“Samantha, do you think you can fix it?” Andrea squeaked nervously.
“I’ll do my best.” I gingerly tugged the stubborn ponytail holder entangled in my roommate’s waist-length brown hair.
We were taking a creative writing class and staying in the dorms at the University of Southern Mississippi. Though we only met the day before, we knew we were kindred spirits. Neither of us fit in with our classmates at private schools (a Catholic one in Birmingham and an Episcopalian one in Orlando, respectively). Neither of us liked math or scary movies. Both of us had quirky little brothers and enjoyed pop punk music.
Please don’t let the one friend I’ve made in so long hate me because I ruin her hair.
I sat Andrea in the chair facing their room’s mirror. After several attempts to extract the pesky ponytail holder, I eyed a pair of scissors on her desk.
“At least you won’t be walking around with it stuck in your hair forever.”
Andrea flinched, but nodded. “Just do it quick.”
A few minutes later, I held up the ponytail holder triumphantly. “No hairs lost, either!”
Andrea jumped up and played the Josie & The Pussycats soundtrack in my stereo.
“When’s the last time you brushed your hair?”
“Maybe we can brush and do our hair together every morning.”
“Sounds good to me.”
High school provided polar opposite experiences for Andrea and me. Andrea attended an arts school in downtown Birmingham, while I attended a public school in the suburbs thirty minutes away. Andrea honed her creative writing skills and took the arts school versions of math and science classes. I stressed myself out with honors and AP classes. One of Andrea’s classmates got kicked out for hoarding pain killers in her dorm room. My friends played croquet after the dance on prom night.
After we made it to college, we improved our schoolwork/fun balance. During winter vacation of freshman year, Andrea visited me at UGA. Athens was a ghost town whenever students were on vacation, so it was the perfect time to sneak drinks into the dorms.
“M’dear, it’s finally happening.” Andrea daintily sipped her forty.
“What is, m’dear?” I drank her Parrot Bay rum and fruit punch.
“We’re getting drunky drunk together.”
“That’s true! We need a picture to capture this moment.”
Surprisingly, our self-portrait looked like all of our sober photos together — Andrea looked high, while I looked like I was on speed.
“It’s so great to see y’all!” I greeted Andrea’s dad and stepmom with hugs.
Dr. J chuckled amusedly. “I can’t believe how much you guys have grown up.”
Susan laughed. “Get ready — he’s going to tell the story.”
Andrea groaned. “C’mon, Dad. It’s my birthday!”
“I remember ten years ago, we talked Andrea into going off to camp at USM for a creative writing class. She wanted to get out of Florida, so we provided her that option.
“When we got to Hattiesburg, we were having lunch and Andrea said, Dad, I’ve never had a roommate. What if we hate each other? And I said, What if she becomes your best friend for life?”
Andrea interrupted, “And I said, I never thought of it that way before. So yes, Dad. You were right.”
We linked arms and ordered margaritas at the bar. Giovanni’s was one of Andrea’s favorite fancier restaurants in Nashville, but the margarita was her preferred cocktail to order there.
“To your birthday, m’dear!”
“And a decade of being The Ridiculous.”