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
Luckily, the sinks are not in the state of Ohio, which I know from Hannah's report is called Buckeye.
This morning, while my mom was painting Baking Divas on the awning, Jonique and I were having a visit with Eddie at Grubb's and a lady came in to buy Berry Merry nail polish because even though she'd rather go to Nail Spa, she said she saves fortunes doing it by herself. Eddie knew that already because he has daughters that are big on professional nails and he could go broke from how many times they go.
“That is a handy thing for us to hear because we are 2 girls that need a fortune,” I said and 1 second later, Enchanted Beauty bloomed in my head.
On the way home I told Jonique, “Once we're in the beauty business the Divas will be out of worries.”
“How come?” she asked me.
“People pay a lot for beauty,” I said. “I know Shiralee's rich because you would be amazed at all the jewelry she orders from TV.”
“How much does she charge?” Jonique asked.
“I don't know,” I said. “But she gets a lot because plenty of people dye their hair and Madam is one of them and according to Pop that's an expensive hobby.”
“Are we going to dye hair?” Jonique said.
“No!” I said. “I was saying that for an example. The only thing we need for Enchanted Beauty is your completely deluxe portable nail kit.”
“I have a brand-new 2-sided nail file plus cuticle remover and Tropical Breeze lotion that makes you smell like you're at the beach,” she said.
At Jonique's we got Mrs. McBee's mixing bowl and Jonique's kit plus a brush in case a lady needs her hair refreshed.
In my room we found my comb that's hardly ever been used and for decorating we pulled the pink and red striped sheets off my bed. Then we looked outside and I said, “Man-O-man, it's raining like dogs.”
“The weather always goes against us when we're going into business,” Jonique said.
“That's okay,” I said. “We'll start tomorrow. Today we can paint a sign that says: Grand Opening.”
I tiptoed into my mom's room and gave her a nose kiss so she would wake up from sleeping in.
“I'm going to Madam and Pop's,” I said.
“Okay,” she said in her froggy voice. “Do you have plans?”
“We're doing Enchanted Beauty,” I said.
“Have fun,” she said and in 1 instant she was back to sleep.
Pop only asked us 1 question, which was, “Does this business involve any furniture?”
“Only the outside chairs,” I said. “The spa location is in front of the carriage house.”
“Perhaps I'll come out in a while and see about getting beautified,” Pop said.
“Men don't get their fingernails painted,” Jonique said.
“Of course not,” Pop said. “That would be nutty. I am talking about my toenails.”
He went back to writing about the Chesapeake Bay needing more crabs and we went out to tape up our sign and the hairdo pictures that came from my Beauty Spot calendar. I put 1 of my sheets on the ground for a rug and on top we made an arrangement out of 4 white chairs and a table with a display of our beauty supplies.
Sam's mom was our 1st customer and she said, “Since it's the Grand Opening I'll go wild with Redrazzle.”
“You have an exciting attitude,” I said.
To speed her along we both polished at the same time. I got a smudge on her thumb so it looked a little bleeding but she said, “No one will notice because they'll be so Redrazzled by my other 9 fingers.”
Mrs. Deutsch got clear because it was too hard to decide. Madam only had time to get her hands rubbed with Tropical Breeze. Then Mrs. Timony came, which was the honor of our lives, so I told her, “We're giving you our luxury rainbow polishing.”
“Every nail gets a different color,” Jonique explained.
“I don't need any special treatment,” Mrs. Timony said. “Light pink will be just fine.”
“Of course you get special treatment,” I said. “You're our teacher!”
After that we had no customers, only Melonhead, so we made him 2 tattoos for free with our Sharpie markers. One is a big red dolphin with 3 babies and the other one is a black snake that goes around and around and takes up his entire other arm and hand.
Then he said, “How much do haircuts cost?”
“We haven't done any haircuts,” Jonique said.
“Yet,” I said.
“I have $1,” he said.
“That's how much they cost,” I said.
“Do you know how to cut hair, Lucy Rose?” Jonique asked.
“Don't you worry,” I said. “I've seen Shiralee do it tons of times at the Spot.”
“Can I help?” she asked me.
“Of course,” I said. “We are partners.”
I got Madam's kitchen scissors.
