I liked her name, Karen. So different than my own which to me, sounded like it was from another country or an ancient time period. Her name represented all the things that I wanted to be. She was spunky, had a chestnut color to her skin that was sprinkled with freckles and her soft wavy brown hair lightened in the summer. She was like a little fairy pixie with attitude.
If the week went well at school and home was too chaotic, it was easy to convince Mom that I was asked to spend the night at Karen’s. It only took a little more creative manipulating to get a real invitation for a sleep over. One thing that I remember most about being at Karen’s house was a car. Her dad drove the most beautiful car I had ever seen in my life. It was a pale yellow convertible 1970 Alpha Romeo Spider. We would watch him drive down the street from a long day at the newspaper with the top down and I thought, “He just is not your regular kind of dad.”
Years later my husband and I would try to describe an average regular dad. These are the men that would finally take a few days from the office to cart the kids to the local amusement park. They would don a pair of madras shorts, with a clean t-shirt and pull the outfit together with their black work socks and a pair of dress loafers. I always wanted to pull them aside and suggest a nice pair of comfy Fred Perry tennis shoes.
Karen and I went for a ride one time in ‘the car’ after we had our license. It was pure pleasure, feeling the air whip our hair and shimmer over our faces. We sang out in terrible harmony the words of Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You” and re-glossed the lips with Bonnie Bell lip-gloss at every red light. The Alpha would haunt me for years. It was the car that would cause me to stop in the middle of a sidewalk. I would re-live those moments of pure joy. I still secretly desired to own the senseless but gorgeous car. Perhaps it's a bucket list item.