Authors: Lucy Rose: Working Myself to Pieces,Bits
Tags: #Washington (D.C.), #Social Issues, #Family, #Diaries, #Juvenile Fiction, #Family Life, #Girls & Women, #People & Places, #General, #United States, #Washington (D.C), #Family & Relationships, #Marriage & Divorce, #Bakeries, #Interpersonal Relations, #Children's Stories, #Death; Grief; Bereavement, #Families, #Death & Dying
For Steve Bottorff,
who will always be the man for me,
with infinite love
Big thanks to Molly Sternberg,
entrepreneur and Enchanted Beauty
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At 7:46 this morning my eyeballs were practically popping out of their lids from tiredness and all I wanted to do was laze about for 23 or more minutes under my pink dotty bedspread in my all-red room and practice my stretching in case it might make me get taller, which I need because there's a lot of shortness in my family, including me. Then I remembered about today and I got up so fast that if you saw me your head would spin.
I have never actually seen a spinning head but my grandmother, who's called Madam, says that whenever someone is speedy in the extreme, which I am just about all the time.
But my friend Adam Melon, who actually likes it when I call him Melonhead, which is lucky because that is all I ever do call him, says necks can't twist that far. I say probably some necks can under circumstances because Madam is not one who makes up stuff, plus she's the writer of a newspaper column that's absolutely full of directions for parents and is completely nonfiction.
So Melonhead and I have to have pretty many discussions about headspinning. The last time, he got the look of being exasperated with me, which is the same as being a little fed up, and he said, “Think about it, Lucy Rose. We're 9 years old. I used to live in Florida and you used to live in Michigan and we've been all over Washington, D.C., and Capitol Hill. We've even been to Maryland and Virginia but we've NEVER seen 1 single spinning head.”
“I have on TV,” I said.
“That's fake,” he said. “Think about it.”
I did think about it and what I thought was that he is right but I did not admit it because the thing about Melonhead is that, even though I feel a LITTLE fond of him, he's the sort who acts like he knows everything in this world, which is the exact kind of carrying-on that made me call him Melonhead in the first place. Also it's the reason that sometimes my ultra-best friend, Jonique, and I feel like we want to give him a sharp poke. Only we don't because when you are in 4th grade like we are, that behavior is called NOT APPROPRIATE.
If you do poke a person, even if it's a soft poke that hardly hurts, you get sent to Mr. Pitt's office that smells like old lunch and has posters about TEAMWORK and RESPECTING OTHERS. Then you have to listen to Mr. Pitt talk his head off until your ears go buzzy on the inside, and if you watch his beard go up and down, you could probably get hypnotized.
Plus those chats of his are so utterly dull that if the poking people were allowed to pick their consequences, which they certainly are not, they'd take getting squashed by Ashley, who is the snarkiest girl alive, over hearing 16 seconds more of Mr. Pitt talking about being a PEACEKEEPER who uses her SELF-CONTROL.
I know this from my personal experience.
That's what I was thinking about while I was brushing my teeth with my automatic toothbrush that came from my Glamma that lives in Ann Arbor and is shaped like a penguin. I mean the toothbrush, not my Glamma, who is only a little bit penguin-shaped, mostly around her stomach. At the same exact time I was thinking and brushing, I was also trying to make my head spin. My mom calls that multi-tasking, which is doing 2 or 3 things at once. Sometimes I do 5.
When my teeth were shined, I skied down the hall on my pink fuzz socks. That was to save my energy. Then I crash-landed in my mom's bedroom that looks utterly deluxe ever since she painted it the color of scrambled eggs, and I started singing at the tip-top of my lungs, “You gotta GET UP in the mornin',” until she finally did.
My mom rushed and brushed her teeth and I made the recommendation that she brush her hair at the same time for speediness. Then she hopped into her black yoga pants and purple sweatshirt. I was already wearing my orange shirt with blue fish on it and my green pants that have pink roses climbing up their legs. I wore my red cowgirl boots because I always do. Then my mom said, “Find the snowflake sweater Daddy gave you becauseâ¦”
“Because âBaby, it's cold outside,'” I sang, which is an activity that I have to do every minute because I'm practicing for when I'm a star on Broadway.
