Friday, December 5, 2008

Syra Cuse

I think the Cuses were the first residents of Friendship, NY. I don't mean back in colonial times or anything (in fact, as you'll read, they've only recently moved to town), just that I believe Syra and her family were the first characters that I relegated to Friendship-dom. This "book" appears to have been written before the series was even a twinkle in my eye. Well, okay, it might have been a twinkle—but the story is set in Buffalo.


Chapter #1.

I always thought I had it real bad. My last name was Cuse. I was born in Syracuse, New York. So my mom thought, wouldn't it be cute if they named me "Sara". Except she had to go and make it cuter by spelling it "S-Y-R-A". So people think my name is "Seara". I wish my parents were normal. Then I wouldn't have to grow up with a dumb name like "Syra Cuse". I can't wait till I can change my name. Only 8 7 8 8 years to go.

Looks like I was having some math issues. Or deciding-on-the-age-of-the-character issues. Possibly both.

But anyway, I must admit Syra Cuse is a pretty dumb name. It may have been inspired by my discovery of the real-life naming tragedy of Ima Hogg, but I'm not sure. At any rate, it could be worse. Instead of Syra Cuse her name could be Crystal Chanda Leer, Amanda Lay, or April Schauer. And if she was a boy? Well, CRAP, it only gets worse! Dick Swett and Mike Hunt are just the tip of the iceberg. Buck up, Syra!

I once dated a Mike Hunt for, like, three weeks. I have scads of bad-name cred. Feel free to nominate your worst real-life names in the comments!]

I actually didn't know that Cuse was a real last name until I started watching LOST. Maybe Carlton Cuse is Syra's uncle! In some story, somewhere, I had a character who claimed to be related to Debbie Gibson (total lie) and another character who was related to Richard Marx (for realsies), but she didn't like to brag.

We don't live in Syracuse anymore, thank god. We just moved to Buffalo this summer. School starts in 3 weeks. I'm nervous. I hate new schools. We move around too much. It's like I never make any friends. Well, I used to when I was just a little kid. Now there doesn't seem to be any point in it. To move away and feel bad about it. NO THANK YOU.

10-year-olds, so worldly.

I live with my mom. She just quit her job in Philadelphia as a secretary for the T.E.J. paper company. Because we were moving. It was just as well, she's pregnant again. Of course. I live with dad, too. He builds cars for Pontiac.

Actual parental occupations! Nuh-uh! I am now picturing Mrs. Cuse as Pam Beesly, but with a belly full o' baby. And I'm picturing Mr. Cuse in Michigan.

I live with Toby, too. He's my brother who's 12. He's a car maniac. He has car posters all over the walls. We can just be thankful there aren't naked women draped over the cars.
[Consider me thankful.] I also have two little baby sisters, Gloria who's 7 and Evie (Evelyn) who's 4. I'm 10. Our cat, Smoky, just had babies. I guess I should take that as a good omen since kid #5 is on the way. My kitten, Paws, is white with tan on her tail, feet and nose. Toby's is Kal-Kan, Gloria, who got the pretty white one, named her's Milk, Evie's is Chocolate Bar, and Mom named the baby's Apple Sauce.

Those cats are making me hungry.

So, I didn't want to go to school. I had a nightmare Friday night. I dreamt I fell and hit my head on the way to school so I didn't remember anything, not even my name. Except the kids and teacher looked through my stuff and saw "SYRA CUSE" written all over and had a big fight over whether my name was "Seara" or "Sie-ra". I kept screaming those aren't my names, but nobody paid any attention... then I woke up.

Holy amnesia anxiety dream!

I almost fell out of bed. That doesn't sound so bad, but it is if you sleep on the top of a bunk bed. If I did fall and Gloria was asleep (she sleeps on the bottom bunk), I'd fall on Evie. Me, Evie, and Gloria share a room. There's a bunk bed. On the bottom there's this little drawer right off the floor. You pull it out and it's a bed. Well, a matress in a drawer.

I guess Evie sleeps on the mattress-in-a-drawer (or its complicated technical name, trundle bed).

There are 3 bedrooms in our house: Girls, Parents, and Toby.

Toby's room is really small. He's lucky it's his own, being a boy and all.

Yeah, enjoy it while you can, Tobe, because during the course of this book the Cuses were also going to take in a 6-year-old homeless boy who was just, you know, hanging around their house looking hungry. Homeless kids, they're kind of like stray cats!

Well, this morning when I woke up, it was dark outside. It was 8:03.
[It's supposed to be August, so I'm thinking... not possible.] So, I went downstairs wearing a long T-shirt. My parents were sitting at the table. Dad was reading the paper. Mom was drinking a cup of coffee. I patted mom's stomach. She was so big already. [Because... she's having triplets! Surprise, Cuses! Your obstetrician is a total hack!] "I can feel him/her kick." I said.

And that's where the inspiration died. But not the babies! They were totally born. The preadolescent promo material reveals a few more plot points:

Syra Cuse is sick of her name. Her whole life is a joke. They've just moved in and right away her perfect little sister
[Gloria, whose perfectness was oh-so-subtly symbolized earlier by her pristine white kitten] has wrapped everyone around her little finger. The only thing that's going for Syra are her friends, Murphy and Chelsea. But everyone else thinks that Chelsea is conceited [she's loaded] and that Murphy stole some things over at Eleanor's house. [Eleanor Jefferson! Also loaded, but for some reason deemed not conceited.] So they stick Syra right in the middle. She knows Murphy is innocent and that Chelsea is rich, but she's still nice. But how can she explain that to her whole grade? [Hopefully by using a sentence that's phrased a little less awkwardly.] On top of everything else, her mom's having triplets. Her family is just the ten of us. How will she survive?

