Saturday, March 21, 1987

“She likes you,” stated eight-year-old Terry Lynch, walking along the path between his house and his best friend Bobby Belden’s.

“Yeah,” said Terry’s twin brother, Larry. “I overheard Trish tell Beth that Mary loved your curly blonde hair.”

Bobby was leading the group down the path. He looked back, stuck his tongue out at his two friends and said, “You’re lying. Girls have cooties.”

The third grade boys were inseparable. They had been good friends since the Lynches moved out to Glen Road three years ago. As they walked, they kicked through decomposed leaves that lined the path. The snows of winter had finally melted but the trees had not yet begun to show their buds of spring.

“I don’t know, Bobby,” said Larry. “Mart sure doesn’t act like Diana has cooties.” He picked up a stick and tapped each tree as they passed it.

“Diana doesn’t count,” Bobby insisted slowing down so he could walk abreast with his friends. “She’s your sister. Sisters have their own kind of germs. Cooties are for girls in your class.”

They were approaching Crabapple Farm, Bobby’s home. Crabapple trees had been part of the farm for the one hundred plus years the Beldens had lived there. In a month or so, the trees would be in full bloom. Now they still were naked, waiting for the sun to warm their branches to grow their blanket of leaves.

“I don’t care what you say, Bobby, Mary has a crush on you,” Terry insisted again.

“That is so gross,” Bobby insisted. “Why would I like a girl who is all about prissy things?” He was tired of this argument. It seemed like every time he had seen either one of the Lynches, they brought up the subject.

To make matters worse, Larry and Terry’s younger twin sisters, Barbie and Cindy, had gotten wind of said crush. So when Bobby entered the Lynch house, he was usually met with a chorus of “Bobby and Mary sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”

“Just face it, Bobby; Mary has a crush on you.” Larry reiterated.

The three friends were at the kitchen door and as Bobby entered the house, the phone began to ring. Since no one else was close by, he answered it.

“Hello,” he said. He groaned as the person on the other end of the phone greeted him.

“This is Bobby,” he said through gritted teeth. His cheeks were suddenly warm. He shot a glare over to Larry and Terry who were trying desperately to find out who was on the other end, then turned his back on them and said into the phone, “I’m busy right now.”

Larry and Terry were not to be deterred. They quickly made their way around Bobby and started making faces at him, silently demanding to know who was on the other end.

Finally, Bobby put his hand over the voice piece and said, “It’s Trish.”

Larry wrenched the phone from Bobby and picked up the conversation with Trish. Bobby tried to wrestle the phone back after he heard Larry say, “He likes her all right.” By the time Bobby got the phone back, Trish had hung up.

“I’m gonna kill you,” Bobby threatened idly. “Monday is going to be awful. I might as well join the Army.”

The three friends headed into the family room and turned on the television. For a while, they were all wrapped up in an episode of the latest popular Saturday morning program. Soon the conversation returned to Bobby’s plight.

“She’s going to wear a pink ribbon in her hair on Monday,” Larry predicted, tossing his head in imitation of Mary. “She’ll have on a fancy pair of jeans, tennis shoes, and an oversized sweater. She’ll walk past you and toss her hair as she goes by.” Bobby threw a pillow at Larry.

“No,” countered Terry. “Mary won’t be around at all. Trish will pass you a note asking if you like Mary or not. There will be a place to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

“You guys are wrong,” Bobby insisted. “Nothing’s going to happen.” He was all bravado, but deep down he feared two things, one of the Lynches would be right and they would find out that he really did like Mary, or worse yet that he also liked Pat. While Mary was all frills and lace, Pat wasn’t afraid to get dirty. She loved to catch frogs and bugs and knew what poison ivy looked like.

How he wished he could talk to Jim about his plight. Jim was his sister Trixie’s boyfriend. He guessed he should say ex-boyfriend. The two had broken up almost three months ago but Bobby still considered them a couple. He adored his older brothers, Brian and Mart, but he knew that if he asked them he would have to take a lot of ribbing before they would give him any advice. Jim would treat him like a man and offer sound solutions. Jim was also at school this weekend. Maybe he’d have to ask Brian. He was home for the weekend. Bobby knew the main reason Brian had come home was to talk to Trixie and attend Mart’s basketball game last night.

