Monday, April 06, 2009


I hate Rodney. He's sitting across the aisle from me at First Lutheran Elementary. He's a blonde, skinny boy, smart but mean to other kids. A big upper lip gives him a permanent smirk.

I hate him because we are neck and neck for first place in the Read 100 Books This Year contest Mrs. Christianson announced the second week of first grade.

I have read and read and read this year. Fifty two books so far and it's only January. Every day I look at the great big embroidered blue ribbon hanging above the blackboard. It's made of silk with ruffles all around. First place. I must win that ribbon.

"How many books this week?" I whisper to Rodney when the teacher's back is turned.


"Three? Really?" I only read two. "How many for the year?"

"Forty six."

He's got a smug look on his bratty face. I want to pinch him but I turn away as if I don't care.

By Valentine's Day, I've read 65 books. Rodney leaves a valentine in the paper sack hanging on the front of my desk. I know he doesn't mean it so I don't give him one back. I feel bad later. He's read 59 books now.

Easter's early this year and I'm up to 85 books. My mother's taking me to the downtown library every Saturday.

Rodney's at 78 books. I stay mad at him. I want him to go away to another school. He's not even Lutheran.

Three weeks before the end of school, at recess, I ask him "How many books have you read?"

"Eighty nine."

"I've read ninety eight." I relish the look on his face.

"Ninety eight? What are you reading?"

"Oh, I read a lot of things. I just finished a dictionary." I say this in a practiced casual manner. I don't tell him it was a kid dictionary, and I am thrilled when his eyes get huge.

"A dictionary?"

"Yup." I wander away, pleased that I've made him anxious.

The next Monday, Mrs. Christianson announces that I've won the Read 100 Books This Year contest with 101 books for the year. She displays my completed list, each title and author painstakingly recorded on a lined sheet. Rodney makes a face at me and throws a spitball. I get the blue ribbon. Everyone claps.

When I put two books on my list I hadn't read, I didn't know how bad I would feel. I won. The blue ribbon was cheap acetate. What I thought was embroidery was just paint. When I got home, I put the ribbon in a box and pushed it under my bed.

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Anonymous ewe said...

And Rodney? I love that name. I envision a kid and a holster. Armed and ready with more spitballs. He is probably an attorney general or neurosurgeon writing his own books. You read 98books Agent 99. He only read 89. You win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

April 06, 2009 11:00 AM  
Anonymous lynette said...

I think he's a pastor or a cardiothoracic surgeon, ewe. I've googled him. Right age, right region. See how things turn out? Rodney was honest and didn't cheat, turned into a decent human being. I cheated, turned into a drunk ;-) And the stupid thing was I had him beat. Isn't that crazy? Silly little girl.

April 06, 2009 11:14 AM  
Blogger Mari said...

We all had a Rodney... I think you should let yourself off the hook now!

April 06, 2009 11:16 AM  
Blogger Krisha said...

I love these. Keep 'em comin'.

April 10, 2009 6:58 PM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

holy hell, who can't relate to that?

I used to compete academically with this sweet but kind of geeky guy in my high school. I hated it if he outscored me on a test, and would redouble my efforts. He finally, after 4 years of giving me all his watermelon Jolly Ranchers out the variety pack, and making casual trips to my locker to give me Bit O' Honeys, he asked me out. Right before the end of senior year. We dated for a short while, then I broke up with him and left for hte Army.

He ended up as valedictorian, and is now some kind of PhD at NASA.

April 11, 2009 9:34 PM  

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