Days of Throbbing Gristle
Days of Throbbing Gristle
Neil and Donna came home at the same time-late.
"I am so sorry, Sammy!" Donna was hysterical. "Work at the retirement center was non-stop. I can't believe the way it just ate away the day. I did manage to get tomorrow off, though, so if you don't mind missing just one more day of school, I promise we'll get you set up and ready, okay?"
"Whatever you think is best, Mrs Turner."
"Good man! Now I told you, stop calling me 'Mrs'. Yer makin me feel old."
"And I'm feelin hungry." Neil put his arm around my shoulders. "What say we get ourselves some big, fat, greasy, totally unhealthy American cheeseburgers, Sammy? You game?"
"Of course he is!" Donna screamed. "Those skinny bones need some meat! "
A tickle raid ensued. I was most uncomfortable.
New sis and I climbed into the back of a red Chrysler, its white seats covered in sticky leather. We left Stony Forest, and Neil pointed as he drove.
"This is Bay Boulevard, the main road here. If you ever get lost, just jump in the Bay, they say, and you'll get where wanna go in Kaiser Lake. Around the corner here, you see your high school, Sammy-there. Not far, is it?"
Kaiser High was a long slab of brick with curved sides and black windows, set in a grove with trees but no brush. "One of the top ten high schools in the nation."
Donna told me what I already knew. I certainly didn't choose Texas for the weather or culture. Nevertheless, both parents awaited my impressed reaction.
"It's bigger than I expected," I compromised. "How many students, did you say?"
"Eight hundred?" Wife looked to husband.
"Three thousand," he corrected, "give or take a dozen. The graduating class averages 800. In fact, I saw in the paper just the other day, the Secretary of Education might be paying you guys a visit this year, which should tell you how just good your school really is."
"Yeah." Heather spoke-for the first time. "Aren't we lucky?"
Donna wheeled about. "As a matter of fact, young lady, you are lucky. Both of you. I would've killed to go to a school like this."
"Well, I, for one, feel lucky." I relieved the tension-with panache too. "Here I am, going to the best high school in the nation, in the best state in the nation, in the best nation in the world." Thanks for reminding me, little girl.
Donna's facial lines disappeared. The lioness smiled, patted my knee, and turned back around. Heather rolled her eyes. It was her signature move.
The rest of Kaiser Lake remained unimpressive. It was a flat land, populated by strip malls, chain restaurants, and only a touch of forest.
NASA was the worst. The world's premier space agency turned out to be but a few buildings spread out over a cow pasture. Not even the Saturn 1 rocket in booster sequence display could disperse what I felt to be an enforced atmosphere of dull. But I moaned on an empty stomach.
I thought we were going to McDonalds. I thought all Americans went to McDonalds. But we went to Fuddruckers, as much a burger joint as Mickey D's, but one catering to posh suburbans who had more cash to burn.
At the front door, was a sign- Proper Attire Requested . I paused awkwardly. Donna laughed, and pushed me inside.
Fuddruckers was as big as a barn, cold as a freezer. My cheeseburger was too much. I'll never finish it, I thought. But one bite and I transformed into a starving dog. Indeed, I made a spectacle of myself.
"Atta boy, Sammy-you show that burger who's boss!" Neil was impressed.
"Yeah, eat up." Donna sucked sauce off her little finger. "You're gonna need your energy for tomorrow. I can't wait to take you shopping! It's the great American pastime, y'know."
"Shopping?" I forced small talk. It was difficult. "Not baseball?"
"For boys , maybe. But us girls, it's shop-till-y