I have a friend named Gretchen. We’ve been friends for over twenty years and while we now live far apart and don’t get to see each other very often, when we do it’s like we are picking up a conversation from 10 minutes ago. Some of my very favorite stories to tell are Gretchen stories. You see twenty years ago she was a mere babe-in-arms at the young age of twenty-something and I was a few wise years ahead of her at thirty-something. Gretchen grew up with an innocent childhood (although she may argue that point somewhat) and went on to marry her high school sweetheart. All of that to tell you by the time I met her she was still what I affectionately call “my green girl”. And I took it as my personal responsibility to “raise” her. Lol So bear with me while I share some of my Gretchen stories with you.
First let me tell you that Gretchen is very pretty. She is a size 4 and doesn’t wear a lick of makeup. That’s rare to see on most pretty women, no make up, but she doesn’t need it. I’d been working at our agency for a month when she arrived on the scene. She’s pretty vivacious and outgoing so bring her into an office of 15-16 men and you notice that they notice. I was so busy learning my job and trying to get things done that I only caught glimpses of Gretchen and silently observed. Well, my first impression was “she thinks she’s cute”. And she is but that is beside the point. Lol So with that in mind, a few weeks after she gets to work she is buzzing around to each desk, grabbing our desk calendars and flipping to October to write “Gretchen’s b-day” on the appropriate date. I was on the phone and seriously working when she came to my desk. I was floored and unable to say anything as she laughingly grabbed my calendar and wrote her message. At the time I thought she was pretty ballsy and it ticked me off. I was too busy proving myself and the numbers I could churn out at that time to take time to get to know her. So this is the only impression I can recall. And by the way, if you want to “get” her good, to this day say: she knows she’s cute and listen to her deny it. Lol Some how or another she managed to worm her way into my heart. I don’t recall exactly when she accomplished that but she and I became fast friends. We worked in a fast paced office and it was crazy at times so any chance we had to attend a training session or meeting we’d grab it. One of those meetings happened to be a seminar for women. It was held at one of the larger hotels in
Tulsa. We had break-out sessions and could choose to attend the sessions we wanted. The one we chose happened to let out about 5 minutes before the other sessions. We were wandering down the long hall with all the different displays set up by the various vendors. Now Gretchen and I both have a BIG sweet tooth. We also both adore chocolate. I favor dark chocolate and she favors milk chocolate but that is another story. Just remember chocolate. There was one display set up where the vendor had set out a bowl of candy. Gretchen’s sweet tooth was screaming and as we walked by she turned to see what she could find in that bowl. I wasn’t paying too much attention, one of us was rattling on about something and I was either talking or listening instead of watching what she was doing. She took so long I finally turned and looked at what she was rummaging thru. Well my little green girl was digging in this pretty good sized bowl tossing various packets out of the way along with wrapped hard candy trying to see if there was any chocolate hidden at the bottom. When she turned back around I was standing there laughing so hard that all I could do was shake. At this moment all the other sessions are ending and people are starting to stream thru the hall. She grabs my arm and steers me away from the display and finally says: Ok, now what is so funny? I finally catch my breath and I did have to catch it before I could say a word and asked: Do you realize what you were tossing out of the way on your dig for chocolate? She sobers very quickly and says in a serious tone: No, girl, what? Now I’ve got tears leaking out of my eyes as I tell her: those “packets” you were tossing out of the way were condoms! She shoved me in the back pushing me thru the ladies room door and collapsed on the sofa just inside. I swear the girl was beet red. My little green girl had never seen a condom or if she had it was not packaged like those she was digging furiously thru a few minutes before.
