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“John’s” by The Grade School Columnist (#WhereILivedWednesday)


Everyone always picks Megan’s house. Jessica and Carrie and Alon and everyone. Megan’s dad’s house–John’s. Megan calls her dad John and her mom Judy, instead of “Mom” and “Dad.” She also does this thing—every time she sees someone and they say hi she asks “How are you?” I’ve never heard another sixth grader do that ever. I might try it and I might not.

John lives one block from Joe’s market. We get off the bus from school and always stop there to get blue or red Freeze Pops and Captain Crunch and maybe a can of ravioli. When Danny stocks the shelves we talk to him because he plays guitar and sings in a band. He’s a major babe. I mean for like a 20 or 30 year old. When we go to check out, Megan just signs her name on the charge slip, so it’s basically free. I mean, so sometimes  John yells GODDAMMIT MEGAN I OWE JOE THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS. John yells loud a lot and at first it’s freaky but then nothing happens.

John’s house has Macaroni in a pot on the stove on from yesterday and old milk in cereal bowls still on the table from I don’t know when. They pile up the dishes in the sink until they use all the dishes and then if you want to use a bowl you have to wash a bowl, unless you use a huge mixing bowl for your Corn Pops which you might do . By the phone there’s a million phone numbers written on the actual wall. He has canoes in his backyard and a van in the driveway that doesn’t work and a swing in the front where I sit and wait for my mom and a fire hydrant next to the driveway where they always have to say WATCH OUT FOR THE FIRE HYDRANT so people don’t smash into it. My mom drives a brown Honda and my dad drives a blue Chevy, and John drives a bright red RX-7. Everyone thinks he’s cute, too. For a dad. The paint is all pealing off the house because he scraped it off to paint it someday. They have an attic and you can crawl out the window and lay out on the roof and get tan if you put enough baby oil on and it isn’t too cold for bikinis. Megan and Carrie and Erin and I all have the same pink bikini. Also, there’s a toilet that works in a closet next to the kitchen sink.

A lady named Nancy rents a room upstairs across from Megan’s room. She has a super cozy futon and reads our tarot cards and lets us eat her cherry vitamins. Sometimes she goes to the Clinique counter and buys Megan brand new make-up. I don’t know why Nancy wears a cape over her backpack though. It makes her look like a hunchback, but that’s her right as a human on earth I guess.

Also, people just stop by John’s house, but people never just stop by at our house. The screen door always slams and you can walk in and scream MEGAN or BURK or JOHN without knocking. People do it all the time. Sometimes even Judy, Megan’s mom and Phil, Judy’s boyfriend. They come over and talk to John like friends—like it’s no big deal. If I’m with my mom and step-dad and I see my dad and step-mom I pretend like I don’t see them. And viceversa. (Do you say viisverssa or viisAverssa?)

Sometimes Burk’s friends come over. Burk is Megan’s totally gorgeous older brother who looks like Jake from the Sixteen Candles, especially if he happens to stand in front of John’s RX-7, which is a totally perfect moment that I have actually encountered. He thinks I’m Megan’s smart friend and Megan’s stay out of trouble friend so he talks to me. I always want more of his talking.

Megan sometimes turns on Patsy Cline and imitates John doing the two step with his butt going side to side. I never heard of Patsy Cline before I went to John’s but now I know all the words to Crazy and After Midnight and Strange. Megan has the loudest laugh of any of us. Sometimes she lays on her back and pulls her knees up and rocks side to side with her mouth open huge laughing and laughing.


Link up your own #WhereILivedWednesday post here!


Are you familiar with the endlessly clever Peyton Price? I’m giving away her book (not getting paid to do so, just because I like it), Suburban Haiku, and you want it. You can read it all in one sitting if you need a delightful and wry pick-me-up, or I think it makes the perfect “leaving the city for the burbs” housewarming gift. I’ll pick randomly from the comments and announce the winner next week (continental US only, please). Good luck!


