If you missed the first part….here it is…..go read it. I’ll wait. I have beer.
So Angela says, “Can we meet Penny?”
I’m all like “Sure! I’ll go in and get her…but only one of us can come out at a time as my mom needs a lot of help in there and my grandma is busy cleaning [the Smurf off of everything].” And Angela bought it. She bought it like ice cream from a pedo-truck in the middle of August.
That little voice? Again? Is screaming at me…
What. The. Hell. Is Your problem, gurrl? Did you sniff too much turpentine?!!?? The Virgin Mary is VERY displeased with you right now. You know that, right? Right?!?
I ran back inside and told my mom I was going to hang out with a couple new friends from down the block and she was so thrilled about that she had to smoke a cigarette right then and there.
I went upstairs to my new room that was still Smurf Blue and had a gas pipe running up through the floor because the house had once been made into a two-family flat. I dug through all my clothes desperately trying to find another outfit. Panicking…I could barely come up with anything that looked remotely different from what I had on already. All my clothes, of course, at the age of seven, had been purchased by my mother. And my mom? Is definitely not a fashion guru. Everything looked exactly the same….from the halter/shorts sets to the Garanimals plaid pants & matching tops that made me want to beat my own self up for being so damn nerdy.
But I managed to find a work-around. A *different* matching halter/shorts set, and a pair of complete un-same thongs (yes…the shoes….*not* the underwear…because “thongs” meant shoes in 1972…). No one would EVER know I was the same exact person!
And I became Penny. I put my hair into pigtails. I think I even gave Penny an invented English accent, which made no sense at all, but hey, we’re talking about seven-year-olds here. I made Her shy and aloof….completely unlike me. I created a whole persona for Her with an entire back story, I kid you not. Like how She couldn’t play piano like I could but She could draw (hehe…..awesome touch there, I think, in retrospect). I even gave Her a different stance, different mannerisms, and a different look to Her eye…and Penny didn’t wear glasses like Maria did (which made things TERRIBLY fun!) ~ all of this in the time it took me to walk down the stairs in a yellow shorts/halter set, which was OBVIOUSLY completely different from the red set Maria was wearing, right? I took a deep breath, walked outside – I think I even took Dylanger, the Doberman dog, outside as opposed to Chrissy, the sheepdog, whom I had taken out on a leash the first time – and was all prepared to introduce Penny to Angela and Becky.
They were both super impressed with my (horrendous) British accent, and from there I had to ad lib and tell them that Penny had grown up in England (this part of the story gets sketchy, but hey…..remember…we were all SEVEN!…no one was questioning any of it). Through no fault of Penny’s own, of course, “our” mother and father didn’t stay together long after being married and so things fell apart, so Penny had to go live in London, which was where She acquired that really awesome accent. Heh. “Our” mother had to move away from the old South St. Louis neighborhood and now we were all back together and living here together in New House in Maplewood.
This seemed to satisfy both Becky and Angela until Becky asked if she could come inside.
I….ok, “Penny”….quicky stated that under no circumstances was anyone else allowed in the house because Smurfs might eat them.
Ok, no I didn’t really say that. I don’t even remember what I said, exactly, but whatever it was it was enough to satisfy them that we had to stay outside because, you know. The whole “twin thing” that didn’t actually exist, right?
The afternoon went on like this for hours, with me running back and forth, changing clothes, hair, mannerisms and dogs to be both Maria and Penny. Back and forth. Back and forth.
By 5 pm I was exhausted and it was time for dinner. My mom told Angela and Becky they needed to go home and she and I took my grandma back to her home over on Swan Avenue and we picked up some Imo’s pizza off Hampton on our way back. I ate it ravenously as mom and I sat on a roll of carpet, balancing the grease-laden paper plates on our knees.
“Did you make some new friends?” she asked me.
“Yeah,” I said flatly, my mouth full of cracker-crust pizza and provel cheese.
“That’s nice. Why did you keep going outside without your glasses.”
::chomps pizza….ignores mom…end of discussion::
Shortly thereafter we went to bed and attempted to sleep in The New House as the nearby train yard made noise all night long that sounded like the “Stomp” guys banging trash cans together for hours. In the morning we were awakened by the school bell from across the street, even though it was summer. They never shut off the bells during the breaks. This amused us greatly. Not. I’m not sure I have ever had a more sleepless night than that one save for the ones after I had kids. I also discovered The New House had a ghost…but that’s an entirely different story.
Eventually mom and I would learn to get used to all the racket around there and also learn that if we get ice and rain we ought to never, ever EVER try to drive down Tremont Street unless we wanted to end up in the River Des Peres, which is basically a giant sewer and/or a fun place to go avoid your parents.
I figured Penny would be forgotten.
But I was wrong.
She continued to be forced to live for another three years.