“So long, Eliza, see you tomorrow at school.”
At school the next day, Joey stuffed a piece of paper in my hand. It was an application for the Miss Rutherford County Contest.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked him.
“I’m helping you get your money together.” Joey said.
I sighed and looked at the ceiling and back at Joey. He smiled. I looked over the application. In addition to the cash prize, a scholarship was being offered to any school of the recipient’s choice.
“Well, okay. Guess I can’t turn that down. Thanks, Joey.”
“Sure! I’ll catch up with you later,” he said.
I watched him head down the hall. I was sure gonna miss Joey when I got to California. I’d probably get lonely out there when I was driving around in my white convertible. I would think back to the nights when Joey, Eliza and I were out making the drag. One night we were bored and nobody interesting was in town. We went up and parked at Bixby’s Affiliated Market. There were some old, rusty grocery cards at the back of the store. We decided to test them out. I was lying in my cart with my feet hanging out the back. They gave me a little push, and since I was on a hill, I went rolling out onto main street. The cars were weaving and honking. I was afraid to sit up, afraid somebody might recognize me. So I just kept down and prayed nobody would hit me. When I got to the other side, the cart hit the curb, and I went flying out into a patch of goatheads. I was awfully mad, I had stickers all in my feet and hands, but I didn’t have the heart to be too mean to Joey and Eliza since they were so upset that I was almost ran over.
It was time for science class and not one of my favorites. Today we were going to take blood types of our classmates. I wasn’t too excited, because I’ve never had much luck at first aid. Mr. Waller looked up when I walked in.
“Good afternoon, Mary Ann. Glad you could make it today. Do you have your volunteer for the blood sample ready?”
“I do,” I answered and looked nervously around for Adam Femster. I played tennis with him and he was the only junior class member who remotely trusted me to type blood.
“Good. I hope this turns out better than your sea monkeys project.”
The class laughed. Let them. They actually did look like little monkeys in that comic book picture that I ordered them from. I hated science anyway.
“You will never guess who has entered the Miss Rutherford County contest,” Eliza said to me the next day at lunch. I had not told her about me just yet.
“Who?” I asked nonchalantly.
“Carly Adams,” Eliza said.
I detested Carly Adams. She had everything. She was hateful and a tattletale besides.
“Guess who else entered that contest?” I said.
“I haven’t the faintest notion, it is probably framed anyway, especially now that Carly is in it and her daddy runs the whole county,” Eliza said.
“Well, I entered it,” I said.
“YOU WHAT?” Eliza almost sucked the pig-in-the-blanket down her throat.
“Yes I did. It was some dumb idea of Joey’s. Anyway it is worth a shot for the money and stuff. Otherwise, I’ll have to get three summer jobs to get out of this place,” I said.
“Mary Ann, what the heck! I’m proud of you, I just never figured you were, uh, the queen type,” Eliza smiled at me.
We finished our lunch and prepared for the afternoon assembly. A representative from Draughn’s Business School was out to entice girls to continue their education with secretarial school. I was so bored I wanted to sleep. In between naps, I caught a few phrases from the speaker. He looked like a nerd right off a television show wearing his wire framed glasses and plaid jacket.
“Being a secretary is a challenging, high paying career.”
Yeah, right, just look at Mrs. Higgins, the school secretary and that Mercedes she drives to work everyday.
“Now how many of you would like to type 100 words a minute?”
I quelled the desire to ask him how many words a minute he could type and just how long he had enjoyed a high paying career as somebody’s secretary. I had definitely heard stories about that occupation. Betty Baker who worked for Mr. Parchwood at the realty company had to put up with his ex-wives coming in and cursing everyday and then there was that phone business with four lines at a time lighting up and Mr. Parchwood standing over her shoulder while she typed a thirty page document shaking his head to tell her he wasn’t there….TBC