My best friend in elementary school had divorced parents. She visited her Dad every other weekend. Like Sally, Jessica lived in a dark house with her sullen Mom and distant step-Dad through the week and visited her Dad and step-Mom’s bright, clean home on weekends. Her step-Mom was younger, too, at least she seemed so, and she always had sugar cereal and pop. Her Mom’s house seemed to only ever have hot-dogs that Jessica would eat cold as a snack after school.
Sometimes I would stay the weekend at Jessica’s Dad’s house with her. The bedroom that she shared with her sister was clean and sparse, like a hotel. It had matching twin beds and pretty blue coverlets and sheets decorated with butterflies with a pale blue blanket tucked between the sheet and coverlet. The sheets were terribly scratchy and worn though, and I would always sleep on the top sheet.
I remember reading about Elizabeth Wakefield breaking up with Jeffrey while lying in that bed one Saturday night. I remember us watching Debbie Gibson’s Foolish Beat video late one night on MTV and agreeing to love Debbie, even though we had once sworn to devote ourselves solely to Tiffany. I remember catching Jessica’s sister kissing her boyfriend by his truck outside; he saw us peeking and waggled his finger at us without breaking the kiss. We ducked under the window and giggled manically. Jessica’s father would watch race car driving on Sundays and would periodically remind us not to drink the soda out of his glass because it was “grown-up pop”. My parents didn’t drink and I had no idea what that meant, only that his rum-laced drink smelled sweet and inviting.
I have no memory of whether or not Jessica’s step-Mom and Dad were good parents. All I recall is their novelty. He worked with tractors and let me drive one once. I almost crashed it, and the dreamy boy that worked for him helped me control the machine. The place he worked at had a coke machine, a candy machine and an old fashioned coffee/hot cocoa machine; one that dispensed the drink in a paper cup that the employees would keep encased in a brown plastic cover. In the neon bright 80s and early 90s everything that was brown, orange or green seemed old fashioned. I can’t remember if he owned the building I attempted to drive the tractor into or just worked there. I know he had an office. They lived on the outskirts of town, which meant they had more money than us. They had an extremely old cat that I adored. I think her step-Mom’s name was Kim? I’m not sure. All I’m sure of is how much fun I had on those butterfly sheets, pretending like Jessica and I were on vacation together, watching cable TV, reading important Sweet Valley moments and catching teenagers kissing.