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Monday, October 19, 2009

Ready to Jump - by Gretchen Strutzenberg

“You’ve got to do something that will jumpstart your life!”

“What do you mean? I’m still doing what I was doing before, during and after my brief stint dating Gary.”

“My point exactly Maddy! You’ve got to get out of the rut you’ve carved for yourself”

Madeline & Ashley had been best friends for over 10 years; a surprise to many and each other. They were as different as night and day.

“Ashley I’ve got it together. I still take care of myself, work, exercise and I’ve even included Yoga!” Maddy said proudly.

“Yoga!? Ah yes the silent, boring way to wash away your troubles. Girl, look at this brochure.”

“Skydiving!? Are you nuts?! I could be killed!”

Fast cars, men and experiences could best describe Ashley. She lived life to the fullest and threw caution to the wind.

“Yes but it’s a very liberating experience!” Ashley was convinced of her own words and could not understand Maddy’s indifference. “Plus you could kill yourself accidentally by wrapping yourself up in a yoga-pretzel knot and suffocating yourself!”

Maddy did not even respond to the last comment.

Madeline came from a very large family and took on many maternal duties early on. She was two years younger than Ashley but to others looking in from the outside they considered her the oldest of the two.

“Ashley, honey, look, you’ve always lived life by the seat of your pants. That’s not my way. I like things safe. I like things practical. I’m not interested in potentially being separated from an appendage or worse my life!”

“Look Maddy I know you are worried but it will be safe; you’ll be safe. Remember Tristan from the VyneSyde Restaurant?”

“Not the waiter who flirted with you so long that he forgot to take our order five times?!’

“He did not forget you just did not know what you wanted to order.” Ashley winked and stuck out her tongue at Maddy.

“Yeah whatever! So what about the dumb waiter”

“Well he is the Sky diving Instructor and also a pilot.” She swooned thinking about this.

“Wait a minute, you want me to go up in a plane and leap out at the instruction of a guy who could not get a simple decaf coffee order correct? Are you nuts?

“Look he’s just working as a waiter on a temporary basis…he's saving up to pay for his Pilot’s License. He wants to have his own Charter Company for short distance plane rides and also skydiving adventures.”

“And how would you know all this Ashley Jefferson?”

“Well…we went on a couple of dates and he took me for a ride in his little Cessna.”

“But we just met him at the restaurant last Friday night; (Maddy was mouthing numbers and counting on her fingers) that’s only been six days!”

Maddy had a thing for all things pink and Ashley had a thing for attractive men. It has gotten to the point where Maddy lost track of which guy Ashley was seeing, dating or talking to, hence she implemented the number system. Maddy was up to 365 at this point, or so she teased Ashley about on a regular basis.

“Hey what can I say?” Ashley flashed her million watt smile.

“No! I’m not going to do it!” Maddy folded her arms as so to let Ashley know that she meant business.

“Well ok, but I hope you enjoy being ordinary.”

Maddy & Ashley had their ideals and hopes of what true love was and both of them were hoping to find it and they were not ones to sit on their haunches and wait.

Ashley sprinted while Maddy power walked. Maddy found a rest stop named Gary. She spent her time investigating. Ashley even thought this was the ‘one’, and she was a self-proclaimed pro at relationships. Neither one saw it coming. Maddy had her cry and moved on, or so Ashley thought.

Ever since Gary told her the reason or one of the reasons why he broke up with her was due to her lack of spontaneity. He called her ordinary. She hated that word. It made her stomach turn.

With tears beginning to well up in her eyes Maddy said, “Those were Gary’s last words to me….ordinary.” Maddy did her best to hold them back but it was no use. The blow of the break up was still more than she could take.

Ashley felt horrible. She didn’t really realize the impact the breakup had on Maddy. Maddy had always been the strong one and whenever the horse knocked her off she kicked him and got back on. Ashley figured that Gary was just another horse Maddy was going to kick.

Ashley handed Maddy a tissue and hugged her. “I am so sorry; I should have not said that. I just don’t want you to be so sad. I want you to be your old self again. I miss her.”

It turned into a teary scene from one of those sappy best-friend-forever movies with an unfortunate ending. Both had a good cry and said farewell.

Through good and bad times they could depend on one another. Despite differences in a variety of areas Ashley and Maddy were best friends and this made their friendship stronger and more peculiar to others. Even their jobs/career paths suited their personalities.

Maddy was the Safety Director for a large food distribution plant. Maddy was tough but fair. Her peers and colleagues admired her ethics and determination and commitment. She was highly sought after and well known especially for her signature pink steel-toe work boots and matching tool belt.

Ashley on the other hand was the well known Event Coordinator. She had planned parties and corporate soirees for the most élite to the stars of Hollywood. Hobnobbing was her thing and she did it well. Coming from a corporate background, organization and attention to detail helped Ashley stand out from her peers and competitors.

Maddy got in her car and drove home. On the way there she thought about Ashley’s words; ‘maybe I do need to do something to jumpstart my life.’ She wasn’t so sure though that it required her to jump out of a plane head first into land.

