I wrote this a while back to the amusement of my mom and the horror of my sisters and friend:
Summer at the Abercrombie’s
Ninety-eight degrees and 100% humidity is probably not the best time for a little fat girl to be catching rays, but whatever, I look good with a tan. Or at least that’s what I tell myself as I peel my body off of the lounge chair, sweat making me stick to the dark green and maroon plastic slats that aren’t covered by my hardly adequate bath towel. After pushing myself up and crawling off the chair, I adjust its back setting so that I’m propped up enough to read my book, making my towel slip down and expose the hateful plastic slats again. After 3 minutes of futile attempts to cover the slats I give up and resign myself to the thick red lines that will inevitably cover my back and part of my legs when I go to rotate again after 30 minutes.
Once I’ve settled my frame in the chair, I take a swig of Crystal Light from the Disney travel cup I’ve brought from the house and wipe the sweat off my upper lip.
“It’s hot!” I complain to my best friend Meredith who is alternating her sun exposure with thirty minutes under the big umbrella at the metal patio table nearby.
“Well, get out of the sun, idiot.” Mere is not known for her love of the sun and even less her compassion…must be a red headed thing? The only reason she’s toughed it out this long is due to the promise of pizza which should be here in the next half-hour or so.
The Abercrombie girls don’t head down to the pool without proper sustenance. Seeing as how the pool is about a quarter mile, downhill mind you, from my parent’s house “proper sustenance” consists of a cooler of drinks, little Debbie cakes, whatever fruit is at the house and of course the $20 mom left for pizza by the list of chores she hand wrote that morning on the backside of a paper plate.
“Meredith, a tan covers all sorts of imperfections. I can suffer a little heat if I can get a good tan.”
“Robbin, there’s not enough sun in the sky to cover all of that…”
Contrary to our typical dialogue, ragging on one another unmercifully, we love one another like sisters. More than that actually. While Mere’s sister is off at UGA for her first year of college and is therefore cool, my sisters and I are stair-stacked and with only 37 months between the oldest and youngest of us, we’re not exactly best friends. Ah, teenage girls—gotta love em! Speaking of…
“Lindsey, when did that pizza guy say he’d be here?! I’m starving!” I whine and glance over to my oldest sister who drew the short stick and had to order the pizza from the pool house phone. It’s kind of embarrassing ordering pizza to a pool (especially at the frequency in which we do it) and even worse when to pizza guy (who is inevitably some dreamy junior or senior boy trying to make a little money during the summer) pulls up to the pool to find that there isn’t a 5 year-olds birthday party going on, but instead 4 ravenous, hefty, young-teen girls.
“I already told you, they’re supposed to get here by 12,” this yelled at me from the shallow end of the pool. Lindsey chooses to slather herself in sunscreen and spend the very few minutes she’s here in the pool. Nobody’s fool, my sister is only here for the pizza and will high-tail it back to our parent’s igloo of a house as soon as she’s devoured her share. My parent’s house is forever set at 62 degrees…winter, summer, spring, fall, it doesn’t matter. My mom like’s it cold and I hesitate to think about how my future car fund is dwindled everyday to supplement my mom’s desire to have a fire in the fireplace in June.
“I hope he’s cute.” This from Britney, the youngest of our foursome and also the smallest. She weighs in at a slyvet 130 (which would genuinely be slender if she weren’t 12 years old and 5”2’).
I snort, roll my eyes and open my book. I’m partial to the classics: Diana Palmer, Nora Roberts, Lee Greenwood and the like. Oh? These were never covered in your college Lit class? No worries, your formal education didn’t stunt you….I just consider “the classics” to be older smut novels that Mom has on the shelf in her bedroom. What? You’re appalled that a 13 year old is reading smut?? Let me assure you, it wasn’t always so. I started reading at a very young age and I remember as a 6 year old staying under the covers in my old bedroom with a flashlight, trying to finish the latest Sweet Valley book before Mom came in and told me to go to sleep. By the time I was 8 I was on to Sweet Valley High books (oh, Jessica and Elizabeth—you slay me with your twin misadventures!). Around the time we moved to the new house (I was about 10) I was on to Christian romance novels. Nothing too hard—love and Jesus. I even had a book swap going with my mom’s grandma who lived on the south side of Atlanta. I was the only 13 year old who I knew of that had some kind of relationship with her great-grandma.
But alas, the purity wasn’t to last. I started on the hard stuff by the time I was 12. The first time I read a sex scene, I thought the characters had been transported to the San Jose fault on the 4th of July. At 13 I still wasn’t sure what a lot of that was but there is no denying the romance of 1800 Wild West. The authors always seem to gloss over the lack of bathing and overall hygiene that was part in parcel with the time period in which they were writing (for that matter, how often do you think they were showering and shaving their legs in medieval Scotland?), but no matter. I lived vicariously through every damsel and vowed I too would be hard to break, tough, yet pliable under the hands of my future lover (whatever that meant).
I was just starting my book and hadn’t delved too far into the life of a struggling only daughter of a hardened rich rancher when I heard the sound of a car pulling up. Pizza guy was early! As the three of us (sorry, Lindsey!) struggled to get into the most flattering (read: covers fat without hiding under the towel) pose, the smell of Papa John’s wafted to our nostrils. We looked up expectantly, coyishly from our respective positions and waited for the hottie to walk in with the pizza. I idly wondered which one of us he would check out while Lindsey paid the tab when suddenly our hot delivery guy turned into an acne-prone teenage girl not any luckier in the weight department than the rest of us. Her face resembled the pepperoni pizza she spent so much time around and I felt a twinge of empathy. We all probably could have been friends with the girl had we not been so deflated by her very presence.