“What style do you like?” I asked Melonhead.
“Short,” he said and pointed at a calendar picture. “Just don't give me Sweet 'n' Sassy Hair.”
“Excellent-O,” I said and I started cutting the front so he could see and have confidence.
The thing about bangs is that it's hard to get them straight so then you have to cut the longer side to match the shorter side and then that side is shorter so you have to do the other side again. I stopped when it got to his roots.
Then I told Jonique, “Watch me do this side of his head and then you do the other side.”
“Should you be going that close to his skin?” Jonique asked me.
“Don't you worry, Melonhead,” I said. “I'll color in the naked spot with a Sharpie.”
I watched Jonique do her side and I told her, “You have a gift for haircutting.”
Then I evened up my side so it would look like hers because, according to Shiralee, matching the sides is the key to a good haircut.
The back was the easiest, except for the part where Melonhead's hair is always sticking up on top, which I fixed by cutting it off.
Then I gave Melonhead the mirror.
“Thanks!” he said. “I never looked better.”
He gave us his dollar and we gave him a giant glob of kiwi gel for extra customer satisfaction.
“I hope we get a lot more haircuts,” Jonique said. “They're easier than nails.”
“And faster,” I said.
My mom said I can't come out of my room for any reason WHATSOEVER until I write a letter, which I just finished and here's what it says:
Dear Mrs. Melon,
I am sorry that I gave Adam a haircut without your permission and I am even sorrier that you don't like it and that you were going to get your family's picture taken next Saturday, which is the only time you can on account of Mr. Melon's schedule because he's always having to travel around with his famous Congressman boss. Plus, I am utterly sorry that seeing that haircut made you feel like you couldn't breathe and, like you told me on the phone, saying, “It will grow back,” doesn't really help. But I think it could grow back enough by Saturday that if Adam droops his head so you don't see the spot, maybe you can get those pictures taken anyway.
This money is to pay for that buzz cut that is the only solution.
I am truly sorry in my deepest heart and believe me, I do wish I never did it.
Your friend, I hope,
P.S. I think that a long shirt could cover up most of the tattoos and I feel regret galore that another thought I never had was about that marker being permanent. You were right when you said that next time I will. That is for sure.
Pop walked me and my letter to the Melons' house and on the way he said that he usually agrees with my mom about direct approaches and not stewing, but that we could have an exception this time on account of a personal visit from me was not too likely to give Mrs. Melon comfort.
I pushed the letter through their mail slot and rushed back to Pop and we walked as fast as we ever could to Johnny and Joon's Grocery to buy an ice cream sandwich, which we split in Â½ and ate while we were sitting outside on the step.
I asked Pop, “Do you feel like I'm terrible?”
“Not at all,” Pop said. “I thought it was an interesting haircut. When your mom was your age, she shaved her brother's eyebrows off.”
“Did you and Madam get mad?” I asked him.
“No. They weren't our eyebrows,” he said. “Uncle Mike thought it was a good look and hair does grow back.”
Even though Mrs. Melon told me that saying that doesn't help, it helped me.
“Still,” Pop said. “It's probably better to keep haircuts in the family.”
“Do you want me to give you one?” I asked him.
“No,” he said. “Thanks, anyway.”
Now Jonique and I are 100 percent broke.
When my dad called he asked how Madam and Pop and my mom were and I said, “They are great.”
Then he said, “I assume Ashley remains a pill.”
“You assume right,” I said. “I am tired and sick of her love stories about me but she is unfightable.”
“I agree,” my dad said.
“You do?” I said.
“If you were my student, I'd say, âLet it go.'”
“What if I was your student and I said, âI can't'?” I asked him.
“Then I'd say, âStudent of mine, maybe you can see the truth in what she says,'” my dad told me.
“I feel like hanging up this phone,” I said.
“I don't mean that you're in love with Melonhead,” he said. “I mean that maybe you can overlook Ashley's remarks if you change the way you hear them.”
“Plug my ears?” I asked.
“There are a lot of kinds of love in our lives,” he said.
“You are being unclear to me,” I said.
“There's the kind of love we have for our family,” he said.
“That comes automatically,” I said.
“And the love that comes when you appreciate someone,” he said.