She noticed that before she pulled into the drive way there were impressions on the garage floor of where she always parked her car. Nah! It’s just because of the dust from the harsh winds we’ve had.’ She pulled in and closed the garage door. When she walked into her utility room and was about to hang up her keys she noticed a faint outline of her keys. She hung them up and walked away.

The message button light on her machine was blinking. She pressed the play button. “One new message. First new message from 555-0034, received today at 3:02 PM…..” She hit the stop button and held her chest. That was Gary’s phone number! It felt like her heart was going to pop out. She breathed in and released slowly.

He is just a man girlfriend”, she remembered Ashley telling her so that she could calm down. What did he want anyways! Now her fear was turning in to frustration. She smacked the play button and listened to the message: “Umm …. Hello Madd... I mean Madeline. It’s … Gary. When you get this will you call me… please?

Now she was just plain confused. Should I be mad that he called? She felt happy but still annoyed. Before she dialed his number she breathed in and exhaled slowly 10 times. Now she was a little calmer she could handle the situation. Still there was the lingering thought of hope that maybe he’d want to reconsider his decision to break up with her. The possibilities were endless.

She dialed his number.

The phone rang once; it rang twice….

“Hello? Maddy?”

“Yes, hello Gary, it’s me…I mean its Madeline.”

How she hated this. After dating for nine months they had forgotten what to call each other. Like there was a rule that you had to go back to proper names once you broke up. Well if there was a rule she knew Ashley would know and have a book about it. She’d be sure to ask to borrow that book next time. She laughed inside to herself before she realized that Gary had begun to talk.

“Umm yeah I want to see umm… how you were doing?

Is he serious?!

“Oh I am fine. Keeping busy. So what’s up? You called me.”

“Oh yeah, heh. (Maddy hated that stupid fake laugh of Gary’s when he was guilty of something) Umm well you remember that time we went to the …. Umm …. Botanical gardens and they had that little gift shop?”

Oh brother! Did I really date him?! Lord can he finish a sentence and get to the point!

“Yeah I remember. What about it?”

“Well do you remember I got the ‘100 Year Commemorative” T-Shirt for you?”


“Yep, what about it?’

“Well you got me something too while we were there…”

“Yeah I bought you the matching coffee mug. What about it?”

“Well … umm…I can’t seem to find it in my cabinet here. I think you may still have it.”

“Excuse me?! You’re calling for a stupid coffee cup??”

You moron we were getting married and funny I don’t remember getting my deposit back on the rental of the reception hall!! Ahhhhhh! How she wished she could say that to Gary.

“Well … umm…”

“Good Grief Gary! Spit it out! Funny how you did not have a hard time expressing how you felt to me when you broke things off!”

Wow I said it!

“...well it’s my cup and I want it back!”

Forceful and childish…now that is what I remember….

For a minute she thought to herself, ‘what would Ashley do in this situation?’ She smiled at herself in the hallway mirror and said to Gary, “Sure. Why don’t you come over and pick it up. I’ll have it waiting for you.”

“Thanks Madeline. I’ll be over in a few minutes.”

With that she hung up the phone. Maddy went into her kitchen and pulled out a plastic zip top bag and pulled the mug out of the cabinet. She washed it; dried it and placed it in the zip top bag and sealed it. She began humming a happy tune to herself. ‘What was that silly song in Mary Poppins’?’ She could not remember but she knew who would.

The two best friends helped to balance each other out. Ashley helped bring out Maddy’s silly outgoing side and Maddy helped Ashley tone it down, as much as she possibly could.


“Hi Ashley! Tell me what the name of that song is from Mary Poppins that is silly and long?”

“Umm…oh “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”?”

“YES! That’s it. Thanks!”

“What’s up?”

“I’ll call you back a little later”

They hung up and Maddy began humming and singing off key loudly “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. She opened the cabinet in her laundry room and grabbed her pink hammer. Still singing (the wrong words, loudly and off key and laughing) she walked back to the kitchen. With each beat in the song she swung the hammer onto the mug in the bag. When it was well broken and almost unrecognizable except for the words ‘100’ and ‘Commemoration’, she was satisfied with her handy work.

She grabbed an old pretty gift bag and put the bag of broken pottery inside. Still humming to the door, she opened her front door and sat the bag on the front step and closed the door behind her.

A few minutes later she heard Gary pulling up. She heard him get out of his car but the engine was still going. She tiptoed to the front door and looked through the peep hole. Gary bent over to grab the bag. She almost roared with laughter when a puzzled look swept across his face as he lifted the bag. He was still standing in front of the door as he raised the bag near to his ear. He shook it a little and heard the “chiming” of little pieces. He mouthed a bad word. Next he opened the bag and saw the pottery pieces of his coffee cup in the bag. His next expression was priceless…he stayed silent but had an adult tantrum on her front step. He kicked her door and her neighbors’ new dog barked. This scared the mess out of Gary. He almost fell down the stairs. Then he opened his car door threw the bag in the car and took off.

Maddy could let go. She had the best belly laugh she had had in a long time. After she finished she called Ashley back.

“Ashley, tell your boyfriend that I am game to jump!”

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