Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Penelope Jo Says So

Lila Caufield and Penelope Jo  Martin were best friends. They were the same age, but  Penelope Jo was older by six months. That made all the difference. It made Penelope Jo just a little bit smarter than Lila. It made Penelope Jo a little more stylish than Lila. At least, Penelope Jo said so, and Lila believed her. Lila followed her around. Lila did everything she did. Lila practically worshiped the ground Penelope Jo walked on.

"Why are you throwing out your new sneakers?" asked Daddy finding Lila about to dump them into the garbage can one day.

"Red is ugly." declared Lila. Her father frowned at her. To him, it was just tossing money away to throw out brand-new shoes. Lila smiled at him. "Penelope Jo says so," she explained as if that made it all right. It didn't. Daddy rescued the sneakers and took them into the house.

"What do you mean you don't want any carrots?" asked Mommy one night at dinner. "You love carrots."

"Not any more." replied Lila making a face and pushing all the carrots off her plate. "Carrots are yucky! Penelope Jo says so." Mommy just shook her head sadly.

"Lila," said her sister Liz another day. "How can you listen to this terrible music? I thought you hated Justin Bieber." 

"I love Justin Bieber!" replied Lila. "He's dreamy!"

Liz looked at Lila as though she were crazy. "Aren't you the one who said he was a terrible singer, and he looks like a girl?"

 Lila shrugged. She couldn't remember if she said it or not, but it wasn't that way now. "That's not true." she protested, "He is a good singer, and he is really cute. Penelope Jo says so."

This time Liz looked at Lila with disgust. "Would you jump off a bridge if Penelope Jo told you too?" she asked. Lila opened her mouth to answer, but Liz stopped her. "Don't even answer that," said she said before Lila could even say a word. "You know you would."

One day, Mommy found  Lila sitting on the front steps rubbing her feet. "What's the matter?" she asked. Lila said nothing. Mommy lifted Lila's foot up. Her ankle was covered with big red angry blisters. "Have you been wearing your shoes without socks?" asked Mommy knowingly.

Lila nodded weakly. "Socks are out," she said quietly. "Penelope Jo says so." Mommy frowned.

The next day, Daddy found Lila rubbing her elbow. "What happened to you?" he asked.

"I fell jumping off a swing." replied Lila.

"Jumping off a swing?" repeated Daddy as though no smart person would ever think of doing such as thing.

"It's fun." insisted Lila sounding as though she was trying to convince herself as much as Daddy. "Penelope Jo says so."

Daddy shook his head. "It doesn't look like it's fun." replied Daddy looking at Lila's sore black and blue  elbow.

 Later, Liz found Lila sprawled out on the couch holding her head. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Lila shook her head. "I have a headache." she said, "Penelope Jo and I were having a screaming contest."

"A screaming contest?" asked Liz in disbelief.

"Anybody can have a quiet contest. A screaming contest is way cooler. Penelope Jo says so." replied Lila but she didn't sound very sure about it .

That night Mommy found Lila in her room crying. "My feet hurt, Mommy." she said. "My elbow hurts, and my head hurts too."

"I know Penelope Jo is your friend, but maybe you shouldn't always listen to her." suggested Mommy gently. "Maybe, you should  think for yourself sometimes."

"But I love Penelope Jo. She is my best friend. She is so cool."

"You're a pretty cool person too." said Mommy.

"I am?"

"Sure, you are." insisted Mommy, "and you know what's really cool? It's cool to think for yourself."

Lila chewed on her finger.She had never thought about that. She had been doing and saying whatever Penelope Jo did and said for so long. It never even occurred to her to think for herself.

The next day, Mommy, Daddy and Liz found Lila sitting on the front steps wearing her red sneakers with white ankle socks. She was munching on a carrot.

"I thought red was ugly." said Daddy.

"Penelope Jo says so, but Lila says no." said Lila.

"I thought socks were out." said Mommy.

"Penelope Jo says so, but Lila says no. " replied Lila a little louder and a little more confidentally.

"I thought you hated carrots." said Liz.

"Penelope Jo says so, but Lila says no. I love carrots!" Lila declared full of confidence, "And I hate Justin Bieber." she added wrinkling her nose in disgust at just the thought of him.

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