My older brother Chris had two friends named Robert. One was our next door neighbor. He made a go-cart with a lawn mower engine. He let me ride on the back of his motorbike as sort of a peace offering after he and Chris teased and tricked me.
The other Robert’s family lived at the corner next to the hop fields in a house that had a “Beware of the Dog” sign but no dog. I couldn’t handle knowing two people with the same name, so I changed the second Robert’s name to Ribbit.
Ribbit was trouble. He was banned from the Mini Mart for using slugs – counterfeit quarters – in the video games. Chris was banned by association. I don’t know if he scammed the machines too. But he wouldn’t have needed to, since he could keep a game of Pac-Man going for at least half an hour on just one quarter. He had all the high scores on the games at Hubby’s Pizza.
I saw Ribbit at the public swimming pool one time and said hello. His friends laughed at him, “Did that kid just call you ‘Ribbit’?” and I reverted back to calling him Robert after that.
Carolyn was Robert’s (not Ribbit’s) sister. She and my sister Karen were friends. For my birthday once, after Karen was in college and Carolyn was married, Karen took me to Portland so that I could go to a Star Trek convention and she could visit Carolyn. Carolyn confessed that she was a Star Trek fan too after they picked me up from the evening Patrick Stewart Q&A. She and Karen had spent the whole day together while I was at the convention, and she’d never mentioned it. When we got to her apartment, her husband was watching Star Trek and recording it for her.