20 comments… add one

  • Ellen March 26, 2014, 5:40 am

    Another great one! Loved this portrait of the cool house as only the grade school columnist can tell it.

  • Kimberly@gradydoctor.com March 26, 2014, 7:27 am

    Ann, I loved this. Every drop of it.

  • Julie Gardner March 26, 2014, 7:30 am

    See what happens to the smart friend? The Stay Out Of Trouble friend?
    She grows up to be brilliant, right?

    But man. Having the house with the big mixing bowl of Corn Pops is the next best thing.
    That, and a pink bikini.

    Loved this Ann. LOVE.
    Thanks for the link-up.

  • Nancy Davis Kho March 26, 2014, 7:58 am

    It sounds like the kind of place that would have captivated and terrified me in equal measure during my childhood. Except for the Jake lookalike. That would have just terrified me.

    Every time I read one of your Grade School Columnist posts I get excited again for the day you write a book in this voice.


  • Wendi March 26, 2014, 8:13 am

    John was a weed dealer, wasn’t he?

  • Lisbeth Coiman March 26, 2014, 8:37 am

    What a refreshing story. I love the voice. I like Megan’s parents too. They seem so careless and easy going. I should be a bit like that: carefree type of parent, yet raising a happy child. I can’t wait till next Wednesday.

  • Ann Imig March 26, 2014, 10:48 am

    I only host #WILW once per month–confusing everyone including me :)

  • Jenny March 26, 2014, 9:25 am

    This is my favorite kind of writing. I was transported! Made me want to go hang out at John’s. Made me feel like a kid again. Thanks for the prompt!

  • Kristin Shaw March 26, 2014, 9:32 am

    Ah, the grade school columnist posts are some of my favorites! Love it. Thank you for starting this series – I finally got my story together to link up.

  • Deb Stone March 26, 2014, 10:50 am

    I love the child voice and the focus on details through the eyes of a kid: “blue or red Freeze Pops and Captain Crunch and maybe a can of ravioli” and the description of John’s house. Your specificity made me think of the hallmark foods of my childhood: Tang, for example.

  • Julie March 26, 2014, 1:29 pm

    So glad I happened on this on twitter last night. (I rarely go on twitter.) Love the look into other people’s lives.

  • Zakary March 26, 2014, 5:18 pm

    I was not allowed to have a bikini, I had to wear a hand me down one piece from my babysitter. Also, we used to sneak the Cherry Luden’s cough drops and eat them in like one day and my mom would get so mad.

  • Lisa @ BlackPantySalvation March 26, 2014, 6:59 pm

    Ack. I hate missing WILW but my daughter ate my aptitude. Baby oil and tanning on the roof, my own teenage siren’s song. Thank you for another great read!

  • Tarja March 26, 2014, 7:17 pm

    What Wendi said. Right?

    “I always want more of his talking.” Loved this one, Ann. So many funny parts, and yet it made me sad.

    PS – I reeeeeeeeally want Peyton’s book!

  • Lisbeth Coiman March 26, 2014, 8:54 pm

    I didn’t mention this in my blog today, but thanks for the opportunity to link up to your site.

  • Rachel March 26, 2014, 8:57 pm

    It’s been awhile since I have been to your blog. Love the new look and the pic of you! Great legs :) Great post as well. I love these.
    Hope you are well!

  • abby jakowski March 26, 2014, 9:07 pm

    So fun to read these today. I wrote one too, but we’ll see if the hash tag thing works – I’m no good at this technology stuff.

  • angela March 27, 2014, 7:26 am

    You absolutely took me there, in a matching pink bikini, and a life just a little bit foreign and uncertain, the way other people’s homes can feel.

  • Stephanie March 29, 2014, 11:40 am

    I found you through Peyton’s page. I’m so glad I did – I loved that story. I just ordered Suburban Haiku for my iPad but if I have to win a hard cover, too, that’s okay. Have a great weekend!

  • heidi March 31, 2014, 1:49 pm

    Oh Ann. I love this. It’s so vivid and colorful and exactly how we talked…how we all talked.

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