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
“That's sad,” he said.
“Not so sad,” I said. “She is a pain to me.”
“She can be both,” my dad said.
“You're supposed to be on MY SIDE,” I said and it came out testy.
“I'm always on your side, Lucy Rose,” he said.
“Good,” I said. “Because I figured out a solution.”
“I'm proud of you, Lucy Rose,” my dad said. “But not surprised. You've always been one smart cookie.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Tell me your plan,” he said.
“I'll reveal Ashley's lie in front of our class,” I said. “So far, the adults are against it but you are a teacher who knows her bothersome ways plus you know how sometimes kids have to learn the hard way, so you can be the one who says, âGood idea. Go ahead.'”
What he said was, “I know your natural kindness will help you do the right thing.”
That was not a comfort to me.
The Divas and Jr. Divas scrubbed and waxed our arms off and when we were done all I could say was, “Man-O-man alive! This fireplace is a beaut!”
Here's why that's true: It has columns made of oak wood on the sides and the in-between tiles look like Hershey bars with ladies' faces on them. The left lady is staring at the right lady. “I bet they're sisters because they have the same look,” I said.
“It's a gorgeous look,” Jonique said.
Then Mrs. McBee called out, “Leon, come here.”
When he did, she told him, “This back room is going to be a parlor where people can sit and read or rock babies or talk and drink coffee and eat cake.”
“Baby, you're a genius,” Mr. McBee said.
I would not like it if my husband called me a baby. Genius would be okay.
I was resting my head sideways under my desk top and reading my dad's poem and Ashley said, “What's so fascinating?”
She was using her snippish voice.
“Something that's private,” I said like I was firm.
“A LOVE letter,” she said and with no permission at all, she yanked up my desk top and started reading it out loud. Then she stopped and stomped off like she was in a big huff, which is A-OK with me because I am in a huff with her.
Melonhead is in a huff with me because he's tired of walking home by himself. That huff is not A-OK with me.
While we were at school, Mrs. McBee and Aunt Frankie sanded wood and they had to wear doctor's masks that make their lips sweat but if you don't wear them when you sand, you will end up with painted lungs, which is a perishable thing.
My Michigan report was excellent-O. My best comment was when Mrs. Timony said, “I like the way you showed us that on the map Michigan looks like a mitten, Lucy Rose. That's something I'll remember.”
When I got home I called Shiralee and told her that I made the Spot famous.
Love Alert: Chester brought Aunt Frankie a box of skinny tube lights for the basement ceiling. “I hope you like them,” he said. “They're good energy savers.”
Hank gave her bathroom lamps that are completely deluxe because their handles look like hands that are holding up torches. I believe he did it for romance because when Aunt Frankie said, “What do I owe you?” he said, “No charge.”
Now Aunt Frankie feels like she's flattered.
Mrs. Washburn, who is our reading teacher that is quite a bit on the boring side, was doing her adverb talk when Melonhead almost gave me a note but she swooped her arm at him and I don't think she cared about the rudeness of grabbing.
“It's a love note!” Ashley screamed.
That made Bart Bigelow kiss the air 62 or more times.
“It is not,” Melonhead said.
Mrs. Washburn tucked the folded paper into her sweater sleeve and said, “Back to adverbs.”
At recess, I chased Bart Bigelow until he ran out of air and then I gave him some jabs on his arm and said, “Do NOT make kissing noises about me ever again.”
He started kissing the air that instant.
“You were better in 3rd when you picked your nose all the time,” I told him.
“I still do,” he said.
I do not know why that boy has 1 speck of self-esteem but he has pounds of it.
Jonique and I went with Mrs. McBee to the Innervision art store to pick up the giant blackboards that Mrs. McBee special ordered so the Divas can have a place to write the bakery contents and prices. That's when we saw Mrs. Mannix and she told us, “I'm getting a papier-mÃ¢chÃ© kit for Harry because, according to the directions, you have to stay in 1 place to make it. He's too wild and I'm too pregnant to chase after him.”
That was as true as could be because at that very minute, Harry was throwing the art store's erasers at his sister named Emma.
“All I want is a place to sit,” Mrs. Mannix said.
“I'll have that place in a couple of months,” Mrs. McBee said and she told about the Baking Divas.
That news perked Mrs. Mannix right up. “Are you going to sell your Lemon Twist 'n' Shouts?” she asked.
