First of all, this is a true story. I swear to Buddha.
I've known Gwen since we were seven. We met at the beach. In Pacific Grove. Her dad and my mom, were living together, so every weekend I got to see Gwen. My mom and Bill stayed together for five years, but Gwen and I never separated. We'd spend the night at each-other's house and giggle until dawn. We played with the Ouiga board, and practised our skills of telepathy with spooky accuracy.
In our teen-age years, we ditched school and hung out at Floyd Curtis' pool, down the hill from Gwen's mom's house. His parents were never home, but Floyd who had already graduated (although you wouldn't know it by the way he acted), would let us in. He would alternately have a crush on Gwen, or me, or whomever else we brought over.
One day Floyd said to us, "You know, you girls don't look anything alike but you sure think alike." We answered, "I ain't never paid no heed to that." In unison. I'd never used the word "heed" before in my life. We got the biggest kick out of that. Good or bad, we were always thinking along the same lines.
Let me think now. When did we first discover the wish corner? The first time I remember Gwen and I were living together in San Francisco. On Central Ave. We were both twenty, so that must have been eight years ago. It was springtime, and Gwen had just got a job where I worked, at a restaurant, on Pier 39. We took a bus to the Mission District, to go thrift shopping for shoes.
She was bitching the whole time, "Why should I have to spend all my money for a stupid pair of shoes I'll only wear to work?"
I didn't answer her. The answer was obvious, and I knew she didn't want to hear it.
"Why can't I just find a pair of white tennis shoes." she whined.
Just then we turned the corner of Mission and Fifteenth, and lo and behold, on top of the garbage can, was a white tennis shoe. We looked at each other, speechless. She tried on the shoe while I found it's mate a few feet away. A perfect fit.
Needless to say we had a story to tell, and we told it. For the next two weeks, we told it, and told it, and told it. People seemed amused but not amazed, so gradually we lost enthusiasm and quit talking about it, actually forgot about it.
It was at least a year later when it happened again. It was winter; a foggy evening, around 11:00 PM. We had been playing pool at Zeitgeist, and decided to walk home before it got too late. On the way, we talked. She kept saying, "I hope I can go to sleep right away. I wish I had a joint. That would put me to sleep." As we turned the corner at Mission and Fifteenth, I looked down to see a cellophane cigarette wrapper with, you guessed it.... I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know why I'd looked down. Well, this was nothing short of a miracle! We stared at the bag in my hand. We stared at the black street and at the dark red bricks in the boarded-up church on the corner. We shook our heads in amazement.
Never again has it happened. We've discussed it, and figure it'll be a while. 'Cause every time we go by there, we're thinking about what to wish for. And that breaks the spell. It seems when you figure something out, it changes you and you change it somehow, but maybe not forever. We're older now and wishing for big things like money, cars, or diamond rings. It's going to be a long time before that wears off and we get surprised by something like a full, unopened can of coke.
First published: March 1994