Firsts First pet. I was an Air Force brat growing up, which meant that no sooner would we get a dog than we’d have to give it away when we moved. The first pets Debbie and I got – for Christmas – were a couple of female hamsters we named Laverne and Shirley. Laverne was mine, Shirley was Debbie’s. We had hours of fun, teaching them to climb steps, and shutting our bedroom door and letting them run around. If I recall correctly, we even had one of those hollow balls you put hamsters (or gerbils or mice or rats) in and let them run around safely. Those hamsters lived forever, it seemed. We got them when I was about 10, and I’m pretty sure Laverne was alive until I was about 14. Laverne was the first to die, and Debbie and I were hugely traumatized, but took solace in the knowledge that Laverne had died doing what she loved most – eating. She died with a piece of food hanging out of her mouth. Before we got the hamsters, though, we got Taffy, who also lived a long, long time. 15 years, maybe? Taffy Every evening just before we sat down to dinner, Taffy would be fed, and while we ate, we could hear her eating. We knew she was done eating when she belched loudly. After she ate, she’d wander around under the dinner table hoping to find crumbs of dropped food, and licking any bare toes she saw along the way. You could figure out where she was by the disgusted "Taffy!"s spoken by the lucky lickees. She was a great dog, always willing to go for a walk with you, and always eager to chase down the squirrels in the back yard. She was our little guard dog, always howling frantically when someone came to the door, whether they be friend or foe. Except for the time someone broke into my parents’ house in the middle of the night. Taffy let out one bark, and then Debbie yelled "Shut up, Taffy!" (since Taffy was prone to bark at nothing in the middle of the night) and Taffy crawled under Debbie’s bed for the duration of the break-in. First love. Donny Osmond. Oh Donny, the pain lingers; how, oh, how could you have forsaken me for that chick you married? I had a pillowcase with your face on it. I bought every magazine that ever thought about printing your name. I LOVED you Donny, with a white-hot passion, and you have the nerve to not only marry someone else, but be happy lo these many years later. She’ll never be as good to you as I could’ve been, Donny. First kiss. I was 16 and had finally gotten over Donny Osmond (okay, maybe it didn’t take quite that long). I went out on a date to the movies with the boy who ended up being my very first boyfriend. After the movie, we went back to my parents’ house and talked. I waited, but he never kissed me. The next night, as I was leaving work, I invited him over again. We sat out in the back yard on the picnic table, and FINALLY he turned to me and said "Can I kiss you?" Yeah, it sounds all sweet, but it was really dorky and I was horribly embarrassed. He was a very bad kisser, of the sort who would come at you with his mouth gaping wide open like a dying fish gasping for air. Gah. First job. My first job (aside from the babysitting of my youth, of course) was as a carhop/ waitress at The Hi-Hat III Drive-In. I was paid what I was told was "student minimum" wage, and my boss was a total control freak. The best night I ever worked there was the night he was gone to a wedding. The customers were pretty cool, except for the families who would come in with five kids, have excruciatingly detailed orders, and then leave a fifty-cent tip. Though in retrospect, it was probably all they could afford. The food at The Hi-Hat was hardly haute cuisine. I worked there for about 8 months, until I got my driver’s license and got a job at McDonald’s. First car.

I had this car from the age of about 17, until I was 19 and the transmission got itself majorly fucked up. I went wild with the bumper stickers, as you can see, and the banner across the inside of the back window says "Ollie for President." That would be Oliver North. To this day, I have the license plate memorized (back in The Day, when you used your Gulf Oil credit card to pay for gas, you had to give them your license plate number with your signature). Back in my Diet Pepsi days, I left a full plastic bottle of Diet Pepsi on the floor in the back seat for the entire winter. One spring day, my former friend Denise was sitting in the back seat, and Liz was sitting in the front seat – I, of course, was driving. We heard a tremendous bang, and after much screaming and shrieking, discovered that the Diet Pepsi bottle had exploded all over Denise, fortunately not maiming her. Oh, it was a brown Chevette, but I’m not sure of the year. ’82, maybe. First concert. Judas Priest and Great White. I was a Freshman in high school, and my parents bought tickets to the concert for us; I think it was a birthday present to Debbie. I haven’t got a clue in the world why they bought us the tickets – I was never a fan of Judas Priest, then or now. All I really remember is chewing a pack of gum, a piece at a time, and then spitting the old gum out onto the people sitting in the rows below us. Mature, eh? Oh, now that I think of it, my first actual concert was Shaun Cassidy. Debbie and our cousin Kim were big Shaun Cassidy fans, and weren’t we excited at the thought of seeing him play in Portland. My mother and aunt Nikki went with us to the concert, along with my brother Tracy. Shaun came out dressed as the janitor, adjusted the microphone – which tipped Debbie off to the fact that it was Shaun – and then tore off his janitor uniform and began singing Hey Deenie. First place you lived (that you remember). The first place I remember living was in base housing at Kinchloe Air Force Base in Michigan. I don’t know how long we lived there, but it seems like a good three or four years. I can close my eyes and remember almost the entire layout of the house, along with the backyard, and the route to school. That’s where we lived when I started school, and I recall walking to and from school. I’d love to go back there, but I heard that they closed the base and made it into a prison. First place you lived ‘on your own’ The very first time I moved out was the summer after I turned 18, and graduated from high school. One night, I said "fuck it", packed my bags, and moved into a dilapidated house with three guys in Durham (note to the interested – Durham is where Stephen King grew up). I was working third shift – midnight to 8 am – at a convenience store, and my rent was $25 a week. As you can imagine, this place was a real prize. There was a huge gap between the door and the frame, and it wouldn’t have surprised me to wake up and find field mice wandering through the living room. Since one of my roommates worked 9 to 5, he let me use his bed to sleep in while he was at work. On the days he didn’t work, I slept on a crappy couch in the living room. I made it about two months before I called and asked my Mom if I could move back in. First plane trip. I’m fairly certain the first plane trip I ever took was from Los Angeles to Guam, where we lived for two years. I don’t remember much about the flight, except that we had a layover in Hawaii for a long time, and there was a woman flying alone with a girl my age (7) and a baby, and my mother – for some unknown reason – thought she’d help out by keeping the girl occupied, and offered her my coloring book. The girl then found the ONE PICTURE in the entire coloring book I’d been saving to color when I could do it justice – obviously much pain still lives on in the memory, people – and the girl SCRIBBLED ON THE PICTURE. Yes she did, the little bitch. My life has not been the same since. It was a picture of Bambi and Thumper. First alcoholic drink. It was my 17th birthday, and my friends took me out to dinner at Pizza Hut. We ordered a pitcher of Pepsi, and in a completely unsubtle manner the ringleader, Wendy, poured rum from a bottle in her purse into a cup, and dumped it into the pitcher. When we left Pizza Hut, I was claiming that my legs felt funny and my lips were numb, and I couldn’t have possibly had more than a shot glass worth of rum. Yes, I’ve always been a lightweight. —–