Ever since Mom got Dad to stop being such a tyrant about the computer, I take a sort of perverse delight in using it when my dad is in the room. All he can do is grit his teeth and deal with it since he gave in. If it had been me, I wouldn’t have given in. I mean, I know I’ve benefitted from the compromise, but I would have stood my ground if I’d been Dad.
Of course he’s totally archaic thinking that computers are the devil. I’m no computer whiz, but computers are a part of the 21st century way of life. Dad needs to stop living in the past. Would it hurt us if we had a TV in our house—a high tech radio? Would it be so bad if each of us had our own computers for school and other things?
Dad says it’s all about money, but I know that’s a crock. He just hates technology.
We all have our little rebellions against our dad’s rules about technology. I happen to know that Sydney and the others have been going to the Red Rooster Hangout, and they’re not just playing foosball with their friends. I overheard Sydney saying that she spent most of one Saturday watching the cooking channel.
Samantha has started hanging out with Quentin Drudge. He’s the son of our mom’s friend Eva. The older girls have known him forever. Sam says she doesn’t have any romantic interest in Quentin. He’s cute, she says, but he’s kind of dumb. Also he wants to join the military and that offends Sam’s environmental conscious for some reason. (Maybe because the military wears leather boots and eats meat? I don’t know.) Anyway, Samantha goes over to Quentin’s house to watch the gardening channel and the romance channel. She’s leading poor Quentin on and he doesn’t even realize it.
Mina’s rebellion has nothing to do with technology, actually. Nope. She’s been sneaking out to be with her boyfriend, Kristofer Drill. Dad doesn’t know that they are more than just friends, but I listen and I overheard her telling Samantha about her first kiss and about him asking her to go steady.
What Dad doesn’t know won’t hurt him, I suppose. After all, Dad did sort of go ballistic over Sydney and Calvin kissing at my birthday party. Those two aren’t even dating. Calvin is too uptight to ask her out. He says they’re not old enough to go steady. He wants to wait until they’re older.
Now Dad thinks Calvin’s a saint. Their old fashioned values are the same anyway.
I often feel like an outcast in my family. If I didn’t look so much like Mom, I’d suspect I was adopted. They all like to be outside. They all like to play silly games like tag or jumping through the sprinklers. Even Mom, who I know is childish, but at least she has some modern sensibilities, likes to indulge in these antics. I just don’t get it. I’ve never understood what is so fun about frolicking in cold sprinkler water.
Another thing I don’t understand is why Mom and Dad had to keep having babies when their older children were already teens. I liked my brother pretty well. Ronald is a goofy sort of kid, but likable. My little sister, on the other hand…GAH! Maybe if I didn’t have to sleep in the same room as her I would like her more. If she isn’t crying then she’s stinking up the room with her diapers and potty.
I’ve tried to talk to Dad about how much having her in the room with me and Sydney is a distraction, but he just doesn’t get it.
“Kindra,” he always says in a patronizing way, “she’s your little sister. We don’t have the money for a new room and yours is the largest.”
“But Dad,” I tried to make him see my point, “I can’t ever get any work done in my room. If I want a quiet place to read or do homework, I have to go to the library!”
“She won’t be a baby for long, Kindra,” Dad said. “And what’s so bad about going to the library?”
I just couldn’t win.
Dad used the money excuse a lot when we’d beg for a car, but with the help of the other girls, the farm was finally paying off. I also got a huge monetary compensation for the latest advanced math problem I’d solved. Since we had some extra income, Dad couldn’t argue that we couldn’t afford a car.
I just hadn’t counted on the type of car we could afford. It was an embarrassment to automobiles. I really hate being poor!
I think I started a trend when I begged to have my birthday at a location other than our house. I wish I hadn’t, though. I liked being the unique one. But once I got them to see past the back yard, Dad and Mom decided to have Melinda’s party somewhere else, too. We went to the park.
It was a boring party. There was nothing to do. Mina and Samantha hung out together on the swings. There weren’t three, so I couldn’t hang with them (even if I wanted to).
Ronald and his friend Antoine convinced Sydney to play tag with them. Antoine is Ronald’s new best friend since Caleb Pincher is now a teen. I was happy about this. Caleb had been a complete jerk at my birthday party. I was still snubbing him at school for how he treated me then. He had tried to be my friend since we were both in high school, but I refused to give him the time of day.
Anyway, Melinda aged up into a female version of Dad. She joined Antoine and Ronald at the tag game. I had finally convinced Mina to play chess with me and Sydney and Sam were talking about something. Mom and Dad were off preparing our meal.
Which we had to eat outside…yuck. Also, it was veggie burgers, which is something I just don’t understand. I don’t tell my mom, but I hate vegetarian food. It tastes like dirt or cardboard. I want a real hamburger!
“Now, sometimes I like to read in bed, so no playing with loud toys in the room,” I warned her. “Also, make your bed and clean up your laundry. I won’t be your maid.”
