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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
The grass is not always greener nor life easier - across the street.

Submitted: January 28, 2012

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Submitted: January 28, 2012



Eighth grade was a big year for me; I was turning thirteen and only yearned for one thing – a phone in my room. Some of my friends had phones in their rooms and believe it or not, this was a big deal, and so I had to have one too. I was looking forward to lying on my preppy pink Laura Ashley comforter and having leisurely chats, sharing gossip and calling boys from the privacy of my own room, rather than the status quo of stretching the cord across the kitchen floor and sequestering myself on the pantry floor to have a private conversation.

My birthday is in September, so I had been working on my mom all summer. “When I get my own phone, I won’t be gabbing in the kitchen all the time anymore and be in your way,” or , “When I get my own phone I will get my homework done faster because I can sit at my desk and talk to the smartest kid in math.” And “I’ll probably be smarter because having my own phone will make me just stay in my room and study more.” I had an endless spiel of ridiculous reasons why it was a good thing for my mom to let me have my own phone. By the end of August, I think she just acquiesced and said yes at some point to put the subject to rest.

Should I get the pink princess design to match my room? The sleek one piece black design from Sharper Image? It would be really cool to have the Bang and Olufsen uber modern design like my friend Kimmie’s father had in his office, but my mom would never spend that much on a kid’s phone. I told all my friends I was getting a phone in my room for my birthday. “Ooh, luck-ee”, and “That is so rad.” I planned to show it off at my slumber party the Friday after my actual birthday.

On the morning of September 19th, I awoke to no phone in my room (I guess I thought the elves would magically install it in the night). So I just figured I would get it later with all my presents at dinner. After dinner at my favorite steakhouse, I opened all my presents, but NO phone! I asked my parents, “Oh, is my phone being installed tomorrow?” My dad looked at me and said, “Your grades really aren’t where we want them to be right now, so we decided if you get a 3.5 or higher on your next report card, you may have the phone.” “It is a privilege to have a phone in your room and blah, blah, blah…”

WHAT???? Where did they get this stuff? Was my mom reading those idiotic self-help books again? A few titles I saw floating through the house were ”How to Survive Your Teenager,” “Raising a Healthy and Happy Teen,” and the killer was “Taking Control; Your Teen Wants Discipline.” I didn’t know about the rest of America, but I sure as hell didn’t want discipline, and neither did any other teens I knew. Whenever I saw this propaganda around my house, I would wrap it in paper towels and throw it straight into the garbage! How dare my parents read this junk and try and “outsmart” me? If my mom asked, “Did you see such and such book around?” I would just give her a blank stare.

I felt like they just didn’t want me to have my own phone and the grade speech was just an excuse. How annoying and archaic could my parents be? Why couldn’t I have cool parents??? How dangerous could it be for me to have my own phone? Would I be calling secret agents? Older boys? Having phone sex? What’s the big deal? I tried to reason, beg and plead with them for at least another hour that night, but it got me nowhere. I went to bed totally perturbed and vowing to get my phone somehow.

The next morning on the bus, I told my BFF Ann that I did not get my phone, but that I had a surefire plan to make it happen. I would run away from home, move in with Ann and tell my parents I’m not coming home until the phone is installed! Brilliant!

That day after school, I informed my mom that I would be moving out until my phone was in my room. The news somehow didn’t garner the reaction I had hoped for. She barely looked up from her paper to say, “That’s nice dear.” I expected her to try and stop her precious daughter from running away from home, but she didn’t seem that concerned. Clearly this was not her first rodeo.

Ann and I carried two dressers and their contents across the street, virtually all the hanging clothes in my closets, my stereo system, soccer trophies, my Cure and Big Audio Dynamite posters, and Smiths “Meat is Murder” poster. I was making a statement. No matter what, I was dead serious about moving out until I got my phone. I even brought my onion bagels, Schweppes ginger ale, and Pepperidge Farm chocolate chip cookie stash in case Ann’ s mom tried to make me eat their weird Southern food. I recall my mom waving goodbye with a sly grin on her face as we carried the last load through the foyer and out the front door.

