The Rockin’ Robins

This new story continues an unintended theme which started with my last post, ‘Transistor Radio’, that could best be called “The Power of Music”. In it you will find Poppy and Sid (first introduced in the character study, ‘Poppy’, posted earlier) whose friendship is cemented when they enter a talent show and sing the 1958 hit, “Rockin’ Robin”.

If you are interested in hearing the original song, go to the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcmvwFcfWmY

Poppy was ten years old and in the fifth grade. She had long, reddish blond hair which her mother often braided for her. She was prone to freckles. She was skinny and liked to wear flower patterned cotton dresses. Unlike most girls, whose favorite color was pink, Poppy’s was orange. She lived in a comfortable, three bedroom rambler in a suburb south of Minneapolis with her mom, dad and younger brother. She had a pet cat named Laura who slept with her every night. Everything about Poppy and her life was normal except for one thing: her eyes.
When she was six months old she developed Strabismus, a condition which caused her to be extremely cross-eyed. Because of this her childhood was not what you would call normal. Her early years centered around bi-monthly physical therapy sessions where she had to learn to train her eye muscles to focus on one object. This was hard to do because her eyes tended to wander all over the place. But with practice she learned how to do it. By the time she was nearly four years old, she was ninety-five percent cured, though her vision was blurry and she had to wear glasses with thick, corrective lens in order to see clearly.
Starting in preschool, despite her teacher’s best efforts, many classmates began calling her names like ‘four eyes’ and ‘crazy crossed eyes’ and generally making fun of her. But being different was Ok with Poppy. Throughout her young life she had learned to be happy being by herself. Her favorite pastime was singing. Being shaped by poor vision in her early years, she was unable to focus on anything tiny. Therefore, her mother allowed her to watch videos and movies because it was easy for her to see the images on the screen. She was allowed to watch one per day. Her favorites became ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ when she was young and ‘Annie’ when she was older. She loved to sing along with the characters, imaging herself actually in the scenes on the screen, twirling and dancing and moving to the rhythm of the music.
In short, Poppy had grown to be a well adjusted child who had a mellow disposition and took things in stride. Being made fun of in school for being different didn’t bother her too much. Not much, that was, until one day she started feeling different in a different kind of way. It all started just after spring break when a new kid came into her class. He was introduced as Sidney. He was tall and skinny and wore braces. Right away you just knew he was going to be picked on for his appearance. He had red hair that stuck up all over the place, a face covered in freckles and he even wore a flannel shirt buttoned all the way up. But on top all that he wore glasses just a thick as hers. He was assigned the seat in her row right in front of her.
“Hi,” he said with a grin, as he sat down and pretended to tip an imaginary hat. He pointed with his thumb toward the teacher. “They call me Sidney, but you can call me Sid.”
There was something interesting about this goofy looking new kid and Poppy had a good feeling about him. “Hi,” she answered right back. “You can call me Poppy.” And then a thought came to her that she’d never had before. Maybe they just might become friends.
Sid was not excited to be finishing off the 5th grade in a new school. It was nothing against his new teacher, Ms. Swenson, who seemed nice enough. And nothing really against any of the kids in his class, although that skinny, goofy looking girl named Poppy seemed nice. No, it was just that he wasn’t in the mood to be inside listening to some teacher drone on and on about whatever. He’d rather be outside. He’d rather be tramping the hills and fields near where he lived looking for birds and watching the clouds. Mainly, though, he just wanted to be by himself.
The past few months had not been easy for Sid. His mom and dad had split up again, and his dad had moved out. Actually, been kicked out. His mom had finally had enough of his drinking and ‘carousing’ as she called it. She had given him the boot and she and Sid and Sid’s kid sister had moved to an apartment complex on the edge of the suburb where Poppy and her family lived. Which was fine. Sid was used to moving around. His dad had a tough time keeping a job and they rarely were in one place for more than a year. Fortunately Sid’s mom, Grace, was a hard worker and could usually find employment somewhere. Right now she was a cashier at a Safeway grocery store only about a five minute drive from the apartment. They barely had enough money to live on, but they were getting by.
Oh, well, Sid thought to himself as he turned his attention to the board where Ms. Swanson was illustrating some sort of math problem, school will be out for the year in just a few months. He’ll just try to make the most of it, try to adjust and fit in. Try not to let it get him down too much. Just then that girl sitting behind him gave him a poke and when he turned around she handed him a note. He took it and hid it behind one hand as he opened it with the other. Want to sit together at lunch? It read. Do to his family moving around so much, Sid wasn’t used to having friends. Wasn’t used to even hanging out with anyone. Because of this he could have been bitter, but he wasn’t. He actually had a pretty good attitude about it all. He had become resigned to a life that wasn’t as normal as most other kids. Fitting in was something he didn’t feel he had to do. Still, though different looking, that girl Poppy seemed nice enough. Besides, who was he to be concerned about how someone looked? He decided to give it a try. What did he have to lose? He wrote Sure on the note and passed it back.
When the lunch bell rang they walked down the hall together, found a spot to sit off by themselves and started talking. Probably because they were both so different looking they were comfortable with each other and hit it off right away. While they talked Poppy was aware of the other kids in the lunch room watching them. That was OK. She was used to being viewed as somewhat strange and it didn’t bother her. She asked Sid where he was from and he gave her an abbreviated story of his life.