“Of course,” Mrs. McBee said. “On cold days you can have them with a cup of tea in front of the fire.”
Jonique and I explained our fireplace discovery.
“Really?” Mrs. Mannix said. “When we remodeled, we took down the old mirror with the carved curly-Q wood that was over the fireplace. It's still in my basement. Do you want it?”
Mrs. McBee looked like she was going to faint in a heap on the paintbrush display.
“I would LOVE to have it!” she said.
We got report cards and I got 1 A and the rest Bs and Cs plus 1 S in gym and a note that says, “Lucy Rose is joyful and creative and a frequent contributor to class discussions,” from Mrs. Timony and an added-on note from Mrs. Washburn that says, “Lucy Rose needs to stay seated and stop talking to her neighbors during class.”
My mom said I should try to do those last 2 things but Pop said, “At least she's getting exercise and making friends.”
Madam just went upstairs and didn't come down for ages but when she did she gave my mom a piece of paper that was her report card from 4th and it said, “Lily, otherwise a delight, is a chatterbox who needs to work on staying in her chair.”
I gave my mom a pat and told her, “Don't feel bad. That's just the way it is with us original thinkers.”
After school, Pop and Gumbo and I walked to the Post Office to mail peanut butter to my Aunt Marguerite, who lives in Japan, because it's the American thing she misses most except for me, and I told Pop, “I'm triple tempted to report Ashley.”
“You are?” Pop said.
“I am always telling everybody that I'm not in love with Melonhead but, according to Ashley, nobody believes me,” I said. “I figured out, if I tell about her Hawaii lie, it will make her turn honest.”
“The only person you can make honest is yourself,” Pop said.
“I'm honest,” I said.
“I'm proud of that,” Pop said.
“I cannot believe that I can't get 1 grown-up to agree that I should tell on Ashley,” I said.
“Grown-ups can be a disappointing lot,” Pop said.
“I am one girl who agrees with that,” I said.
Melonhead gave me the greatest thing that Eddie at Grubb's let him have for free because Melonhead is a great experimenter who could use them and also because they weren't selling, if you can believe it. I cannot because who wouldn't want magnet earrings?
The 1st thing I did was show my mom. The next was take a walk around the block so neighbors could admire me but then when I turned on 4th Street there was Ashley coming right at me like I was trapped and all I could think was that it was my lucky break that Melonhead didn't stay after he dropped off the earrings on account of he and Sam were going to take another tour of the FBI.
Ashley got close to me and I made my puniest wave, which is actually more of a hand flop, and she made a handflap back and we almost passed each other and then she stopped and gave my ears such close-up looks that she could probably see my drums and she said, “I see you finally got your ears pierced, Mrs. Melonhead.”
“DON'T call me that,” I said, but my ears were making me so happy that I had to make my head toss around so she would notice them some more.
“Too bad they're not the dangling kind,” she said.
I waited until she got all the way to the corner and then I screamed, “April Fools'! My earrings are made of magnets!”
“You didn't fool me,” she hollered back. “I knew it the whole time.”
I feel like she did not.
Madam and Pop took my mom and me on a 3-day surprise trip to Cape May, New Jersey, for Easter. You have to get there by car and by a ferryboat and it is fabulinity.
First we went to church at Our Lady by the Sea, which was crowded like mad, and then we got samples of fudge from a giant rabbit that was truthfully a person inside a costume. Then we passed a store called Kiss the Cook and Pop kissed Madam and bought her a new spatula that she loves. And then there was a deluxe Easter egg hunt at our grand hotel and we ate ham at the restaurant that's so fancy I was allowed to wear my magnet earrings, which my mom says are not for school or regular life.
Pop and Mr. McBee are throwing a painting party. They invited my mom and the Divas and Mr. McBee's basketball-playing friends and 2 men from Faith Tabernacle. Since it's Spring Break, Jonique and Madam and I are staying up late and eating spaghetti and fake meatballs that are made out of soybeans but actually taste okay.
My mom and I walked to Art & Soul to buy a present for her friend from college who is having a shower before she has a baby, which I say is a good idea because a person should be fresh when they go to the hospital plus it's good to have hygiene when you're around babies. I think a good present would be soap or maybe a towel but my mom lets me pick the gifts for my friends so it's fair for her to get to pick a pink picture frame for her friend.
All that baby talk made my mom ask about Sam and his sister.