“I appreciate Johnny and Joon,” I said. “And Eddie at Grubb's. And Mrs. Mannix.”
“Or when you like someone a lot,” he said.
“I have a considerable amount of like loves,” I said. “Including Aunt Frankie and Mrs. Timony, and Hannah and a lot of other kids.”
“Right,” my dad said. “Then there are the people you like so much that you really miss them if they are away.”
“Like the McBees, especially Jonique,” I said. “And Gumbo, even though he's not a person. And Melonhead. And you more than anyone.”
“Exactly,” my dad said. “Those are the kind that make you want to do kind thingsâlike how you and Mom and Madam and Pop are helping the McBees and how you visit Mrs. Hennessy.”
“Those loves are not the kind Ashley means,” I said.
“True,” my dad said. “Does it help to think about the other kinds?”
“Not at all,” I said.
“I love you,” he said.
“Of course,” I said. “We have the automatic kind.”
Chester picked up the marble rectangles that Aunt Frankie got from the classifieds so they could turn them into counters so the Divas have a place to roll out their dough. To hold the marble up, Mr. Nathaniel used his own antique legs that he got when a Baltimore library went modern. Now that grayish-looking marble is like a tabletop that goes Â½ way down 1 wall and around the corner, with 2 square holes for sinks. Mr. Jackson is putting them in and hooking up those copper pipes the McBees got for free for buying the store. When he's done I'm going to make a ceremony out of turning on the faucet.
After school, Jonique and I went to the bakery and sprayed gobs of cleaner on that old marble and dirt bubbled like wild. Now our arms are flopsy from scrubbing but the counters are utterly soft-looking for rock and ultra-white and smooth. I told Jonique, “I feel like we're brilliantine.”
“We are,” she said.
Madam and I had to have a visit with the engraver over a wedding present for her friend's daughter who's marrying late, because she's 46 and has enough toasters.
On the way home we dropped off magazines at the Home. I gave the
with a 4-story cake on its cover to Mrs. Hennessy. She gave me her shoe.
“Thank you,” I said because you have to have manners. I put that squishy loafer next to me on the sofa and when we finished admiring cakes, I gave it back.
“I have been looking for that thing,” she said.
When I saw Mrs. Mannix's mirror hanging over the fireplace, I had to make a gasp. Then I said, “It looks more divine than anything a body could dream up.”
“The Victorians understood beauty,” Mrs. McBee said. “Look at the side shelves and the carved flowers.”
According to Mrs. McBee those Victorians lived ages ago and they loved everything to be fancy with details. According to Mrs. Mannix they loved everything that was fussy and overdone.
“Jonique and I are fans of overdone,” I said.
Ashley said she could not do her report today because her head was aching from hay fever.
If I were Mrs. Timony I'd tell Ashley, “I have had it with your excuses.”
The giant oven gets hooked up tomorrow by Mr. Jackson, who's also in charge of the exhausting vent that lets smoke out of the store, plus he's putting in the fire extinguishers that cost a boatload.
Jonique and I went to Johnny and Joon's to buy orange Mentos because Pop said we could for a treat and Johnny said to me, “I hear you have a boyfriend.”
“I do not,” I said.
“He's a nice boy,” Joon said. “Last time he was here he put banana stickers all over himself.”
“If I ever do have a boyfriend I won't have the kind that wears fruit stickers,” I said.
Then I felt bad because it's actually hilarious in the extreme when Melonhead does that, especially when the stickers are hanging out of his nostrils.
“Did Ashley tell you he's my boyfriend?” I asked.
“No,” Joon said. “I heard from Teddy Joaquin.”
“Oh, brother,” I said. “If a 2nd grader knows that lie of Ashley's, everybody on the Hill has heard it.”
P.S. Madam and Pop are in St. Michaels, Maryland, having a romantic getaway, which is not a thing I like to discuss.
The good thing about that getaway is Madam and Pop brought me a cheesecake that is so puny I could eat it in one bite, only I didn't because I shared it with Jonique. It came from their hotel that's called an Inn.
Mr. McBee and Jonique got Mrs. McBee a Mother's Day present of professional knives and bowls and spoons and cake stands and huge measuring cups plus 2,000 white bags for customers and on the bow Jonique tied a thing made of wire ovals that's for whipping. It's called a whisk.