Tonight, he was staying over at the Lynches’ because his siblings and their friends were having a house party/sleepover tonight to celebrate the boys’ basketball team’s upcoming trip to the state tournament. Maybe he could talk to Brian tomorrow. In the meantime, he had to deal with the twins. If they didn’t change the subject soon, it was going to be a very long night.

“Wanna bet on it?” challenged Larry drawing Bobby back to the present.

Bobby had no idea what he was betting on but didn’t want to let on he hadn’t been paying attention. “I suppose,” he said.

“Gotta shake on it,” Terry insisted. Reluctantly Bobby shook hands with the two friends.

“What’s the wager gonna be?” asked Larry.

Bobby just rolled his eyes as his two friends started plotting the payoff.

Suddenly, Terry’s eyes lit up as if someone had flipped a light switch. “Loser has to dress up like a girl, walk through the town square and wave to Hoppy.”

“Yes,” exclaimed Larry. “But they also have to go up to someone and introduce themselves to another person. Winners get to choose the losers name and their outfit.”

Larry and Terry rubbed their hands together in glee. Bobby groaned. Despite all of his bravado, he knew he would be losing this bet to at least one of the Lynch twins.

Bobby, Larry and Terry continued to watch TV until lunchtime. To Bobby’s relief, the conversation finally turned to something other than his love life.

“We should do something before we go back over to our house,” Terry said. Bobby was a little nervous. Terry was usually the instigator in any plans that got the three boys in trouble. It wasn’t that he was a bad kid, he just had an overactive imagination.

Apprehensively, Bobby asked, “Why?”

Terry stood up in front of the other two, purposely blocking their view of the TV so they would pay attention to him. “You know how the Bob-Whites are always going on trips or doing fun things and we never get to go along. They always say we’re too little.”

Trying to keep Terry’s conversation from turning into a tantrum, Bobby reminded him, “Hey, we did get to help out with the antique sale.”

Never one to let anyone challenge or criticize his twin brother, Larry chimed in, “Yeah, they let us help because they needed it. They never took us on any of those fun trips either.”

“Your sister, Diana, didn’t go on a lot of them either and I never hear her complain,” Bobby pointed out.

“That’s because you didn’t live with her. You should have heard her when she wasn’t able go on all of those adventures,” Terry chimed in. “For the first day or so, all she did was complain that she was missing out on something again. You should have heard her when she couldn’t go to St. Louis with the BWG’s. Then when Mom found out that Trixie and Honey had been kidnapped and ended up in the hospital, all Mom did was remind Diana that it could have been her. That didn’t help matters.”

The three friends plotted their revenge while they watched TV. They thought of the old standards like short sheeting the beds or putting plastic bugs throughout the house. While those ideas sounded like fun, they wanted to try something new. Bobby knew that they couldn’t do anything that would create too big of a mess or any permanent damage. After much thought they came up with some ideas and put them in motion.

They finally decided to start out by putting sugar in the saltshakers and salt in the sugar bowl. They were just finishing up when Moms walked into the kitchen.

After looking at all three boys suspiciously she said, “Okay, what are you guys up to?”

“Nothin’,” Bobby replied a bit too quickly.

“Yeah, nothin’,” Terry agreed not realizing that his response further proved that they were not.

Glancing at the sugar bowl and saltshaker that Larry was casually trying to guard, Moms’ suspicions took root. She walked over to the refrigerator and took out a bowl of berries and mixed fruit she had been preparing for breakfast the next morning.

“I think this needs just a little bit more sugar,” she said as she reached for the sugar bowl. All three boys began to squirm in their seats, each of them using their eyes to get the other to ‘fess up.

Just as she was about to pour the contents of the sugar bowl into the fruit, Bobby piped up. “I wouldn’t do that,” he warned.

“I’m not going to put a lot of sugar on it,” Moms replied.

