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Sarah’s Wild Side


When I was 17, I spent every other Saturday volunteering at a cafe inside the Children’s Discovery Museum in downtown San Jose. Aside from my friend Sarah, who also volunteered, and the boss man they called David, everyone else who worked in the cafe had some sort of disability — some people had Down Syndrome, others had twisted, tiny arms that curled tight against their bodies.
We learned how to make cafe delicacies such as curly fries and bean and cheese burritos, and sometimes, we even got to work the ICEE machine. We served different flavors in the cups with the domed lids and the red straws with the spoon scoop at the end — all the right pieces to make a bona fide ICEE. When we would work the machine together, one of us would pull the ICEE and the other would cap it and wipe off any excess dribble from the side of the cup.
One day it was particularly hot out, the kind of day that made everyone want ICEEs. We were side by side, rocking and rolling, filling cups, capping and wiping. I carefully swirled the slush into the cup, handing Sarah one cup after the other. At one point, I held the cup out to her for longer than usual which caused me to look up. She had deviated from the process; she was not wiping off the excess with a paper towel.
She was licking the side of a cup.
My mouth fell open and where I wanted to say something sensible, all that came out was “Uhhh.” The man waiting for his ICEE stood on the other side of the counter looking at us, an extremely perplexed look on his face. And here’s the kicker. He took the ICEE. She handed it to him, after she had just licked it, and he took it. No complaints, no objections. Nothing.That’s what it was like being friends with Sarah. She did whatever she wanted, and she was untouchable. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to being friends with a wild rock ‘n’ roll star, minus all the drugs and the girls.
Even the hard and fast principles of science didn’t apply to her. Like the one that says that when a pan of something is baked for 45 minutes at 375 degrees, the pan is inevitably going to get hot. So hot that the wearing of oven mitts of some sort will be required to handle it.
I saw this with my own eyes one lazy afternoon when Nathalie and I were lounging around at Sarah’s. Because we got bored quickly as people do when they are 17 and have nothing better to do, we decided to make brownies. 45 minutes later, Sarah got up, pulled the baking tray out, plopped them on top of the oven and dug in. With brownie crumbs coating her hands, she looked up and said with her mouth full, “Brownees er ‘eady.” We ignored her chocolate smudged face and instead focused in on her bare hands, a sticky brown mess now, but still showing slight swatches of pink skin where she had licked her fingers clean. “Your hands,” I said, my mouth slightly agape in awe. “Did you just pull those out with your bare hands??” Nathalie echoed in disbelief. Whereas moments before they had been the vehicle to transporting her to a gooey chocolate ecstasy, she now looked down at her hands as if they had been smeared with searing hot poo. “Shit!” she said, her eyes wide, the realization of her superhuman heat resistance surprising even her. As she held her hands under the running tap, she threw her head back, opened her mouth and laughed and laughed.
Now we are grown up (sort of), and she is getting married in a week. On Saturday, Nat and I took her out for her bachelorette party, and as we drove up into the City, Nathalie repeated, “I can’t believe you’re getting married.” To an outsider, it might seem like a snarky comment, but then again, outsiders wouldn’t have known Sarah. Wouldn’t have known about her outbursts that exploded as soon as the sun set, making it seem then as though no man were worth settling for. And yet here she was, wearing her silver bachelorette sash across her chest with a pink tiara in her hair and so darn grown up. Her fiance was lucky to have found her, and I wondered if all this meant Sarah would be a changed woman, no longer to be one with a mischievous glow in her eyes.I got my answer that same night after dinner. After waiting in line to get ice cream, it was finally our turn at the counter. I ordered two scoops of the snickerdoodle and the salted caramel, and Sarah ordered the brown sugar. The ice cream scooper handed her her ice cream and asked her what her sash said.
“Bachelorette,” she said.He congratulated her and was just about to ask the person behind her what kind of ice cream he wanted when Sarah piped in.”What does your invisible sash say?” she asked.Caught off guard, his eyes flitted about. He shrugged and responded, “Uh, I dunno. I’m scooping ice cream?”I thought it would end there, a natural end to a natural question.She held her cup of ice cream in between her hands. She looked him straight in the eyes and said, “That’s not what it says to me.”Again, he looked flushed. He hesitated, and then asked, “What does it say to you?”I wondered what she was going to say. “I’m not telling.” And with that, she walked away.
I looked back at the ice cream scooper, feeling a little bit bad for him and wanting to reassure him that it most likely only says good things on his sash, but at the same time, I was too busy thinking, The girl’s still got it! and breathing a sigh of relief that it, the familiar do-whatever-I-want attitude of hers, was still there.
Congratulations, Sarah and Pae!!! Bachelorette Pics
Our middle names are Classy. (This is not a parking lot).How becoming is this sash of her? So very much.We enjoy showing each other frightening things.Sometimes we feel so small next to women in robes.Snugged out — the best part about the Snuggie Bar Crawl was just that — we got to go out wearing a big huge blanket and I gotta tell you, the cold that night didn’t bother me one bit.

Last modified: January 10, 2019