“It's also a long walk to 7th Street,” my mom said. “So stop writing and let's shake a leg.”
“I am leg-shaking,” I said. “But I'm bringing this new red velvet writing book with us because 1. I might think of a thing I have to write down and 2. Of all the books Pop ever gave me, this one is the absolute smoothiest and is a comfort to my hands.”
Same exact day, only
it's 9:16 AM in the morning
My mom and I dashed ourselves over to Constitution Avenue to pick up my grandparents, who were bundled and waving their arms off at us.
“Good morning, Lily,” Pop called out to my mom.
“Hello, Old Sock,” Madam said to me.
When she calls me Old Sock she means it in the complimenting way.
We walked fast, only whenever I saw giant snow clumps we had to stop so I could climb up and get a view of the distance.
Melonhead was already at 7th Street, jumping around in front of the store that used to be Capitol Plumbing and stabbing the awning with a stick to jiggle the snow on top. Awning is the 2nd-newest word in my vocabulary collection that's called WOTD for Word Of The Day. It's the name of those puny tents that stick out in front of windows, which is a look I admire on stores but not so much on houses.
“Look out below!” Melonhead screamed, a split of a second before an avalanche hit Pop on his feet.
Then Melonhead yanked up his jacket sleeve and said, “I have been here for 7 minutes and 13 seconds.”
“I bet you got a watch for Christmas,” my mom guessed.
That comment made Melonhead give us a whole tour of it.
“I've never seen a watch with so many dials,” Madam said.
My grandmother is a big believer in compliments. She says that even when something is not my cup of tea, which in this report means my style of watch, I should still come up with a pleasing thing to say because, according to her, most things have some good in them.
Pop says when you can't find the good thing, say SOME, like if you are having a chat with a hostess you can say, “That's SOME ham.”
I went with Madam's advice since it's professional. “I have never in my life seen a watch with so many hands,” I said.
“Or alarms,” Melonhead said.
“Or glow-in-the-dark numbers,” my mom said.
“Or clocks,” Madam said, because under the 6 there's another clock that's as teensy as this O.
Pop said: “I believe it's the kind of watch FBI agents wear on top-secret stakeouts.”
“I set the littlest clock on Peking time,” Melonhead said.
“Excellent idea,” Pop said. “I often wonder what time it is in Peking.”
“Who doesn't?” Melonhead said.
“I don't wonder because Peking is in China and I am not.”
Then Melonhead checked his Washington, D.C., clock and said, “Now I've been here for 8 minutes and 16 seconds and I still haven't seen the first McBee.”
“This calls for patience,” Madam said.
“This calls for cocoa,” Pop said.
“Excellent-O,” I said. “My teeth are chattering right out of my spinning head.”
We zipped across the street, into Eastern Market, and I stamped my cowgirl boots until my toes stopped sparkling from cold. Melonhead went straight to the Market lunch counter.
“What would you headspinners like?” Pop asked.
“A cheeseburger with extra pickles,” Melonhead said.
“It's breakfast time,” I said.
“Right,” he said. “I'll have onion rings too.”
“And we'd like 3 donuts and 3 cocoas,” Pop said.
The cook pointed his spatula at my mom and Madam and said, “What are the ladies having?”
“Just coffee,” I said. “On account of their pants are too tight from Christmas.”
“Thank you for explaining that,” Madam said.
“You're welcome,” I said.
We used up more minutes buying tangerines from Mrs. Calamaris and for something extra she gave Melonhead and me each a raw olive, which was fascinating to look at but not to taste.
“It's bitter,” Melonhead said.
“Evil olive!” Pop said, pointing at it.
Hilariousness is a talent of his and I have it too. It's because we're both original thinkers. That is why when Pop said, “EVIL OLIVE!” I shouted, “PALINDROME!”
Palindromes are words that are the same in both directions, like my DAD, who's named BOB.
