Three Texans in Moab or The Day of the Lizard!

Maggie Rinkovsky and I met in second grade at San Jose Street Elementary School. She lived on Yuba Street and I on Bevis in Mission Hills, California, just a few blocks away and a short enough distance apart that our mothers allowed us to walk alone to ask, “Can you come out to play?”

Like a lot of relationships, ours began on a rocky note. Maggie was the youngest child in her family and I thought she was an only child for the longest time. She had her own bedroom, beautifully decorated with matching dresser and headboard. I remember her beautiful dresses, round eyes and waist-long light brown hair. At the time, she seemed to have everything I wanted. We were about the same size when we met (she grew to 5' 2" and I to 5' 8" in junior high), but my hair was dark brown and always pulled back in a ponytail as my mother worked outside the home and life ran at a harried pace at my house. My dresses, though always clean and pressed (my sister Becky and I got 3 new dresses at the beginning of each new school year and they had to last until summer--no matter how short they got), seemed worn and tattered in comparison to hers. I was the oldest child in my family, the practice child, in a home where I began cooking dinner standing on a stool in front of the stove and later in front of the sink when dinner was done. Responsibility came fast and early for me. I thought Maggie was spoiled and bratty, but somehow first impressions fade and we became “sisters” and “confidants” through our senior year in high school.

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley seemed quiet and simple at the time. Acres and acres of orange trees and lemon trees could still be found on a short ride from where we lived. The sky seemed to be always blue and the days always warm. The drone of an airplane overhead was often heard as it was still an unusual sound and one you paid attention to. We looked upward to find the plane and pointed to it with small fingers.

Maggie and I were forever in imaginary play. The swing set became our circus, a house sprouted in the yard built from old wood leaning against the grey cinderblock fence, plays were put on for the entire neighborhood in the backyard of a childless couple, “The Circus McGurkus” came to life after reading a Dr. Seuss book, and there were the baby dolls. (That's another story!) And somewhere in all of this I became a comedian or thought I did anyway.

I began entertaining Maggie along the way home from school on those never ending summer San Fernando Valley days. There was no stand-up routine just funny faces and dances, but I could make Maggie laugh. One such routine resulted in the creation of my nickname—Lizard!

Danna and I met his Texas friends, Rick and Leesa Coulter in Moab, Utah, in July 2009.


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