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June 11, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Happy 30th, Dr. Carli

It’s my best friend’s birthday today.  She is the big 3-0, thirty, middle aged, one foot in the grave, half-baked, what have you. 

I’m going to blame my own approaching senility when asked why I didn’t get her a gift, or even a card in the mail on time.  Sure, we’re still settling in from moving, we have a 4 month old teething ball of spit in a crib, and I started a new job recently…but still, those are no excuses!  I did call her, and I sent her a bunch of text messages…but before this becomes a post about me let me remind you! that this post is about Carli, who is 30 today.

Carli and I have shared a lot of things over the years.  We’ve known each other most of our lives.  We got chicken pox on the same day.  We shared tears over dead pets and accidents involving banana seats.  One day, we nearly got eaten alive by a German Shepherd.  I gave my first motivational speech on her behalf in the third grade (it was a massive failure, I might add).  We made up our own language, spied on the neighbors (all Communists and Nazis), and melted huge piles of crayons in the middle of the street.  We rode our bikes through town, blatantly disobeying stop signs and our parents.  We warred with the neighborhood boys, always victorious.  I have more stories about Carli than I could ever write down in this single post, so I will just hit on some of the highlights.

Meeting Carli

The first time I saw her, really saw her, was the first day of the first grade.  I was playing in the front yard, jumping down onto the sidewalk, when I heard someone call “Hi Maleesha.”  I looked down the street and there was the little brown-haired girl whose desk was next to mine in Ms. Dienstman’s class.  She was waving from two houses down.  For some reason, I remember she was wearing an orange lifejacket, but this could be a nostalgic mind-prop added for color.

The next memory takes place soon after.  For all I know it could have been the same day.  Carli came down the street and invited me to sleep over at her house.  I’d never been to a sleepover before.  “You can come to the circus with us too,” she said.  I about died of excitement.  I’d never been to the circus.  I went inside and begged my mom to let me go.  My aunt from Wisconsin was there too, and she was very eager to help me roll my Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag and find my toothbrush.  Carli and I jumped up and down all the way to her house.  The circus!  A sleepover!  The impending fun to be had! 

Carli’s mom greeted us at the front door, looked me up and down, looked at my sleeping bag, and said “What the hell is this?”  As luck would have it, little Carli didn’t actually ask permission for a sleepover, nor did they have an extra ticket to the circus.  I wailed all the way back home, I wailed like the dying I tell you.  The devastation…my only friend, and now no circus.  No sleepover!  The Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag was now in the corner of my room, crumpled and lonely.  Through tears, I watched Carli’s mom drive their black Toyota down the street, headed for three rings and elephants.  

It’s been a love/hate relationship ever since. 


The town of our youth is solidly Irish Catholic, with a few oddballs scattered here and there.  Carli, being of Serbian descent, was one of those oddballs.  As was I, with my Russian roots and Russian sounding name…well neither of us fit in with the O’Sullivans and the Sullivans and the McSullivans.  But we had each other and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.  Since we couldn’t compete with the rest of town in the “Who’s Got The Most Relatives In Town” or the “Whose Parents Work for the Power Company” contests, we would often act like competitive little jerkettes to each other. 

“I know what a boy’s thingy is really called,” she told me one day.

“So do I,” I told her.  “It’s a pee-pee.”

“No it isn’t,” she said.

“What is it then?  Tell me!  Tell me!” I begged. 

“Nope,” she said smugly.  “I asked my mom, and you’ll have to ask your mom if you want to know.” 

So in retaliation, I made her walk behind me on the way to school for the rest of the year. 

When we were eight, we both lost a tooth within a few days of each other.  I dutifully placed said tooth under my pillow, and woke up the next morning to…a tooth.  “Try again,” my mom suggested.  “I’m sure the tooth fairy just forgot.  So I placed the tooth there again, and slept with my head to one side to ensure that the tooth fairy had adequate access.  The next morning, the tooth was still there.  “Put a magnifying glass over it,” my mom said.  “The tooth fairy probably can’t see it.”  So I did.  The next morning I flipped the pillow to find a shiny quarter.  Carli lost her tooth, and the tooth fairy arrived promptly the next morning and left her seven dollars and a fancy hot-pink combination lock shaped like a heart.  Even her teeth were worth more. 

I responded by taking a bingo ink stamp and stamping out all the future days on her new Fraggle Rock calendar  (It might not have been Fraggle Rock.  It could have been Care Bears).  I also gave her a rather silly nickname that stuck for several years.

The Bad Perm

I wasn’t allowed to get perms.  I wanted one though, really, really bad.  I wanted a perm and pierced ears and a jean jacket more than anything in the world, so I could look like this girl in my class named “Penny.” 

