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Lily attempts to turn around the most boring summer ever. And when she meets Karla and her incredibly cool parents, her summer gets even better because she learns they are her relatives.
Lily B. on the Brink of Cool
Wednesday, June 19
NOTE TO FUTURE BIOGRAPHERS: Welcome to the notebook of the soon-to-be internationally recognized writer Lily Blennerhassett (that's me -- nom de plume pending). I am recording my life for the benefit of future scholars devoting their professional lives to my Collected Works and for the benefit of readers, writers, and all who Seek the Truth.
And also because this counts as a summer project for Advanced English.
Thursday, June 20
Kitchen Table. With Nutter Butter.
My life lacks excitement. It's worse than that, actually. My life lacks action. Conflict. Drama. My life lacks anything of substance, unless you count three green and two yellow vegetable portions on that nutritional food pyramid. The rich and varied scope of human experience has passed me by. I am an uninteresting person. I lack the raw materials necessary to produce a great novel.
I blame my parents. They are simple, plain, by-the-book people. They do not take risks. They do not pick up hitchhikers. They do not sample mushrooms that grow in the wild. They are so mainstream, they make The First Lady look radical.
Take driving with my father, for example. I may be only thirteen, and totally lacking in driver's education, but even I know that on the highway the left lane is supposed to be the fast lane. But my father disregards this Accepted Fact of Life on a daily basis. He'll maneuver the Honda into the left lane, then cruise along at 55, the posted speed limit in most of New York State. Not 54. Never 56. And when regular people, nice average Joes, come up behind him wanting to pass, he refuses to move over to the right lane. And okay, some of these people might get a little irritated. And maybe they flash their lights, or honk, or do a little innocent tailgating. Can you blame them? And what does my father do? Nothing at all. Just chugs along at 55 with this quiet It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood expression on his face. And if you make the mistake of pointing out that someone is trying to pass, he'll just shake his head and smile. He'll point to the speedometer. He'll say, "I'm doing the legal speed limit. Nobody has any right to complain. This is the speed we're supposed to be going."
I think I've made my point.
But let's not forget my mother. Somebody ought to apply for a grant to seriously study her. When my mother stays in a hotel, she makes the beds in the morning. I am not inventing this. Whether it's the ritziest place in the state or the Super 8 just off the freeway exit ramp, she always makes the beds and folds the used towels neatly on the rack. She claims she "can't think clearly with the beds unmade." I may only have gotten a B in bio, but I do know there is no connection between brain activity and bed sheets. I don't need therapy to know the real issue is how our family appears to other people. Unmade beds are untidy, and the last thing Mom wants is for word to get out to the Super 8 housekeeping staff that the Blennerhassetts from Room 118 are Untidy People.
Given the opportunity, I feel sure William Shakespeare would have driven faster than the speed limit. And I feel very safe in saying that Jane Austen would not, in comparable circumstances, have straightened up her room at the Super 8.Life in the fast lane has NEVER been worse.
Friday, June 21
Raining. Upstairs. Window seat.
I am waiting for Charlotte. It will be difficult saying a serious good-bye to someone who is attending Young Executive Camp for part of the summer. If it had been anyone else, I would have written a sarcastic short story about it and submitted it to The New Yorker. But it is more complicated than that.
Charlotte and I have spent every summer together since we were in kindergarten and became best friends. First it was Fairy Day Camp, then it was Sports Center Intensive Swim Program. Somewhere around the third or fourth grade we did the Brownie/Girl Scout thing.
And for the last several years Camp Migawam. We slept in a cabin together, canoed together, swam together, launched butter pats at the ceiling in the dining room. Together.
I realize it isn't Charlotte's fault, necessarily, that Camp Migawam went out of business after Charlotte called the newspaper regarding the offering of bribes by camp administrators to the state health and safety inspector. I don't blame her for that. But when it came time for us to pick a new way to spend the summer, Charlotte got all flipped out about this new alternative camp she'd found out about on the web, where Chief Executive Officers and Business Tycoons of tomorrow come together for the purposes of "educational enrichment." I looked at the brochure, just to see. It was appalling! No canoes. No cabins. No swimming, no sailing, no archery, not even any nature walks. Instead, the brochure talked about seminars, interactive workshops, and lectures by visiting corporate leaders. In short, it was a nightmare.
I kept thinking she'd come to her senses. I kept thinking we'd find some nice tennis camp, or a riding program, or a hiking trip for girls. But Charlotte wouldn't budge. She was determined to enroll in Young Executive Camp. Spending a large part of the summer without Charlotte would be a disaster. But let's face it -- me at Young Executive Camp would be a catastrophe.
My future plans do not include working in an office. They do not include panty hose and unscuffed shoes. They do not include briefcases or cell phones. They do not include carefully folded newspapers and takeout coffee or the commuter train.
Excerpted from Lily B. on the Brink of Cool by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.