“It’s not that, Mrs. Belden,” Larry said. “We kind of, maybe, switched the salt and the sugar around.”

“What!” Moms exclaimed. “Why would you ever do a thing like that?” She set the sugar bowl back down and put the fruit back in the fridge without adding anything to it.

“Well,” said Bobby sheepishly. “We just wanted to play a joke on the BWG’s. They always get to do the fun stuff and we’re always left behind.”

Bobby, Larry and Terry braced themselves for whatever punishment Moms would dole out.

“I don’t know what to do with you three,” Moms said sternly. The three boys failed to see the twinkle in her eye. She pretended to think for a few minutes and then she continued. “Go into the entry closet. In a bucket on the floor are about a half dozen large sponges that have never been used. Bring them in here.”

As the three boys headed toward the entryway, Larry could be heard whispering, “What do you suppose she’s gonna make us clean?”

They quickly returned with the new sponges. Moms told the boys remove the wrapping on the sponges. While they were doing that, she pulled out a cutting board and covered it with aluminum foil. The boys were really confused now.

“What’s that for Moms?” Bobby asked.

“All in good time,” she replied. “Larry, you line up the sponges so they make a big rectangle on the cutting board and Bobby you go into the pantry and get those tubs of canned frosting that Mart bought a couple of months ago and then refused to eat after he tasted them.”

Larry and Bobby went about their assigned tasks. Terry just sat at the table afraid to make a move for fear he would be set to scrubbing the toilets or mucking out the chicken coop. Moms just continued to work, her eyes merrily twinkling the entire time.

When Bobby returned with the frosting, Moms instructed the boys. “You’re going to frost the cake for tonight,” she said. Three sets of confused eyes looked at her. She continued, “Well, you’re going to frost the fake cake for the evening. Here are some spatulas, carefully spread the frosting all over the sponges. You want to make sure it looks like a cake and not frosting covered sponges.”

While the boys enthusiastically frosted the cake, Moms got out her cake decorating kit and started mixing up some royal icing. She mixed it in the Sleepyside High School colors. When the boys had finished frosting the cake, she took over and decorated it. By the time she had put some decorations and “Congratulations, Dan and Mart!” on it no one could guess it wasn’t a real cake.

“Mrs. Belden,” Terry said. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re cool?”

“Not recently,” she replied.

"Well, you are,” Terry affirmed.

Moms started cleaning up all of the dishes as she continued. “I remember what it was like to be the youngest and left out of all the fun,” she said.

The boys helped clean up their mess just as Trixie, Brian and Mart along with their cousin, Hallie, came in.

“Hey, small fries,” Mart said. “Go get ready and I’ll run you over to the Lynches’ I told the fair Diana I would pick her up in about thirty minutes.”

After giving conspiratorial winks to Moms, the three raced up to Bobby’s bedroom to get his duffle bag. They made some noises about it not being fair they couldn’t stay but despite all of their talk, they were really glad they were going to have their own party.

Monday, March 23, 1987

Bobby was sitting about mid-way back on the school bus Monday morning. It had just stopped in front of the Lynch home and Larry and Terry had boarded the bus.

After greeting each other as only eight-year-olds could do, they huddled together and began to plot. A casual observer would have thought it had been weeks or months since they had last seen each other instead of less than twenty-four hours.

“How was the trip to the city?” Terry asked plopping himself down next to Bobby. Larry took the seat in front of them but turned around so they could all talk.

“It was okay, except when Hallie left. She and Dan started making out and she started to cry. It was just gross. After that we went to Brian’s dorm and picked up Jim. I wanted to go for pizza but I was out-voted. Dan thought I should have to eat “sponge” cake.”

During the rest of the ride to school the three friends rehashed the events of the weekend. They had been surprised when Bobby’s mom had called on Saturday night to give a play-by-play description of Mart trying to cut the “sponge” cake. The three friends were still laughing about the entire incident. The best part was that Diana had taken the family’s new video camera over to Crabapple Farm and unwittingly taped the entire event.

