Post by JennaWren on Feb 1, 2017 17:26:50 GMT -5
A lot of people think the problem between me and Cam started in preschool. Our parents refer to it as “The Holiday Project Disaster,” but sometimes I think of it as “When I Learned my Best Friend Could Be A Big Fat Jerk.”
I don't say it out loud, of course.
But what happened was this:
All of us kids at the Little Learners Nursery School were sitting at one of those kidney-shaped tables, working hard on our pictures. All of a sudden, for no reason at all, Cam dipped his fingers into Sylvia’s paint pot, scooping a huge gob of pink fingerpaint. Then he turned to me and smeared it all over my face. After the teacher cleaned me up and Cam’s timeout was over, I got back at him by cutting up his gingerbread man with a pair of safety scissors. I crumpled up the pieces just to prove my point.
I also got a timeout, but it was totally worth it. It took a week for the pink to come out of my hair.
Like I said, that’s when most people, like our families, think we became frenemies.
But the truth is, I think our problems started way before then, even if we didn’t know it at the time.
I blame our moms for everything that happened. And not just the paint and scissors thing. But all stuff that came later, just this past year, in fifth grade.
Anyway, here’s why it’s our moms’ fault:
Our moms have been best friends ever since they met in a yoga class for pregnant ladies. I guess they were really excited to find out they were both having boys and their due dates were the same day -- December 31st, New Year’s Eve. Cue the giggling and the decaf and constant getting together and dragging us kids along -- well, the dragging came later, but you get what I mean.
Turns out Cam and I were both born on New Year’s Day. But Cam was the one who came out first. In fact, he was the very first baby born in our town that new year.
I was born 35 measly seconds later.
He got his picture on TV and in the newspapers and everyone made a huge, fat deal over it. “CAMERON MAHONEY IS BABY NEW YEAR!” That newspaper front page is in a big frame in Cam’s living room.
Me? I got a bib from my Great-Aunt May, who I guess thought I was a girl. Jacob Ellison was sewn on it in crookedy, old-fashioned letters, surrounded by pink flowers and fuzzy yellow ducks. I think Mom saved it in a box somewhere, but last I can remember it was all stained and gross. Not really frame-worthy.
I wouldn’t actually mind so much, not being born first, but whenever we’re trying to decide who’s going to play Skateboarders of Doom first or who will be quarterback in touch football, Cam always says something like, “You know what they say, oldest first!” Or if he outscores me on a test, he’ll tap his forehead and say, “Older and wiser.”
So by now you’re probably thinking that I hate Cam and he’s a real jerk, but really, he’s my best friend. Mom says we fight like brothers and I guess that’s true, but he also has my back, just like a brother. Seriously. We’ve always been together and we’ve always been best friends. Ever since the hospital right up until this year, fifth grade.
I mean, he’s saved me from total humiliation. Last year, at the Halloween dance, I was working hard to impress the new girl, Elisa Rose. The cafeteria was kind of dark and I was getting ready to lean in close to amaze her with a story about the summer baseball championships, when Cam grabbed me by the shoulder.
“Come here for a sec,” he said, dragging me away. Over his shoulder, he said to Elisa Rose, “Don’t worry, he’ll be back!”
Near the exit I shook off his deathgrip. “What’s your deal?” I said. Elisa Rose was watching us. Nearby, some of her friends were giggling and whispering.
Cam tried to talk without moving his lips. “Gahgtatshou!” He widened his eyes meaningfully and nodded toward the hallway.
“Dude, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He looked at me like I was an idiot. “You have a bat hanging in the cave, dude,” he said, gesturing toward his nose. He spoke very slowly. “Go. Get. A. Tissue.”
Oh, my God! I sniffed in hard. Sure enough, something was hanging in there, stuck pretty good. I raced to the bathroom to take care of it, and when I got back the lights were on and Elisa Rose was waiting. I guess it had been too dark for her to see anything before. But if Cam hadn’t warned me, she would have now.
That’s a real friend, someone who will tell you there’s a booger in your nose.
And that’s why what happened this year was totally shocking. I mean, yeah, we didn’t always see eye to eye, but underneath the fighting we were always best friends.
Everyone knew it.
Everyone said so.
Then along came the new gym teacher, Mr. Daly, who seemed like he had just graduated from teachers’ college, with his awesome new plan to get everyone at school to love exercise.
“A running club!” He told everyone during the first all-school meeting. “At recess!” He explained how he’d have a big chart and give big prizes and at the end of the year the student who ran the most would win something really cool, blah, blah, blah.
Cam and I just looked at each other. We loved running. We loved competition. We loved winning.
Especially when winning meant one of us got to beat the other one.
It was the best idea ever.
It’s too bad the announcement of the Recess Running Club kicked off the worst year in all of Miller Elementary School history.