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  • When we were teenage girls, if the clasp of our necklace slid down to the right side of the pendant (not the left side, not the left side, no! that was bad bad bad!), it meant -- oh, wonderful thought! -- our boyfriend/future husband was thinking about us. When we moved the clasp back to where it belonged, we got a wish.

    We got lots of wishes in those days. Stray string on your clothing? Make a wish. Pick up a penny that had landed on the ground right side up? Make a wish. See the first star? Make a wish.

    None of my wishes ever came true. Drat the luck! Then again, the fact that I was wishing to be a princess who was swept off her feet by a handsome prince might have had something to do with that ...

    So I became a dragon. (My best friend will testify to this.) I stood up for myself. I spoke my mind. I stamped my foot. I raised my voice.

    "You need to be a sheep," she said, "instead of a dragon."

    "But I like being a dragon," I steamed.

    "Ah," she said. "I understand. But sheep get health insurance. Dragons don't."

    "But dragons are better to have at your back in a fight."

    "But. Sheep. Get. Health. Insurance."

    So here I am, pretending to be a sheep. (Well, except when fire spurts out my sheeplike nostrils and steam pours from my delicate sheeplike ears.)

    Recently, we talked about a crush I'd had in college. He was tall and Russian. I thought he kind of liked me, but he never asked me out.

    "Of course he didn't," Dot said. "He was Russian."

    "What does that have to do with the price of eggs in Chicago?"

    She sighed. "Even back then, Laurie, it was plain to everyone that you weren't going to walk three steps behind your man. And," she emphasized, "that's what he expected, because --"

    "-- he was Russian," we finished together.

    So now I have a dragon necklace and dragon earrings to remind me that under all this sheepiness, the dragon lies sleeping in a soft haze of smoke rings.

    I still make a wish when the clasp slides around:

    I wish my inner dragon doesn't sleep too long.
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