Bridget broke her collarbone in the field hockey quarter-finals. She and her boy-next-door best friend Roger are in their favorite haunt, Nick’s Malt Shop, next door to Barnie’s Bookstore.
“Patrick, I have a huge favor to ask, in fact, I don’t know if I can even ask it.” Bridget opens
“Dearly beloved sister princess, you realize you are the only person who gets to call me Patrick except my folks, right?”
“Has that can’t talk about it approach ever worked with me?”
“No,” she grins sheepishly, “we’ve always been able to talk through anything that has ever come between us.”
“You know I broke my collarbone in field hockey quarter-finals, right?”
“Yeah, you told me Tuesday. You had the x-rays yesterday, right?”
“Yep. Or as you say, yeppers. (smiling) The doc says I’m not supposed to use my right arm for 7 weeks!”
“Glad you’re left handed, huh?”
“Yeah, but you’re taking away my focus on asking, so pipe down jelly bean.”
“Yes ma’am. What’s on your mind?”
“I realized last night, I cannot floss one-handed. This sounds gross, but you’ve always been there for me. Could I ask you to floss my teeth a couple of times a week until my arm heals?”
“Sure,” Roger replies.
“Just like that?”
“Sure. Why wouldn’t I be willing to help?”
“But teeth?” Bridget exclaims, “Isn’t that gross?”
“No grosser than kissing is it? Or dare I compare the two, it’s a whole heckava lot nicer or less gross than changing diapers and teaching children proper toileting, isn’t it?”
“How do you do it?”
“How do you give so selflessly, without even considering saying no, it seems?”
“Courtney Elaine Bridget Dickerson, how long have we been friends?”
“Longer than I can remember,” she replies, radiating a smile from her very core. “According to you, I kissed you first when I was three, you were five, so that you claim was our first date. Since we’ve never been on a real date, I haven’t bothered to file a claim with the Petunia & Pickles claim service.”
“Hmmmmphf! Sez you. P&P indeed. So let’s go tell your folks why I’m going to be showing up at your house every night at bedtime.”
“Patrick Stuart Roger DiStefano, you know you might as well be part of the family. Mom would let you in if you showed up at 3 am with a polecat on a stick.”
“And you think my expressions are weird?” he glows with glee.
“Ok, I guess you’re right, we’ll explain the deal.”
* * *
In the Dickerson second floor hallway bathroom, Bridget is in her koi fish pajamas, while Roger is in shorts & a t-shirt.
“Now lean back and open wide,” he says. “I’ve never done this before, so I’m going to start slow until I get used to the way your gaps respond to the floss.”
“You are such an engineer.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment. You do realize, this is one of the very few endeavors where you really cannot talk. I mean that. If I pull and you move your mouth because you’re trying to say something, the floss could cut the corners of your mouth. That’s messed up and your folks would put a kibosh on this right quick.”
“Seems like you’ve got all the bases covered.” she replies.
Bridget smiles, closes her eyes, opens wide and Roger gets to work. The task goes smoothly and soon Bridget rinses and looks in the mirror like she’s going to buy a horse.
“So how’d I do?”
“Looks great. Thanks. Can I walk you out?”
Without any pretense or affected behavior, they sit comfortably on the porch swing and deeply breathe in the cool night air.
“Why are you doing this?” Bridget asks.
“Because you asked me to sit on the porch and talk. That is what friends generally do, right?”
“No, I mean why are you being so heroically patient with me when I’m such a pita with you most of the time?”
“Usually, you’re more of a pain in the mouth than the other place, but having just said that, the opportunities for atrocious puns are too easy, so let’s say you’re a pain in the hair.”
“A pain in the hair?” Bridget looks at her best friend. “That doesn’t make any sense!”
Mockingly, she smacks him on the arm.
“Neither does your question: why am I being nice to my best friend? Can you think of 5 reasons, just off the top of your head?”
Bridget mulls this over, brightens, softens and replies.
- » “Because friends never count the cost.
- » Because the road to a friend’s house is never long.
- » Because I could ask you for the moon and I’d get a scale model that traces the entire history of the Apollo program.
- » Because I’m a fool to question your willingness to help me.
- » Because you love me.”
