08 April 2010


Happy birthday to Danielle, who is also turning twenty-nine, but for the fourth time.

Not a month goes by that I don't have a dream that I'm back in Harrisonburg, working at BW3.  I really don't have a good explanation for my creepy recurring dream, except that the three years that I worked there were so formative.  When I started there, I was a nineteen-year-old kid who didn't drink, and was pretty wholesome by most accounts.  By the time I left three years later, such was not the case.  Not to mention, that job could be really stressful.  We got out at two a.m. at the earliest, and our shifts began at five.  Sure, it wasn't the hardest job of all time, and sure, we made buckets of money slinging wings and beer and Alabama Slammer shooters, but it was tough. 

The people who worked with me during that time were really influential, in part because I was the baby of the group, and I always felt like they were looking after me, and in part because they taught me so much about coming of age in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 

Danielle was the second person I met at BW3.  (The first was her then-boyfriend-now-husband Scott, who probably deserves a post all his own.)  She trained me, and I didn't like her that much.  I thought she was a bitch.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  Well, kind of.  She can be a bitch when needed, but it's the good kind of bitch.  Let's just say she's assertive.

It didn't take long for me to realize that Danielle was actually quite cool.  She was an English major like me, she had an awesomely-raspy voice (I'd pay $200 to be able to trade voices with her), and she held a really great outlook on life.  And she's smart.  I love it when my friends are smart.

As the years progressed, Danielle and I became closer, and I always looked forward to shifts when I'd be working with her.  She even gave me a reason to hate karaoke less (We had karaoke 1-2 times a week, and it was excruciating, especially because our manager would play a game called "Kamikaze Karaoke," which basically meant that he would put our names in for songs that he chose, and then when our  name was called he would force us to go up and sing the surprise song.  Fun for the customers, awful for the employees.)  For some reason, Danielle and I decided that our favorite song was "Copacobana," and when we would step up to the mike to sing we knew it was our chance to get back at the karaoke regulars (a.k.a., high school chorus rejects) with our own ridiculous antics.

But my favorite Danielle memories are of enjoying the simple life outside of work: watching O Brother Where Art Thou? over and over again (he done R-U-N-N-O-F-T!), planning our future careers as backup whistlers (we're both REALLY good at whistling), trying to refine our handwriting with nice pens, and planning how we would be soccer moms together years later.  (Sorry, Danielle.  I really dropped the ball on that one.)

In many ways, I felt like Danielle was the big sister that I never had.  Looking back, I can see just how much she influenced me, with her casual outlook on life, with her candid honesty, and with her approach to relationships.  Danielle and Scott always impressed me with their relationship.  They were never overly kissy or gross, but it was clear whenever I was around them that they were deeply committed to one another, and that they didn't have to be sitting on each other's laps to prove that to the world.

When Scott told us that he'd bought a ring and was planning to propose, I was so excited for them.  I knew that they were a great team, and it made me happy to know that Scott and Danielle would be taking on the world together.

And I was excited to see what kind of kids they would spawn.  Fortunately, I wouldn't have to wait long.  About forty weeks to the day after they got married (And the wedding was pretty fun, from what I remember.  Sorry I fell off that chair, Danielle.  How did that bouquet even end up in my hand?) they had their first baby, Scotty (who we thought would be a girl but surprised everyone).

Danielle's really taken to being a mom.  She has two great kids (who, by the way, look like miniature versions of her and Scott) and a super cute pup, and she's thriving.

She has even fulfilled our long-term goal of being a soccer mom!

Even though I don't get to talk to her that often, when we do talk we're able to pick up right where we left off.  It seems that we can't talk for any less than two hours.  I've known Danielle for a decade, and I admire her and appreciate her more with each passing year.

Happy birthday, Danielle!  If I was up there, I'd make you these:

(I stole all of the pictures from Danielle's Facebook, because I do not have a scanner.  It's probably for the best.)

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