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Entry 19 Stacked Deck
"You should have seen Atalaya!" I told Josh as we settled down to lunch in the "foreign language classroom" which was now our unofficial lounge. I suppose I had Joshua Goldfarb to thank.
"It wasn't anything big. The stupid teacher put me on the spot so I showed him I knew my stuff. It's just math. That's all. It's fancy math," Atalaya sputtered. She wanted her peanut butter and strawberry preserve sandwich. Koli had a bought lunch of some kind of turkey on a roll which was fake but Koli ate whatever was served and never complained. Josh had smoked trout, a huge piece of it, some baguette and butter, salad in a dish. His mom always sent him to school with full course meals.
"Atalaya," he advised. "You need to go out for the math team."
"I can't," the girl answered.
"Are you afraid?" asked Lenny who was going to do both math team and chess club and of course our Legion D'Honneur Francaise.
"No. I have to babysit for my stepsisters. My mom wants me home right after school. She works until six pm. It pays well too..."
"Can't you tell your mom you need extracurriculars for college?"
"She'll say the U of K doesn't need extracurriculars."
"Is all you want to go to the University of Ken-tuck-ee?"
"It's not a question of that," Koli cut in. "We kids have chores. Don't you have chores? Don't colleges know about kids and chores?"
"You can't put chores on a transcript," Lenny backed up Joshua.
I thought about riding Stasch home. Maybe now I knew why the Vice Principal at Stasch' school complained when I rode him home on my handlebars or rode with him so we could bike back and forth. Rich kids' parents picked them up and the Vice Principal's parents had been comfortable or at least not real working people like my parents, or Atalaya's or Koli's.
"This whole thing with extracurriculars is to keep kids of working people out of big universities," I snapped.
"You could be right," answered Josh.
"'Course he's right, but I insist," answered Lenny talking with his mouth full.
"What you going to do?" asked Josh.
"I can't do anything. My mother will ground me," growled Atlalaya.
"I've got a grandma whose in a bad way and don't ask when she's going to die. That's for God to decide. How can I tell my parents, I'm staying at school late to play around? That's the way they'll see it. I'm the oldest of six."
"Get another sibling to babysit," suggested Lenny.
Koli bit her lip. Then suddenly her eyes widened. "Joshua," she said: "There's that parents meeting at your house this weekend about getting a real French teacher and someone to teach physics too. Maybe if your parents explain to all the other parents about extracurriculars and how we need them, they'll let us out of chores."
Joshua smiled. Then he shook Koli's hand. "We all need each other," he said. I think he said it to himself to explain why all the kids who were his best friends in the world, the ones who cared about the same things he did, were working people's kids and not rich kids.
Most of the rich kids here in Greenup were "academically disengaged," which is Josh' words. My word is lazy. Well, they wanted nothing to do with Josh whose parents should have never dragged him out of the east where there are more smart rich kids like him. It wasn't fair, but since when have parents ever been fair to kids. At least Josh' parents were doing the right thing by getting the other parents together so we'd have the right teachers for the right subjects. Maybe they could do the right thing for extracurriculars. Meanwhile, I planned to see Mr. Rathbone, who was the math team coach and get signed up because I had to take Stasch home and was going to miss the first meeting. Atalaya would also see him. Koli said she wanted to do Model UN. She'd talk to that teacher. We could buy a few days until our parents came around...if they came around.