As they got off the bus, Bobby breathed a sigh of relief. Not once had either twin mentioned Mary or the bet. He hoped that it was long forgotten. He was almost to the front doors of the school when Terry whispered, “Look who’s coming.” He pointed to the right.

There was Mary dressed in black knit stirrup pants, trendy ankle boots and a boxy shirt with shoulder pads. There were no ribbons in her hair but it looked liked she’d put some sort of glue in her hair. It practically stood straight on end and looked like it wouldn’t move even if a tornado were to hit Sleepyside. She was walking with Trish. When both girls spotted the threesome, they said in singsong voices, “Hi, Bobby.” They then giggled and rushed on to their classroom.

Bobby was so embarrassed he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. All of a sudden he ran into something or someone with a resounding thump. He looked around and saw Pat on the ground. Flustered, he tried to apologize and help her up but the more he helped the clumsier he got. Finally, he just took off in embarrassment.

All day, Bobby tried to avoid the twins as well as Mary and Pat. He was relieved when the dismissal bell rang and he was able to board the bus and head for home. Just as he was about to sit down in a seat on the bus he heard, “Looks likes you lost the bet, Belden.” Larry had just boarded the bus.

Bobby groaned. “Well, I don’t think anyone won the bet,” he countered.

“What do you mean? The bet was whether Mary would talk to you or not,” Terry as always was right behind Larry.

“Larry, you said that Mary would have a pink ribbon in her hair, jeans, tennis shoes and an oversized sweater. You were way off,” Bobby insisted. “And Terry, I did not receive one note today. I say we all lost the bet.”

All the way home, the three friends argued over who lost the bet. “I say we ask an adult what they think,” Bobby suggested. “We don’t tell them what the bet was for and what the payoff is. We just ask them their opinion in a general way.”

“I’ll agree to that,” said Larry. Terry also nodded in agreement.

“So everyone agrees that whatever the adult says is what we’ll do,” Bobby confirmed.

“Now we just have to find someone to ask,” Terry said.

The three friends didn’t say anything for a minute. Then Bobby said, “The only Bob-Whites I’d trust to give us a fair answer are Jim and Brian. I don’t think Moms would let me call them for that.”

“Why don’t we ask your mom, Bobby?” Larry suggested. “She was a good sport on Saturday when we made the cake.”

The bus had just pulled up to Crabapple Farm. The families along Glen Road had notified the school bus company that it was okay for their children to get off the bus at Manor House, Crabapple Farm or the Lynch home. So the three friends all disembarked.

“Moms,” Bobby yelled as he entered the house. The door slammed behind the three friends. “Where are you?”

Moms came out of the living room with a dust rag in her hand. “I’m right here. There’s no need to yell, and please go back and shut the door quietly.” She looked up and saw that the Lynch twins had come in as well. “Hi, boys. What brings you here today?”

Bobby went back and re-shut the door quietly while Moms entered the kitchen and pulled a plate of fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies from the cupboard.

“You’d better eat these fast before Mart comes home or I can’t guarantee if any will be left,” she said.

The three boys sat down at the kitchen table and devoured most of the cookies. Few words were exchanged. Finally, Larry and Terry nudged Bobby.

“Moms, we have a question for you,” Bobby started.

Looking at the three faces, Moms realized that this was quite serious and sat down at the table with them. “What is it?” she asked.

“Well, just say,” Bobby began, “a bunch of guys had several bets. Each bet was that something did or didn’t happen. Everyone said a different thing. They all decided on what would have to happen if they lost the bet. It turns out no one was right so everyone lost the bet. Do you have to pay up then?”

Moms thought a few moments before answering the question. “Well, I suppose if these people all agreed on it that they didn’t have to pay up that would be okay.” The three boys sighed with relief.

“But,” Moms continued. “One should always honor your bets. If you are going to make one, you should pay the consequences if you lose. It will make you think twice about betting the next time or at least what the payout will be.”

“Are you sure, Mrs. Belden?” Terry asked with a pained look on his face.

“Well, if you don’t think I’m right you could ask someone else.” she suggested. “What do you think Regan would say?”