“You forgot looking a gift horse in the mouth.” Roger retorts with a horse whinny noise. “You were doing a good job auditioning for a walk-on role in Gunsmoke, there in the bathroom mirror.”
“You!” Bridget softly screams in pretend anger.
Bridget gingerly pummels Roger, which turns into a tickle fest, which turns into a deep hug.
“Can you promise me we’ll always stay this way?” she softly asks.
Roger pulls out of hug, looks Bridget in eyes, smiling.
“Well, God willing,” Roger says with a grin, “some of us get taller with time.”
They press foreheads together, both smiling with eyes closed.
Roger whispers in Bridget’s ear.
In voiceover, we hear, “Don’t tell anyone I said so. Your eyes really sparkle in the moonlight when you are happy. I’m happy I’m the one who gets to see it. Good night Bridget.”
“Good night Patrick Stuart Roger.”
With their plan in place, Roger shows up like clockwork and takes care of his best friend.
- » Bridget in clothes of the day. (day two)
- » Bridget in nightgown. (day three)
With a cartoon movie effect, calendar pages cascade showing the passing days.
On a Saturday afternoon, we see our friends at the DiStefano kitchen table enjoying fresh-baked treats.
In a rapid montage, we track the oral hygiene progress through the days.
- » Walking upstairs.
- » Talking on porch swing, Bridget in bathrobe.
- » Bridget in nightgown.
- » Bridget in clothes of the day.
They go on a night hike with the Venture Scouts: flashlights, jackets, sturdy boots.
- » After they talk on the porch swing, she kisses him on the cheek, then walks inside without a word.
- » Working on school assignments at the DiStefano kitchen table.
- » Bridget in nightgown.
- » Bridget in clothes of the day.
- » Bridget in her koi pajamas.
- » Bridget showing off her bunny slippers.
- » Bridget in bathrobe.
On the porch swing, Bridget seems edgy.
“Doctor says I start physical therapy & get my sling off Tuesday, so I guess you’ll stop coming over?”
“I think that’s kind of up to you & your folks. My grades have actually gone up during this experiment.”
“How can they go up from 4.0?”
“I do not make straight A’s. I got I B in structural chem last semester. That guy was a dufus. He told me after grades were filed that after he read the article in Science, that I was right, but he wasn’t going to change my grade because a little humility was good for the character.”
“That’s not fair!” Bridget yells then claps her hand over her mouth and looks to see if a light turns on inside the house.
“If life were fair dear, I wouldn’t be here,” Roger replies, hugging her, while quietly laughing.
“What do you mean? Have I done something wrong?”
“Cool your jets. You’re fine. In fact, I have at least 50 of our classmates who will sign an oath that you are the prettiest in the Southern Hemisphere.
This foreshadows their Scout-led trip to Peru to follow Hiram Bingham’s field notes.
“But we’re in Indiana?”
“They all flunked geography.” he smirks.
“You!! But that still doesn’t explain why you wouldn’t be here?” she looks at him pensively.
“So, geographically challenged or not, I can produce ample statistical evidence that you are the reigning princess of Saint Malchus Academy. If life were so-called fair, you would be shallowly dating the quarterback, rather than genuinely best friends with me, through thick and thin. For better or worse, I think you’re stuck with me.” Roger replies.
We hear in voiceover, “I can’t imagine life without you.”
* * *
On a country road alongside a pond rimmed in reeds, an older, taller, more muscular Roger skips a rock five clean skips. An older, taller, blossoming Bridget compliments him.
“Hey five, very cool.” she opens.
“You know what else is cool?”
“I had my first period today.”
“Really? What’s it like?”
“Kinda like yogurt maybe, but completely different, if you know what I mean.”
“Is that like the British saying ‘it’s like rice pudding only completely different’ or is it completely different in a completely different way?” he teases, completely at ease with his best friend sharing.
Bridget tickles him as they both laugh. They start walking.
“Well, welcome to womanhood.”
“Why thank you, kind sir!”
“Can I ask a big favor?” he opens.
“Of course you can always ask. Not sure if I can agree, but we can always talk about anything.”
“When you blossom as my Dad says, and turn into a gorgeous spectacle of feminine mystique, just don’t get weird, ok?”