Gretchen’s husband is a great guy. I can call the house and talk to him an hour before he ever tells Gretchen the call is for her. And of course he knows even better than I some of the mischief or “situations” Gretchen can get herself into. So one day I picked up the phone and called him. We talked a little bit and then I said: C., ask Gretchen about the candy bowl. He starts to laugh and says: do I want to know about this? I assured him it was a funny story and to wait but to ask and let her tell the story. C. has great timing and he did not ask that day. He waited a few weeks. One night Gretchen was laying in bed reading and he was getting ready to get in bed when out of the blue he asks: Gretch, tell me about the candy bowl. Great timing! Lol
As I mentioned before, C. and Gretchen were high school sweeties. They married not too long after graduation. They have been married all these years and have a very good marriage. I’ve met and known a great many couples throughout my years and I consider myself a pretty good judge when it comes to recognizing a healthy, loving relationship. There was a time when I realized they were the only couple I knew who had a healthy marriage. They still do in spite of Gretchen. Lol Several years ago and many since they graduated, C. was driving down the road when he sees a former classmate walking. He pulled over and offered this guy a ride. The guy hopped in and they start doing the catching up thing. The guy asks C. if he married. C. tells him yes and asks the guy do you remember Gretchen So-n-So. The guy goes…oh yeah!! I remember her!! Gretchen So-n-so, biggest thief in
Tulsa! Well, C. goes on to find out the guy had her confused with someone else but that label has not been forgotten. And talk about the person who is the furthest from that!! Lol
Gretchen’s job (at one time) was working with youth. These were kids who were street smart and because of this Gretchen had to shed the “green” and wise up quick. This was a few years after the candy bowl incident and I had managed to tell that story a hundred times at least by then. She really wanted to get me back. I happened to be working the front desk that day. It was her first day back from some training. She buzzed me on the phone and said she was going to come up put something in my pocket and to be cool about it. So she trots up and here I am talking to people at the front desk when she slips something in my pocket. I finish with the person and then slip my hand inside my pocket only to find a string of packaged condoms. I had to smile. Little Green Girl was wising up. But in all fairness, those condoms in the candy bowl were not packaged in the traditional round shape we see most often. Those were packaged so the “round” was an elongated oval like a large paperclip outline. It took me two seconds to figure out what they were. But I digress. Anyway, she thought she was clever bringing those condoms to me while I was on front desk. My desk was in the very back corner of the office (this was a good sized office) and we were out of view from the front reception area. I took my break and walked back to our area. There were about six of us in that corner of the building. I walked thru the door and announced to the group: Look what Gretchen brought me-and held up the string of various colored condoms. Lol I think she wanted to slide under her desk. J
Our friendship has not always been smooth. There was a time Gretchen did something that made me furious with her. Another story, another time but I couldn’t bring myself to even talk to her. She knew it and was giving me some space. She had a week off and was leaving town for a trip with C. The first day she was gone I walked past her desk and noticed a card on the top but didn’t pay that much attention to it. A few more days passed and I finally stopped to see what it was. Her desk at the time was in a spot where everyone who went to get coffee or eat in the break room had to pass. So I picked up the card to read it. It was one of those cards you find in a magazine to get a free sample of a product. I remember breaking into a huge grin and taking the card with me. I went to my desk, filled it out with her name and address and I went to the Xerox to make a copy. Then I put a stamp on it as I wanted her to have that free sample. Then I put it in the mail slot. I took the copy folded it in half so the card wasn’t visible and wrote on the outside: “Please see me about this” and laid it on her desk. The week passes and Gretchen came back to work. She’s cool and doesn’t approach me about it for a few hours. Eventually she came to my desk and knowing full well I was still mad and she was probably feeling some sting also….tossed it on my desk and asked: what? I can remember to this day how hard it was to look at her and even harder to keep a straight face when I asked: Do you know what that is? Gretchen: Welllllll, it’s a lotion (as she rubbed her hands together) for your hands. But she told me that with a big question in her voice. I was busting into a grin by then and she knew something was up. I told her no, it is NOT a hand lotion. Now her eyes are wide and she is remembering she left that card on her desk before she left for her trip….everyone in the office had seen that card. I took great delight by informing Gretchen that KY Lotion was NOT a hand lotion but a lotion for personal use. That was the second time I saw her turn beet red. Fast forward about 2 and a half months, Gretchen had a job where she worked in the field and didn’t have to be in the office at quitting time. I had long suspected she would get home way earlier than five and teased her about it but she never fessed up. So it’s about 4:30 and the phone rings. It’s Gretchen and she is laughing so hard she can barely talk. She does manage to get this out: I can’t believe you did this! I asked what? I honestly didn’t know why she’d be laughing and accusing me of anything. Then she told me, her sample had arrived. I loved it. Now she could find out exactly what it was used for. J
