I was in the second grade when tragedy struck. My best friend of one whole year had been mercilessly stolen from me by the new girl at school. The new girl was funny and charming. She had pretty, long hair. She had a winning smile. Worst of all, she had a goofy personality that lured my best friend to the dark side.
It was the Minnie Pearl hat that did it. Equal parts funny and classic. The new girl brought it to school one day for Show-And-Tell. All the kids loved it. They laughed when she put it on, but that’s what she wanted. They were laughing with her, not at her. She loved making people laugh. Her warm personality made everyone flock to her. They adored her. There was only one hold out – me. I hated her with every fiber of my eight-year-old being. She had stolen my best friend from me. Charming or not, I had no choice but to declare war.
At first, I tried to reason with her. I tried convincing her that I had dibs on my best friend and that new girls were to respect the boundaries of the incumbent and buzz off. She did not follow my reasoning. She found it lacking in evidence. In her mind, there was enough of my best friend to go around. The new girl saw no reason why my best friend couldn’t make a new best friend. The new girl was suggesting we could all be friends. All I heard was “a new best friend.” As in, I was the “old best friend.” The former. The ex. It was clear to me that I needed to up the stakes before the new girl replaced me for good.
I had come into the possession of an entire pack of Hubba Bubba bubblegum. Grape flavored. The irony is, I probably received it as a reward for good behavior. I loved grape gum, but I was desperate. I could always get more gum, but I only had one best friend.
In addition to the attention of my best friend, the new girl had also gained popularity with a cute boy in our class. I don’t remember his name, but he was a freckled ginger with impeccable manners and a tidy haircut. As far as the new girl was concerned, this little guy was her boyfriend. Suddenly, a plan began to form in my head. A dark plan.
The freckled ginger was a kid of his word. He also had a love for Hubba Bubba grape bubblegum that rivaled his love for the new girl. I told him that he could have the entire pack of gum if he would do one simple task for me. The deal was that he had to ignore the new girl for the entire day. No matter what she said to him, he was to ignore her and pay attention only to me. He agreed.
For the entire day, he did as he had promised. I could see my devious plan working every time he ignored the new girl. To be honest, I’m surprised he never caved. She was rather persistent, but he held his ground and kept his word. The new girl was devastated. She had no idea why her boyfriend was paying attention to someone else instead of her. Not just someone. He was paying attention to the one girl who hated her.
Toward the end of the day, she broke down and begged me to relent. She wanted her boyfriend back. She would do anything. Anything. So I proposed a trade – a best friend for a boyfriend. Relief flooded her face.
The next day, my life was back to normal. The new girl had her boyfriend back, and my best friend was back by my side. My best friend didn’t seem to notice the distance the new girl put between the two of them. She never mentioned it or tried to regain the new girl’s attention.
I’m sure the freckled ginger shared the grape treasure with his girlfriend. More irony since it was the prize that kept him away from her for an entire day in the first place.
Patience, or the lack thereof, played a huge part in this. My deal had been for one whole day. Had anyone toughed it out until morning, I would have lost the battle and my gum. Instead, I had sized up my enemy quite well. To my knowledge, my master plan was never known. No one ever confronted me about it. I think the new girl was so relieved to have her boyfriend back that it never occurred to ask him why he stopped talking to her that day.
Had I been a little less insecure and jealous, I could have ended up with two best friends. Instead, I ended up with none. Despite my clever plan to get my best friend back, I eventually lost her anyway. My family and I moved to another state at the end of the school year, and I lost touch with my best friend. For all I know, she and the new girl rekindled their friendship in my absence and are besties to this day.
I gave up my favorite gum for nothing.