Concerning Romeo, Juliet, and Perfectly Awful Little Girls

Oliver attends the local high school, too far away for my binoculars to see. He leaves every morning at 7:30 and comes back every afternoon at 3:00, shouldering a backpack whose weight should really be outlawed. He says that if I went to school, I would have to carry a backpack as well. I think, if I went to school, I would find a better way to carry my schoolbooks. I also think that Oliver would carry them for me despite his bragging. But this is off subject. He comes back at 3:00 and comes upstairs to tell me about his day. He likes to tell me about what goes on in his classes, with his friends, with the school in general – probably in attempts to make me feel like I’ve been there. A theory of mine is that, because he feels like I’m missing out on life, he tries to bring it back home. Possibly in his backpack. Maybe that’s why it’s so heavy?

He tells me today that they’re doing a stupid project in English, reading Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, and that he was coerced into reading the part of Romeo. I tell him he’s lucky they didn’t pin him with the part of Juliet – he’s pretty enough. He isn’t very happy with my answer, but I don’t care. It was for my benefit, not his. Sometimes, I catch myself wondering about the things he talks about. For instance, what’s it like being in a crowd? What’s it like to realize you forgot to do your homework, and to know the teacher will kill you? What’s it like to get lost? I wouldn’t know any of those things, and the more I think about it, the more I don’t really want to.

“It’s just terrible, Olive. You know I hate reading out loud. They said I have a good reading voice. They’ve never heard me! I’ll have to read lovey-dovey things to Julie Rose—“

“The hippie girl?”

“Hah, if only! She’s the most popular girl in the class. She’s a goddess.”

“Ah, yes, and now you’re going to be singing her accolades? Excellent.”

Oliver is not pleased. No, he’s not pleased at all. He will go on for hours and hours about how unfair life really is and how he just might become a hermit, too, so that he doesn’t have to deal with the pressure of silly eccentric English teachers. I’ve reminded him a hundred times over that I’m not a hermit. Hopefully smacking his arm will help the message through this time.

“So, how was your day?”

When Oliver asks me how my day was, he never means for me to go into much detail. He knows what I do with my time – calls it spying. He isn’t the most thrilled. When we were younger, it used to be our game. He used to help me keep a record of everything I saw. He would come bounding up the steps yelling in a stage whisper, “Olive, hey Olive, did the Stratsonberg-lady dig anymore holes in her lawn? Did Mr. Carl’s father wander off again in his war suit?”

But now he avoids the subject. Where I have dubbed my observations art, he thinks I’m invading people’s privacy. So when he asks me that question, the one about my day, I tell him in a bored tone: “Nothing new to report.”

Of course, we both know that isn’t true. I see things all the time – every day bring a new development. The Jameson girls had a friend over today. She was a perfect little girl in a perfect pink dress and perfect pigtails with perfect pink ribbons and who was perfect at being awful, just like the Jameson girls have perfect little outfits and perfect ringlet curls with perfect little berets and are perfect at being awful. Her name was Kylie. I know this because the oldest Jameson would shriek, “Kylie is /my/ friend, Belinda, she can’t be /your/ friend, too!” before grabbing onto poor (hah!) little Kylie’s arm.

Balinda would shoot her sister an icy glare and grab onto the girl’s other arm. “No, Kylie’s /my/ friend, stupid. She can’t be /your/ friend because she’s already /mine/!”

It was a tug-of-war game that lasted for centuries. I almost felt sorry for perfectly awful Kylie, until I realized that she was smugly enjoying the attention and making a grand point to drag the situation out for as long as possible. Meanwhile, the little Jameson boy was entering the disaster unaware of the maelstrom that was currently taking place. He had his wagon out and was walking towards the house, back from his twenty-feet-to-the-left hike (since twenty feet down the sidewalk is as far as he’s allowed to roam). If he had been able to avoid the inevitable, he would have continued on with his standard twenty-feet-to-the-right trek, having a very philosophical conversation with his stuffed dog about what it would be like to be a carrot (or so I gathered by reading his lips – I could be wrong), but alas. The girls stopped their arguing to stare at him, and after a moment of silence where they stared at him and he stared back as though he were transfixed, all hell broke loose. The girls broke into a run, forcing him to grab his comrade and abandon wagon in order to run to the porch. There, he had probably hoped to seek shelter. It was a silly maneuver, one I had watched him beeline a billion times at least. They always catch him in the end. Today, however, they didn’t just steal his wagon and his teddy bear. They took away what little dignity a five year old has. Kylie, the selfish seven year old vixen, made him swear on pain of death to his stuffed animal that he would be her betrothed. (Which is fancy lingo for, “YOU WILL MARRY ME OR I’LL KILL SCRUFFY, GOT IT?!”) He had no choice to accept, and now he’s very worried about it. She made him hold her hand – he was the most worried about that. All in all, today was a terrible day for the Jameson boy. If Mr. Jameson hadn’t come home just in time, I fully believe that they would have held the ceremony right then and there.

I can’t tell any of this to Oliver. It’s harmless stuff, and anyone who watches could see what goes on. But to him, I’m as bad as…as…well, I don’t know. As something bad, I suppose. I’m having to bite my tongue now, because I’ve seen a parallel between their stories – Oliver’s and the Jameson boy’s. They’re both English Class Romeos, forced to croon the unobtainable ladies their false praises.

Oliver: “But soft what light through yonder window breaks it is the East and Juliet is the sun arise fair sun, and kill the envious moon who is already sick and pale with grief that thou her maid art far more fair than she.”

Jameson Boy: “Ok, ok! You’we pwetty, Kylie. Ow!” (He was pinched) “I-I mean, you’we vewy pwetty, Kylie!”

Neither of them are happy about being Romeo. Neither of them know how to get out of being Romeo. Like it or not, they’re stuck with their Juliet. Oliver should be counting himself lucky – at least his doesn’t have a killer pinch and two perfectly awful little henchmen to back her up.

The End

2 comments about this story Feed