“Right now we’re living at those Hillside Apartments. The ones down off Skyline Drive. About two miles from here.” Sid indicated behind him with his hand. Talking to Poppy wasn’t as hard as he thought it would it might be. She was friendly and easy to talk with. Her thick glasses didn’t bother him at all.
Poppy nodded, “I know where those are.” Sid was living in apartments that were for folks who were considered down and out. At least that’s what a lot of people in the area referred to them as. Poppy didn’t care about that at all. She was enjoying talking with Sid. Most of her life had been spent talking to adults. She’d given up trying to make friends with any of the girls her own age years ago. She didn’t need the constant reminder of how odd she looked with the thick lenses in her glasses and the teasing that went along with it. Sid seemed different. He didn’t seem to mind how she looked at all. “How long have you lived there?” she asked, just to keep him talking.
“Well, we just moved in, obviously,” Sid said, laughing, implying that today was his first day of class so he was new to the area. Classes had just started up after a week off for Spring break.
“Oh, yeah, right,” Poppy said, “Obviously.” And Sid laughed some more. He took off his glasses and cleaned them with his shirt tail. It felt good to him to be talking with someone his own age. In every other school he’d been to he’d be ostracized immediately for being both the new kid and because of how he looked. For some reason being a skinny kid with red hair and freckles who wore glasses and had braces seemed an easy target. It wasn’t fair, but Sid had learned during his short life that life was anything but fair. This school was no different. As he talked to Poppy he noticed a group of boys two tables over talking amongst themselves, pointing and looking over at him. They all had that clean, polished look of well-to-do guys whose parents probably bought them everything they wanted. He’d seen it time and time again. He figured they’d pick on him pretty soon and try to start a fight. He was getting sick of having to prove himself all the time. But that’s the way it was. What else was new? He turned his attention back to Poppy.
“Where do you live?” Sid asked. The more he talked with Poppy the more comfortable he was getting. It was a new experience, talking to someone his own age like this. It made him feel good. He liked the feeling.
“Actually, not too far from you. We’re about a mile from here on the other side of Skyline from where you are. I sometimes walk home after school,” she said, “If I feel like it. I like to be outside. Watching birds and stuff.” She added that last bit just to see what Sid would say. He surprised her.
“I like being outside, too,” he exclaimed. “Sometimes I can walk for hours,” he paused, “Well, maybe not hours, especially in the winter, but…” he stopped again, flustered, “Well, you know what I mean.” He laughed and Poppy joined him.
“Yeah, I get it. I just like to be by myself sometimes and just think about stuff.”
“Yeah me too.”
“Do you like to read?”
“Yep, I do,” Sid said, nodding his head, “A lot. Right now I’m into the Hardy Boys mysteries.”
“Nancy Drew, for me,” Poppy said smiling.
And it may have seemed like a little thing, but it really was something big for these two unassuming kids who until this day never had a friend or someone their own age to hang out with and talk to, and now all of a sudden there was someone with whom they shared some common interests. Both Poppy and Sid had the feeling that things were going to change for the better for them. And they did.
Poppy’s family was not rich, but they lived comfortably enough. Both her parents worked. Poppy took the bus to and from school with her younger brother. Poppy’s aunt Benny, her mom’s younger sister, took care of them in the afternoon until one or the other of her parents got home. But like she’d told Sid, Poppy sometimes did walk home, as long as she cleared it with her parents first. They let her because they wanted to show her they had trust in her. They had bought her a simple flip style cell phone that she used to stay in contact with them and her aunt. As her friendship with Sid grew, she took to calling him occasionally in the evening on her phone.
“What are you up too?” was usually the first thing she said when Sid came on the line, which he thought funny. Not Hi or Hey, it’s me, Poppy. He was liking her more and more and how she was a different and unique. Not like anyone he’d ever known before.
“Not much. Just working on my homework.”
“How’s it going?” she asked. Poppy was an excellent student.
“I suppose you’re all done,” Sid said, giving her a hard time. School and studying were not his strong suit. But he liked learning. He just had to work at it.
“Well….” Poppy said, teasing, drawing it out. “Maybe.”
Sid laughed. “I got the math Ok, it’s just that history assignment. I’ve lived in this state all my life and I just don’t get some of this Minnesota history stuff.
“It’s pretty easy. Just memorizing. I’ll get my book and help you with it.”
“Thank, Poppy, I appreciate it.”
“No problem. I’m going to get the book right now. It’s in my pack in the front hall by the door.
Sid could tell she was walking through her house carrying the phone. He heard her say Hi to her mom and dad and a television going in the background. “What’cha watching?” she asked and he heard a muffled answer. “Cool,” he heard her say. Then she said to him, “Hey, Sid, listen to this.” She was obviously holding the phone toward the TV. He could hear music. It sounded like some kind of old music. His mom played it every now and then. Rock and Roll music from the ’50’s or ’60’s. He was unfamiliar with the song, but had to admit it had a good beat. Kind of catchy. “What do you think of that?” Poppy asked when the song was over.
“It was alright, I guess,” Sid answered, not sure where this conversation was headed.
“Let’s get this homework of yours finished,” she said. “Then I’ll tell you something. I’ve got an idea.” When they were finished she filled him in on what she was thinking about. “You know that talent contest that’s coming up at the end of the school year?”
“Yeah, what about it?” he asked, a bit of hesitation in his voice.
“I was thinking it might be fun to enter it.”