I roll off the lounge chair (no longer caring that I had a double thigh and sweet potbelly gong on) and pull up a chair to the table where Mere and now Linds are sitting, 2 large steaming pizzas in the center of the table. Brat is the last to the table, and a trail of water follows her from the deep end of the pool where she has been trying to sit on the bottom. I taught her to do this a few summers ago but since then I’ve heard a story about a boy who got his intestines sucked out of his butt when he accidently sat on the filter/drain. I don’t feel the need to share this story with Brat; I just chose not to risk it anymore.
When we’re all finally at the table, I whip out the 4 paper plates and napkins we brought with us from the house and we all divvy up the pizza. There is a slight skirmish (blow out fight) over who are the lucky two to get the garlic sauce packets, ‘cause you know, we can’t share the 3 tablespoons of garlic butter. When the victors are finally decided, we eat. I’d tell you we enjoyed our pizzas like ladies at a tea but the reality of it is that we had probably wolfed down the two large pizzas in less time than it took pizza girl to get back to the store.
“Okay, well ‘m going back to the house,” Lindsey tells us after she finishes her ¼ of the food.
“What time is it?” I ask this not because I’m concerned about sun exposure, skin cancer or even getting our chores completed before Mom gets home, but because we all have a standing date with the TV at 1 o’clock.
“12:30,” Mere reads from her super cool, custom banned sports watch. Her sister came back from UGA wearing one and now Mere has it too, so it makes her seem older and more mature. I make a mental note to look next time I’m at Wal-Mart and see if they sell something like that.
“Okay, well I say we pack up and go home now, that way we have plenty of time to get there and get the TV on before Days comes on.” Some might say there are two things wrong with this sentence. One, we’re a quarter mile from the house. Granted, it’s uphill, but I’m pretty sure turtles on from the neighborhood lake have crawled up the hill faster than that—this logic does not dawn on us as we are concentrating on the hike before us not unlike a marathoner at mile #25. The second thing you might see wrong with this is that “Days” is our shorthand for “Days of Our Lives,” the soap opera we watch religiously when we’re out of school. Much like the implausibility of my smut novels, the soap opera offers a smidge of the unbelievable—sisters throwing acid on another’s face before prom because she’s jealous of the date? The physiatrist being possessed by Satan?—but I don’t care. I want to live in Salem and have Austen’s babies, Sammie and her acid be damned.
So we make the trek back to the house and we’re wiped out by our tremendous efforts. I use the last spurt of my energy to grab for the remote control. Although we all agree on the next hour’s programming there is just a sense of power that comes with being the one wielding the remote. I can control the volume, ladies, so don’t piss me off or I’ll have to turn it up over you. Also, there is the looming problem of the 2 o’clock hour when Days is off and we’re left with 3 hours to finish the list of chores mom left for us this AM. For now though, there is only Days.
Not one of us speaks during the program and leaves the discussion of Marleana’s latest actions for commercial break. It’s actually quite magnificent. If ever you need to tame the savage beast that is a teenaged girl’s mouth, just sit her in front of the TV while her stories are on. Magical.
Before we know it, we’re left with the cliffhanger of the day and it’s two o’clock. Now, a lot of people would assume this is when Meredith could call her mom to come and get her but she’s spending the night and hasn’t been exempt from the chore list—she’s got dishes. Because she’s been such a fixture in the Abercrombie household, no one bats an eye that our “guest” gets to clean up our dish mess from earlier today and last night. As a matter of a fact, we resent the fact she’s gotten off so easy. I have bathrooms, Lindsey has the living room and vacuuming the downstairs and Brat has the laundry—clearly she’s ticked Mom off—laundry is the bane of our existence. More than bathrooms, more than dusting, laundry is the crappiest chore you can get. I think it stems from the fact that there are 5 of us in the family, which means 5 sets of clothes, 4 rooms to go into and we have to put away and hang Mom and Dad’s clothes.
Now, if you’re an adult (or anyone that spends less that ¾ of their life in a prone position OR not a teenager) you might see that list and say 30 minutes, and hour tops but the Abercrombie/Savage clan have a unique talent of making even the most easy, mundane chore drag out all afternoon. I did a load of laundry once and it literally took me from 8 AM until 5 PM. And no, there was no washboard and clothes line involved, I’m just gifted.
Anyway, it’s about five thirty by the time we’re all finished and we’re done just in time to hear the garage door open. A minute later Mom sticks her head in the house and tells us to come on and help her unload the groceries.
“Ugh! We’ve been working all day!” I whine.
“Yes ma’am, Ms. Tina!” Mere, always throwing her hat into “favorite daughter” category leaps to do Mom’s bidding, although I know tonight as I hand her my glasses to put on the nightstand, she’ll once again comment on how it’s funny that she’s expected to do chores at my house.
It’s left to Mere and I to unpack as Lindsey and Britney have suddenly reverted to 3 year olds and are up stairs “napping”. But, their loss. As we’re unloading groceries, I notice a gallon of Moose Track ice cream. Now, I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate chip but I am a huge fan of ice cream and my new goal is to have this carton devoured before Brit and Lindsey even know it’s in the house. I tuck it in the far reaches of the freezer and cover my treasure with a bag of peas.