So in my kvetching about my kids not using their imaginations or playing outside, one of my childhood friends, Cynthia, posted in the comments about how we played a game called Mean Brenda.
People were curious. Two people. So I'm going to tell you about it.
I definitely remember playing Mean Brenda, but I didn't remember all of the details, so I had to e-mail Cynthia.
First, some background.
When people ask where I'm from originally, I say Columbus, Ohio. But here's the deal, I didn't really live in Columbus. I say that because that's a city people will know. If the person I'm talking to is from Ohio, I'll usually say, "I grew up in Worthington, a suburb of Columbus." Then they usually immediately form the opinion that I'm probably a snob.
But the geographic fact of the matter is, I'm actually from an even smaller community within Worthington called Riverlea. It was just two main streets running east and west and then multiple side streets. Population? Heck, I don't know. Two hundred houses? We had our own mayor (they still do). We had our own Fourth of July celebrations, Christmas luminarias, etc. Living in Riverlea was a little bubble within the bubble of Worthington.
Summer days might find a bunch of us running around through backyards, skateboarding down driveways (broken arms, notwithstanding), riding our bikes with banana seats to the ravine that seemed so far from our house back then, but in reality, it's about the length of three footballs fields away. We could walk or ride bikes by ourselves to the pool, the library, uptown Worthington where there was a bakery (Worthington Bakery--even thinking about the smell of cinnamon buns is making me delerious), an ice cream store or two (Friendly's, Dairy Queen), a candy store (Sadie's Emporium).
Dang, we had it good.
Anyway, while we sometimes ran in a gang, more often than not, we were with the girls who lived seven houses down from us--Cynthia and Beth. I'm sure they don't mind me outing them here. Or if they do, it's too late.
Truly, they are our oldest friends. I mean that in a good way. Many of my friends, I met when I went to kindergarten, but we've known Cynth and Beth since birth. I don't ever remember not knowing them. There are so many funny stories about us growing up, but I won't bore you with the details.
So I had to get confirmation from Cynthia, but as I mentioned, one of the games we played over and over again was Mean Brenda. I definitely remember playing it. The scene was usually played out between two rooms--my parents bedroom and Erin's bedroom--just down the hall from each other. Erin was very young at the time--still in a crib. And one of the places we would hide from Mean Brenda was under the crib.
Mean Brenda was basically like an overly dramatic version of playing house. I'm starting to wonder if it was like a mini-soap opera. Heck, my Mom used to watch As the World Turns and Guidling Light back in those days and I loved watching, too (until the year 2000, I might add). So perhaps Mean Brenda has her roots in daytime soaps.
Apparently Cynthia and I took turns being Mean Brenda. I think Tara was always the nice mother. We basically acted out "house" drama and waited for our husbands to get home. As Cynthia pointed out, Mean Brenda's husband was named Steve. Ironically, Cynthia is married to a Steve. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, I'm telling you. Why, oh why, we didn't play a game called, "Mean Brenda Becomes a Millionaire" is beyond me. Foolish children.
So Mean Brenda was mean to everyone. Imagine that. In one "episode," Mean Brenda was ranting and raving about something and trying to get the kids who were hiding under the crib. It was a little bit like the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, now that I reflect on it.
And that, my friends, is Mean Brenda. Nothing more, nothing less. But it was something we acted out over and over again--adding on, embellishing.
Cynthia also reminded me that we played "store" in their backyard. We peeled bark off their sycamore tree (apparently that was before enviromentalism took hold) and sold it as chocolate. Flowers were some other store produts. I feel crab apples were somehow involved as well. There were also these weird giant bean pod like thingys. I'd love to know what those were. And then there was that time that Beth and I pulled up all these things we thought were "onions." Turns out, of course, that they were someone's bulbs.
Hide and Seek. Kickball. Ghost in the Graveyard. Sardines. Tag. Freeze tag. Flashlight tag. Marco Polo. Lemonade stands on a hot day. Popsicles.
Great memories, all in someone's backyard.
What will my children's memories of summer be? I will be curious to hear one day.
As Cynthia so rightly put it, "Oh, the days before computers and DS's. All we had were the Mattel football and soccer games."
And we thought we were living large.
I think we really were.