C. and Gretchen had some land they had long wanted to move to. It happens to be in a neighboring state but right across the
Oklahoma border. So in 1999 they moved out of state but Gretchen just transferred within our agency to another office. She announced her intentions while I was off when my dad was sick so I didn’t hear about this. Another co-worker mentioned something to me later and said we can do that at the same time we have Gretchen’s going away party. What going away party? That was how I found out she was leaving. It really stung and I wanted to cry. I couldn’t imagine working in that “hell hole” without her. Again I digress. I was back at work a few weeks before she actually left. In our semi-private corner we’d often talk and laugh out loud without worry of the public seeing or hearing us. So I announced one day that I needed to write a “need-to-know” list about Gretchen and that her new office would appreciate receiving the list. Of course Gretchen was sitting right there as we all started naming the “stories” or topics of interest that should go on the list. I seem to remember her making some threats if I did any such thing but as you probably know by now something like that would not stop me. I never said anything but I did start that list. The Monday she was to report to her new jobsite didn’t start out exactly well but it was a typical Gretchen day. Her husband had returned to
Tulsa the evening before and she stayed in their country house as she started work the next day in the new town. She went to leave and you can guess this, she had a flat tire. As I mentioned earlier Gretchen is petite and might be 100 lbs sopping wet. She called the office to notify them she’d be late. I truly don’t recall if she changed the tire or found a nice neighbor but she arrived for her first day in the new office a few hours late. She was sitting in the office manager’s office introducing herself when another employee walks in and tells the office manager that she needs to see this and hands a sheet of paper to the office manager. Gretchen did not hesitate. She jumped up and grabbed the piece of paper out of the office manager’s hand and said: Oh no you don’t!! and crumples the piece of paper. Now these people didn’t know her. The coworker I sent the list to didn’t really know me either but I think he had perfect timing. He had a copy in his hand and they got to see Gretchen in action her first hour on the job. C. had a job where he had to travel a lot. Gretchen would often take off and go with him as shopping is her favorite sport and she’d shop while he was in meetings. C. would attend his meetings and Gretchen would take a rental and sniff out the malls. She’s gone off on her own in many huge cities. She’s never gotten lost, that I’ve heard of, and feels comfy doing so. Yesterday, Gretchen and I had plans to meet for dinner once she got out of her meeting here in OKC. She called me after the meeting and I gave her directions from the I-40 and
Meridian area to meet me at Ted’s on S. Western. It was only nine miles from her hotel and fairly easy directions. I arrived first and before I got out of the car she called me on my cell. She told me she had a call that distracted her and she was on NW 23rd. She missed her turn but she could find her way. Knowing she navigates larger cities I took her at her word. Lol Well, 20-30 minutes later my cell rings once again. She asked me again what she was looking for. I told her to look for a Sonic sign as it was higher and easier to see but the restaurant was just before the Sonic. She is puzzled and mumbling and I asked her to tell me what she sees. She started naming off a couple of apartment complexes. The names sorta sounded familiar but I didn’t know where they were. So then she told me she’s on Western and Wilshire. The girl was all the way north and needed to be south!! Lol So I gave her some directions to head south, catch I-44 and 235 then 240 to Western. She said she’d call me on down the road and we hang up. Twenty minutes later the phone rings again and she is complaining there is no 240. I assured her there was as she was approaching I-40 and that I-240 was south of that. I told her to pay attention to Crossroads Mall (remember, the girl can sniff a mall) but that it’s to the left and she’ll be taking a right onto 240. We hang up once again. Ten minutes pass and the phone rings again. She’s on 240 but can’t find Western. She sees Eastern and silly me, I don’t think clearly and just tell her Eastern is first, you’ll come to Western next. We hang up again. Now I’ve been sitting in the vestibule of Ted’s for an hour. If you’ve ever been there you know what the crowds are like. I’ve seen the vestibule go from empty, to full to overflowing twice by this time. Five minutes later she calls again and asked if she should be in
Del City. Lol I said no, you go west on 240. We hang up again. Five more minutes pass and she called again. She’s on 240 all the way out by Tinker Air Force Base!! Lol She promises me she isn’t “challenged” but she hates finding her way around OKC. I get her turned around and she called me once again as she is passing Crossroads Mall. I talked her over I-35 and to the Western Exit. We hang up. It’s 7:05. I had been sitting and waiting for an hour and a half at this point. I realized my mistake-I never should have mentioned Crossroads Mall. Lol
As Gretchen walked into Ted’s last night we both started laughing. I’m holding my cell in my hand waiting for her next call so when she collapses next to me I said…I’m trying to think of who to call so I can tell this story. She tells me NO!! And I started laughing and said the only people who would appreciate the story are people who know you. That really stunted my fun. So it occurred to me early this morning that I needed to introduce my friend Gretchen to those who read my blog. THAT would be even more fun and satisfying. So thanks for hanging in there and reading about my little green girl. She really isn’t so green now but I think when I’m 70 and she’s 64 that I’ll still think of her as that.