(Hey, are those rhinestone-studded moccasins on her feet? I vote yea.)
But she looks surprisingly nondevious, don't you think? What would make a mild-mannered fifth grade girl act out in such a slimy-food-smearing and school-hating way? If you guessed "problems at home," well, pat yourself on the back, my friend. The Book Information file elaborates:
ADRIA TYLER, THE GIRL WHO HAD SOMETHING MORE THAN NOTHING
Adria Tyler has never been one of those people who think they have nothing. Adria knows she has something. Even though her father is dead, her mother can't find a job, one of her sisters wants to leave the country, the other one is pregnant, her brother refuses to speak, and her best friend tells her she's never speaking to her again, Adria won't give up. She can't. She's the only thing holding her family together.
Whoa! Those are, like, ACTUAL PROBLEMS! Granted, most of them aren't really Adria's problems per se, but they are problems all the same. Death of a parent? Teenage pregnancy, for crying out loud?! I, for one, am a little taken aback.
I even started writing the Kim vs. Adria fight scene:
"What?" shrieked Kim. "What do you mean? You promised, Adria. You promised you'd come over after school today."
"Sorry." I said sheepishly. "Really I am. It's just... mom went out for a job interview, and she needed a sitter for Mike. I'm sorry... you know how it is, Kim."
She lowered her eyes. "Yeah," she sniffed. "Your family always comes first with you."
"You promised." she accused.
"Kim, I thought you'd understand." I argued. "I thought..."
"You thought what?" she asked coldly. "Did you think we'd be friends forever? If you did, you were WRONG." she yelled, yanking off her half of our "BEST FRIENDS" necklace. She threw it on the ground and stomped off.
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! Oh wait, that's it. Guess the friendship pact has been violated.
But since Adria's family always comes first with her anyway, let's take a look-see at the Tyler family portrait.
They all look surprisingly upbeat, especially considering the hot mess described in the preadolescent promo material. Carolyn Tyler, a mother at 22 and an unemployed widow at 37? Well, yes, but if you believe her sweatshirt, also a SUPER MOM.
Then there's Julie, an entire Lifetime movie unto herself. In most versions of this story (which were written in my mind and not on actual paper), her baby daddy was Kim Fielding's 15-year-old brother, Roger. That's right, the one who served his little brother a snack of racquet balls topped with shaving cream. Try to push aside the frightening images of Roger giving the baby a dribble bottle for a second to ponder this: THAT DUDE WAS GETTING LAID?
In the family portrait, however, we see nary a baby bump. In fact, Julie looks like she's ready for the Homecoming dance or something. Check out the overly sweet sweetheart neckline. If that dress had shoulders, they would totes be padded.
Adria has even perked up for the, uh, drawing op. Yes, she still gravitates toward henleys and nondescript skirts, but check out her hip squiggle earrings. And she and Mike the Mute are so stoked, they appear to be floating in midair! Be sure to note the Mute's Chuck Taylors and brontosaurus shirt (or whatever they're calling the brontosaurus these days).
But it's 9½-year-old Cynthia (aka The One Who Hates the World) who is really the star of this portrait—mostly due to her sleeveless sweater dress, totally '80s triangle belt, and array of squiggly jewelry. You'd never guess that she spends her days coming up with highly unrealistic plots for sneaking out of the country. (More on that in a sec.)
But first, don't you want to see the layout of the second floor of their house? That was a rhetorical question—obviously you would love to! (Go ahead and click if you want to see just how bizarrely T-shaped Adria's room is.)
First off, how enormous is their house? You can fit about 10 full-size beds in Cynthia's room alone! Or 15 Def Leppard area rugs, one of which appears to be sprawled out on her floor. Uh, maybe the Tylers should think about downsizing, what with the prolonged unemployment and all. Just a thought.
Obviously I had never seen a blueprint in my life. My parents would always look at my floor plans and be all, "Where are the stairs? How about the closets? The doors?" Frigging realistic killjoys. As you can see, I tried to appease them by marking all the doors in this one. Closets and stairs were fraught with spatial complications that I was having no part of.
Then I started laying down some background info for each character. But naturally, I only made it through the first two.
INFO FOR ADRIA TYLER
Name: Michael Tyler, Mike
Hair: Dark Brown, messy, looks like it's never brushed, short
Eyes: Dark Brown, bright [It's hereditary!]
Best Friend: Mrs. Bottenhigher, his teacher
Likes: Mrs. Bottenhigher, school, T.V.,
Dislikes: Talking, the fact that dad died, questions
Wants to: Bring dad back, become a super hero, solve everyone's problems
Description: Small, timid, frightened of death, smart, couch potato, eager to learn about everything,
PLAGIARISM ALERT! The whole "child going mute after his dad dies" subplot was definitely lifted from the movie Scrooged. Bill Murray's secretary, portrayed by Alfre Woodard, has a son who has also stopped talking following his father's death. But he heartwarmingly/cheesily busts out the Tiny Tim "God bless us, everyone" line at the film's close. [Please note that most of Scrooged is not in the vein of cheese, and is actually fairly awesome.]