Larry shifted uncomfortably in his seat and mumbled, “Honor the bet.”

“What would Brian say?” she continued.

“Honor the bet,” muttered Terry.

“And Jim?” she finished.

Bobby looked around at his three friends and said, “Honor the bet.”

“So I guess we honor the bet,” said Terry.

The three dejected faces stared at their plates. They knew they if they were going to do the honorable thing they would all have to pay the bet.

“So what was the bet?” Moms asked.

“It was a stupid bet,” Bobby quickly said. “None of us were right so we all have to dress up as girls and go say ‘Hi’ to Hoppy. To make matters worse we then have to go up and introduce ourselves to someone.”

Voices could be heard coming up the steps. “Shh,” said Terry. “We don’t want the Bob-Whites to know anything about this.”

Moms chuckled as she went and pulled another plate of cookies out of the cupboard. The door opened and Trixie, Honey and Diana walked into the kitchen.

Moms was so happy to see the three girls together. The almost three months since Trixie and Honey had broken up with their boyfriends had been stressful for everyone. She greeted the girls and welcomed Honey home from her vacation in England.

“It was a fun trip, Mrs. Belden,” Honey said. “But I’m glad to be home, especially with the big game next weekend. I had a good time but I wish I could have seen the game Friday night.”

“Well, it was an exciting game,” said Trixie. “I hope the next one will be just as fun.”

The three girls sat down at the table with the younger boys. They talked about things in general for a while.

Moms got a twinkle in her eye and said, “Hey, boys, maybe Trixie, Honey and Diana can help you with your problem. They are experts in that field.”

Trixie bounced with excitement wondering what those three had gotten themselves into this time. She hadn’t quite forgiven them for the cake incident although she did think it had been a brilliant idea. “What is it that we’re experts in?” she asked.

“Being girls,” Bobby responded matter-of-factly.

Quickly, Bobby outlined what had happened. The girls were impressed that the boys were willing to go through with the bet even though they all had lost. It was decided that Diana would take Bobby under her wing, Trixie would work with Terry and Honey with Larry. Each team would pick out the outfit they would wear as well as decide the name and who they would have to greet. The big event would happen after school on Tuesday.

The boys were relieved to get it over with as soon as possible. In addition, with Dan and Mart at basketball practice every night this week, there was less chance of them finding out.

Tuesday, March 24, 1987

Moms agreed to pick up the boys after school and then went over to the high school to pick up the older girls. The night before had been a flurry of activity as the girls helped the boys choose outfits, pick names, and decide whom they had to greet. Despite losing the bet, the boys were getting into the project. Throughout the night, phone calls were made in between getting homework done.

Once the three boys were dressed and ready to go, they were given their names and their challenge.

“Who’s going first?” Trixie asked. She had her camera in hand to document the event. The boys had readily agreed to it, forgetting that they would make great blackmail photos when they were older.

“We decided we’re all going to go greet Hoppy together, then we’ll go do the other part of the bet,” said Larry adjusting the blonde wig he had placed on his head. The boys were dressed in miniskirts and leggings. Fortunately, the trend was to wear tennis shoes with them so they didn’t have to worry about heels. They each had a little bit of blush and lipstick on and pink ribbons were tied in all of their wigs.

Moms drove them to the town square and parked. The boys looked around to see if anyone would see them. There wasn’t anyone else too close by. Quickly, they exited the car and ran to the square giggling and laughing as they went. Diana had the zoom lens on her camera so she was able to take some good pictures without them realizing it. When the boys returned to the van, they were giggling and talking in high-pitched voices.

“Where to now?” Moms asked starting up the car and pulling into the street.

“Larry, or should I say Laurie, has to go visit Sergeant Molinson and report a missing cat,” said Terry. “I think that’s the closest.”

Moms pulled the van up to the police station. Reluctantly, Larry got out. Honey followed him from a few steps behind him. A few minutes after he went in, he came running out of the building laughing as hard as he could. Honey was right behind him.