Carli was allowed to get perms though, and one day she got one.  A bad one.  So bad, in fact, that she was going to run away from home. Think “electrocuted poodle.”  I’m pretty sure I laughed about it a lot (I wasn’t raised to be sympathetic).  Someone must have made me apologize because we have a picture of us together that day looking reasonably happy.  Sorry about that, Carli.

By the way, now that I look back, “Penny” looked like an eight year old two-bit hooker. 


I skipped classes in high school quite regularly.  By my senior year, I had perfected the art of skipping class to the point where I was still pulling off a GPA in the very high 3 points.  One day, I managed to convince Carli to join me.  She was a “good kid” and very hesitant.  But it helped that the class we were about to ditch was taught by Mr. P., who would never notice, and would believe us when we said we would just be in the courtyard studying the behavior of Kentucky bluegrass on a sunny day, at which point he would offer us extra credit.  So we started taking an extended lunch and spent most of our time hanging out at Bob-A-Louie’s, a bar/burrito parlor across the street from the high school.  It was there at Bob-A-Louie’s that Carli, another friend, and I decided to do our assigned science project together. 

Someday I will make a separate entry about that science project, but I can’t do it right now. 

The Rebel

The day Carli turned eighteen, she marched into her parents’ living room at curfew, ten P.M., and announced that she Would Not Be Coming Home That Evening.  The look on her mother’s face, oh boy…I hadn’t been listening to my parents for years and even I was afraid of that look.  We got into my car (the ’93 Excel) and tooled around town.  “I don’t care what we do,” she said.  “I’m just staying out all night.”  And we did.  We drove to Rocker and had peach cobbler at the Flyin’ J amongst the truckers and the travelers.  I don’t really remember what else we did, I just know that it had an Alanis Morrisette soundtrack and didn’t involve anything remotely illegal. 

The Doctor

Carli’s a doctor.  And not a love doctor, or a plastic surgeon, or even a chiropractor.  She became an anstheez…annisteezo…one of those doctors that puts you under before you get the knife.  While the rest of us swilled cheap liquor and ran half-dressed down the streets of New Orleans and Panama City, Carli stayed up into the wee hours of the night reading the MCAT study guide.  She also spent a lot of time living around the grasslands of Montana, capturing mice and poking them with needles to find out if they carried hantavirus.  It’s all good though…when she’s clearing three hundred grand a year, we’ll have someone to ask if they can spare a few bucks for bail money.

Carli is really the only person I’ve ever met who said she was going to be a doctor when she was shorter than corn, and actually said that every year since, and then actually became a doctor.  If that’s not “stick to your guns” quality, I’m not sure what is.  And since going to medical school, she’s been other cool things like “Chief Resident” (not just a role on Grey’s Anatomy!) and “Recipient of Important Cardiac Anesthesiology Fellowship.” 

This coming from the girl who once read a map of Africa and pronounced a certain country as “Eggy-pit”, well, we should all be very impressed.  I know that I sure am.  🙂

Happy Birthday

So happy birthday, Poo-head. 

I hope someone makes you a lawranchencake-free birthday dinner. 

Here’s to another thirty years, and to a hydrogen-powered RV.



Leave a Comment
  1. Carli / Jun 24 2008 4:26 pm

    my birthday wish…my additions!!
    That ONE fat lip??? Oh how easily you forget the years and years of torture you imposed on me. I sill think you killed my bird 🙂

  2. maleesha / Jun 22 2008 11:06 am

    Hey, my blog, my memories 🙂 But seriously, I’m glad you came over to leave a comment. And “beat up” is a little bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think? There was that fat lip that one time, but I think it’s only because your face ran into my hand.

  3. Carli / Jun 20 2008 6:17 pm

    Thanks for the birthday wishes….of course what Maleesha fails to mention is how she beat me up every time I would go visit her at her house. But that’s ok because I got even with her the night of our high school graduation when I knocked he flat on her face with one punch with an enormous red boxing glove…plus I can run faster than she can…and I got super mario bros II before she did. So…I win!

  4. Greg / Jun 13 2008 11:57 pm

    This was great Maleesha. I loved reading it. I really loved it. You’re good with words. I’ll be back for sure.

  5. Christine / Jun 12 2008 6:17 pm

    This is a great blog! 😀

    (Happy Birthday Carli!)

  6. cherikooka / Jun 12 2008 6:11 pm

    Happy Birthday Carli! After listening to all Maleesha’s torrid childhood tales, I hope to meet you one day.

  7. Allison / Jun 12 2008 8:17 am

    That beats a cheesy greeting card hands-down!


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