“Well, go ahead,” he said. “You’d be good at it.” He wanted to encourage her. He knew that Poppy liked to sing and dance to music videos. She had told him more than a few times.
“I was thinking of entering it with you.”
Sweat immediately broke out on Sid’s brow. “Whoa..Wait a minute,” he blurted out. “What are you talking about? I’m not talented in anything. Besides, we’d have to perform in front of people and that would make me nervous. Really nervous,” he added with the emphasis on really.
Poppy laughed, “Calm down. I know what you mean. I’m nervous in front of people too. That’s kind of why I want to do it.”
Sid had never in his life heard anything so crazy. “Are you nuts?”
“Just hold on a minute and let me explain.” Poppy could hear Sid’s breathing on the phone. “Hey, are you Ok?” She asked, concerned.
He took a moment, calming down. “Yeah, I’m Ok. I’m not sure I’m ready for this.”
“Look, I won’t make you do something you don’t want to do, Ok? Take a deep breath and just listen to my idea.” Her voice was soothing and calming.
“Ok. Go ahead.”Sid was feeling a little better knowing Poppy wasn’t going to make him do something he didn’t want to do. But when she got done telling him her idea, much to his surprise, he was thinking he might join her. It might be fun, and, like Poppy had said, it sure would be interesting.
Her idea was to participate in the talent show held at the end of the school year and sing a song with Sid. The song was called ‘Rockin’ Robin’ which was an old rock and roll song from the ’50’s. She’d heard it on the television when she walked through the room where her parents were watching a PBS special about old time rock and roll singers. She couldn’t get the song out of her head.
“Here, listen to it again,” she said. “I’ve got it playing on YouTube.” She had gone to her parent’s computer and pulled the song up. “Here goes.” She held the phone by the computer’s speakers.
Sid listened. He had to admit that it was a pretty neat song. It had a great beat to it and he felt himself tapping his fingers on his thigh to the beat. He getting so that he kind of liked it.
When it was over Poppy continued with her idea. “I’ll get my dad to copy the song onto a CD. I’ve got a little boom box and we can play the song on the boom box and sing along with it for the talent show. I think it would be kind of cool.” She paused and added, “I’m sick of always not doing things just because everyone thinks I’m a freak or something.”
Sid kind of got what she was saying. Always be made fun of for being different was a real pain. This was a chance to show everyone, especially their classmates, that they could do something. That they were more than just geeky wallflowers. Plus, he liked his friendship with Poppy. If she wanted to do it, what the heck, what did he have to lose? “I’m in,” he said with a bit of a flourish, causing Poppy to laugh. “What’s the next step?”
“I’ll get my dad to print the words to the song off the computer and I’ll bring them to school tomorrow.”
“We should practice, too.”
“Yeah, I know. Definitely. Can you come over to my house after school sometimes? Or I could come over to you place.”
Sid thought about it. He and Poppy had been friends now for about a month. He’d gone to her place a few times after school to play and hang out. She’d never been to his apartment although she knew exactly where he lived. “Let me ask my mom,” he said. “I’ll let you know what she thinks tomorrow.”
“Ok,” said Poppy. “I’m pretty excited about this.”
“Me, too,” Sid said. He was amazed with himself that he was really starting to get on board with Poppy’s idea. He was remembering a fight he’d gotten into a few days after he had started school. One of those kids from the lunch room had knocked his books out of his hand as he walked down the hall and then pushed him over when he’d bent down to pick them up. The gang of boys that the kid hung around with were all there laughing at him. When Sid got up the kid pushed him again and he fell backward over a guy who’d knelt down behind him and he ended up sprawled out on the floor. The kid then kicked him once in the stomach and walked away, leaving Sid rolling in pain. It was over so quick that he didn’t even have a chance to respond. No teachers even came to break it up, it happened so fast. Fortunately, the gang of boys had left him pretty much alone after that, but the damage was done. He felt like he was a wimp. Someone who couldn’t take care of himself. But he wasn’t a fighter anyway and if he tried to fight back he’d just get beat up again. He was an Ok student, but wasn’t athletic and possessed none of the skills that most of the popular kids had. Still he felt like he wanted to show everybody that he was something. He wasn’t sure what that something was, but he felt like this might be a chance to show he could do something. Be good at something. He was starting to get excited about it. “Can you play the song again?” he asked. And before they had hung up, they’d listened to it on YouTube three more times. Sid almost had it memorized and it was stuck in his brain like super-glue and he didn’t mind that at all.
The next day at school Poppy gave him a print out of the words to ‘Rockin Robin’. The singer was Bobby Day and the song had been a hit in 1958. “Have you thought anymore about doing the talent show?” she asked, wondering if maybe her friend would get cold feet and back out.
But Sid was definitely all in. “Yeah, I’m pretty excited,” he said, for some reason trying to be cool and put on an attitude about the whole thing.
Poppy gave him a look like she knew what he was doing. “Come on, show some enthusiasm,” she prompted him. “This could be a lot of fun.”
Sid grinned, more at himself than at Poppy. He was not very good at putting on a false front. “Yeah, I know. I’m actually looking forward to it.” He made a little dancing move in his desk, causing Poppy to laugh.
Then their teacher Ms. Swenson walked in and told the class to be quiet. Poppy and Sid looked at each other and grinned, happy to being sharing their own secret.
