishap. I would not describe my personality as being extremely aggressive in everyday situations; I just get a tad, sometimes closer to tenaciously, swept up in competitive conditions. But, you be the judge.

Personally, I blame science. My two best friends and I teamed up for our freshman year science fair project. We all lived in the same neighborhood. I had five houses separation on either side of me; one friend up the hill to my left, the other down to the right. Our long-term friendship—18 years and counting—was initially formed on a foundation of sheer convenience. So it is admittedly due to the same lethargic mentality that we decided to do the project together.

Katie, down to the right, was the brains of the bunch, Rachael, up to the left, was the brazen, and I, the brawn. In accordance to our designated demeanor, Katie hosted the project and took on the bulk of the assignment, as Rachael and I remained her loyally lackadaisical sidekicks.

Just to provide some background information, the purpose of our experiment was to discover the most acidic soda product. We tested the effect of each beverage on a rusty nail to see which soda removed the most rust over a period of time. It’s funny, none of us remember which sodas we tested or what the outcome was, but we all remember practically every detail of the “stumble.”

So back to the story: It had been a long day of Katie forcing Rachael and I to, at the very least, keep her company while she conducted the majority of the project on her own. Rachael’s and my interest in the experiment were exhausted so we jumped at the offer to accompany my mom on a shopping trip. My mom drove by to pick us up, but upon realizing the situation, didn’t approve of us leaving Katie in the lurch so she made us stay until an agreed upon time. Rachael and I continued to pay apathetic attention as Katie worked, and in the other room my mom chatted with Katie’s mom until our parole sentence had expired.

Not one second after the established time, Rachael and I grabbed our coats and raced for the shotgun seat in the car. Across the kitchen, through the hallway, past the foyer, out the front door, down the porch steps, on the driveway, our getaway car was insight! The last straightaway of the race and Rachael and I were neck-in-neck. Without thinking, I gave Rachael a slight nudge. Well it seems my brute force was too much for my little friend. She instantly went flying, but with no air between her and the concrete, so more of a gravel-based swimming. My intention was never to vehemently shove her; I just meant to give her a gentle bump. Nonetheless, in a split second she’s on the ground. (I’m a horrible human being and I find it amusing when people get hurt.) So at this point, when she hit the deck I was still giggling. It wasn’t until she turned to show me the blood, scrapes, and beginning stages of tears that my smile evaporated into a speechless shock of guilt and regret.

My mom was just making it out of the front door a second after the incident occurred and she quickly ran to comfort the injured party. My mom and I carried Rachael back inside. Katie’s mother hastily joined in assisting Rachael, guiding us as we retraced our previous trail, but at a much slower pace this time through. Katie was still by the computer entering data, where we had left her not even five-minutes before. The moms sat Rachael down and began cleaning her off. They brushed off specks of gravel scattered all over her clothes. They tended to the bloody patches on her knee, elbow, nose, forehead, and upper lip. They had to cut Rachael’s jeans at the ripped knee to be able to take care of the abrasion underneath.

The injured party.

The injured party.

Rachael, taking the beating like a true champ, couldn’t decipher her feelings of hurt and humor so her face kept awkwardly transitioning from the lurk of a laugh to the front of a frown. She was definitely crying, but her open-mouth weep waned in and out of what looked to be a smile.

Realizing all the injuries I had inflicted on my friend, I felt incredibly awful. To compensate for her torn jeans I gave Rachael her favorite pair of my jeans. I honestly didn’t like the fit of them that much so it was a win-win. The only thing that didn’t place was our science fair project.

The next week at school, Rachael—with visible bandages on her face and elbow—and I—the known assailant—got a good amount of ridicule from fellow classmates as well as teachers for our shenanigans. Though most comments were said in good humor, I was in such remorse that the repeated reminder of my accidental aggression was not fun, to say the least.

The next year the three of us teamed up again for our sophomore year science fair. That time around, our experiment involved ice cream, there were no teammate-inflicted injuries, and we ended up earning third place—again essentially due to Katie’s hard work. So in the end everything worked out for the best!




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