Yep. A mullet.
I was 18 and from a tiny town in Iowa. My mother and sisters drove me to my dorm in the big city and moved me in and then hightailed it out of town before the big city sin could swarm over them.
I was in heaven. FINALLY. A room of my own (well sort of) and a place where I could be me. I was an English major and so in love with Shakespeare that I thought I knew him personally.
I had just made up my bed with my white chenille bedspread with the yellow roses on it when a short girl with a mullet came in the door.
That would be the love of my life, Bing.
My first thought was that I would die before I hung out with a girl with a mullet. She looked ridiculous and I was AN ENGLISH MAJOR for fuck sakes. Would Shakespeare have given her the time of day? I thought not. She would maybe make it to a minor character in one of his plays, maybe a fool.
The girl gave me a long look, another long look at my bedspread and then at the stuffed pink dog (his name was Pinky and he went everywhere with me, so there) on my bed and she had the audacity to snort.
As if. As if she had any right to snort at me when she was the one with the freakin' mullet.
I politely said hello and offered my hand. She took it and told me that her name was Bing. (Well, now you know that it was really Tess, but so what?) She had a southern accent, which I thought was fitting.
She had a duffel bag instead of a suitcase and it took her all of ten minutes to unload her gear. She had a circular pad and several pairs of drumsticks which she informed me she needed to use for practice as she was a music major.
Oh, great I thought. A drummer? I am stuck with a drummer?
And then she went out into the hall and brought in two guitar cases, a violin case and a saxophone.
I sat crosslegged on my bed and watched her finish unpacking. I noticed that she had practically no beauty products. She had a brick of Irish Spring soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a bottle of Prell.
I had all my nail polish bottles in a neat line on my dresser. And a drawer full of makeup.
It was 1976. Neither one of us had a computer.
She finished unpacking and then sat across from me on her bedspead, a plain woolen army blanket.
"I need to tell you something upfront," she told me. "I'm gay. Is that going to be a problem? Because if it is, tell me now."
Really? No shit? A lesbian? Wow. Like that wasn't the first thought that ran through my head when I saw the freakin' MULLET????
I smiled at her, using my best Queen Elizabeth cool smile, no teeth showing and for the first time in my life said these words:
No, it won't be a problem. Because I'm a lesbian too.
She literally did a double take.
She told me later that she thought I was making fun of her for a moment, or else joking.
I think it might have been all that nail polish.....
Finally, she smiled.
"Well, shit. You don't look much like any of the lesbians that I have ever met," she said.
"And what exactly does a lesbian look like?" I asked her, in my best haughty voice.
"Because I can't stand stereotypes."
She didn't answer, just smiled.
I decided there and then, she told me later, that I was madly in love with you and I would be your partner if I had to wait until I was 50....
That's pretty much what happened.
We didn't hang out much that first week. We had no classes together. Most of hers were in the music wing and mine were in a building across the campus.
I only saw her in the evenings. She had already found a set of friends and I was already earning my reputation as a serious studier.
She invited me out to dinner or to the gay bars that underage lesbians could get into but I always said no. I was determined that she was not interesting to me nor would her friends be so.
About a week later, the red cross was on campus for a blood drive. My little sister had been in a car wreck the previous summer and had to have a blood transfusion, so I decided that this would be a good time for me to pay back all that blood and set up some good karma. I had never donated before. When I went inside to sign up, I found out that I had what was thought of as a sort of rare blood type and they were very glad to see me.
I let myself get hooked up and all went well. I looked around the room and spotted Bing waving lazily to me across the room. I waved back once, briefly, and didn't look her way again.
Until she finished up and came to stand by me, munching on a cookie and drinking orange juice.
"I'm a universal donor," she told me. "I'm thinking of joining the gallon club."
I had no idea what the gallon club was, but figured it meant that she would spend a lot of time donating blood, so I resolved not to donate again.
I filled up my bag and was escorted to the outside area where I was told that I needed to eat a cookie and drink some juice.
"Oh, no," I said, heartily. "I won't need anything. I'm fine."
The nurse smiled at me and again suggested that I really should eat a cookie, drink some juice. I declined again and headed jauntily for the door.
I was about six feet away from it when suddenly the floor started coming up at me in a curious way and....
....the next thing I knew, there I was, fainting dead away. The last face I saw was Bing's peering down at me, looking terrified.
When I came to...the first thing I noticed was that my peasant skirt was up too high on my leg, showing much more of my gams then I was comfortable revealing.
The nurses helped me to a sitting position and then up into a cot where I was forced to sit and eat not just one, but TWO cookies in front of them. I had also somehow neglected to tell them that I was diabetic, which for some reason, irritated the hell out of them. (I had deliberately not checked the diabetic box because I thought it was none of their business. You can only be that stupid when you are eighteen.)
They finally let me go and kindly suggested that I not return.
Bing was sitting on a bench outside waiting for me. I swear she was smirking, looking as if she was trying not to laugh.
I tried to slip by her unobtrusively, but she was having none of it and suggested that we go to a local McDonald's for a hamburger.
I agreed, mostly because I was hungry and partly to get her to stop looking at me in that amused way. I planned to say something sarcastically devastating to her to get her to leave me alone when we were seated.
We ended up talking for three hours.
I found out that she was from Louisiana. That she wanted to teach music. That she played in an all girl rock band and that they would have their first gig at the gay bar in town next weekend.
We talked about what we missed about home (she missed crawfish, I missed my sisters), what classes we liked (she liked beginning biology, I liked intro to english lit) and what kind of women we liked (she liked "smart women" and I snarkily told her that I liked smart women too, but that I did find mullets to be unattractive...)
She had the grace to laugh uproariously when I said that.
We eventually headed back to the dorm, but the deed was done. We were friends. Good friends. And our friendship would only grow stronger in the four years that we were dormies.
She cut her hair short and spiky a week later and swore that it had nothing whatsoever to do with me. She told me later, of course, that it had EVERYTHING to do with me.
We stayed friends when I got so drunk that I had to be carried back to our dorm.
We stayed friends when I fell in and out of love and she fell in and out of serious like.
I went home to Baton Rouge with her to visit her family. She came to tiny hamlet, Iowa to visit mine.
We confided our deepest darkest secrets to each other and shared our dreams.
Our friendship survived when we graduated and she moved back to Louisiana to go to Tulane to get her master's degree. It survived my disastrous relationship with Cory.
She moved back to the prairie when she decided that I was slowly killing myself with drinking and drugs. She took a job here and moved in with me.
The year before Liv was born, she moved back to Louisiana. She moved back when Liv was a few months old and I was totally freaking out over the new mother role that I thought I was ready for but was scared to death.
We tried to be together in a relationship and failed miserably. Our song, Ventura Highway, turned out to be fatefully true. She knew I was going to go. I just wasn't ready and she wasn't ready to put up with me acting like an ass hat.
So, she left again. And returned a few years later with a new girlfriend.
And then, you know the rest. One day, I looked over at her, sitting across from me at a diner and for the first time, I thought to myself....
God, I love this woman. I honestly love this woman in a big large way.
And she had the sweetness not to laugh in my face when I told her so.
She just took my hand and said, in pure Bing fashion:
About fucking time....