Albert Einstein said “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” After all, one person’s mistake is another’s invention. That statement was never truer than with my childhood friend, Skizitz. Others saw everything she did as a mistake, but to me, it was creative and amazing. She was definitely an original.
As an Army brat, I moved around a lot, which was not conducive to making friends easily, until I met sixties. In three short years, she showed me how to try new things, ignore naysayers and bullies and completely be yourself. Words I’ve lived by my whole life.
She not only made lemonade out of lemons, it was a sweetest lemonade you every tasted because it was unique. Nothing was impossible, because to her it wasn’t right or wrong, it was just different.
When we went snowboarding the first time, we failed miserably. We went down a couple of feet and both fell. It was hard to balance. We thought if we held hands, we could help each other balance. That worked for a few feet, but then we both face-planted in the snow. We sat there in the snow as others glided down around us and knew we either had to try again or walk down the hill in defeat.
Skizitz smiled and kneeled on her snowboard in her patented butterfly pose sitting with her knees in front of her and her legs on either side like wings. “Try this Emmy, we can shush down the hill like a sled and use our hands to make us go.”
I know that’s not how we were supposed to snowboard, but we moved fast with the cool wind in our faces. It was fun and we got down the hill in style, with less bruises.
I’ll never forget the food concoctions she would come up with and the interesting way she ate everything. Popcorn with ranch dressing mix and butter a la Skizitz was her signature snack. And she ate her Skizitz-style peanut butter sandwiches by separating the two pieces of bread, splitting Oreo cookies in two, licking the white filling out of the Oreos and scooping all the peanut butter from each bread slice with the chocolate part of the cookie. Then she took the slice of cheese and put it between the bread and ate the sandwich. Is that the way to make a cheese sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich with cheese and peanut butter Oreos? I think they even sell peanut butter Oreos now. She was ahead of her time.
She found her own way to do everything from her made-up words to her banana-peel way of tripping, falling down at kicking a winning soccer goal. The unusual way she created costumes with on-the-spot back stories for every character like the half man-half clown, clownman, the princess pirate, or the frogbee are neighborhood legends.
Yes, kids made fun of her and teachers and parents always told her she was doing things wrong, but it wasn’t a mistake for her. Everything she did was unapologetically her way. I never forgot that.
Now I own an environmental sustainability company that has changed the face of our climate for the better, allowing affordable renewable energies to progress and thrive to produce clean water and air. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I was really just finding ways not to invent my process. Without those mistakes, I would have never achieved my goal. And even though it was years ago, every time something didn’t work or fell short, I remembered how Skizitz would call it newtakes and make it different. And I did.
Note: This is a character preview of a new middle-grade book The One and Only Skizitz.
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2021