They talked at lunch about how they were going to get ready for the show. It was still a month away, so they had time, but they still needed a plan. Both the kids were the oldest of the siblings in their families. They were each used to taking responsibility when it came to everything from babysitting to doing chores around their respective home or apartment.
“Can you come over to my house and practice?” Poppy asked Sid as she munched on the celery and humus she’d brought from home.
“Maybe. You know I have to take care of Lisa after school.” Lisa was Sid’s kid sister who was two years younger. They rode the bus home together. “I’ll ask my mom.” He was eye-balling Poppy’s lunch. “How can you eat that stuff?” he finally asked. Poppy laughed. “Here, try some,” she pushed a stick of humus slathered celery toward Sid, who cringed. “Thanks but no thanks. I’ll stick to my peanut butter and jelly sandwich if it’s all the same to you.” He pretended to shudder a little, making Poppy laugh and he then went back to what they’d been talking about. “Maybe you could come over to my place,” he suggested. Sid’s mom usually got home from work around 5:30 pm, an hour and a half after her kids got home. Sometimes she had to work a later shift, but usually she was there throughout the dinner and bedtime hours.
“I’ll ask my mom,” Poppy said. “She should be Ok with it. In the meantime we can just practice singing on our own.” She looked at Sid. “Do you still like the song?”
Sid laughed, “Yeah I do. I could hardly get it out of my head last night. Let me tell you, going to sleep was not easy, .”
Poppy laughed, too. “I know. That’s why I think it will be fun to sing it at the talent show. It’s such a happy sounding song.”
“It’s in my head right now. I’m snapping my fingers to it all the time.” He demonstrated his finger snapping technique.
Poppy laughed again. She was enjoying this new side of her friend, usually so serious, now loosening up and having fun. “Here, let me try,” she said and started snapping her fingers, too, much to the dismay of the people sitting around them, who considered the two friends way out-in-left-field crazy. Poppy and Sid didn’t care one single bit, and they started singing their song with their heads close together, giggling quietly and bobbing their heads to the music they made.
Sid talked to his mom and Poppy talked to her mom and then the mom’s talked and they all came up with a plan and the plan was this: while the kids could each practice singing on their own, getting together could only happen on the weekends. Sid would go over to Poppy’s on Saturday and Poppy would come over to Sid’s on Sunday. That way the parent’s could monitor the kids and the kids could still get a good amount of practice in. In the meantime, Poppy and Sid sang together every night on the phone, which sounded marginally Ok to those listening. But the kids didn’t care. They were having fun and that was a big part of it. At least that’s how the parents saw it.
“She could be doing worse things,” Poppy’s mom said to her husband. “What can it hurt?”
“Well my ear drums for one thing,” her husband said, laughing, as his wife made a move to punch him. “Just kidding,” he said. “I’m just happy she’s made a friend.”
Which was true. From Poppy’s parent’s perspective, seeing their daughter happy was a big thing for them. Poppy’s early years and troubles with her eyes had made her quiet and withdrawn. Kids had picked on her, making their daughter very self conscious. But Poppy was a fighter. Even though she was made fun of, she found ways to cope with the teasing and hurtful taunting. She learned to sing and dance to the videos her parents bought for her. She learned to enjoy reading after her eyes got fixed and she got her new glasses. And she learned to be happy spending time with herself and being creative in her own way. Which was all well and good and her parent’s appreciated their daughter’s spirit, but they sometimes felt it would be nice for her to have at least one friend. And now she did. She seemed happy with Sid and that made her folks confident that this process of preparing for the talent show was a positive experience for her.
Sid’s mom felt pretty much the same way. She was coping with being a single mother, trying to give as much time as she could to her two kids. But she also had to work and that was a reality she and her kids had to face. Her husband was not in the picture. She’d heard that he had left the area to work in the oil fields in western North Dakota. He occasionally sent back some money, but only rarely. She knew she had to depend on herself. So when her son told her that he had made a friend she was happy for him. For now, given her current situation, that was all any mother could ask for. It didn’t bother her in the leastl that her son’s new friend was a girl.
School ended the last week in May on a Friday. The talent show was the day before that on Thursday, three days after Memorial Day. The kids had one month and a few days to prepare. They jumped in with both feet.
Their first practice was the first weekend in May at Poppy’s. Sid rode his bike over in the afternoon. His mom was home between shifts so he had a few hours to work on their song before he had to get back and take care of his sister. Poppy’s dad had made a copy of ‘Rockin Robin’ and put it on a CD that Poppy could play on her little boom box. In order to help them out he copied it over and over so they could just let the CD run all the way to the end. The song was 2 minutes and 23 seconds long so they could listen to it more than twenty times before starting the CD over again. It’s a good thing they liked the song because they soon realized that it was going to be harder to sing than they thought it would be.
First of all, they had been singing separately to themselves and into the phone receiver since the week before when Poppy first came up with the idea. Singing separately was one thing. Singing out loud with a partner right next to you was completely different and also pretty challenging. Fortunately, the idea was to sing along with Bobby Day on the song, so all they had to do was know the words, know where the breaks came and sing in tune. Easier said than done. It didn’t help that the chorus part of the song used the words, ‘ Tweedle-lee-deedle-lee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee’, repeated three times and they could not get through the line without one or the other or both of them cracking up. Once Sid had to leave the room he was laughing so hard, afraid he was going to wet his pants.
“Let’s take a break,” Poppy suggested, when he came back, his face red with a mixture of laughter and embarrassment. “I’m kind of thirsty.”