Bridget stops and stares at him with a mix of awe, wonder, and impish glee. She calls out and he stops and turns around.
“Patrick Stuart Roger DiStefano! Front and center, right this minute!”
“Ok, what did I do now?”
“That was perhaps the most profoundly moving thing anyone’s said to me in my young life. Certainly the most wonderful compliment a girl could get on her first day of womanhood, as you put it. Do you realize what a gift you have for the spoken word?”
“Glad you liked the first part. What about the second part? You’re not going to pull away and get all prissy and only wear lace & high heels are you?”
“Is that what you’re afraid of, that I’ll stop being me?”
“I thought I said as much. Maybe I was too strong. Yes, embrace womanhood. Yes, learn makeup, but please don’t go overboard. Yes, get savvy with hair, fashion, color, fragrance and design.
“Just promise me that with all thy getting, you’ll gain the Proverbs 4:7 understanding that nothing on the outside can overshadow the joy of life that radiates from within when:
- » you’re rappelling down a mountain or
- » rise out of your bike seat to crest a hill, or
- » your eyes shine as you’re serving at the seniors home or
- » you hit a perfect chord in mixed schola.
“Your gifts of giving, Courtney Elaine Bridget Dickerson, are what make you my best friend. It was difficult enough realizing that my best friend in the whole wide world was –gasp! –a girl! But somehow we made it through, I made it through, because you’re you.
“I have no idea how I’m supposed to deal with every boy within a country mile just seeing the outside and wanting who knows what.”
“To turn Hamlet inside out, the king doth protest too much, methinks,” she grins.
“Touché! Nicely done. Explain.”
“I’ve loved you since before I can remember. You know one of the blessings of being home-schooled, I got to travel with my parents all over the world. In all the wonderful friends I’ve made across cultures, time zones and in or out of the family, no one, not even any of my dearest teen girlfriends can ‘see across the fence’ like you can. Why would I ever stop loving you?
“I dunno. I’ve never been in love romantically, and I’m guessing that you haven’t either, so maybe I’m afraid that some guy will swoop in and take away my best friend.”
“Fair enough. I skipped school the day they handed out crystal balls, so we’ll just have to work it out a day at a time. Deal?”
They shake hands and resume walking arm-in-arm.
* * *
We join family and friends gathered at the best friends’ engagement party.
“This boy,” Bridget begins, “has loved me since I was 3 years old. This young man walked with me, talked with me, grew with me, pushed me to achieve my athletic, scholastic and spiritual best.
“Only God can answer his prayers, yet I want to be next in line.”
* * *
A weary Roger, well attired and obviously experienced at first class airline service, accepts a cranberry-apple & club soda that the stewardess offers w/o a word. He has been at the lab or out of the country more than he’s been home over the last eight months. All the international accolades from yet another physics conference fade to insignificance as he rereads the handwritten letter from his wife.
He’s eager to get back home after he presented his breakthrough Nick of Time “gap access” time-bending schema arising out of the 0.0120 difference in the Schwarzschild solution describing time on the Earth.
Every stewardess in the network has a secret crush on Roger. Back in the galley, Moira peeks out to see him with tears in his eyes, reread a handwritten letter that is weathered and worn.
In voiceover, we hear a deeper, more resonant Bridget’s voice, often caught up with tears. “In our vows, we promised to love, honor, cherish and obey. I have failed at each of those. I renew my commitment to love transparently, without reservation and without conditions.
“I renew my excitement at being the playground and courtyard of your castle. I welcome you in to the Holy House of Heaven without reserve, without conditions and with my renewed sense of playful discovery. I am and will ever be your ezer kenegdo.
“I choose to be your wife today, tomorrow and forever. I thank my husband for being my friend.
“Even when you were angry with me, sometimes without reason, yet all too often with cause, you still witnessed your love in word, in deed, and in spirit. You radiate the harmony that I want to bask in every moment.
“I deeply desire that our children grow up in a home where you are present, honored, loved and treasured by each of us in our own unique ways that all give glory to God.
With all my love,
Fade to black. © 2017 Systems Thinking Institute Press. Interested in bringing dialog-driven leadership to your firm? Reach out to [email protected] and someone will respond promptly. Connect w/Matt on @systhink.