“He's fine,” I told her. “Julia the baby can eat cereal made of rice, which I would say tastes like wet paper napkins.”
“You loved rice cereal when you were little,” my mom said. “You also loved to chew on wet napkins.”
“I was gross,” I said.
“You were adorable,” she said. “Besides, you shunned both once you tasted mashed pears.”
“What's shunned?” I asked her.
“It's a good WOTD,” she said. “It means you turn away from something. Or someone.”
“Ashley is a shunner,” I said.
“No,” my mom said. “She doesn't avoid or ignore you.”
“Well, she is an annoyer,” I said. “And a torturer.”
This is the story of last night, according to Madam, who told me, “I woke up at 3:37 with such a grand idea that I had to poke Pop's ribs until he said, âUngrugghff.' So I said, âDo you think Lola could use my extra chandeliers in the bakery?' He said, âFranggalapppo,' and I said, âThank you,' and went back to sleep.”
This is the story according to Pop: “I was having a dream about rain and pain and I tried to say, âWatch it with that umbrella, Buster,' but the jabber kept jabbing until I woke up. Then I thought I heard Madam say, âThank you,' but she was asleep.”
Now Pop is beat but Madam and the Divas are feeling dazzled with themselves. Hank and Chester are hanging chandeliers and taking my recommendation about putting the pink swoop one in the parlor where everyone can enjoy a good look at it.
Pop and I took the Red Line Metro to Salon Familia, which is 1 place that is divine because when you are a girl they give you a free ribbon and I usually pick purple because it looks delightful with red hair.
I had to wait for about 7 or 12 minutes, which was pleasing to me because I got to smell shampoos and look at a magazine about movie stars who are getting a divorce, which was an astonishment to me because who would ever think movie stars would?
When Rosa was done giving a bald man a haircut, which is a waste if you ask me, I said, “Hola.”
She came from Argentina, so I say hello in Spanish so she'll feel like she's at home with me.
“You need a haircut, Lucy Rose,” she said.
Pop said, “She needs all her hairs cut, Rosa. One hair wouldn't make much of a difference.”
He is quite a teaser of those ladies at the Salon.
When we got home I asked my mom, “Did you know movie stars get divorced?”
“I did know,” she said. “All kinds of people do.”
“If you're a movie star you probably don't care so much because you still get to be in movies,” I said.
“I think movie stars care just as much as we did when Daddy and I got divorced,” my mom said. “Especially if they have children. Getting divorced is a sad time, whether you're a movie star or a millionaire or a rodeo cowboy or an artist and a teacher and a redheaded girl.”
“Is that true?” I asked her.
“It is,” my mom said. “Even for a bratty girl with blond braids who has a TV in her room.”
Melonhead telephoned me at 7:13 this morning and said, “Can I come over?”
“You have to walk the long way,” I said.
“No I don't,” he said. “The coast is clear because Ashley said she'll be at her dad's this weekend.”
“Then come on down,” I said, like I was an announcer on TV. “You can watch my mom and me give our rug a shampoo.”
Melonhead was nothing but jealous of that job and the 1st thing he said when he got to our house was, “Can I have a turn?”
“Be my guest,” I said, which showed my thoughtfulness.
“I'm a great guest,” Melonhead said.
Then he pushed the foaming soap button 9 times, which is too many.
I didn't say 1 correction about that because I am not the kind who goes around hurting people's feelings.
Plus I was really glad to get a visit with him.
Disgusting news: Toilets are on the sidewalk in front of the bakery where the public can see. Jonique and I say that is embarrassing in the extreme but Mrs. McBee says they're a beautiful sight because she thought they'd never get here.
This is the 1st day back after Spring Break and about 11 minutes after I got to school and before we even had to line up, Ashley saw Melonhead walking a little near me on the playground and she yelled out, “Hello, lovebirds!” and the principal heard.
Happy Birth Day! That's because Mrs. Mannix had a baby at 4:36 AM and it's named Thomas and is a boy. I say he's bound to be better than Harry, who is a spitter. Thomas weighs 6 pounds and so many ounces, which is more than Glamma's dog named Darling Girl ever will.
At breakfast Pop said, “Would you and Jonique and Melonhead like to join me at Jimmy T's after school?”
“Jonique and I will,” I said.
“Melonhead enjoys a milk shake, right?” Pop said.