May 9âMother's Day
My mom scrambled eggs with her new whisk that she loves and I made myself out of wire from our basement.
She's also wild for my card that says, “WOW MOM.”
“It's an upside-down palindrome,” I said.
My mom turned it and said, “Wow, Lucy Rose. That's amazing.”
“Daddy taught me that trick,” I said.
I didn't want to steal his credit.
I would say Mrs. Mannix has told every Mom on the Hill about Baking Divas, which is good for business and for the parlor because a M.O.T.H. who heard gave the Divas a chair and a green sofa from the Victorians because she's moving to Seattle, Washington, without them.
According to Clay's report that state is rich in rain and apples.
Jonique and I went to check on the Divas and got stunned to pieces because the wall that was white is painted with sky and clouds and giant Divas wearing chef hats and smiling their lips off. All around them are flying cupcakes and floating pies and strawberry shortcakes and birds with sparkling heart cookies in their beaks.
High on the ladder, almost to the ceiling, was my mom with a paintbrush in her hand and another 1 in her teeth and blue paint on her chin.
“It's D-double-D-vine!” I told her. “I feel proud of you.”
Mrs. Hennessy has gone wild for barrettes so Jonique brought her 2 that have yellow twirls and clipped them in her hair, which I think she loved because when she saw herself she said, “I'm swink!”
“That's a WOTD,” I said. “What does it mean?”
“No one knows,” Mr. Woods said.
Then he said, “Mrs. Hennessy loves your visits.”
“She doesn't remember our names,” Jonique said.
“She usually calls me Friend,” he said.
“Sometimes Spicy Friend,” I reminded him.
“Spicy suits me,” he said.
Then he told us about Mrs. Hennessy and when he got done, I ran out so fast that Jonique couldn't keep up but I couldn't slow down. When my mom came to pick me up at Madam and Pop's, she found me in my room rolled up in a ball of quilts, crying my head off.
She kneeled down next to my bed and said, “What's the matter, honeybunch?”
“Mrs. Hennessy has old-timer's disease and she's going to forget me. And Jonique and everybody, even her son,” I said.
“Oh, that's very hard,” my mom said.
“She already doesn't remember how to tie shoes,” I said. “Or put on barrettes or flatten her hair. She forgets easy words and gets stuff wrong and does odd things like giving me her shoe and it's going to get worse.”
“I'm so glad she's in a nice place where kind people can help her,” my mom said.
“I don't ever want you or Daddy or Madam or Pop or Glamma or anybody to get old-timer's,” I said and that idea made me feel weepier.
“Most people don't get it,” my mom said. “And the people who do get it tend to be old. Daddy and I and even your grandparents are much younger than Mrs. Hennessy and by the time we are her age, I think scientists will have figured out a lot more about Alzheimer's disease.”
“I wish she'd get better,” I said.
“I wish that too,” my mom said.
“Is it going to make her late?” I asked her.
“What do you mean?” my mom said.
“The permanent kind of late,” I said and I could not stop crying from the sadness of that.
“Some people with Alzheimer's live for years,” my mom said. “But some don't.”
I was 2nd in line this morning and I was standing quietly and thinking about how to be a good friend of somebody who forgets who you are and that's when the dreaded Ashley said, “Excuuuse me, Mrs. Melonhead,” and butted in front of me.
I was trying to dream up a snappy comment and all of a sudden I knew the exact thing to say and it was not 1 speck snappy. It was, “I am ashamed to know myself.”
Ashley said, “Because you are a LOSER.”
“No,” I said. “I'm ashamed that I've been shunning Melonhead because I don't want people to believe you about me being in love. But in that instant that was 1 instant ago, I figured out that I DO NOT CARE what you tell people because he's my great friend.”
“That's the same as in love, Mrs. Melonhead!” Ashley said and made a twisty face that was mean as could be and lots of things came rushing into my mind and one was what my dad said and another one was the melting witch from
The Wizard of Oz.
I looked right at her eyeballs and said, “I am utterly over you, Ashley.”
Ashley's face was hanging from shock. My stomach was overturning, which it deserved because now that I had sense about it, I was feeling like I was horrified with myself.
