Hello, and welcome to our third story with the word "friend" in the title! In this gem, new-kid-in-town Cynthia is faced with the age-old question: unpopularity or lung cancer?
On a side note, this is also the first of my stories to be written on a typewriter. Yes, I was in third grade, but I was serious, people. Conveniently, my grandfather owned a store that sold used office furniture, so my sister and I were soon outfitted with not only typewriters, but metal typewriter stands and wheeled desk chairs as well. Wheeee! But back to the ethical dilemmas . . .
"Nancy, can my friend, Sara Blakes, come for dinner?" Cynthia asked.
I believe Nancy is the housekeeper. There are actually several upcoming stories that feature housekeepers. (Thanks, Harriet the Spy and/or any number of television shows from the '70s and '80s.) I never at any point in time had a housekeeper myself, but they seemed cool.
"Does Jhonny have a friend?" Nancy asked. "He's not done a thing since we been moved. I think he misses all his friends."
"Since we been moved?" Sweet Jesus, tell me that is not Ebonics! I'm really, really hoping not, as I grew up in a neighborhood that was about 50% black (and, oddly enough, about 25% ultra-Orthodox Jew), and—especially in elementary school—I had a ton of black and biracial friends. It hadn't really occurred to me at this point that someone's race would be a factor in, well, ANYTHING. Plus, a large number of the TV housekeepers were white (or those housekeepers with starring roles, anyway—thanks, media). And when they were black, I was always sensing sexual tension between them and the white characters. Like when I would watch Gimme a Break, I was always waiting for Nell Carter and the dad to hook up. Tony and Angela were making out, so clearly Nell and her employer were next. (Mr. Belvedere, on the other hand, definitely did not have genitalia. You cannot convince me otherwise.) However, it's hard to argue with "since we been moved." Yikes.
"He'll get over it" Was the answer "Besides . . . he has Spot."
"I know." Nancy admitted. "Just go along and get your friend. Can't stop it anyhow."
"Oh, Nancy, thanks! So much!" And she ran outside.
"Sara, you can! You can come to dinner! Thanks for waiting! Oh, thanks!"
"No problem." Sara was just too cool, thought Cynthia. Too cool!
"Hey," continued Sara "you got a cigarette?" Cynthia was stunned.
As am I, since they are, after all, nine.
"A cigarette?" asked Cynthia.
"Yeah. You got one?"
"Yeah." she said. "So?"
"Well," Be strong, she told herself. "I--don't."
"Well, you aren't good enough to be my friend."
Because smoking makes you eeeeeeeeevil.
And, [in a puff of cigarette smoke!] Sara Blakes was gone forever.
I also like to picture her riding off into the sunset with the Marlboro Man. Possibly atop Joe Camel.
"Oh, Nancy, forget Sara. She smoked." Cynthia told her.
"Check next door. There's a girl-Elizabeth."
I appreciate that Nancy doesn't take advantage of this obvious opportunity for an anti-smoking sermon. She's pretty much like, "Whatevs, you crazy (possible smoker) third graders! Can't stop it anyhow."
"Okay." And she went next door.
"Hello." a tall, thin, girl asked when she knocked.
"Are you Elizabeth?"
"Yeah. You can call me Liz." she said. "You move in next door?"
"Great! Hey, don't look so sad. I know what moving's like. Leavin' friends. Findin' new ones. It's hard. It is. I moved in last year."
"Really? Hey, you want to come to dinner?"
Shouldn't she, like, check Liz's fingers for nicotine stains first or something?
"Sure." Liz said. "What's your name?"
"Cynthia. I'll be right back."
Oh man! She invites her over before she even introduces herself? I fear for Cynthia when she starts dating.
She ran into the kitchen.
"Nancy, can Liz come to dinner?"
"Oh, Nancy, thanks! Thanks-so much."
Ahhh . . . third grade really was a simpler time, wasn't it? Do you remember how much anti-smoking, -drinking, and -drugging propaganda they used to throw at us? I have a hilarious anti-drug poster I drew (in crayon, thank you) of me and my siblings sticking our tongues out at drugs. Nyah nyah, drugs! Unfortunately, I just moved and I have no freaking clue which box it's in. Or if it would fit in my scanner anyway. I have to admit, though, I have never—to this day!—taken even a drag on a cigarette. So some of that crap must have sunk in.
NEXT TIME: Fourth grade in the hizzy! Although I'm not quite sure where to start . . .
9 months ago