“He loves them,” I said. “But if he comes there's a chance Ashley could find out.”
That conversation of ours made me feel a little sad for a lot of the day. Then at 3 PM I was walking by Melonhead's desk and I surprised myself to pieces because I quietly blurted, “Pop's buying us milk shakes at Jimmy T's.”
“Meet you there,” Melonhead said, because he knows my rules about walking.
Mr. Nathaniel said the Divas can't burn wood in the fireplace on account of it's against a code.
“Like Morse?” I said.
“It's city code, kid,” Mr. Nathaniel said.
“We don't know that one,” Jonique said.
“It's hard to learn and it changes all the time,” Mr. Nathaniel said.
“Who needs wood?” Mr. McBee said. “We'll get gas.”
“We'll get gas?” Melonhead shouted.
Then he spent the rest of the afternoon making fart noises.
My mom and I were taking Gumbo for a run in Stanton Park and we saw Mrs. McBee walking home from buying already cooked chickens.
“How's it going?” my mom asked her.
“Slowly,” Mrs. McBee said. “Display shelves are so expensive I told Leon, âWe'll have to pick between college for Jonique and cases for cakes.'”
“Really?” I asked her.
“I really said it,” she said. “I didn't really mean it. Then I found 2 on eBay. I got them for a steal.”
Luckily that is only an expression.
“They're 80 years old and made of wood and glass,” Mrs. McBee said.
“Madam will be in awe,” my mom said.
Awe is like when something is a wonder, which Madam definitely is.
“There is 1 small downside,” Mrs. McBee said. “They're in Canton, Ohio.”
We had to rush off after that because Gumbo had awe for her chickens.
Jonique and I got asked to pass salsa during the Fiesta at the Home, so to appear like I was festive I wore my rainbow tights and my plaid swirling skirt that makes me look exactly like I'm a seÃ±orita. Jonique looked spectacular too because she had on her heart-covered shirt that was personally decorated by Mrs. McBee. When we got to the lobby the 1st person I saw was Mrs. Zuckerman who was looking deluxe because her shawl came from Mexico ages ago when she was on a cruise with the permanently late Mr. Zuckerman. Dr. Chu tied pom-poms to her walking stand and Mr. Woods had on a sombrero that he got at the Opportunity Shop for a bargain. Mrs. Hennessy was not in a very Mexican mood, unless you count her hair, which was looking a little volcano-ish. According to Melonhead, Mexico is utterly loaded with volcanoes.
“That is SOME hairdo,” Jonique said.
“I fixed it with that fixing thing,” Mrs. Hennessy said.
“It makes you look taller,” I told her.
Robinson did her South Carolina report and to show a food they love in that state, she gave us boiled peanuts, which were slimy-tasting to me. So for a joke I said, “I am in a different state: the state of despair.”
I told Aunt Frankie the entire story of Ashley. Then I said, “If you had a lying girl like her when you were in 4th, what would you have done?”
“I did have a girl like that,” Aunt Frankie said.
“Really?” I said.
“I tried to make her stop,” she said.
“Did it work?” I asked her.
“No,” she said. “The more attention I paid her, the meaner she got.”
“It's the same with Ashley,” I said.
“I was practically grown before I figured out why she did it,” Aunt Frankie said.
“To make you feel sickening?” I said.
“She did it because she was angry,” she said.
“About what?” I asked.
“I have no idea,” Aunt Frankie said.
“I could tell our class about Ashley's lie,” I said.
The only thing Aunt Frankie said was, “Hmmm.”
“Wouldn't you do that?” I said.
“I hope I wouldn't,” Aunt Frankie said. “I like to think I'm too big to stoop that low.”
Mr. Nathaniel turned on the walk-in refrigerator in the basement today and he said even though you can open it from the inside, there will NEVER be a circumstance when kids are allowed to walk in it.
Mrs. McBee got a U-Haul truck but she has to return it because it's rented, not bought. She is going to drive to Ohio and Aunt Frankie is the entertainment because she is going to sing for the whole way there and back, which is 3 days.
Good thing number 1: Jonique is staying at my house because Mr. McBee has to go to his job at the government in the day and work at the bakery at night.
Good thing number 2: Mr. Nathaniel's builder friend has the job of turning a restaurant into a ladies' store so he's taking out 2 of the exact same sinks that the Divas need to put in, and he gave them to us for free.