They’d been practicing in Poppy’s bedroom, which was an airy, well lit room in the front of the house. They went into the kitchen where Poppy’s mom was reading the newspaper and having a cup of tea. “How’s it going?” she asked, although she could easily hear them from where she sat.
“Good, mom, we just need something to drink.” Poppy went to the refrigerator and poured some orange juice for them. “Here you go, Sid.” She put the glasses down and sat at the table with her mom and motioned for Sid to sit down too.
Poppy’s mom was a dental technician and had seen her fair share of spoiled, bratty, stuck up kids, so her motherly radar was up a few weeks earlier when had first met Sid. But she was quickly put at ease. Sid was polite in a nice, honest way. He didn’t seem phony, but instead was a normal kid who just maybe had not had all the breaks in life a lot of other kids had experienced. She was comfortable now with Sid as they all chatted a bit. Then the kids got up and went to the sink to rinse their glasses. She watched them head back down the hall to her daughter’s bedroom to practice. She was happy that Poppy had found a friend who seemed like he was a good kid. In a few minutes she went outside and started cleaning the garage. ‘Rockin’ Robin’ was now stuck in her head. She had to smile, though, running a broom across the floor, she did actually like the song, no matter how irritating it was to hear it over and over and over, time after time after time.
Poppy and Sid ran through the CD once more. When they were done they figured they’d sung the song over forty times. Poppy had a calendar on the door and marked off the day with an X. “Ok,” she said, frowning, “Seven more practices to go. Think we can do it?”
“Of course we can,” Sid said sounding confident. “It’ll just take some more practice.”
Sid was having a great time. Poppy had a good voice, and his was kind of marginal, but getting better with practice. As they sang, he was kind of dancing to the music. He had looked the song up on YouTube and watched Bobby Day singing the song while kids did some kind of rock and roll dance routine in the background. It was that style of dancing that he was mimicking. He didn’t care if he was good at it or not, he was just having fun. He said good bye to Poppy and her mom and got on his bike, riding home singing at top of his voice, not caring at all what the people that passed him on the road were thinking. It felt good to be in a good mood for a change.
The next day was Sunday. Poppy’s dad drove her over to the apartment complex where Sid and his mom and sister lived. Hillside Apartments was a fifty unit, three story building about a mile down Skyline from where Poppy and her family lived. It had been built in the seventies during a building boom and had been going downhill ever since. The brick facade was showing its age and paint was peeling around the windows. A lot of Section 8 people called Hillside home. Poppy’s dad took a deep breath as he parked the car and got out. “Let’s go see Sid,” he said, trying to sound upbeat and holding his daughter’s hand. Hillside did not have best reputation. “Which floor does he live on?”
“Sid said they’re on the first floor over on the corner. Unit 115, I think, ” Poppy said, skipping a little. She was in a good mood and looking forward to their practice session. If she was concerned about anything having to do with the building they were about to enter, she didn’t let on. Her dad had to admire her for that.
They went in the front door and buzzed apartment number 115. In a moment Sid answered. “Is that you, Poppy?”
“Yep. Me and my dad,” she said.
“I’ll buzz you in.”
They walked through a set of security doors and took a right, following an arrow pointing them to number 115. The hallway was dingy and the carpet worn. Cooking smells filled the air, bacon, fried meat and some kind of spice. As they walked down the hall, noise from televisions could be easily heard as well as conversations from various apartments. They knocked on the door and Sid answered.
“Hi Poppy. Come on in.” He opened the door to a nice, neat apartment that smelled faintly of vanilla, not at all what Poppy’s dad was prepared for. “Mom, come here. Meet Poppy and her dad.” Sid politely made the introductions.
“I’ve got the boom box,” Poppy said. “Where should we practice?”
“Mom, is it Ok if we practice in the bedroom?”
“Yes, it is. I’ll keep your sister out here with me.”
“Thanks. Let’s go, then,” Sid grabbed the boom box and let the way down a short hall and into the bedroom.
Sid’s mom looked at Poppy’s dad. “I’m Grace,” she said, “Good to meet you.”
“Dan,” Poppy’s dad said, smiling. “My wife is Mary.” He then used his thumb to indicate where their kids were, “They’re pretty excited about this.”
“They are. It’s good to see.”
Grace motioned for Dan to sit at a small, circular table that separated the kitchen from the living room and offered him coffee and cookies. They spent a few minutes getting to know one another. Dan was a math teacher at the high school in the next suburb south of the one they all lived in. He was impressed with how clean Grace kept the apartment. “Nice place you have here.”
Grace actually grimaced, then smiled, “Thanks. It’s not the Taj Mahal, but at least it works for us,” she replied, joking a little.
They chatted a while longer before Dan got up to go. He now felt comfortable leaving Poppy. Grace seemed like a good, responsible person, who, as he understood from what Poppy had told him, was just a little down on her luck. He wasn’t about to hold that against her. “Well, I should get going.” He wrote down his cell phone number. “Give me a call when they get done. We’re only a few minutes away.”
