Bianca and I first met when she skipped from third grade to my fourth grade class at Frederick K.C. Price III School. Then we became best friends in seventh grade, and have been best buds ever since. We do most everything together, from volleyball to SAT prep, and we have seen each other grow and mature.
I don’t feel so much like an overachiever in the classroom because Bianca and I both work hard to get the highest grades and dream of prestigious colleges (she Northwestern, I Stanford). Our phone conversations always include talk about getting into college and those dang SATs.
As our junior year of high school came to a close, Bianca and I came up with this plan to have the ultimate summer. We were going to take college classes, go to the movies and mall all the time, drive wherever we wanted, spend a day on Catalina Island and so much more.
We started off great by going to the movies on the last day of school with a few other friends. But every time I called her after that, we couldn’t find time to meet.
“Hey Bianca, what’s going on?”
“Wanna go to the movies tomorrow?”
“I can’t, I have a basketball game that night. What are you doing Tuesday?”
“Nah. I have school and L.A. Youth on Tuesdays.”
Our “ultimate summer” gradually dwindled away as we realized that we wouldn’t see each other too much during this vacation. She was at basketball practice, I was taking community college classes; she was driving, I … wasn’t. Meeting up was close to impossible. We decided to tell each other everything that went on over the phone so we wouldn’t be completely disconnected. I knew it would be interesting, because Bianca had joined a hard-core traveling basketball team, and at the same time she was going to be a debutante, which involved taking etiquette classes, doing community service and wearing a white dress and gloves at a grand ball as a symbol of purity. I wondered what would happen when those two activities from opposite ends of the universe collided.
The main thing for Bianca was basketball. As a member of the Intenz Ballers traveling basketball team, she would be playing with some of the most talented girls from schools such as Manual Arts, Fairfax and Washington Prep.
Star on the court
Bianca is the basketball all-star at our school, Price, primarily because she is the only one on the team who really knows how to dribble, shoot and score. Though she stands at a petite 5’2”, she carries the rest of the team. Since our team has only eight players, Bianca hardly ever sits on the bench, unless she is in foul trouble. Even when she plays one-on-one with one of our five-time state champion varsity basketball boys, she can make them look bad by outscoring them.
She had asked me if I wanted to join the Intenz Ballers too, but I passed. Bianca is way more talented at basketball than I am. She also is more of a tomboy, while I am more feminine. So I had to smile when Bianca said that she felt out of place on the Intenz Ballers team at first.
“I felt so girly … The other girls looked so rough,” she told me, though the only “girly” things she had on were silver hoop earrings and a French pedicure. I crossed my fingers that Bianca would find her place in this new environment.
At the same time, I wondered how my quiet, athletic friend who despises purses was going to fit into the “debutante” world of perfectly coiffed hair and mascara. The debutante tradition dates as far back as 1748 in the United States and was used to find a suitable husband for a daughter of marriageable age. Nowadays, it’s more of a way for families to celebrate a girl’s becoming a young lady. Bianca wasn’t that interested in being a deb, but her mother made her. Bianca’s mom didn’t want her to miss out on something she wished she had done at Bianca’s age.
Originally Bianca and I were going to be debutantes together, but I decided not to do it because it was very time-consuming and I was already committed to other things. I couldn’t picture Bianca chatting with the other girls and caring about which fork to use at the dinner table—it sounded more like something I would be a part of, but Bianca was going to have to adapt.
After the orientation meeting with the Delta Links, the sorority that sponsors the debutante program, I called Bianca to ask how it went. I knew it would be an interesting story as she recalled having “no idea what to wear.”
“I wore some sweats—nice sweats. When I got there, the other girls were wearing dresses and skirts.” But she didn’t feel embarrassed that the other girls saw her in athletic gear, which is what she usually wears. “They were going to find out anyways,” she told me.
When Bianca invited me and my mother to a tea at the Beverly Hills Hilton for the debutantes, I was more than happy to attend. I couldn’t miss this—Bianca, dressed up? When my mom and I walked into this really nice banquet room with an awesome view of Beverly Hills and I saw Bianca, I gasped. She had on a pretty green and blue frilly dress with a matching green beaded shawl topped off with this huge green hat that reminded me of going to church in the South.
