Bonnie Ann had Pigtails!
(The Girl in The Gang)
All these years, I've been thinking Bonnie Ann had dual ponytails! Now, I've been informed by a friend that they were called pigtails, not ponytails. I always thought pigtails were those braided things that some girls have, but I've been told that pigtails can be loose and messy also, as were Bonnie Ann's twin tails. Well, I'll be darned!
But I better back up a bit...
Ever since I watched the excellent Netflix series, "Stranger Things", I've been thinking about my childhood gang of pre-teen boys. We referred to ourselves as "The Gang" (boring, but succinct!). My gang was more outdoors-oriented than the gang in "Stranger Things"; however, our notions of friendship, loyalty, honesty, courage, etc. were a lot like those of the boys in the Netflix series.
The Gang lasted from about third grade through part of sixth grade (ages 8 through 12). Puberty hit my gang hard. Even the intense loyalty of The Gang's members could not sustain itself as the boys' attention turned from high adventure to girls.
I want to eventually write a post about my pre-teen Robin Hood-like gang, but the first thing on my mind is the only girl member who was ever allowed to join The Gang -- Bonnie Ann.
Bonnie Ann was the middle girl in a family with three female children. The family lived on my street, several houses down from my own and across the street. Bobbi Ann, the oldest, was a year older than me -- she was boy crazy. Bonnie Ann was a year younger than me -- she was a tomboy. And Brenda Ann was two years younger than Bonnie Ann, which made her seem like a mere child to me back when I was a manly 9 years old or so.
Bonnie Ann had light brown hair. She wanted short hair, but her mother made her and her sisters keep long hair. Bonnie Ann was smart and lean and agile as a cat. For fun, I would often tease the three girls to get them to chase me. I had no problem staying ahead of Bobbi Ann and Brenda Ann, but I had to keep on my toes to outpace quick Bonnie Ann -- she could accelerate like a cheetah and dart like a bunny!
Although I didn't notice it during the days of The Gang, Bonnie Ann had hazel eyes. Her eyes sometimes looked brownish and sometimes looked greenish. However, I didn't see this (consciously, at least) until I bumped into Bonnie Ann much later when I was in 11th grade (and had not seen Bonnie Ann since 6th grade). But that meeting is another post!
Bonnie Ann joined The Gang during the summer before I entered 4th grade (which meant she was headed to 3rd grade). There was no entry voting to get into The Gang -- it was a matter of persistence on the part of the person who wanted to join and the silent acceptance of the gang members. The boys didn't have much use for girls back then, so Bonnie Ann's determination to join our gang was really a remarkable thing (maybe "legendary", I would say, @ninazumel @booksnips?).
I was the only boy who accepted Bonnie Ann immediately. Everyone except me called her "Bon-Bon" (I called her Bonnie). Fortunately for Bonnie Ann, I was also the informal leader of The Gang which meant that Bonnie Ann at least got a fair chance at proving herself to the group. And Bonnie Ann was accepted quickly by the boys (surprising, now that I think back on it). In fact, "Bon-Bon" went from a teasing nickname to a kind of cool name which Bonnie Ann embraced.
Each member brought something unique to The Gang -- brains, brawn, courage, tree-climbing skill, comic-book knowledge, etc. I knew that Bonnie Ann was quick and smart and could take care of herself. But the amazing thing about Bonnie Ann was that she quickly became The Memory of the gang.
Before Bonnie Ann joined The Gang, I don't think we much remembered what we had done or said from one day to the next. The boys in The Gang were like Peter Pan and his tribe of Lost Boys -- we woke up each day forgetting what we had done the day before.
However, Bonnie Ann could remember everything with remarkable clarity. She knew what was said and done yesterday, last week, last month, and (eventually) last year. Bonnie Ann remembered who had been "It" in the last game of Tag; where we had found the sweetest wild plums last year; who had won the last argument over whether the Hulk was stronger than Thor; etc. She became the walking chronicler of the adventures and lore of The Gang.
OK, now back to the topic of pigtails. As I mentioned, Bonnie Ann's mother made her keep long hair. But each time Bonnie Ann slipped out of her house to meet up with the rest of The Gang, she always carried some kind of round cloth elastic thingies (sorry, I don't know what they are called) for her hair. She would then grab a clump of her hair, one side at a time, and wrap that elastic thingy around it to form what I thought was a ponytail. She ended up with a rough ponytail-like protrusion on each side of her head, near the back. Before going back home, she would take the elastic thingies out of her hair. Sneaky!
When Bonnie Ann lost an elastic thingy, she would borrow a rubber band from me. I always carried a slingshot, with which I was a dead shot (Robin Hood had a bow -- I had a slingshot). I carried extra rubber bands with me, specially donated to me from the workers at a local gas filling station (I don't know where the filling station got them).
I was loathe to give up my precious rubber bands, but I did it for Bonnie Ann. Of course, the bad thing about rubber bands is that they often seemed to get stuck in Bonnie Ann's hair. More than once, I had to use my pocket knife to free the rubber band from all the hair wrapped around it. The fact that I was willing to actually touch a girl's hair at that age shows the strength of the bonds formed by gang membership! Haha!
Well darn, this post is already too long and I've rambled on without giving much insight into what kind of adventures Bonnie Ann had in The Gang. I guess I was just thinking about Bonnie Ann, so this post is an ode to Bonnie Ann and her wonderfully messy pre-teen pigtails!
[By the way, that's not Bonnie Ann in the photo above. That's just the closest thing I could find to Bonnie Ann's pigtail style. However, Bonnie Ann's twin tails were more messy and free than the ones in that photo.]
Image above: From "Proud to be Messy: 6 Messy Hairstyles for Long Hair" / haveagoodhairday.com