My Sweet Sixteenth birthday. Shouldn't all birthdays be sweet? Why should sixteen be any sweeter? It seemed like a lot of hype to me!
In Dullsville, they celebrate today, my sixteenth birthday, as any other day.
It all started with Nerd Boy's shouting at me. "Get up, Raven. You don't want to be late. It's time for school!"
How could two kids come from the same parents and be so different? Maybe there is something to that theory about the mailman. But in Nerd Boy's case my mother must have had an affair with the librarian.
I dragged myself out of bed and put on a black, cotton sleeveless dress and black hiking boots, and outlined my full lips with black lipstick.
Two white-flowered cakes, one in the shape of a 1 and the other in the shape of a 6, awaited me on the kitchen table.
I grazed the 6 cake with my index finger and licked the icing off.
"Happy birthday!" my mom said, kissing me. "That's for tonight, but you can have this now," she said handing me a package.
"Happy birthday, Rave," my dad said, also giving me a kiss on the cheek.
"I bet you have no idea what you're giving me," I teased my dad as I held the package.
"No. But I'm sure it cost a lot."
I shook the light package in my hand and heard a rattle. I stared at the Happy Birthday wrapping paper. It could be the keys to a car— my very own Batmobile! After all, it was my sixteenth birthday.
"I wanted to buy you something special," my mom said, smiling.
I ripped the package open excitedly and lifted the jewelry box lid. A string of shiny white pearls stared back at me.
"Every girl should have a pearl necklace for special occasions." My mom gleamed.
This was my mom's corporate version of hippie love beads. I forced a crooked smile as I tried to hide my disappointment. "Thanks," I said, hugging them both. I began to put the necklace back in the box, but my parents glared at me, so I reluctantly modeled it for them.
"It looks gorgeous on you." My mom glowed.
"I'll save them for something really special," I replied, putting them back in the box.
The doorbell rang, and Becky came in with a small black gift bag.
"Happy birthday!" she shouted as we went into the living room.
"Thanks. You didn't have to get me anything."
"You say that every year," she teased and handed me the bag. "By the way, I saw a moving van last night outside the Mansion!" she whispered.
"No way! Someone finally moved in?"
"Guess so. But all I saw were the movers carrying in oak desks, grandfather clocks, and huge crates marked 'Soil.' And they have a teenage son."
"He was probably born wearing khaki pants. And I'm sure his parents are some boring Ivy Leaguers," I replied. "I hope they don't remodel it and chase out all the spiders."
"Yeah. And tear down the gate and put up a white picket fence."
"And a plastic goose on the front lawn."
We both giggled like mad as I stuck my hand into the bag.
"I wanted to buy you something special, since you're sixteen."
I pulled out a black leather necklace with a pewter charm. The charm was a bat!
"I love it!" I screamed, putting it on.
My mom leered at me from the kitchen.
"Next time we'll give her money," I heard her tell my father.
"Pearls!" I whispered to Becky as we left the house.
I was in gym class wearing a black shirt, shorts, and combat boots instead of the required white-on-white and gym shoes. Really, what's the point? I thought. Does a white ensemble make a student a better athlete?
"Raven, I don't feel like sending you to the office today. Why don't you just give me a break for once and wear what you're supposed to wear?" Mr. Harris, the gym teacher, whined.
He stared at me, not knowing what to say. "Just today," he finally agreed. "And not because it's your birthday, but because I'm not in the mood to send you to the office."
Becky and I giggled as we went off toward the bleachers where the class was waiting.
Trevor Mitchell, my kindergarten nemesis, and his shuffling sidekick, Matt Wells, followed us. They were perfectly combed, conservative, rich soccer snobs. They knew they were great looking, and it made me sick that they were so cocky.
"Sweet sixteen!" Trevor said, obviously having overheard my chat with Mr. Harris. "How lovely! Just ripe for love, don't you think, Matt?" They were close on our heels.
"Yeah, dude," Matt agreed.
"But maybe there's a reason she doesn't wear white—white is for virgins, right, Raven?"
He was gorgeous, no doubt about it. His blue eyes were beautiful, and his hair looked as perfect as a model's. He had a girl for every day of the week. He was a bad boy, but he was a rich bad boy, which made him very boring.
"Hey, I'm not the one wearing white underwear, am I?" I asked. "You're right—there's a reason I wear black. Maybe you're the one who oughta get out more. "
Becky and I sat on the far end of the bleachers, leaving Trevor and Matt standing on the track.
"So how are you spending your birthday?" Trevor shouted, sitting with the rest of the class, loud enough for everyone to hear. "You and farmer Becky sitting home on a Friday night, watching Friday the Thirteenth? Maybe placing some personal ads? 'Sixteen-year-old single white monster girl seeks mate to bond with for eternity.'"
The whole class laughed.
I didn't like it when Trevor teased me, but I liked it even less when he teased Becky.
"No, we were thinking of crashing Matt's party tonight. Otherwise there won't be anyone interesting there."
Everyone was shocked, and Becky rolled her eyes, as if to say, What are you dragging me into now? We had never been to one of Matt's highly publicized parties. We were never invited, and we wouldn't have gone if we were. At least I wouldn't.
The whole class waited for Trevor's reaction.
"Sure, you and Igor can come…but remember, we drink beer, not blood!" The whole class laughed again, and Trevor high-fived Matt.
Just then Mr. Harris blew his whistle, signaling us to hightail it off the bleachers and run like greyhounds around the track.
But Becky and I walked, indifferent to our sweating classmates.
"We can't go to Matt's party," Becky said. "Who knows what they'll do to us?"
"We'll see what they do. Or what we'll do. It's my Sweet Sixteenth, remember? A birthday to never forget!"