They said good bye and Grace moved over to the window and watched as Dan walked through the parking lot and got into his car. Grace didn’t know much about automobiles but his looked a lot newer than the ratty old Toyota she drove. Then she stopped. I’m not going to start feeling sorry for my situation she said to herself. I’m better off now than with that jerk of a husband. She turned away from the window and became aware of music coming from the bedroom. It was the bedroom that Sid and his sister shared. Grace slept on the fold out couch in the living room. The apartment was small, but she was making the rent payments on time and keeping food on the table. Her kids were in school and doing pretty well. She smiled. The music was that ‘Rockin’ Robin’ song that Sid kept singing. She felt like she knew every word. She went to the refrigerator and checked to see if she had anything for the kids to drink. They were working hard on this project. They’d probably need a break soon. She had some orange juice. She hoped that would be good enough. Later on when the kids took their break the juice was a hit. So were the cookies Grace had thought to bring home last night at the end of her shift. Just for a treat.
By the end of Sunday’s practice, things were coming together. They’d gotten over the ‘giggles’ as Poppy had called them, and now could sing, ‘Tweedle-lee-deedle-lee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee’ without cracking up. And that was a major step. When Poppy got home later that afternoon, she put another X on the calendar. Less than a month to go, she thought to herself, both nervous and excited at the same time. Six more practice sessions. She danced around the room to let off some tension. Dancing a little rock and roll, like she’d seen Sid doing. She was still dancing when her mom called her a half hour later for dinner.
Each week was marked by improvement as Poppy and Sid became more and more confident with their singing. They even started incorporating ‘moves’ as they called it into their performance. Dancing would be the correct term. They worked out a kind of routine that was based on choreographed steps like many of the singers back in the 50’s and 60’s did. Poppy and Sid used Poppy’s mom’s iPhone to look up groups on YouTube. Acts like ‘The Four Tops’ and ‘The Temptations’ really had some good moves. Poppy and Sid tried their best to emulate them. But mostly, they were just having fun. The parents, Grace and Dan and Mary, noticed the change in their kid’s behavior. Poppy and Sid were happy and generally in good moods most of the time. Grace noticed that Sid was a lot less withdrawn than before. He was cheerful more often than not and agreeable to help out around the apartment. Dan and Mary were happy to see that Poppy was beginning to come out of her shell. They didn’t expect or necessarily want their daughter to be anything like a social butterfly, they just wanted her to be as well adjusted as she could be given the issues she’d had with her eyes and the bullying she’d gone through in her early years. She seemed to have put all those bad memories behind her and was now focusing on her singing and dancing. Most of all, she was having a great time and seemed engaged in her life, and that was really the most important thing, as least as far as her parents were concerned.
The following Wednesday at school, Ms. Swenson asked the two of them to stay a moment after class. She had a list of all the kids who were performing in the talent show that was now three weeks away. “It says here that you two are going to be singing a song, is that correct?”
“Yes, Ms. Swenson,” Poppy answered. “We’re going to sing to an old rock and roll song called ‘Rockin’ Robin’.” Sid stood next to her trying to be calm. He took off his glasses and nervously cleaned them on the shirt-tail of his flannel shirt. Both the kids were slightly nervous having to talk alone like this to their teacher. They both liked her, she was nice, but she was still a figure of authority to them. You never knew what to expect.
Ms. Swenson smiled. “I know the song. It has a nice beat to it.”
Poppy and Sid visibly relaxed and nodded, kind of relieved.
“It’s just that, you know that most of the other performers are going to be doing something completely different.” She checked her list again. “I’ve a few girls singing the theme song from ‘Frozen’, a couple of kids performing poems from memory, a few boys demonstrating karate, kids playing solos on various band instruments, all kinds of different things.” She paused, looking at them before she continued, “I just don’t want you to be disappointed in the outcome.”
“I’m not sure I get what you mean, Ms. Swenson,” Poppy said, looking confused.
It was then that Ms. Swenson stopped and looked at her two students and thought about what she was trying to say. Both Poppy and Sid, she knew, were outcasts. She knew it to be a fact no matter how hard she tried to deny it. In spite of that, though, they were both good, dependable kids who never caused her any trouble. They were quiet and respectful in class and applied themselves to their studies. All in all, just nice kids, the kind any teacher loves to have in class. But she was worried about the talent show coming up and how the other kids in the school would react to them. She knew how mean some of them could be. She supposed she was trying to mitigate any possible embarrassment that Poppy and Sid might feel if their performance didn’t go over too well. It was entirely possible that the talent show could be painful for them, especially if other kids ridiculed and made fun of them. She knew the reality of the situation: no matter what she told the other students and how she implored them to behave, they would do whatever they wanted. Some of them could be as nasty as could be. It could be disastrous for Poppy and Sid. But then a hidden memory came to her. She suddenly remembered a time when she was in junior high school. There had been a talent show then at the end of the school year and one of the more picked upon students had performed and had been an unqualified hit. He’d done a ventriloquist act with a dummy dressed up as a farmer and it had been very funny. He was never picked on again. Maybe something like that will happen with Poppy and Sid, she thought. Maybe some good can come out of this. She made her decision.
“Never mind,” she said, smiling at them, “I’m sure your song will be a big hit.”
“Thanks, Ms. Swenson,” Poppy and Sid both said at the same time.
She glanced at the clock on the wall. “You both better get to your buses. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Poppy and Sid hurried out of the classroom and headed down the hall. “What was that all about?” Sid asked Poppy, as they pushed through the doors and ran down the steps to where the buses were parked.
“I have no idea,” Poppy answered, then added, “But it sounds like she’s looking forward to our song.”