Now we are just sitting and waiting and Melonhead's making forehead marks on the front of the sausage displaying case and I'm writing down when he does it.
The split of a second that I spotted the McBees' minivan, which, according to Melonhead, was at 10:24 AM Washington, D.C., time, we all raced back to the plumbing store. Only I was galloping and shouting “Yippee-yi-yo, cowgirl!” as loud as I possibly could, which Pop says is very loud indeed.
Jonique and I could not stop spinning around from excitement. My mom took photos of Mr. and Mrs. McBee and Aunt Frankie, who's Mrs. McBee's sister, smiling their lips off under the plumber's awning. Then Mr. McBee made a movie of Mrs. McBee holding up a key and saying, “Welcome to Baking Divas!”
“Future home of the best Red Velvet Cake on Capitol Hill,” Mr. McBee said.
“The best in America!” I said.
“In the world!” Jonique said.
“When do you think that cake will be ready?” Melonhead asked.
He is an admirer of food.
Mrs. McBee opened the door and she and Aunt Frankie took a good look at the inside. Then Mrs. McBee said, “WHAT have WE done?”
We went inside to take our own looks. Right away Jonique's eyes went buggy. Then Mr. McBee turned off his camera. Pop, who is good at thinking up remarks, and Madam, who is one for finding bright sides, and my mom, who is great at comfort, were as quiet as rocks. I did not say it but I will tell you in private: I never saw a worse place.
For 1 thing, electricity cords were going every which way. For another, a lightbulb was hanging off the ceiling, which was spotty in a gross way and looking like it would be collapsing on us. When Aunt Frankie switched on that bulb, shadows from pipes made the big room in front look like the scariest forest in Transylvania or Albania or someplace where they have scary forests. Plus a person could choke to bits on the dust and I positively would have if I hadn't tied my yellow bandana over my nose. And the bathrooms were disgusting in the extreme and 1 had a puddle. The back room was full of spiderwebs. Also spiders.
“It looked better when we toured it with the real estate agent,” Mrs. McBee said. “Plumbing supplies were on display.”
“Did it smell better too?” Jonique asked.
Madam patted her on her head and said, “The building has been closed up. It's a little musty.”
“I never smelled must before,” I said.
I did not say what it smells like, which is P-U. That was because of my thoughtfulness. I could tell the McBees were feeling like they were dejected to pieces. Dejected is a WOTD. It means when you are considerably down in the dumps.
All of a sudden, Adam came charging in from the spider room hollering his Melon head off. “Wow!” he shouted. “THIS is the greatest place on earth!”
Since Mr. and Mrs. McBee and Aunt Frankie have private discussing to do, and since we are still on winter vacation so there's no such thing as a school night, Madam sent Pop and me and Gumbo, the giant poodle, to fetch Jonique for a sleepover.
“How are you?” Pop asked the grown-up McBees.
“Overwhelmed,” Mr. McBee said.
That is not a pleasing feeling. According to Pop, a person can be overwhelmed or underwhelmed. Overwhelmed is too much and underwhelmed is disappointed. I think the best thing to be is whelmed.
“Let's get going,” Jonique said and waved her purple flowered suitcase at me.
Jonique is a fan of my grandparents and also of their extremely ancient house, which is on the gigantic side because of having 19 rooms that are mostly interesting including mine that I sleep in whenever my mom's working the overnight shift being an artist at Channel 6. I have never been inside of the attic because I am nervous of that room.
For breakfast I fixed my invention called Jamwiches that are made of raisin toast and 2 jams and 11 chocolate chips plus Marshmallow Fluff, which is the only food that Madam goes for that is made of empty calories. For fun, Jonique and I ate in the laundry room. Then we stood on top of the washing machine and taught Gumbo her dancing lesson by holding her Jamwich up in the air, which was minus the chocolate chips.
“She's doing such a great job of standing on her own 2 legs that I believe she should be on the TV news,” I said.
“Or she could have a show that other dogs could watch,” Jonique said.