Muffy McPherson lives across the street. Her house has two stories and a swimming pool in the back yard.
Muffy McPherson has a pink canopy over her bed and a Barbie Dream House under her bedroom window.
In her back yard, behind the pool, Muffy McPherson has a big red playhouse with a Barbie oven in it. We wear red-and-white-checked aprons and we pretend to make chocolate chip cookies. When we’re done we go inside and Muffy McPherson’s mother has made us real chocolate chip cookies that cool on a tray on an island in the middle of the kitchen. That’s what it’s called when you have a counter in the middle of your kitchen that you can walk all the way around—an island.
Muffy McPherson doesn’t come over to my house to play and I’m glad—my mother wouldn’t make us cookies and if my stepdad did, they’d have carob chips that he bought in bulk from the Briarpatch co-op market and then he might take out his teeth.
Muffy McPherson’s mother wears a lavender leisure suit and she uses real chocolate and she never takes out her teeth. Muffy’s father goes to work in the morning and doesn’t come home until dinnertime. He’s important because he invented something called “collagen implants” that makes skinny people fat in the just right places.
Muffy McPherson is in love with Harrison Ford.
It’s not a crush. It’s true love.
“I’m going to marry him,” she says. And she dances across her pink-canopied bed, swishing her straight blonde hair back and forth.
My hair is dark and curly and I know there’s not much I can do about it, but I think maybe if I had a pink canopy over my bed, I wouldn’t feel so scared all the time.
“I have a poster of Harrison Ford,” I tell Muffy.
“You do?” She stops moving, stares at me.
“Yeah,” I say. “You can have it.” I shrug, cool as I know how.
She nods real slow and I can’t believe I actually have something Muffy McPherson wants. It makes me feel calm and powerful at the same time, like maybe we’re not so different, Muffy and me. Like maybe even with my hair, I can be one of the pretty people when we go back to school in September.
The next day I come back with my poster of Harrison Ford, rolled up all nice. It’s not actually my poster, I stole it from Leslie, stole it right off her wall, but I’ve already practiced my denial, practiced the blank look on my face when I’ll claim I don’t know what happened to the poster.
Muffy McPherson’s mother answers the door and calls upstairs to Muffy. I bound up those soft stairs, close the door to Muffy’s room behind me and begin to unfurl the poster.
Muffy McPherson’s face is all thrill at first, but then she frowns. “That’s not Harrison Ford,” she scowls, then squints her eyes at the picture. “That’s. Some. Old Man!”
“It isn’t?” I look at it. Harrison Ford. The guy who’s Doctor Doolittle in the movie.
Muffy McPherson clenches her teeth and crosses her arms and shakes her head, her hair swishing a little. “That’s Rex Harrison. It says so right there.” She points her thin finger to the signature at the bottom corner of the poster. “REX Harrison,” she says again. “Are you stupid? Do you know even know who Harrison Ford is?”
I look at the poster, at Rex Harrison with his side burns and sly smile, and then at Muffy McPherson with her long blonde hair and stern look. I roll up the poster. I glance at the Barbie Dream House behind Muffy and I already miss playing with the Ken doll. I swallow hard. I say, “Yeah, I know who Harrison Ford is. I just. I was only kidding.” And I feel something in the back of my throat that’s hot and sore, like a coal from the campfire that got stuck there. And I don’t know who Harrison Ford is.
I don’t know who Harrison Ford is.