They waved good-bye to each other as they boarded their respective buses. Ms. Swenson watched from the classroom window. Other kids their age were listening to Taylor Swift and One Direction. Poppy and Sid were certainly different than most kids. She hoped that everything turned out Ok for these two courageous students of hers, who were only trying in their own way, she knew, to be accepted for who they were and to somehow fit in.
At practice the following weekend, Poppy suggested that maybe she and Sid should dress differently when they sang at the talent show. “Maybe we could wear clothes like they wore back in the ’50’s,” she suggested.
Sid was all for it. “I’ve watched Bobby Day’s video on YouTube maybe a hundred times, ” he said. Poppy laughed at his exaggeration. “Well, twenty, maybe. Anyway, the girls mostly are wearing a shirt and a skirt, and the boys are wearing slacks, dress shirt and a tie.”
“Let’s go and look at it again,” Poppy suggested. While they were watching on her parent’s computer, Poppy’s mom came in. When the kids told her what they were doing, she had a suggestion.
“I’ll get a hold of my mom,” she said. “I think she might be able to help out.”
Poppy’s grandmother was more than happy to become involved. She had grown up in the ’50’s and remembered very clearly what the kids wore back then. “The girls wore a type of skirt that was called a ‘Poodle Skirt’,” she told Poppy when they talked on the phone later that night. “I’ll come over this week and measure you. I’ll make one for you.” Poppy’s grandmother was an excellent seamstress and could sew anything.
“Thank you so much,” Grammy, Poppy said. “I really appreciate it.” She was pretty excited.
Grammy loved her granddaughter. “I’m glad you asked,” she said, “I’ll use a dark green fabric. It’ll look nice with your hair.” She thought for a moment and then added, “Let me talk to your mom. I might have a top you can wear.”
Mary talked to Grammy. She had some old clothes from when she was a kid and thought for sure she had a top that Poppy could wear. “It’s got black and white narrow horizontal strips. It’s the real deal from that era and I think would look great on Poppy.” Mary trusted her mom’s judgment. Grammy also suggested that her daughter buy Poppy a pair of saddle shoes, which she agreed to do. “Make sure she has socks that roll down, too,” she added. “Then she’ll look perfect.” And just like that Poppy’s outfit was all set. Sid decided to wear a pair of dress shoes, white socks, blue jeans rolled up at the bottom, white tee-shirt and a dark sports coat that he had to wear on special occasions. “This is special enough for me, as far as I’m concerned,” he told Poppy. She readily agreed.
With their outfits all set, and their dance moves looking good, the kids felt they were as ready as they’d ever be. The last weekend before the actual talent show was Memorial Day weekend. When Sid got to Poppy’s house, she greeted him with a big smile. “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we take the boom-box out into the garage and run through our song there? We can keep the door closed. It’ll be good to try it in a bigger room.”
They set up the boom-box in the back of the garage on a work bench and started it up. ‘Rockin’ Robin’ had a break in it in the middle that lasted about twenty seconds and Poppy and Sid had decided to fill it with a little dance number. Or ‘dance routine’ as they sometimes called it. They copied some of the moves of the kids dancing in the ‘Rockin’ Robin’ video on YouTube, and they had to admit they felt pretty good about how it was coming along. If you were to watch them dancing to an old rock and roll song you would have never guessed that just a few months earlier both Poppy and Sid were just two fifth grade kids sort of surviving life the best they knew how. But to see them now, full of confidence and charisma, you won’t think they were the same kids. But they were. And right now their goal was to perform the song the best that they could.
Practicing in the garage had been a good idea. The main thing they realized was that they would have to project their voices when they sang. Singing in a big room like the garage was different than in a little bedroom. And the theater that the talent show was going to be held in was a lot bigger than a garage. It was a good thing that by now they had sung the song a couple of hundred times. They knew it by heart and with a little practice they could project their voices and still stay in tune.
The next day, Sunday, Poppy’s mom brought her over to Sid’s. While the kids went into the back bedroom to practice, Mary and Grace sat at the little round table that separated the kitchen and living room. Grace had made some coffee and the two women sat chatting. They had become friendly over the last month, both mothers enjoying seeing their kids coming out of their respective shells.
“I’m so happy that Sid and Poppy are friends,” Grace remarked. “Poppy had been a great influence on him.”
“Well, he’s been just the same for her,” Mary added. “She used to be so quiet and a bit withdrawn.”
“I just hope the kids aren’t too disappointed at the talent show.”
“I know what you mean. They’ve put so much into it.”
From the bedroom the moms could hear the music start up. They both smiled.
“I’ll probably never get that song out of my heard,” Grace said.
Mary laughed, “Really…It’s a good thing it’s so catchy.” Grace nodded, smiling. Then Mary asked, “Are you going to the show?”
“I’m planning on it. Doesn’t it start around 6:00 pm on Thursday?”
“Yes. My mom and dad are meeting us at our home and we’ll drive them over. Poppy’s brother is coming too. Maybe we can meet and sit together.”
“I’ve already put in for the evening off.” She stopped and then said, “I have a favor to ask. Could you pick up Sid and take him for me? I have to work until 6:00 pm. I’ll just be able to make it to the show if I hurry.”
Mary readily agreed. “How about Sid’s sister?”
“I’ve got a sitter coming for her.”
“How about if we take her with us. I’m sure she wouldn’t want to miss her brother’s performance.”
They both laughed at Mary’s joke. Than Grace agreed, “Sure that would be wonderful. Maybe we can go out somewhere afterwards and celebrate.”
