April 17, 1997 Thursday
Today was the art festival in Cuba, Illinois. Before this story takes off on yellow schools buses, Colin did something pretty strange it must be mentioned. He had colored his hair silver because he wanted to know if he should do it for prom. However, the silver was more of a whitish color, and let’s say Colin stood out today.
On the bus ride I told Colin and Leslie K about my plans for Sidney’s birthday. Sidney’s sister Cilla was sitting just across the aisle from us, but she was listening to a CD player, so I don’t think she overheard anything. I also decided yesterday that along with the flowers something else should be given. I hope she likes the Beanie Baby I got. They are all the rage, for some reason. Even better, around the neck of the small plush toy of a white bear will be placed the silver bracelet.
There were a lot more works of art at the festival than I had imagined. Every school for the Prairieland Conference was there, and I began to doubt my chances of winning for my color pencil collage. Instead of going to the seminars like everyone else, Colin and I trailed the judges as they made their decisions. Some of the pieces they selected were quite good, but others were strange to say the least. At around 11:30 the awards ceremony was held. Colin won co-Best of Show(!) for his own color pencil drawing. Actually, Elmwood swept in that category. I got second, but technically I got first. You see, the work that wins Best of Show isn’t supposed to get a media first prize too, so then all of the awards were bumped up one. I’m okay with it, though. Colin’s really did an excellent job on his. Cilla also got third prize, for her careful, bright color pencil drawing of a gumball machine. Mrs. Cardiff was certain that the school who beat us out of second place brought more than the fifty allotted pieces. She may have been right.
We weren’t supposed to be back at school until three, but we left Cuba by 12:30. In Canton we stopped at McDonald’s, but signs at all of the counters read WE HAVE NO BEANIE BABIES (This craze has grown weird). After, we all wanted to go to the Farmington park and run in the barrel. We begged and begged, and Mrs. Cardiff hedged. I told her if she did she would be my favorite teacher. She didn’t let us stop, but she was kind enough to tell the bus driver to drive right past it. I informed her she was not my favorite teacher.
The game tonight was a home game, in Brimfield. In the first of the double-dip we were fired up and loose. It was great to have a fun game after all of the hard loses. We won, and Lance finally got his first victory. We weren’t so lucky the second game. We were so far behind by the seventh inning Coach Slapeck decided the order of who would bat by our last name. Biggs led off, which was the little freshman’s first ever at-bat. He was able to foul one off before striking out. Someone in the dugout called to the freshman Biggs as he came trotting to the bench, “Hey, better go get that ball you fouled off!” (Freshman have to fetch all foul balls).
I was standing in the on-deck circle as Biggs struck out, and then I advanced to the plate. I felt strangely calm and confident as I strode out to my place, on the dish’s right side, like for one moment I had the ability of Shoeless Joe Jackson. …Once I got there, though, that quickly drained away. I wasn’t nervous at all, but I was eager to prove myself. As I stood there in my batting stance of a slight crouch, twirling the end of my aluminum bat in a small circle–for a moment–my thoughts were not actually on the task at hand, of hitting the ball. My thoughts instead roamed free, and I tried to use all of those things to motivate me. Now returning, I looked out to the pitcher, and stood poised, ready for the pitch. Again, I was not nervous, but my front right leg shook all the same. I stuck-out on a called strike three.
Right now I am excited about tomorrow. I just hope I can keep a straight face as I try to convince Sidney I had forgotten her birthday (if you’re just joining us now in progress I realize how awful that sounds). She is probably expecting well, something, but she will have to wait a bit. My only question left is in what way I will give her this Beanie Baby thing I have?
Routine birthday’s are boring,
And I believe in the future
We shall suffer no more
Maybe not in my lifetime
But in yours, I feel sure
Some dog’s barking at the brink of dawn
And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army
Send their battered dreams to haven
For the mother’s restless son, who is a warrior
Who denies deserters to break and run
Who say “Hard times? I’m used to them,
These feelings kind of burn, I’m used to them
My laugh so common is disappears.”
-Paul Simon, “The Cool, Cool River”