Naturally, Mike too would break his vow of silence, probably in the book's dramatic final scene. Or, oooooh, maybe Julie would give birth in an elevator—because that was always a very popular, yet disturbing, plot twist in '80s sitcoms—and Mike, through some
INFO FOR ADRIA TYLER
Name: Cynthia Marie Tyler, call me Cynthia
Hair: Brown, just above shoulders, side bangs(wavy), Eyes: Brown, soft
Best Friend: Alexis Creen
Likes: Alexis, creation pages [don't worry, we'll get to those], Def Leppard [in case the area rug didn't tip you off], writing
Dislikes: The world, school, usually my family,
Wants to: Sneak out of the country [um, hate to burst your bubble, Cynthia, but you'll still be in "the world"], help Alexis be more creative
Description: Cute, stubborn, creative, unusual, original, often loud, always shares ideas, can't keep a secret, [Yeah, that definitely won't be a problem when she tries to sneak out of the country.]
The rest of the stuff in this folder is Cynthia-related. You know what that means: creation pages and abject world hatred!
The world is a hateful lousy place. I wish you'd all drop dead. No one cares no one understands. I hate you all
Cynthia M. Tyler
Cynthia Marie Tyler
The hell? Shouldn't she be coming up with aliases or something?
WAYS TO SNEAK OUT OF THE COUNTRY:
1.) SAY I'M MIDGET.
2.) PAY SOMEONE TO BE (FAKE) PARENTS.
WHAT I NEED TO DO:
1.) GET MONEY
2.) GET PASSPORT PICTURES TAKEN
4.) GET CREDIT CARDS
5.) FIND SOMEWHERE TO GO!
Brilliant! I love how she's packing before she's even selected a destination. I think the midget thing could work if the Lightening Bolts are somehow working security at the airport. They'd probably also take a bribe.
And here's call-me-Cynthia's "creation page":
def leppard is cool
move to the beat of the song
Wow, she is really into Def Leppard. I have two Def Leppard–centric elementary school memories:
1) Playing "Pour Some Sugar On Me" on the jukebox at a bevy of Pizza Huts while on vacation. It was ALWAYS the #1 requested song, no matter the location of the Pizza Hut. Red light, yellow light, green light, GO!
2) Being in Gym class and tucking one arm inside my oversized Gym shirt to emulate the one-armed drummer. Which I might feel bad about if Rick Allen hadn't subsequently beat his wife with his remaining arm.
Sometimes I wonder by Cynthia M. Tyler
I wonder how the world got to be round
How people learned to be
How things make sound
How God thought of me
In case you haven't caught on yet, Creation Page = Unbelievably bad poetry.
Oh man, an acrostic, the sorriest excuse for a poem. Well, the H definitely doesn't stand for Humble, I can tell you that much. But what's up with No?
All By Myself
I'm all by myself and all alone
Sad as can be
I'm all by myself except
For me, myself, and I
Cynthia Marie Tyler...
Is smart, witty, wonderful, creative, nasty, cute in a way, true, and me
I'm 10 I'm 10
O Joy O Joy
The world is at peace
And I'm old enough to enjoy it
Because life cannot be enjoyed when you're a mere 9-year-old.
THE END OF CREATIVE PAGE
But it's not really the end, because all of this creative creativity was supposed to inspire Cynthia's boring friend Alexis to come up with some craptacular verses of her own. Here she is, Alexis Creen:
I was always drawing them in the most natural poses, wasn't I? Here, for example, Alexis is getting ready for her crucifixion. With braces!
ALEXIS'S CREATION PAGE
Oh, Alexis. I know I made fun of Cynthia's inflated ego, but So-so? Attentive? Economical??? That's the best you could come up with? More like Arid, Easily influenced, and Self-loathing. But on the bright side, maybe she can help Cynthia save up for her big trip.
Action-packed fun for everyone
Starring Alexis L. Creen
And some other people too
Huh? My best guess here is that Alexis was an aspiring actress. And this was the poorly titled film that would make her famous?
Christmas is a time for
Getting everything you ask for
Nothing like a little holiday
If I was famous (I will be soon) I'd be happy to sign autographs for my adoring fans. They would be happy that I was famous instead of them. (Ha ha)
OF ALEXIS'S FAMOUS CREATION PAGE
And the end of the hodgepodge contents of this folder. Egad. It's amazing that hatred for the entire earth managed to be the more lighthearted topic here.
NEXT TIME: We'll try to follow a more linear narrative with Syra Cuse. God willing.