As soon as I settled into my new digs across the street, I knew life was about to be very different for me. Mrs. Lombardo gave me a lecture before I even finished taping my last Cure poster to Ann’s wall. “Honey, you are welcome to stay as long as you like, but you must follow my rules. Bedtime and lights out at 9, setting the table and doing the dishes, and any other chores my kids do.” Five minutes in Chez Lombardo and I was already missing home. She brought Ann and me a few baskets of clean towels and instructed us to “fold”. I never had to do this stuff at my house. But I was on a mission to get my phone, and a few chores would not stop me.

The Lombardo family was from Tennessee, and the denizens of my neighborhood just didn’t know what to make of their quirky Southern ways. In the hood, most of the dads worked, mowed the lawn, and the moms did mom stuff while the kids played soccer in the backyard. Typical suburban life. Life was really different at the Lombardo homestead. For starters, the “Rebel” flag was floating in the wind on their flagpole; it was also displayed proudly in the garage, and the family room I believe. They had two dogs (one was named Bubba!), three cats, a few birds and God knows what other creatures. The kids said “Yes, sir,” and “Yes ma’am,” when addressing their parents and other grown-ups, and actually listened to their parents! The kid’s rooms were decorated with Elvis posters – WTF? Elvis? I guess they hadn’t discovered Depeche Mode or Sigue Sigue Sputnik in Tennessee yet. In the summer, the mom (a knockout) would mow the lawn in a string bikini. In the winter, you could find the dad getting the mail in his robe and bare feet while traipsing through the snow. They had two boys and two girls, and they were all good looking, fun kids. Pretty soon, all the boys on the block and at school were crazy for Ann, who was very pretty and the sweet Southern accent didn’t hurt. They were a definite spark of much needed energy and eccentricity to our neighborhood. My dad thought it was just ducky to see the Mrs. mowing the lawn, especially in a bikini.

The first few days of my fugitive lifestyle went well. Ann and I did everything together anyway, except now I just slept over. I was never a huge believer of studying, or doing too much schoolwork unless it was absolutely necessary. I usually did just the bare minimum and still managed at least a 3.0, so I figured - why miss out on all the fun things in life to do homework? After all, I was planning on doing something artsy, not mathey or sciencey. Anyway, I had a routine for things I absolutely loathed, like science. I was mostly a jock, but I was friends with all the brainy kids in class too, even the smartest kid in science, Doug. He was pretty cool for being such a nerd. So if I didn’t study, I would just feign illness, go into school late (or not at all), miss the test, and take it the following day. I think I paid him $20 per test and he would write down the answers, which I would smuggle into class either written cryptically on my folder, or taped to my thighs under my skirt, and just lift it up for the answers during the make-up test.

On the third morning of my self-imposed exile, the alarm clock rang at the usual hour of six something. Ann tried to get me up, but I told her I didn’t study for the science exam and I was planning on going in after the third period. She didn’t say anything, and I went back to sleep. But only for a minute – within seconds the Wrath of Kahn was standing over my bed. I said, “Oh yeah Mrs. Lombardo, I didn’t study for my science test, so I can’t go in ‘til the third period, can you give me a ride to school around tennish?” Mrs. Lombardo was glaring at me with fierce glowing (and I swear, red) eyeballs bulging out of her head. She had somehow morphed into Rambo (another Lombardo icon, the poster displayed right next to Elvis)! She screamed louder than an army sergeant, “GET OUT OF BED GIRL!!!”, “I don’t know what goes on at your house, but we do NOT skip school here!” “Get your behind on that bus NOW!”

I looked up and said something like, “Oh, this is not working for me. I think I have to move out now. I’ll get the rest of my stuff later.” Mrs. Lombardo was not happy. Maybe she took me in to try to reform my slacker ways, or try to teach me how to be an obedient child, but whatever the reason, I don’t think she envisioned this particular outcome. She looked at me like, “Well, I tried!", and rolled her eyes.

Within a few days of moving back home, I got the phone. I don’t remember what exactly I said to finally convince the rents (as we endearingly referred to them…), but I guess they realized it meant quite a lot to me and they caved. They were creating a monster by always giving me what I wanted, but I wasn’t about to tell them that. They should have figured it out on their own from reading one of their self-help teenager books!

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