I ran to the far side of the playground, which is where Melonhead always stays until the last split of a second before the bell rings. He was whooshing down the slide, headfirst, so I stood at the bottom and when he landed I said, “I never did anything this terrible in my life and I am utterly sorry.”
My eyes were full to their brims with crying so I had to wipe my sleeve over them.
“Allergies,” Melonhead said, to save me.
My nose snurfled. “My state is misery,” I said. “You are my brilliantine friend who is my 2nd best after Jonique plus you gave me your magnet earrings and you trusted me to cut your hair and I was being a crummy friend with no thoughtfulness whatsoever and making you feel like you were shunned to pieces.”
“You were quite crummy,” he said. “I'm glad you are coming back to yourself.”
“I am back,” I said. “Completely because I have learned this lesson.”
Then I had to ask him, “Did I hurt your feelings?”
“Yeah,” he said. “But don't tell anybody.”
“Can we be salvaged?” I asked him.
“Sure,” he said. “I get over things.”
Then I had the feeling of a little panic.
“I don't mean the kissable kind of friend,” I said.
“If you did, I'd be running so fast your head would spin,” Melonhead said.
That remark gave me the snorting kind of laugh.
My dad and I played Boggle over the phone. It was easy because we each have our own game. I won most of the times.
This was an all-paint day. My job was a baseboard and Jonique did 2 windowsills and Pop and Melonhead did the front door. The Divas and my mom and Mr. McBee and Mr. Nathaniel did the biggest job, which was the walls in the parlor.
That job took practically the whole day long. When everything was done, Mr. Nathaniel made an inspection. Then he gave Melonhead a look and said, “Boy, run up the ladder and paint that spot I missed near the ceiling.”
“Yes, sir!” Melonhead said and if you saw his happiness you'd think he won 1st prize.
“Take 1 rung at a time,” Mr. Nathaniel said.
That comment was a good one because Melonhead is the sort of boy who skips.
The other reward for everybody was to eat dinner at the Thai restaurant. Their food comes from Thailand and is delicious plus a lot of it is fried. Only Mr. Nathaniel couldn't come because he was waiting for the gas man who promised to be there at 3 PM in the afternoon but wasn't.
Mrs. McBee e-mailed us a message that said: “Come into my parlor.”
When we got there she flipped the light switch and I said, “Oh, my stars!”
“Mercy!” Jonique said.
“Magnificent!” Madam said.
Instead of turning on chandeliers, that switch turns on a fire in the fireplace and you can hardly tell that the logs are fake because the fire is actual.
“You are going to have customers galore,” I said.
I was supposed to be doing my homework when my brain started storming with my most brilliantine idea and I had to quit reading about Utah and collect all our magazines. Then I cut out a cartoon man and a real watch from the
and a duck and a shoe and a bed and a lady and a ball from my utterly ancient coloring book. I cut up the Zingerman's catalog so I had a sandwich and cake and candy and cheese and bread. When I had a stack I glued every picture on its own page. Then I stapled a lonely sock to another page and taped one of my mom's keys to its own paper. I drew pictures of a hat and a lamp and a fork and eyeglasses and a pen and a daisy and pasted a fake dollar bill that came from Pierra Kempner's birthday goody bag. Then I peeled labels off our cans and glued down peas and carrots and corn and beans and yams and beets. Plus, I found a picture of a panda in
and a sofa and dress in the regular
And the last thing I got was my school picture of me wearing my vest that my Great Aunt Ginny made out of patches with my yellow bandana tied around my head. I didn't stop pasting until I made 146 pages.
Madam let me use her 3-hole puncher, which is not the easiest thing, and she gave me the kind of blue notebook that people get in high school and she gets to keep her newspaper columns in. On the front I wrote, “Things to Remember.”
When I showed my mom she said, “You are a true friend.”
Then she said, “I guess we'll be having surprise dinners for a while.”
That's because we don't know what's in those naked cans.
I gave Mrs. Hennessy “Things to Remember” and I explained, “It's to help get your words back.”
We looked at page 1 and I said, “cat,” and she said, “cat,” after me. We kept on until page 27, which was enough for 1 day.
Then I said, “Goodbye,” and she said, “Goodbye, bird!” and when I left she was hugging her book.
That made me feel like I had goodness inside.