Chris Offutt

He willingly ate invisible food from my plastic plates, went to "work" carrying a fake briefcase and held my doll while I pretended to cook dinner. 

Andy 1966.jpg

Andy is 14 months younger than I; we grew up making mud pies in the sandbox, racing our tricycles in the driveway and acting out Mary Poppins plays (I was Mary Poppins and he was supposed to be Dick Van Dyke's character; he stole the show by doing ridiculous things like dancing with an umbrella between his legs or pretending to fly before I cued that part. It made me furious. Our parents paid 5 cents to see the show and laughed until they cried).

Over the years as my dollies lost their plump faces and became svelte buxom Barbies, Andy continued to play dolls with me. He happily added his G.I. Joe (as long as "Joe" was allowed to shoot things) to the Barbie house.

One fall morning when I was 12, I suggested he play with me. I'd spent hours building a miniature Barbie castle out of Legos, wooden building blocks and some cardboard.

He hesitated, "But what if Eddie Connors comes over?"

Eddie Connors.  My nemesis, the 11 year old neighborhood bully who had pulled the pom-pom off my favorite winter hat and threw snowballs at me whenever I walked by his house.  Andy admired and feared Eddie Connors and was always excited to run outdoors whenever Eddie knocked and asked if he could play. I hated Eddie Connors. When he was in our yard, Andy joined him climbing trees, throwing rocks and picking on me.

I begged: "Please. We can stop when Eddie comes over. Just play with me for a few minutes."

He agreed. In my bedroom, on the second floor, with the door locked (in case our mother let Eddie in, Andy didn't want Eddie to discover him "playing dolls"), Andy made me vow to take my dolls and run into the other room as soon as his friend arrived.