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Entry 23 Sincerity and Ambition

Metal shop should have been exciting because we got to cut the pieces for our projects, but there were only two metal saw tables so most of us just stood in line. I was in line behind Steven from Myrtle Hollow. No it's not "holler." There is a lot of prejudice against old people and it is all over the country.

"We gotta talk," Steven began.

"Shoot," I told him.

"OK, it's about Koli Jameson. She's in all your classes. My older brother is friends with her older sister."

I shrugged. My older sister was back in Duluth, and the less said about her the better.

"Well Josh Goldfarb's been putting ideas in her head."

I blinked. This was something I thought I'd know about if it was happening. "What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, he told her about all these clubs she has to go to after school and well, Koli's parents works. Everybody works in town in the hollows but that's not so bad. Ask the people from the resettlement."

I thought I knew what the resettlement was but it is one of those things you don't really want to think about. Could Koli's people be from the resettlement?

"Koli needs to be in clubs to get in to a good college," I protested.

"She doesn't need 'em for U of K," Steven countered.

"Koli wants to try for the Ivy League or the Seven Sisters."

"Do you know where those places are?" asked Steven.

"Yeah, about as far from here as Duluth."

"Where's Duluth?"

"Minnesota up on the Great Lakes."

"Fuck," said Steven softly enough for the shop teacher not to hear him. "Can't you see Koli's family needs her and maybe you're going to some Ivy League or Seventh Sister, but Koli...."

"Koli is the smartest kid in French class," I informed Steven.

"Yeah, but that's not what people like us do," he answered.

"Koli is so smart she can do anything she wants," I replied "and that's not just grownup talk. I see her in French and geometry. You wouldn't be saying half this shit if she were a girl who cheerleaded or a boy who played football. Well, it's like she's an athlete only with French and geometry."

"But there's not French league," snorted Steven.

"Doesn't matter. There's scholarships for academic subjects."

"You mean someone will pay for Koli's college."


"Then what do you do for a living with French?"

"What do you do with football?"

"Go pro?"

"Most college players never make the pro. Think of all the colleges out there."

Steven never had. He shook his head. We stopped talking. I think Steven got pissed off at me. What could I do? I was hoping and praying (yes praying!) that the Goldfarbs could convince the Jamesons to let Koli stay after school for clubs.

Or maybe it wouldn't be the Goldfarbs who did the persuading. Atalaya's father was the head of security at the mall. He was a working person though he wasn't in business for himself. His wife had a daughter at Bryn Mawr. That was Atalaya's stepsister, Vashti. Someone in there family had all ready done it, proven Steven wrong. People did things like go away to good schools. It was just a matter of getting the right work in high school and getting good grades.

Well, it was my turn at the metal cutter and I lifted up my sheet of metal with the lines drawn on it and my sheet of measurements. Afterwards, I had to check all my measurements. We got a tour of the welding area and had to all learn safety precautions. I know in my dad's shop people sometimes have to wear goggles for working with certain kinds of machines. Wherever you go, you have to respect the machines.

I read the Fountainhead during free period. I thought about Steven and I thought about the way I felt about Howard Roark. There are no Howard Roarks in real life. People don't just make it by themselves. Ask Koli. Ask Atalaya. Ask Joshua. Ask me. We were making it partially because we looked after each other and cheered each other on. That was not the only reason. Most of us had the goods. I remembered Lenny in algebra last year and Atalaya in economics. Poor Atalaya. The teacher wold rip up her quiz on Monday. He was a total bastard and she was a threat to his just serving time up there in front of the room. I wish I did not have to be so cynical about school. Maybe when (not if, not if this afternoon) I got to MIT things would be better.

It was definitely better when I got to French. Atalaya, Koli, and I had a fast thinking contest. I just wished we could have all been at a table looking at each other. I managed to hook a speaker to the computer so we could all hear each other. We had the mike on the table, but that gets awkward. Joshua said when we got a real French teacher it would be better.

Suddenly, with ten minutes to go in the class, I thought of Steven and what he had said and I wondered if I should tell Koli or if she all ready knew. After class, Koli had an errand to run at the Hannaford's behind South End Mall. That meant she'd probably see Steven in the YGTA corral.

"I hope we can get you in to clubs this weekend," I told Koli. My words felt awkward.

"I hope so too," she answered. "My mom has a lot on her mind these days."

"Yes, but you're the best student. There are rich parents who would spend thousands of dollars to get a kid like you. They'd spend it on tutoring and camps."

"Tell that to my parents," Koli snorted, and she walked away. I unlocked my bike and went to get Stasch.

"We won't ride home any more soon," he sighed.

"Just some Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, not even all of those," I said.

"I learned to read without talking today," he told me as we rode nearly two abreast.

"Pace yourself Stasch," I warned him. "It's a ways home."

"We'll ride at night on the days I have meetings," I told him. "This is going to make it easier for you when it's your turn."

"That will leave dad all alone if I go away to college," said Stasch.

"Dad has Aunt Aliza."

"Yes, but he won't have any kids any more."

"He wouldn't anyway. You'll be an adult by then and so will I."

Stasch hadn't figured on that. He sucked in breath and looked sad. I wondered if Stasch would agree with Steven. Ayn Rand would of course tell Koli to somehow defy her family and go to clubs anyway. Ayn Rand, though, wrote fiction and this was real life.

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