And if you think that's going to be the last Just the Ten of Us reference in my works, you are sorely mistaken.

Anyway, don't worry! There's more Syra Cuse action in Friendship: The Book, so we may as well get to know her and her friends a little better. I know, FRIENDS! Didn't see that coming!

First we have Syra, which, by the way, I cannot stop reading as the dreaded "Seara." Sandra and Carl, what were you thinking? (Those are her parents' names. I checked the town census. OH MY HOLY GOD, you guys! Carlton Cuse isn't her uncle, he's her DAD! And he produces the mindfuck that is LOST! This is amazing! Who's loaded now, Eleanor?) Um, but yeah, the character sketches:

My mom wrote a comment on the last post asking whether I disliked drawing hands. The answer is YES, thanks for asking. In fact, I had a problem with all appendages. As you can see here, I redrew Syra's hands and yet she still ended up with a freakishly undersized left extremity. Maybe that mass of friendship bracelets is blocking the flow of blood to her fingers, resulting in a lack of growth? She also has a friendship anklet—but it doesn't seem to have prevented her feet from morphing into bricks of flesh with teeny-tiny toe fringe. If I were you, Syra, I'd put some shoes on.

Also, you'd think that someone who hates her name so much would refrain from wearing T-shirts that that advertise it (see above her left not-yet-a-breast).

Next we have Chelsea. I loooooved the named Chelsea. One of my unborn children was slated to be a Chelsea at this point in time. Chelsea Burroughs appears to have a Stacey McGill–type perm going here, but honestly, guys? I'm kinda into her cowl-neck dress and crazy sunburst belt. Yeah, I would so wear that belt. But our fashion-forward pal is busting a serious deer in the headlights look. And we may or may not have caught her in the middle of the "put your left hand in" verse of "The Hokey Pokey."

But if Chelsea looks surprised, Murphy's on the verge of tears. Which makes sense given the false thievery accusations. Or the pain it must cause her stunted neck to support her massive, massive head. Beyond that, she has a nice late-'80s layered skirt on. Man, did I love those skirts. But now I'm confused: Does Chelsea have the perm or does Murphy? I think Murphy has naturally curly hair that she brushes when dry. WHY does no one tell you as a child not to brush your hair when dry?

Wait, is Syra the only one with friendship bracelets on? Well that's plain crazy, because we know she doesn't have any other friends! Unless she's given them to Paws and Kal-Kan.

I have one more picture before I go, and this one really showcases how far I'd go to avoid drawing limbs.

Or else some accident was going to render Murphy a serious amputee. Either way, Murphy Got Her Gun looks pretty appalled. You can also see that her last name used to be McGraw. That clearly had to be changed. Though I couldn't tell you why.

NEXT TIME: An alternate first day of school in the Friendship Super Special. Chapter 1's narrator? Syra "That's Pronounced Sara, My Mom's Just a Dumbass" Cuse.


Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

At least the Cuses didn't name her Bronx Mowgli like Ashley Simpson's poor child...Syra's feet kind of crack me up. I used to hate drawing boys/men - their clothes were so boring and they always ended up looking like girls with short hair!

Deathycat said...

I love Syra's brick feat. ^_^ I've come across many horrible names.

Speedy Gonzalez
Divine Truth
Starr Bright (boy)

are some examples. But by far the worst I've seen is

Love Cox

Sada said...

Okay, Love Cox has to be a porn star. No?

Deathycat said...

Unfortunately no, she's a 7-year-old girl. Poor thing. Cox is a common name around here but you'd think her parents would've taken a couple minutes to think about that one...

tctill said...

OMG, I totally used to pretend to be Debbie Gibson's sister! My (real) sister, too. We would hide in the slides at Chuck-E-Cheese and talk loudly about her concert tours and everything. I'm not related to Richard Marx (nor did I ever pretend to be) but I did love him so.
Between those two and the "Just the Ten of Us" reference, your story is really taking me back to 1989!

And "Syra Cuse" ... ugh. Especially since it's pronounced "Sara.";) Sadly, I can't think of any unfortunate names right now, but I used to have this "Names, Names, Names!" book that I got from a book order -- it had segments about people's real life bad names. I might still have that book somewhere. If I find it, I'll post some!

halle said...

more drawings and more made-up names. YES! remember your brother had a HEAVENLY JOY (don't remember the last name) in his kindergarten class? I had a student ITAVIES (pronounced Octavius).
I noticed poor mrs. tyler from dec 2 post is not only a super mom as indicated by her boastful clothing, but super flat-chested. i wondered if there was more background information...

Sada said...

I am fresh out of background info. for the Tylers. However, I think it's less likely that Carolyn had a double mastectomy and more likely that I didn't learn how to draw breasts until middle school.

NoseInANovel said...

Despite your inability to draw hands and feet, you make really lovely faces.

zanne said...

I thought of Pam Beesly too, when you mentioned the mom was a secretary of a paper company. ha!

Even though I read the beginning & I know her name is pronounced Sara, I keep saying it "Seara" in my head. So I feel for Syra.

I used to love "Just the 10 of Us"!