“You should have seen it,” Larry said. “Sergeant Molinson was at the desk with his back to me when I came in. Before he could turn around, I said in my best girly girl voice, ‘I’m Laurie and I’ve lost my kitty. Could you help me find it?’ He started talking like I was a girl. I really had him fooled until he turned around and saw me. I’m just glad it was Honey with me instead of Trixie.”

As the van headed to the next stop, the six kids talked about the next stop. Terry, or Theresa, would have to go into Wimpy’s and order a hamburger from Mike. This time Trixie followed. Fortunately, because of after school activities related to the State Basketball Tournament, Wimpy’s didn’t have the after school crowd it usually had. Moms had been able to park right in front of the diner so those in the car could see everything as it happened. Bobby and Larry giggled as Mike played along with the joke and reached down and pinched Terry’s cheeks. As soon as the hamburger was in the take-out bag, Terry rushed out to the waiting van.

“I can’t believe he pinched my cheeks,” said Terry. “At least I got a hamburger out of it.”

The three boys fought over the hamburger as Moms drove them to the final stop. It took a few minutes to get to Mr. Lytell’s store. Somewhere, Diana had found a blond curly wig that resembled Trixie’s curls. From a distance, Bobby looked like Trixie did when she was eight. The only thing to give it away was that Trixie only wore a dress to church. Bobby figured he had nothing to lose and decided it would be fun to get under Mr. Lytell’s skin.

He jumped out of the van and skipped into the store. Diana followed from a distance shooting pictures as she walked. Mr. Lytell was in the back room so Bobby made his way up to the counter. When he reached it, he said in a high sweet voice, “My name’s Bobbi, that’s with an I. I’m looking for some strawberry pop.”

As Mr. Lytell came out around the corner, he did a double take. When he realized who was standing there he grouchily said, “I don’t have time for your pranks Master Belden. You know where the pop is. What in heaven’s name prompted you to dress up like a girl?”

To Diana’s surprise, Bobby played dumb to Mr. Lytell’s ranting. “I have no idea who Master Belden is,” he said. “All I want is a can of strawberry pop. I’d have gone someplace else but I’m told you are the only one who sells it around here.” Bobby turned and flounced over to the cooler. He picked out a can of pop, flounced back to the check out, put the correct changed on the counter and skipped out of the store.

As the door to the store shut, Bobby and Diana burst into giggles.

“I think we scarred Mr. Lytell for life,” said Bobby as he climbed into the van handing the can of pop to Trixie. “You might as well have this. You’re the only one who drinks it.” Diana and Bobby recounted what happened in the store. Even Moms had a good laugh over it as she drove back to Crabapple Farm.

As they pulled into the driveway she said, “You guys go change before Mart and Dan get here. I’ve cleared it your parents and you are invited to dinner as long as you work on your homework while I put the finishing touches on it.”

The kids piled out of the car and raced to change their clothes making sure all of the incriminating evidence was in the girls’ hands before Dan and Mart arrived. By the time dinner was on the table the only evidence of the day's escapades lay in the camera Diana had stashed away in her backpack.


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Author Notes

First of all a huge thank you to my editors, Diana B, Beverly, Bonnie H and TrishB. You have been invaluable in keeping my writing looking as good as it is.
-Then there’s Mal, who had done the graphics for not only this story but the CWC all while trying to get a home bought.
-This story started when I heard the song “Bobbi with an I” by Phil Vassar. It’s a song about a cross dresser. I posed an informal challenge to the Jix authors and Mary and Trish both double dog dared me to write a story about cross dressing. Mary said she’d even make a cameo appearance. Well, I couldn’t let that go by so we have this story, complete with cameos by Mary, Trish and Pat B.
-Further discussion on the Jix MB about Bobby’s birthday, lead to the theme of Bobby’s Seventh Birthday for Virtual Trixie Camp 2009. From there it led to the VTC CWC. I hope that everyone is inspired to write their Bobby story. The Challenge is simple: Write a story about Bobby and complete an post it before the end of VTC 2009 which is August 2, 2009.
-Word Count: 4,881

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