My Crazy Shirley
‘My Crazy’ Shirley
One of my unforgettable characters that a lot of my life was intertwined with was ‘My Crazy’ Shirley. Shirley and I went to high school together and she was a local character before I met her. How I met her I don’t remember but that she was going to be in my life was assured when she nick named me ‘Babes’. Shirley was a big bosomed, loud dressing, posturing woman with a loud voice even as a teenager. Very few could ignore this girl. Many were the times she would do outrageous things in class or in the halls. I remember how on quite a few occasions she would walk past me and swat/pat me on the rear and holler seemingly to someone in the next building, “Hi Ya Babes”. Often she did it as I was zooming in on some sweet thing with a figure full of possibilities. Little did I know she was saving me from a shallow, self seeking selfish girl. That did not make me feel all that good because the outside of that shallow, self seeking, selfish girl looked pretty good to me. All though high school we were friends frequently talking on the phone late into the night. We were never boy friend/girl friend but just friends. Although we did date on occasion, if you could call it that. It usually started out with us talking on the phone and Shirley hearing something in my voice. She would suddenly stop chattering and say,”Your down in the dumps today ain’t Ya Babes?” How she knew was always a mystery to me. She would tell me, (not ask me) to hop in that wreck of yours and come over to my house and pick me up. Which I would dutifully do, as I knew that only ‘My Crazy’ Shirley could bring me out of my adolescent funk. We would drive around half the night and she would listen to my problems and they would all go away.
Then we both graduated from high school and I went into the Army and ‘My crazy’ Shirley would write to me about once a month. I guess I knew when she finally married because the letters began to taper off. But by then I too was married and Shirley, I thought, was just a friend from my past slowly fading away. I finished my first hitch in the Army and went to college and got a job. The first week on my new job I was down in the manufacturing plant with a clip board and a hard hat, all important looking with my white shirt and tie. From somewhere out of the sky came the scream “BABES!!!!!” and I was attacked from behind, my clip board and blue prints flying in the air. Yes it was ‘My Crazy’ Shirley. If anything she was more outrageous than ever. Her boss and I would talk over coffee and almost every time he would tell me what Shirley did to him this time. He always ended those conversations with the statement that “If she wasn’t such a good worker and a good moral builder in my department I would fire her the next time she pulled one of her stunts on me.” That was ‘My Crazy’ Shirley.
Her husband Ben had my sympathy and I did finally get to meet him. I had her address and on a whim I stopped by the house. When I knocked her husband came to the door. I asked for Shirley. He looked at me strangely and called to her. As I stepped in the door I heard her feet running and braced myself as best I could. It is a good thing I had closed the door behind me or we both would have ended up outside on the stairs. She jumped up on me wrapping both legs around my waist and proceeded to kiss me all over my face. Even in high school Shirley wore more bright red lipstick than any one woman I had ever met. And there I stood in front of her husband with his wife wrapped around my body and covered with her lip prints. That was ‘My Crazy’ Shirley.
As class reunion times came around I looked forward to going to see my old classmates and of course Shirley. By now my wife and I had moved out of town and I worked at another company. But I knew ‘My Crazy’ Shirley would be there and she would embarrass me in front of the whole class, and to tell the truth I was looking forward to it. Then came a letter from my home town and the address I recognized but the hand writing was different. It was Ben, he told me that Shirley had cancer and he didn’t know if she would be up to going to the class reunion as she was having an operation just a month before that date. She had told him to write me. I made it a habit to write Shirley every week after that, I wrote about the things we did in high school and at work, and wrote little stories I thought she might enjoy. I always mailed the letters on Friday and she would get them on Monday.
I went to the class reunion and knew it would just not be the same. But I had no sooner stepped into the hall when I heard a unforgettable voice, not as loud as normal but the “Hey BABES” was unmistakable. There was ‘My Crazy’ Shirley in a wheelchair. I went to her and kneeled down and let her cover my face with her red lipstick. She whispered to me, “You should have grabbed my boobs when you had a chance in high school Babes, I don’t have them any more.” I damn near cried. The dinner was over and dance music came on and I went to ‘My Crazy’ Shirley and putting my arms on the arm rests of her wheel chair, I asked her for a dance. She and I went out onto the dance floor and everyone moved back and made room for us. I wheeled her around with her arms around my neck and our cheeks side to side. When the music was over our tears were mingled together and running freely down our face. And yes I had bright red lipstick on my collar.
A month later we got a letter with Ben’s handwriting on it again. In it he told me that on a Sunday night he had taken Shirley’s medicine up to her and she was very weak. She whispered to him that she would not get to read her Babes letter tomorrow. And later that night ‘My Crazy’ Shirley died. But she is not dead in my heart nor in the hearts of all the people she touched in her 40 yrs of life. She is and always will be ‘My Crazy’ Shirley.
Sarge (Shirley’s Babes)