Published by: Harper & Row, 1990

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Copyright © Marilyn Singer 1990

Twenty Ways to Lose Your Best Friend

Chapter One

The President of the United States made me lose my best friend.

He doesn’t know he did.

And Sandy,  my once best friend, doesn’t know it was his fault either.

It’s rotten not having a best friend.  it’s more alone than being alone.  When you’re alone, but you have a best friend, you always know you’ll see her soon and then you won’t be alone anymore.  But when you’re alone without a best friend, you feel you’re going to be alone forever.  Which is how I feel right now.

But I guess I’d better begin at the beginning.

It was Election Day.  We were having dinner–Mom, Dad, my older brother, Ronnie, and me. Mom was mad.  She’s mad a lot.  We’re all pretty used to it, especially since she isn’t usually mad at us.  It’s other things that get her angry–things other people do.  “Most people have small minds,” she says.

Dad teases her sometimes.  He hardly ever gets angry.  He says getting angry won’t help people’s minds get any bigger.

Anyway, at dinnertime on Election Day Mom said, “You know, I voted this afternoon.”  She plopped some mashed potatoes on my plate.  “While I was on line, I heard two men talking. Ooh, they made me mad.”  She poured some gravy on my potatoes.  It splashed over the side.  “One of them said to the other, ‘I don’t think he’s as good as the other guy.  But I went to school with him, so I’m voting for him.’  Isn’t that the dumbest thing you ever heard?”

She went over to Ronnie.  He was reading a comic book.  “You should vote for who you think is the best person to be president.  You shouldn’t vote for someone just because you know him.”  She dumped some potatoes on Ronnie’s plate.  Some of the potatoes fell off on him.

“Ma, watch out!” he yelled.  He held up his comic book.  It had potato lumps all over it.

Mom frowned and grabbed the comic book out of his hand.  “You shouldn’t be reading at the dinner table.”  She put the comic on an empty chair and carefully poured gravy on Ronnie’s potatoes.

Next she brought the potatoes and gravy to Dad.  She started to dish them out, but he took them from her.  “I’m right, aren’t I, Richard?” she said.

“Yes.  Ronnie shouldn’t read at the table.”

Mom made a face.  “I meant about voting for the best person.”

“Oh, well.  Yes, I think you’re right, Jane.  But I can understand how the man you heard felt.  A lot of people would vote for a friend even if he or she weren’t the best person for the job.”

“A lot of people have small minds,” Mom said.  Then she looked at me.  “What do you think, Emma?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “I’m too young to vote for the president.”

“That’s true.  But you never know.  Someday soon you might have to choose between a friend and someone else for some job…Now, eat your potatoes.”

“Okay, Mom,” I said.

I didn’t think about what Mom said anymore that night.  I didn’t really think I was going to think about it anymore at all.

Boy, was I wrong.