Short Stories - non fiction

JACKIE AND I (The Two French Girls from Quebec)

It was the summer of ’76 and we had just completed  grade 8. Jackie’s parents decided to buy a piece of property in Thousand Islands, and build a cottage. Well, a house really. Jackie’s Dad had ordered a prefab unit, and he was building it. 

I was invited up to the camp to hang out with Jackie for a couple of weeks. We were both 14 years old, and we were always looking for fun.

The cottage was under construction, so we slept in a tent trailer. Jackie’s mom set up a kitchen in a tent, and we had pretty much everything we needed to survive, except electricity and hairdryers.

Now anyone that knows me, knows that I need a hairdryer. It is not an option. A hairdryer transforms my hair from looking like Buckwheat from the Little Rascals. 

To give you an idea of how bad my hair looks when it dries on its own, once (about 20 years ago), I decided to take a shortcut after my shower and just let my hair dry by itself. I was anxious to get some housework done. So I buzzed around the house all morning, cleaning away. At noon we were sitting down for lunch when the doorbell rang. Bruce (uncharacteristically) jumps up and answers the door. When he was finished at the door, he came back to the table to join me. “Are you wondering why I answered the door?” he asked. “Kind of”, I replied. “Well, let me put it this way, if before we were married I had seen you looking like you do today, I would not have married you” he stated. “I didn’t blow dry my hair” I said. “Next time, blow dry your hair.” he said. 

Back to the story…..

So Jackie and I were fairly industrious. We decided that we would figure out a way to blow dry our hair come hell or high water. We took turns driving the speed boat while the other would stick their head up and rapidly brush their hair in the wind. The boat wind was kind of like a giant full on blow dryer. It got the job done (more or less).

The other thing we we used the boat for was sudden escape from flying stinging insects. We would be parked out on the water, working on our tans, and if a wasp, hornet, horse or deer fly should appear, we’d fire up the engine and bolt. Leaving the little pest behind dangling in mid air. 

One day, Jackie’s Mom decided to take a drive into the nearby town, Gananoque. So Jackie and I got as dolled up as we could and went into town. Instead of talking in our usual voices though, we pretended to be french, and we spoke with very thick french accents. We were cigarette smokers, and we had this package of “Gitanes” cigarettes. And we flaunted them around like they were somehow confirming that we were truly french. In Gananoque, we stood out with our high healed shoes, our french accents, and our package of Gitanes, that is we stood out in a bad way I am sure. What a couple of twits. 

After two weeks at the camp, I am not sure who was happier the trip had come to an end. It was a toss up between Jackie and I dying to get back to the city, and Jackie’s parents dying to get rid of us. They sent us on our way back to Pointe Claire with some friends of theirs. 

Although it was nice to get back to normal, those 14 days were indeed special and will never be forgotten. Spending 14 days with someone 24/7 can either make or break any relationship. For Jackie and I, it cemented a lifelong friendship.


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