Don’t be Contrary—Klaudia Keller
Don’t be Contrary
Just inside the entrance of Peter Harney grade school there was a huge calendar with really big X’s crossing off the days until the end of the school year. There was an assembly planned for the 100th day of school and at the assembly the candidates campaigning for the student council positions would say their speeches and at the end of the assembly the entire student body would cast their ballots for the coveted positions.
Paige Plummer had longed to be on the student council, she had run for office every year since she had been in the fourth grade. The first year she ran for Sergeant at Arms and lost to a Billy Boetcher the bullyboy and was appointed the library liaison.
In fifth grade she ran for Vice President and had lost to Carolyn Cook, a sixth grader and was then appointed the Chief of Patrols. Now that she was in sixth grade she wanted more than anything to be elected Student Body Secretary. Most all of her class and Ms. Hungates 5th grade class were wearing her campaign buttons. They were made with yellow construction paper in the shape of a pencil with a red eraser on the end written on the pencil in the best penmanship was,
“DON’T BE CONTRARY VOTE FOR PAIGE FOR SECRETARY”
They were way cooler than her opponent Charlie Marshall. He was in Mr. Davies 6th grade class next door, and all of his classmates were wearing Charlie’s campaign buttons. Charlie’s Dad had the Ford Dealership in town and he used real big buttons that said Marshall Ford, only he taped a white piece of paper over the Ford part and said “ 4 Secretary”. It looked kind of mickey mouse, and Paige thought hers were not only more secretarish, but the writing was darn near perfect and it was a pencil which totally went with the secretary part and after all, for the office of secretary hand writing was really important.
There were campaign posters plastered all over the halls too, just last week all of the candidates had met in the school office and got to use all of the supplies there to make their posters. Paige kept a keen eye on Ms. Hazel, the school secretary, just to see if she was keeping minutes of the poster making of the candidates. Ms. Hazel really had a handle on everything, Paige wanted to answer the phone and file papers for teachers but she thought if she watched Ms. Hazel perform her duties, it might help her hone in on how she might handle her duties being a secretary.
Paige really wanted to be elected for office, not just appointed to some job that any kid could do but really elected, third time’s a charm, Kris Kross applesauce! Hope, hope hopefully this year she would win and be secretary of the student council. When Paige saw her dad’s car pull in the driveway that evening she raced to the front door, opening it slowly, taking his briefcase and hanging his coat in the front hall closet. She didn’t want to plead and beg right when he got home from work so she let him look through the mail and her mom gave him a vodka on the rocks.
Paige was anxious for him to get to the basement to finish what she thought would be her crowning glory at the end of her speech. Her dad had fashioned a pencil out of a piece of doweling from brother Sam’s closet. He had tapered the end to look like a pencil; she even drew the lead jagged like with the real wood showing. Tonight they were to paint the yellow part and figure out how to do the eraser. The large pencil was a prop she would use at the end of the speech; she had made really big fake ballot with her name very large and Charlie Marshall’s really small each with a box behind it. She planned on putting the ballot on an easel and using her oversized pencil, she would mark the ballot box and then after the assembly everyone would vote and remember her doing so.
Paige had performed her speech for her family that night over and over again after dinner. She could have done without Sam snickering and farting and acting stupid but she made it through the last time without even looking at her paper. She was hoping she wouldn’t be too nervous tomorrow but her dad assured her that if she took a couple of deep breaths before she went to the microphone it would be a great speech.
Paige knew what she would wear when she awoke on this the 100th day of school and the day of the election. It was her Christmas outfit; it was like something a real secretary would wear. It was a red suit and her mom told her red was her power color. It had a skirt and also a jacket with small brass buttons down the front and at the end of the sleeves. She had new white knee socks and even though the red patent leather shoes were from last year and a little small they really completed the secretarial look.
Her dad had attached the pencil to her backpack the night before and with her secretarial outfit on she headed to the garage to get on her bike to meet up with Gretchen, her best friend and next-door neighbor. They rode to school every day taking the shortcut up the side of the sports fields behind the rental houses on the narrow black top driveway.
They could see school in the distance just a couple of blocks away and there was quite a commotion going on in the turnaround where Mom’s let their kids off. At first they thought there were red emergency vehicles, but no flashing lights, no fireman or ambulances.
As Paige and Gretchen got closer they could see that there were red cars, shiny red convertibles, with tons of balloons tied to the antennas, and a big clump balloons being held by…. Charlie Marshall. He was handing them out to kids, and their parents were joining in the fun, and there was Ms. Heller, the principle talking with Charlie’s dad the Ford dealer in town.
She and Gretchen knew that this was Charlie’s big pencil moment but how to take the thunder away, at this late stage of the game they had to think fast. They lickety split headed to the main office, there was Ms Hazel, the true secretary with more paper and supplies than anyone could ever use.
Paige thought about the dragon she had made in celebration of Chinese New Year using popsicle sticks and construction paper folded up accordion style. She and Gretchen each took one end of the butcher paper and stapled it on one end to the big pencil and on the other end a yardstick. In the middle was the poster in really BIG red letters, on both the front and back, the definition of contrary.
Now that was Secretarial! Con – trar – y kon-trer-ee; also kuh -n – trair – ee; Opposite in nature, position, direction or meaning; Unfavorable or adverse, or opposed. She and Gretchen marched silently though the crowd that had gathered she in her red power suit and slowly the red cars were driven away by the high school boys. Paige was busy rewriting her speech in her head to include that marking the ballot box in her favor was the Write choice.