She made me feel like a badass when we hung out. Still in high school, we were so badass we even made a 12-hour drive to her hometown one weekend. Just the two of us.
We met junior year in high school. Or was it senior year? I know I met Danni* at the last high school I attended in the late 80s. She stood at maybe 5 feet tall—the most petite thing you’d ever see. She wore leather, lots of makeup, gaudy jewelry. She smoked a lot, talked a lot, lived a lot, sang a lot. She was pretty much the opposite of me, but she was also one of the few people to talk to me.
Danni worked at a gas station in town. I thought that was pretty rad, too. She closed up most nights with her boyfriend in tow. She constantly told me about her sexcapades with him. I’ll never forget her walking kinda funny one day and telling me it was because he went in from behind. My virgin everything was mortified at the idea. I don’t remember his name but he was kinda cute. And short, too. They really did make a cute little couple.
Danni was newer than me at school, which is probably why she talked to me. She wasn’t shy at talking with anyone actually; she didn’t really give a shit what others thought of her. At 16-17, she had more confidence in who she was than I’d ever seen before. I admired that about her. But I also soon learned that a lot of her confidence was a show.
Actually, Danni was kind of a show herself.
She was sexually and physically abused from a very early age on. I didn’t quite understand all of what she told me, but that part was pretty clear. That’s why I didn’t really understand why she wanted to go back home to visit since that’s where the abuse happened and that’s why she wasn’t living there anymore. But she borrowed her aunts car for the weekend and wanted me to come along—so I did.
I felt pretty badass driving shotgun in her big-ass car with her. Kinda Thelma and Louise (before Thelma and Louise) but without the guns, the cliff, and Brad Pitt (too bad).
We weren’t best friends—she actually never really knew much about me—but we were on an adventure like them. At least that’s what it felt like to me.
Danni was a big flirt. Still, it amazed me how the guys flocked to her. She looked like she was a 10-year-old dressed up trying to look older because of how short she was. But the guys loved it and her. She loved fluttering her big blue eyes at them and putting on her best mischievous smile. She’d flirt with anyone anywhere. It didn’t seem to matter. We’d be driving down the highway about to pass a trucker and Danni would slow down and start mouthing shit to the guy, maybe even giving him a show of her itty titties too.
It really is incredible how different we were.
It’s been 20 years since I’ve last been in contact with her. But thanks to Facebook, that’s changed.
She’s still Danni. She’s still very different than me. She’s still very much a show. She’s still this little thing only now she doesn’t look like a 10-year-old dressing up to look older; instead, she looks like a 60-year-old dressing up to look younger. I was pretty astounded to see pictures of her to be frank. She’s aged a lot. I’m sure she feels the same about me and my white hair, though.
It’s strange, really. I feel like the last 10 years of my life have been the best years of my life. I’m certain of this actually. But when I look back 20-plus years, not all that much has changed. Not really. I’m still very much the listener amongst others. The only thing is that now I don’t need to hang with a badass person or take a 12-hour road trip to feel badass.
I just am. Badass.
*Danni is not her real name