A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity

A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity by Kathleen Gilles Seidel Read Free Book Online

Book: A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity by Kathleen Gilles Seidel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Mom. He did it on purpose…. Yeah, but she looked at me funny.
    During the daytime, the side door to the kitchen was never locked when we were at home, and everyone knew that. So if my station wagon was in the driveway, close friends came around and let themselves in just as if we all lived in Mayberry or on Walton’s Mountain. Back when a more elegant family had lived here, this door was probably the “tradesmen’s entrance” to the house, but it was now the door all our friends used. In fact, the only people who came to my front door were the actual tradesmen—the delivery guys and the repairmen.
    Once Blair and I got the papers reorganized, I opened my laptop, and we started entering numbers in a spreadsheet—the previous chairs had been too ladylike to know how to use Microsoft Excel—when we heard the door open.
    It was Mimi. She was flushed and her lips were narrow. “I can’t believe it; I’ve never been so angry in my life.”
    With her short, spiky haircut Mimi always looked a little aggressive. Now she was on whatever the Jewish equivalent of a warpath is. I got up, moving toward the door. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
    Behind me, Blair rose more slowly. “Is it the ensemble?”
    “It sure is. Brittany and Elise are in. Rachel is not.”
    So Blair’s and Annelise’s daughters had made it into the ensemble. Mimi’s had not.
    I looked back over my shoulder at Blair. Her shirt was ultramarine, and she was wearing a thin silver necklace. Normally the most poised of us, she looked startled now, uncertain how to react. This was good news for her family, but still. …
    You weren’t supposed to find out from someone else that your daughter was in the ensemble. She was supposed to rush in from school and tell you herself. It was her news. You weren’t supposed to find out about it as a sidebar to someone else’s drama.
    I took over. “How do you know? I thought they weren’t going to announce it until tomorrow.”
    “They called me in special. And it wasn’t just Mrs. Barton.” She was the director of the ensemble. “The fifth-grade music teachers were there, too. They wanted to
explain.
” Mimi was sarcastic. “They said they wanted me to
understand.

    This seemed odd, but maybe this was always done with the close calls and we hadn’t known about it. “What did they say? What were you supposed to understand?”
    “That she doesn’t have an ensemble voice. That she sings as well as the other girls, but she is a soloist.”
    Now I didn’t know enough about singing to know if, at age eleven, one can be typed as having an ensemble or a soloist voice—it certainly sounded odd—but I did know that Rachel Gold didn’t have an ensemble personality. Brittany whined a bit too much, Elise was too much of a follower, my Erin could be a martyr, but Mimi’s Rachel needed to be in charge. I had helped Annelise with the Brownie troop back when the girls were in Scouts, and Rachel always wanted to be at the center of things. She had to be patrol leader, she had to sell the most cookies, she had to have every decision go her way. She was as hard-working and energetic as her mother, but she could be tiresome.
    The fifth-grade chorus had had one behavior problem after another last year, and Rachel had been somewhere between a ringleader and a scapegoat.
    “It’s that the teachers don’t like her,” Mimi said. “That’s all it is. They don’t like her. I admit that she has trouble with authority figures that she doesn’t respect. And if that’s what Alden wants, blind, unthinking obedience, then it is not the school we think it is.”
    As Rachel’s former assistant Scout leader, I did not appreciate the remark about unworthy authority figures, but I was sure that was the last thing on Mimi’s mind.
    “I know she could have behaved better last year,” Mimi continued. “They all could have. But who would have thought that it would have this effect?”
    “Then don’t you think this will

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