“Awwh, Bianca, you look so cute!” I squealed as I sat beside her. She smiled back, immune to the dramatic outbursts of emotion that I display on a daily basis.
When the tea and finger foods were served, Bianca and I were extra careful not to spill any tea and keep the crumbs from sticking to our faces, all while trying to be lady-like and attentive. Bianca looked really fidgety and slightly uncomfortable during this whole ordeal, especially when one of us hit the food tongs on a plate and it made a loud “clank!” The leaders gave the girls detailed instructions about what type of dress, shoes and jewelry to wear to the ball and how to do their hair. As I imagined how cool it would be to dress up like a princess in a white gown, Bianca seemed overwhelmed by all the rules and regulations about something as simple as buying a dress.
After the tea, we barely saw each other in July. While Bianca was going to one basketball tournament after another, I took a photography class at El Camino Community College. At first, I was a little nervous about being on this huge campus with nobody I knew, but I soon made friends with my classmates and learned my way around the campus; well, at least to the bookstore, library and cafeteria. During those six weeks of class, I learned how to adapt to a new environment and how to take and develop awesome photographs.
When I called Bianca, she told me about her debutante sleepover. A fitness trainer and a gynecologist talked to the debs about the importance of maintaining their health. The girls then spent the rest of the night watching movies and hanging out.
“The girls that I thought were prissy were actually down to earth,” she told me.
It felt kind of weird not having the same memories as Bianca when she was telling me about the sleepover over the phone. I’m usually able to finish her sentences or help her describe something. This time I had to listen, which was a good change for both of us.
One of the times we actually got to see each other was for volleyball practice at school. After practice, she told me about her trip to Tennessee with the Intenz Ballers. “Most of the girls on my team are either lesbians, bi[sexuals], or confused. They said that there’s more drama with girl-girl relationships than guy-girl because you’ve got girls who like each other on the same team. I did everything I could to make sure that all the girls knew I was straight.” I was overwhelmed by all of this because I have never dealt with anything like that before and probably wouldn’t have survived the trip without pulling out a Bible and preaching to the girls. But Bianca was cool about it and loved being on the team.
“My teammates are so funny!” she said.
I couldn’t share it with her
While Bianca was playing in a tournament in San Diego, I got ready for a step routine with a church youth group. A step is a type of dance in which stomping, clapping and hitting on the body makes a beat. I’m not known for having … well, any rhythm, so this was a big stretch. Though learning the routine was nerve-racking, I practiced a lot and pulled off a great performance. I had so much fun doing the step and everyone that I talked to after the performance said that they loved it. I wish Bianca could have seen me do something I had never done before. A few days after that, I left for a family vacation to Ohio and Missouri, so I didn’t really get to talk to Bianca until I got back a week later.
Once I got home, I called Bianca to compare our visits to Washington University in St. Louis, which she had visited a few weeks before—we both had fallen in love with the school. Then she filled me in on her traveling team.
“We got third overall,” she said in a dejected tone. I saw it as a huge accomplishment, but to her, it was kind of a letdown. She had grown so much with the Intenz Ballers, she even made the starting five, but was disappointed that her team didn’t win it all.
In August, when our schedules died down, we were able to see each other more. One day she came over to show me her car. I was really excited for her, and so totally jealous that I didn’t even have my permit yet and she had a car! She has driven me around a couple of times in her adorable little ‘98 white Nissan Altima. I vowed a long time ago that Bianca wouldn’t be driving me around because I’m older than her and would have my car first … I guess I was wrong. She also had to get a credit card so that she could pay for gas easier—go Bianca, it’s ya birthday!
This summer, Bianca and I were able to spread out and discover what we really liked to do. While Bianca joined a traveling basketball team and a debutante program, I studied photography and wrote for L.A. Youth. We were still able to have great summers, just not together, and it worked out for the best. Bianca and I now have different stories to tell about our amazing summers. I asked her one day if she planned on revolutionizing the way the world views female athletes because of her experience with girly girls and athletic girls. She paused, and said, “No.” That’s my best friend Bianca all right, straight and to the point.