Friday, February 3, 2012

found: a long lost friend (lyn)

In 1986, I was a senior Product Manager at Lever Brothers, working on Aim toothpaste.  Lever was introducing a revolutionary new product:  Extra Strength Aim; the Extra standing for Extra fluoride.  The divisional president had recently been hired from Johnson and Johnson, where he successfully launched Extra Strength Tylenol.  There, the Extra made sense.  In a toothpaste, as Borak might say, “not so much.”  Our Extra was more akin to Spinal Tap’s Nigel, whose revolutionary amplifier “goes to 11.”

Two assistant product managers worked for me.  One, a male, came from Gillette, and before that, was a ballet dancer.  He later went on to run Gap Marketing and Henri Bendel, the NYC department store.  He was also hysterically funny.  The other person was Lori, a smart, no-nonsense marketer.

Lever Brothers was located on Park Avenue, an easy walk from my apartment.  But a year or so after I was hired, Lever acquired Chesebrough-Ponds.  In a matter of weeks, we were all commuting to Greenwich Connecticut, about 35 miles from Manhattan. 

Lori had a car, and volunteered to be the driver.  That’s where we cemented our friendship.  Two hours a day in a car, much of it listening to George Michael’s Faith album, is what I remember most about that time.  When I left Chesebrough in 1988, Lori and I remained friends.

Lori is one of those people you would want in an emergency.  She is logical, resourceful, and uncannily calm, regardless of circumstance.  She is probably the most rational person I know.  Even with two young kids in a New York City apartment, Lori always had it together. The last time I saw her I was pregnant, and she had an infant son, and a two-year old daughter.   I remember looking to her for advice about motherhood.  I asked, for example, “How do you know if your baby needs more blankets?”  “You feel him; if he’s cold, he needs more blankets.”  That’s Lori.  Soon after, she moved to Westchester and we lost touch. 

In September I called Lori.  She and her husband both went to Cornell, met there, and now her two children are students there.  Tonight, after 19 years of not seeing each other, we are meeting at T-Bar for dinner.

Lori walks in and it’s immediately noticeable how much she hasn’t changed.  Same small frame, same dark hair, same youthful demeanor, and same energy.  It feels like no time at all has passed.  The food is excellent but is barely noticed.  What is noticed is the fun and friendship that is quickly resumed.  We reminisce; we catch-up; and we talk about our lives today.  Lori tells me that I look the same.  When I tell her I had gained and lost 40 pounds she says, “I can’t even picture that.”   And then adds,  “Really, if I were meeting you for the first time, I would think you were under 40.  Your skin looks great.”  Surely it must be the dim lighting, but now I definitely won't give up La Mer. 

Aside from geography, there was no reason why Lori left my life, but there are a million reasons why I want her back in it.   

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