Yesterday I was a regular ten-year-old boy. Today I'm the star of four Washington, D.C., TV stations. Channel 5 showed my picture with the words: Tragedy Averted. My friend Lucy Rose says averted is the same as avoided. I knew it would be. I have had a lot of aversions in my life.
Excerpted from Melonhead by Katy Kelly Copyright © 2010 by Katy Kelly. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
This one started when I was climbing up Madam and Pop's magnolia tree with a rope in my teeth. It was for hoisting my best friend, Sam. Our plan was to get high enough to leap onto the breezeway roof that connects Madam and Pop's house to their carriage house. That's the same as a garage. We were going to lie on our stomachs and terrorize people down below by calling out, "We're watching you," in wavy voices and then make creepy "heh-heh-heh" sounds like we are deranged. We've done it before and it's hilarious. People can't figure out where the voices are coming from. Sometimes they talk to the air and say, "You're not scaring me," but we are. Believe me. Once a lady blamed a man who was doing nothing but trying to get to the corner before the light turned red.
I could have taken the tree-free route to the roof by going in their front door, cutting through the morning room, then racing up the back staircase, into the bathroom, and out the window. I'm allowed because I am one of Madam and Pop's good friends. I met Madam last year when I was in her tree box collecting good-smelling weeds for my deodorant-making experiment that was supposed to make me rich. I could tell that she was a friendly lady because she came rushing outside waving at me with both arms. I told her, "Don't worry. You don't have to pay me for pulling up this scraggly junk."
It was a big shock to me when she said she planted it on purpose. "Our yard is going to be on the Capitol Hill House and Garden Tour next week," she said. Then she told me everything there is to know about the plant scraps that were in my hands.
"I am sorry," I said. "I never heard there was a plant called lavender. And who would ever guess since it's mostly green? Not me."
By the time we finished reburying roots we were friends and she said, "Drop by and see us sometime, Adam."
"It's a deal," I said.
I keep that deal three or four times a day. A lot of times I go to get a snack or to visit Lucy Rose, who is their granddaughter. She sleeps at their house when her mom is working late. Other times I go to help Pop. He's Madam's husband and he has tons of chores. That's how come I know how to patch window screens and caulk sinks and pick about 1,000 apricots in only one day. It was when we were apricot picking on the breezeway roof that Pop said, "Feel free to climb out our bathroom window and wander around out here on the roof anytime."
"Thanks," I said. "But I'd rather go by tree."
"Anyone would," Pop said.
He and I think alike.
But yesterday Sam said, "Let's take the bathroom window shortcut to save time."
"It won't take me seventeen seconds to shimmy up the tree," I said. "I need to practice the improved climbing method I invented after the old method overstretched my ribs and Dr. Stroud had to tape them back together."
"Explain this new method," Sam said.
"Step One: I stand on your shoulders," I said. "Step Two: I throw my arms around the fattest branch."
"Cheese, Louise," Sam said. "Your new sneakers are poking ditches into my collarbones."
"So sorry, Mata Hari!" I said.
One of our habits is making up rhymes that are like "See you later, alligator." Only ours are ten times better.
"I like the old method better," Sam said.
"I'm almost up," I said. "I'm hooking my legs around the branch."
Flipping right-side up is the hardest part. Sliding down the branch is the most stomach scraping. The rest is E-Z P-Z.