Well, it’s time once again for everyone’s favorite feature here at Ampersand! Yes! A birthday entry! And today it’s Ashley’s turn! Happy 27 years old, Ash!
Now, I already told you about her wedding, and I’ve mentioned her several other times in this little journal. So you know that Ash is a Key Girl. You know she lives near Orlando with her dog, her cat, her husband, and her rose garden, and that Carl and I visited her in April. But did you know…
…that she played Dorothy in our school’s much-lauded production of The Wizard of Oz? Our Friend Marah was Glinda. I was a tree. Ash brought such fame to the role as a sophmore that two years later people were still asking her for her rendition of “Oh, you’re a very bad man.” She sure brought a certain je ne sais quoi to that line, if by “je ne sais quoi” you mean, “innocent yet dirty.”
…I have a CD she made? She was in this a capella group in college called the Greenleafs. They were very good. I have to say, I kind of wish I had gone to a school where a cappella was as popular as it was at hers, because one year I went to visit her when she had a concert, and let me tell you the auditorium was just packed. Like they had screaming fans and everything. Do you think you have heard that Total Eclipse of the Heart song? No. You haven’t heard it until Ashley sings it to you. You will then fall on the floor in a swoon, after swearing to love her forever. Sitting on a powder keg that’s giving off sparks, indeed. Oh! And you know what else, you haven’t heard The Rose until Ashley sings it for you. If you are at a party where Ashley also is, she will appreciate it very much if you beg her, in an extremely loud voice, to sing The Rose. Ask her like this: “Oh, The Rose! Sing, Ashley, sing! Sing The Rose!” She will really appreciate this and probably give you some candy afterward.
…she was always my mission trip buddy? Yeah, we went on all these trips to various Latin American countries with our church when we were in high school, and me and Ash tended to bond super well during those times. Before she became an engineer and had to do complicated engineering stuff, we would paint or mix cement or whatever. We were often to be found waking up early and walking around the camp, rating the various boys on the trips a complicated system (“How well does his name sound with yours? Does he have an accent? Does he have cute hair? Will he let you borrow his shirts? Okay, right there you have an eight point five, maybe even a nine.”) and writing in our journals and generally just being together.
…she was the mom when we played house? A lot of my friends lived in condos when I was a kid, and I had a backyard, and so very often there would be a passle of little girls with messy hair over at my house. When we weren’t sentencing our Barbies to lives of sin in a whorehouse, we played a very complicated kind of house, one that required long grave discussions about the kind of cars we drove, and whether or not we were twins, and whom we were dating (choice between Kirk Cameron and Michael J. Fox). I was always the dad, which was a very bad role because hardly any of us had dads at home and so we weren’t exactly sure what a dad did. Ashley was the mom, and she always drove, like, a red sportscar on her way to the store, between tennis games. When it was just her and me playing Cabbage Patches, we would be two single moms living with our kids and talking about child support and visitation rights.
There’s more here of course, because you can’t squish a friendship like this into a few cute anecdotes, try as you might. As I’m writing this, the thing I keep thinking about is that Ashley has always just been there in my life, in so many ways. Want to visit her at the drugstore where she works and hang out at the candy counter? Want to go to the beach and make shoes out of mud and grapetree leaves? Want to go to your one and only sorority party, wearing jeans, only to find out later that the girls in this sorority tend to dress up a wee bit more? Want to be a groupie for your friends’ band for one summer? Need to cry to her about boy problems? Want her to be your Yoko Ono? Want to watch Pretty Woman in the Dominican Republic with Spanish subtitles and make that kissing sound Julia Roberts makes when she’s in the bathtub listening to Prince, every time you see each other for the next five or so years? Want her to do your makeup in every wedding you’ve been in together? You can do all this and more! I, for one, would give a lot right now to be doing any of those things with her today.