Jesus, Friday was one of those incredibly nutty days. Went from spending the morning in my son's kindergarten classroom to lunch with a high school classmate of mine. But this wasn't any friend, she's also the drummer for Kid Rock. We hadn't seen in each other in almost 20 years.
I met Stefanie Eulinberg on my first day of seventh grade at Roehm Jr. High in Berea. It was late October and my family had just moved from Cincinnati. I felt like the world's biggest hick coming into this huge two-story junior high. If I could have melted into the walls I would have. It was all so intimidating and everyone seemed to fast, so advanced compared to my little girl heart.
But Stef latched on to me and saved me from disappearing completely. We were in Mr. Ferlin's English class and this black girl in red overalls leaned over to me and said, "You know Mr. Ferlin gives his pants to me to hem in home ec." I looked down and saw him sporting a wicked pair of floods. I started to giggle and then panicked about getting into trouble on my first day. Stef saw my uneasiness, but she has made me laugh and she loves nothing more than that. Besides, I learned that day that Stef never seemed to get in trouble. Her sense of humor always got her out of a jam.
Her sense of humor hasn't changed much. She left a message on my cell phone while I was in my son's class saying, "Hello Wendy? This is Jean from Jeans R Us. Your jeans are ready." She was calling to say she's running late. No surprise there. And then she gets off the phone singing something quite beautifully, albeit unintelligibly.
So I found myself eating hummus and waiting for her at Aladdin's in Lakewood. I didn't mind that she was late because it gave me time to jot down some of my Stef memories.
Although we've known each other for 25 years, our lives couldn't be more different. I'm married with three children, she's a lesbian caring for her partner's two young children. I work more or less in isolation and she regularly rocks tens of thousands in arenas and millions in television audiences. I find myself on the sidelines of my kids' football games and she's at rock and roll parties with the likes of Sheryl Crow, Mark McGrath and Uncle Kracker.
And yet we found ourselves sitting together laughing like we were in girl scouts again. "We you always that tall?" she asked me. "Yep, you were always a midget," I replied.
She's barely five feet, kinda stocky, with pierced tongue, eyebrow and tattooed arms and I don't want to know what else. Oh wait, she did moon me in the parking lot later that night. When opportunity was there, Stef could never resist mooning. She's still as pigeon-toed as ever, which reminded me of a story we shared later that night (after two bottles of wine!). When we were at girl scout camp she told some of the girls she could make herself cry if they held her feet and ankles turned all the way inward. Stef did cry and they laughed, but they wouldn't stop. I kept telling them to stop because they were really hurting her. She remembered I was upset by their actions and she said it meant a lot to her that I stood up for her.
On a band trip to Iowa just after our junior year we were roommates talking late into the night every night. At one point she introduced me and many others to chewing tobacco. I nearly puked on the spot. But she never mocked my inability to handle liquor, cigarettes or chewing tobacco at 17.
She filled me in on her crazy rock star life, but admitted she couldn't keep doing it forever. Her hands hurt in the mornings and it takes a while to get them working again. The constant partying was getting old and yet it's what you do on the road. She wants to have a baby, she wants to move back to Cleveland and set her mom up in a nice house and she wants to have a music career that allows her a little more normalcy.
She offers to go pick up the boys from school in her Cadillac Escalade. I tease her that she probably needs a booster seat to drive it and she announces a Chinese fire drill in the middle of Detroit Road in Lakewood. And so I drive the Escalade back to my mini-van.
As we're getting ready to say goodbye for the night, she tries to talk me into coming with her to Detroit to Kid Rock's Halloween bash. I pass for obvious reasons. But we hug and promise to stay in touch. As I pulled away I realized that Stef always accepted me, well, as just me. And I'm thankful for her friendship.