The first time I met her was at a bus stop in front of Lakeport high school at night. I was headed to my first high school dance. It was grade nine, and my christian high school didn’t have dances, for whatever biblical reasons, and I was nervous.
Jen was already too cool for school dances. She was leaving the dance–she had better and more interesting things to do and cooler people to hang out with. She was dressed in all black, the jeans tight on her skinny legs, her long red hair had a slight feather to it and the wings of her eyeliner were extended further than I had ever seen on anyone since the 80s.
Her tough exterior and aloof coolness were intimidating to this square and dorky church girl. The friend I was with introduced us, and I felt lame. I was definitely not as cool as this girl and there’s no way she’d want to be friends with lame preppy little me. She was rock and roll. She was Jen Hatcher.
The following year, I transferred schools, and started attending Lakeport myself. But badass Jen had already been kicked out of Lakeport or some shit, so our paths never really crossed again, until much much later. That brief meeting must have made some impression on the both of us, though, because years later we met up again, and there was no question that we knew each other.
I was in university at the time, and had landed my then dream job, working at Scizzions as the receptionist. Jen was working as a stylist at the same salon, and was a bit standoffish at first. I’m certain she had kept her distance because of my lame quotient, but running into me at a Sick Boys rock show upped my cool factor by about a million. So then we were friends.
We worked together almost every day for 5 years, along side our other co-workers, and I often describe that time as “working with my best friends everyday”. The pranks we pulled were outrageous and often ended in uncontrollable giggle fests while clients were left waiting for their hair cuts and colours. We took liberties with each other’s personal property that no coworkers should ever take but our senses of humour made it work. The laughs and our friendship extended far beyond the walls of the salon as we often spent our free time together too…smoking cigarettes, sharing secrets and spilling drinks for hours before passing out on each other’s couches.
I learned a lot about Jen in that time, and we became very very close friends–Another unique friendship with a special soul that I have been so fortunate to collect in my lifetime. So please, let me tell you all about her. My friend, Jen.
My friend Jen was born in the 70’s and grew up in the 80’s. She’s always loved (hair) metal, which is totally weird for someone our age. I liked metal for a spell in the 80’s, when I wanted to be like my babysitter. I listened to Motley Crue’s Theatre of Pain, maybe more than most 8 year olds, but Jen loved it all. Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, even Ratt. She’s been to more Cinderella concerts than is even conceivable for someone in their 30’s and if there was a world record for use of the kyuss in everyday life, she’d own it. Jen is a skid. A rockin’ 80’s skid.
But beyond her skiddy tastes in music, is a beautiful and loving sweet soul. She is the kindest, most gentle human you’ll ever get the chance to meet. She is friendly and cheerful, and has hoards of friends. She is bright and sunny and motivated and ambitious. She’s even sensitive, though she’s not likely to admit it. She is empathetic and loving and wonderful. She is the truest of the true, the bluest of the blue and the best god damned friend you could ever ask for.
Jen Hatcher has been there for me in some of the most difficult and trying times in my life. Always offering a shoulder to cry on, a hand to lend, or pages of words encouraging me to do something with my life. Urging me to follow my dreams. Pushing me to turn my life around when there was no one else that could do that for me. She was there cheering me on and chairing my fan club when I felt alone and scared and was ready to give up.
She’s tougher than tough, stronger than strong and has endured some extremely challenging times in her life–things that could literally crush anyone’s soul. And she has lived through it all with remarkable grace and poise and patience. The world would be a better place if we would all strive to be just a little more like her.
I could go on for days, and it still wouldn’t do her justice. I am so lucky to have such a incredible and amazing friendship with Rock and Roll Jen. I never saw it coming that cool autumn some 20 years ago as Meatloaf blared from the high school gym. But beyond the eyeliner and tight jeans was an extraordinary spirit so unique and special who has come to mean so much to me. Ultimately, I’m writing because I’m inspired by her and I’m grateful every single day to have her in my corner.
My friend Jen. Keep on rockin’, you skid.