December 19, 2011 by agooddaytoyou
Are you there God? It’s me, Marcus.
By Rudy Blume.
Are you there God? It’s me. Marcus. We’re moving today. I’m so scared God. I’ve never lived anywhere but here. Suppose I hate my new school? Suppose everybody there hates me? Please help me God. Don’t let New Jersey be too horrible. Thank you.
We moved on the Tuesday before Labor Day. I knew what the weather was like the second I got up. I knew because I caught my father sniffing under his arms. He always does that when it is hot and humid, to make sure his deodorant is working. I don’t use deodorant yet. I don’t think people start to smell bad until they’re at least twelve. So I’ve still got a few months to go.
I was really surprised when I came home from camp and found out our New York apartment had been rented to another family and that we owned a house in Farbrook, New Jersey. First of all I’ve never even heard of Farbrook, and second of all, I’m not usually left out of important family decisions.
But when I groaned, “Why New Jersey?” I was told, “Long Island is too social—Westchester is too expensive—and Connecticut is too inconvenient.”
SoFarbrook,New Jerseyit was, where my mother would commute to her job in Manhattan, where I could go to public school, and where my father would have all the grass, trees and flowers he ever wanted. Except I never knew he wanted that stuff in the first place.
The new house is on Duskfish Terrace. It isn’t bad. It’s part brick, part wood. The shutters and front door are painted black. Also, there is a very nice brass knocker. Every house on our new street looks a lot the same. They are all seven years old. So are the trees.
I think we left the city because of my grandfather, Sylvester Simon. I can’t figure out any other reason for the move. Especially since my father says Grandpa is too much of an influence on me. It’s no big secret in our family that grandpa sends me to summer camp in New Hampshire. And that he enjoys paying my private school tuition (which he won’t be able to do anymore because now I’ll be going to public school). He even makes me wooden toys that have messages carved in the side saying MADE EXPRESSLY FOR YOU … BY GRANDPA.
And he doesn’t do all that because we are poor. I know for a fact that we’re not. I mean, we aren’t rich but we certainly have enough. Especially since I’m an only child. That cuts way down on food and clothes. I know this family that has seven kids and every time they go to the shoe store it costs them a bundle. My father and mother didn’t plan for me to be an only child, but that’s the way it worked out, which is fine with me because this way I don’t have anybody around to fight.
Anyhow, I figure this house-in-New-Jersey business is my parents’ way of getting me away from Grandpa. He doesn’t have a car, he hates buses and he thinks all trains are dirty. So unless Grandpa plans to walk, which is unlikely, I won’t be seeing much of him. Now some kids might think, who cares about seeing a grandfather? But Sylvester Simon is a lot of fun, considering his age, which I happen to know is sixty. The only problem is that he’s always asking me if I have girlfriends and if they’re Jewish. Now that is ridiculous because number one I don’t have girlfriends. And number two what would I care if they’re Jewish or not?
We hadn’t been in the new house more than an hour when the doorbell rang. I answered. It was this boy in a bathing suit.
“Hi,” he said. “I’m Nathan Wheeler. The real estate agent sent out a sheet on you. So I know you’re Marcus and you’re in the sixth grade. So am I.”
I wondered what else he knew.
“It’s plenty hot, isn’t it?” Nathan asked.
“Yes,” I agreed. He was taller than me and had big shoulders. The kind I’m hoping to grow. His nose turned up so much I could see right into his nostrils.
Nathan leaned against the door. “Well, you want to come over and go under the sprinklers?”
“I don’t know. I’ll have to ask.”
“Okay. I’ll wait.”
I found my father in the kitchen with his rear end sticking out of the bottom kitchen cabinet. He was arranging his pots and pans.
“Hey Dad. There’s a boy here who wants to know if I can go under his sprinklers?”
“If you want to,” my father said.
“I need a bathing suit,” I said.
“Gads, Marcus! I don’t know where a bathing suit is in this mess.”
I walked back to the front door and told Nathan, “I can’t find my bathing suit.”
“You can borrow one of mine,” he said.
“Wait a second,” I said, running back to the kitchen. “Hey Dad. He says I can borrow one of his. Okay?”
“Okay,” my father mumbled from inside the cabinet. The he backed out. He ran his hand through his hair. “What did you say his name was?”
“Umm … Wheeler. Nathan Wheeler.”
“Okay. Have a good time,” my father said.
Nathan lives six houses away, also on Duskfish Terrace. His house looks like mine but the brick is painted white and front door and shutters are red.
“Come on in,” Nathan said.
I followed him into the foyer, then up the four stairs leading to the bedrooms. The first thing I noticed about Nathan’s room was an engineer’s desk with a worklamp over it. Also, everything was very neat.
When I was little I wanted a desk like that. The kind that has a groove for a set square to run in. I never got one though, because my father is an outdoors type.
Nathan opened his bottom dresser drawer. “When’s your birthday?” he asked.
“March,” I told him.
“Great! We’ll be in the same class. There are three sixth grades and they arrange us by age, I’m April.”
“Well, I don’t know what class I’m in but I know it’s Room Eighteen. They sent me a lot of forms to fill out last week and that was printed on all of them.”
“I told you we’d be together. I’m in Room Eighteen too.” Nathan handed me a yellow bathing suit. “It’s clean,” he said. “My mother always washes them after a wearing.”
“Thank you,” I said, taking the suit. “Where should I change?”
Nathan looked around the room. “What’s wrong with here?”
“Nothing,” I said. “I don’t mind if you don’t.”
“Why should I mind?”
“I don’t know.” I stepped into the suit. I knew it was going to be too big. Nathan gave me the creeps the way he sat on his bed and watched me. I left my polo on until the last possible second. I wasn’t about to let him see I wasn’t growing yet. That was my business.
“Oh, you don’t have any hair.” Nathan laughed.
“Not exactly,” I said, pretending to be very cool. “I’m still small for my age, is all.”
“I’ve got hair there already,” Nathan said, pointing down. “In a few years I’m going to look like one of those guys out of Playgirl.”
I don’t know about you reading this, but writing this made me feel quite uncomfortable. But that’s what binary analysis does. It betrays your prejudices to yourself.