Melinda got quite upset about that. She actually accused me of being more messy than she was. She said I almost never made my own bed. I had to admit, at least to myself, that she was right. Usually Sydney made our beds and picked up the laundry. But I refused to acknowledge that fact to my annoying little sister.
Melinda must have listened to me because she actually proved to be a decent roommate now that she was older. She was both quiet and neat. I didn’t want to like her, but I couldn’t find any fault in her either. She was nice and helpful. I think those qualities made me dislike her even more.
Or maybe it was just the fact that she seemed to fit in better than I ever did. She and Dad and Ronald enjoyed fishing together. Dad had never taken me fishing. Not that I ever expressed interest in wanting to go, but still…
And Ronald used to spend more time with me. We were pretty good friends since we were close in age. Now, however, he was spending a lot more time with Melinda. I don’t want to be the jealous type, but I missed being the one that Ronald talked to all the time. All of our older siblings weren’t that interested in him, so it had always been him and me.
Since I’d lost the only sibling who was my friend, I actually made the effort to get to know my sisters better. I had only really connected with Sydney before and only because we shared a room. Now I was able to spend time with Mina and Samantha, too.
None of them liked to drive as much as I did, so they always let me do it. I liked being able to do something they couldn’t or didn’t want to.
We spent time together at the Community Gym as well as the Red Rooster Hangout. I don’t know that we particularly loved working out, but I know we all liked getting away from home.
I was still fairly mad that my brother had stopped hanging out with me when his birthday rolled around. I refused to have a good time at his party. Unlike me, he decided he wanted to have it at home, which of course made Mom and Dad happy since it saved them money. Mom, Dad, Melinda, Sydney, and half of the teens and children at our school cheered for my brother’s transition. I did my homework instead.
Ronald aged into a total nerd. Well, not a nerd in the super-brain sense that I had to admit that I was. He just looked like a nerd with his glasses and hair that wouldn’t lie flat. He talked to Caleb Pincher at his party and the two of them became best friends again.
I had to talk to Caleb, too. He came up to me and let me know that we had computer class together. Duh. I wasn’t blind. I’d seen him and had been steadfastly ignoring him.
“Oh, are you in my computer class?” I asked innocently. “I love that class. I guess I get so focused that I didn’t notice you.”
“Yeah,” said Caleb, “I love the class, too. It’s my favorite.” He went on to talk in detail about how much he loves computers. The conversation got pretty technical. He really did love computers. I was secretly impressed that he knew so much. His mother was Penny Pincher. She didn’t have that great of a reputation in town. Who would have thought her son would be a computer whiz?
“Well, I have to do my science homework,” I said when I realized I’d been holding a conversation with Caleb for the last 10 minutes. I was still supposed to be ignoring him.
“Yeah, well I’ll see you in computers Kindra,” he said. “I guess Ronald will be blowing out his candles soon. I can’t wait until he’s at the high school with us.”
“Yeah, see you.”
The same night as Ronald’s birthday, Dad became an elder. He hadn’t wanted to interrupt Ronald’s night, so he had his birthday in the kitchen. Mom and Mina were there to see him transition.
By the time Dad aged, most of the guests were gone. One that had stayed was a strange sort of guy. He had brought a guitar and was entertaining the remaining guests with it. Apparently he was new in town. Dad had met him at the new Vegan restaurant. The guy’s name was Eddie Tragedy. He was the new chef.
Dad introduced him to all of us. I wasn’t that impressed with him even though I sort of liked his shirt. Samantha, on the other hand, seemed stunned by him. He was a vegetarian and an eco-friendly freak like she was. They hit it off and talked about the environment and recycling all night.
What a bore.
The best I can say about Chef Tragedy was that he had interesting taste in shirts and he wasn’t half bad at the guitar. I don’t know why Sam was so infatuated with him.
Actually, I don’t know what any of my sisters saw in the boys they liked (not that Eddie Tragedy was a boy…in fact, that just made Sam’s infatuation even worse).
As for Mina and Kris and Sydney and Calvin, I just wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about. So they’d hang out at the Red Rooster. So what? Both of those boys (and Eddie, too) were just so dull! They never did anything exciting.
Only one boy at school seemed that exciting to me. His name was Davis Knack. He wanted to be a chess champion. I admired his genius at chess. He was in Sydney’s grade, but I took a lot of advanced classes and he was in them, too. We often did homework together.
Not many people liked Davis. I know that Caleb Pincher didn’t. But I didn’t care. The only problem was that Davis didn’t see me as anything more than Sydney’s little sister. I didn’t know that the two of them had sort of dated when I was younger.
Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t know. Davis became an adult soon after I realized I had a crush on him. He started dating an older woman around town. I realized that I had been foolish in liking him.
I’d be better off focusing on what I really wanted instead of pining away for some silly boy. I was invited to work at the Doo Peas Corporate building downtown. I loved it. As soon as I walked in the doors I knew what I wanted to do. Someday I would be the CEO of a mega corporation.