You can’t always get ahead but you sometimes can get even.
My next door neighbor had everything. She lived in one of the best houses on the block, she had bleached blond hair at age thirteen, and she always wore it up high and ‘teased’ with a ton of hairspray. She wore real black eyeliner, cut-off jeans and big white men’s shirts over that. She was cool. Her mother didn’t work and spent time making cookies and pies so that when the ‘girls’ came over to Linda’s house, there were always cookies and lemonade.
Her real name was Belinda; but she shortened it to Linda. She was one year older than I and had one brother who always played football. Not only was her house nicer, her parents drove bigger, newer cars and her mom had time to take her shopping for all the latest clothes. When Linda moved in next door; she blew the socks off everyone in the neighborhood and she became an instant hit. Everyone always wanted to hang out at Linda’s.
I, on the other hand, had non-descript brown hair, not bleached and not ratted (what’s that?) I don’t think I owned a can of hairspray. My hair is mostly stick straight except for one little spot that likes to pop up into a weird curl all the time. My mom worked five days a week and when she wasn’t doing that, she was shopping for fabric to make us all ‘hand-made’ clothes. Most of my clothes were either ‘hand-made’ or hand-me-down until I was almost twenty.
I lived next to Linda with my mom, dad and two obnoxious brothers. It didn’t seem fair that Linda got so much attention from everyone; I lived there first! Anyway, like I said, my mother was usually either gone at work, playing bridge or hidden away in the sewing room. She could be counted on for saying things like, “That’s nice,” or “If you don’t like them Cissy, why don’t you stop playing with them?” That’s my name, Cissy Caufield, named after one of my mother’s friends. Who names a kid something like Cissy? Dumb.
Oh, and my dad. My dad was a big guy, very handsome at one time, lots of black hair and shiny white teeth. He was a WWII veteran and loved nothing better than to tell a ton of stories about the war. He would ramble on about some story or other about the war or the military, have a sip of scotch, and continue. He was proud of the fact that he still had three service revolvers in the garage. There were always loaded, ‘just in case.’ He kept them locked in a steamer trunk, but I knew where the key was.
Did I mention the scotch? Yes scotch, and lots of it. My dad was a drunk. In addition to telling stories, he loved to get drunk. Yes drunk, not tipsy; but smashed, blotto, wacked, bombed, stewed to the gills, pie-eyed, blind drunk, stumbling drunk, very, very drunk.
My mother would spend time, when I got into one of my fits about Dad, to use her best calming voice to talk me down and tell me how we needed to be understanding of Dad; he’s got problems, he needs our support, etcetera, etcetera, blah, blah and blah. She would get that pensive, screwed up look to her face and look a little bit like a suffering puppy and I would finally snap out of it and she would go back to her nice-nice face. Gag!
Time marched on and before long I, my brothers and Linda were all at the same high school. Linda still had the bleached blond hair, and I still had the weird hair but these days she was on a ‘diet’ specially constructed by her mother. She was trying out for the flag twirling team and had to ‘slim down’. I never had to go on many diets as I had a stick figure already. I too tried out for a cheer-leader position and worked at it very, very hard. However, Linda got picked for flag and I didn’t get cheer. So now, in addition to seeing her next door all the time; I also got to see her kicking up her heels and showing off her satin rump while twirling a flag at half-time. Lucky me.
Eventually, being the good-girl type, I joined the Key club and we all ran around doing service work. There was also a boy section to this service thing and the girls and guys would occasionally get together for projects. It was on one of these projects that I saw him. One year older than me, slim with a little muscle, black hair, blue eyes and very, very nice. Peter. Peter was the president of the boy’s side of the Key club and he was gorgeous. Wow. He would start talking and I would hang on every word like a dog waiting for a biscuit. He walked by and I almost drooled.
I am not sure if I ever really talked to Peter; other than in my head of course, but I was certainly working up to it. In addition to that, I had plans; many, many plans for me and Peter.
It was with thoughts such as these dancing in my head that I drove home from school one night to a big surprise. As I pulled round the cul-de-sac; my headlights hit a car that was parked in front of Linda’s house. Suddenly, two heads popped up from the back seat. I drove by and parked and the heads disappeared. As I was walking inside it hit me as to who they were; it was Linda and Peter! I was shocked, stunned and disbelieving. Oh no; that, that…..how could she! I saw him first!
Later days proved the grim and disappointing truth; Linda and Peter had become an ‘item’ on campus. My soul was dark and filled with dread whenever I had to drive by her house, afraid of what I might see again. Good God, this couldn’t be happening. But, oh yes, it was.
Continued part II