Mary nodded, “Yeah, hopefully.” She made a fingers-crossed sign as both mothers looked down the hall toward the room where ‘Rockin’ Robin’ was playing yet again. Both mothers looked at each other, silently wishing the best for the kids, each of whom had put so much into getting ready for the show.
And they had. But Poppy and Sid looked at what they were doing differently than their parents did. To them, it was all about having fun. They’d been slightly self conscious in the beginning when they first started singing together but had quickly gotten over it. They enjoyed the song. They enjoyed practicing together. They enjoyed coming up with their dance moves and they enjoyed planning their outfits. The experience was new to them. They were used to being in the background and they were Ok with that. But this was a chance to do something out of the ordinary. To test themselves, so to speak. To come out of their shells. And really, they had spent so much of their lives being social outcasts, they really didn’t care what other people thought. They just wanted to do the best they could for themselves. By the time they had finished practicing on Sunday, they felt they were as ready as they’d ever be. Thursday couldn’t come fast enough for them.
On Tuesday, Ms. Swenson told everyone who would be performing that the next day after school there was going to be a ‘sound check’ as she called it. “We are going to do a quick run through of each of your performances,” she said. “We want to make sure the sound system is set and ready to go.”
Poppy and Sid just looked at each other. Sound system? What was that all about?
Poppy raised her hand and Ms. Swenson acknowledged her. “I’m not sure what you mean, by ‘sound check’,” she said, to a few giggles rippling through the class.
“We have a microphone and speakers that need to be coordinated for whatever you are going to do. If you are doing a reading, for example, we have to check the sound volume. ” She saw the confused look on Poppy’s face. “For you and Sid, we have to check how you sound when you sing into the microphone.” More giggles ran through the classroom, which Ms. Swenson stopped with stern look and a sharp, “Quiet.”
Poppy looked at Sid who was perspiring and nodded. “Oh, Ok.”
Ms. Swenson went on to talk about other things. When she wrapped up she said, “So tomorrow after school, we’ll meet in the Little Theater. That’s where the show will take place.”
Within ten seconds Sid passed a note back to Poppy. ‘What the heck?’ it read.
She answered with a note of her own, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.’
Sid wrote back, ‘I hope so.’
Poppy thought she noticed a drop of perspiration on the corner of the paper.
And as it turned out, they were fine. The next day after classes ended all of the kids performing on Thursday met at the Little Theater, which was exactly like it sounded. Picture an old time movie theater that had been cut in half and you get what the school’s Little Theater was like. There was a raised stage in front and thirty rows of seats slopping up away from it toward the back where two wide doors served as the entrance. The theater was used for all sorts of presentations and even rented out to the public on occasion. It seated around five hundred people.
When Poppy and Sid’s turn came for sound check, they handed their CD to Mr. Rothchild, a science teacher at the school who was in charge of setting up the sound system. He had the two kids stand on the stage and positioned the microphone between them. He was a nice, kind man. “Do you kids want another mic?” he asked, as Poppy and Sid stared out over the empty auditorium, eyes wide, mouths suddenly dry, trying their best not to freak out.
“No, Mr. Rothchild,” Sid finally spat out. “One is more than enough,” which caused Poppy to laugh out loud, breaking the tense mood.
“Don’t worry, you kids will do fine,” Mr. Rothchild said, as he moved over to some sort of monitor with a lot of buttons on it. “Now talk into the mic.”
The set up took a only a few minutes and when they were done Mr. Rothchild told them they were all set. He’d made some notes and told them that when they were ready to perform, he’d make sure all the sound levels would be fine. He could see they were visibly nervous. “Tomorrow, when you get out on stage, just look at each other, make eye contact, smile, take a deep breath and let it all out. That will help get rid of your nerves. You’ve practiced this song, haven’t you?” Both Poppy and Sid nodded somewhat soberly. “Then you have nothing to worry about. Go and sing it a few more times. Do your routine one more time and you’ll be fine.” As the kids started to slowly walk away, he tapped them each on the shoulder. “Remember, it’s supposed to be fun,” he said, giving them each a fist bump. “You’ll do great.”
Mr. Rothchild’s advice really helped calm the kid’s nerves and they did exactly like he told them. They left the school and walked to Poppy’s house. It was the last week in May and the air was clean and fresh. They sang all the way home, getting rid of their nerves and causing more than a few passing motorists to smile and give them an encouraging car horn honk. The next day was Thursday. ‘Show time’ as Sid put it when Poppy called him that night.
“Are you nervous?” she asked him. “I kind of am.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean, but I keep thinking of what Mr. Rothchild said. We have practiced this song a lot.” He emphasized have.
“Standing on the stage was weird. It was so high off the ground.”
“I know. It kind of freaked me out, but I’m glad we did it. Now we know what to expect.”
Poppy nodded into the phone, agreeing. It felt good to talk to Sid. He was pretty level headed about the whole thing. By the time they hung up, she was feeling better. Calmer. Ready to go. And when she woke up the next day it was Thursday, and it really was ‘show time’ just like Sid had said.
Friday was the last day of the school year so Thursday was really a day of celebration. The teachers tried to corral the hyper-active energy of the kids by using most of the day as a field day. Kids from first grade through fifth grade signed up for outdoor events and games that started at 10:00 am and lasted until 2:00 pm. Then there was an awards ceremony from 2:00 until 3:00 pm when the buses came to take the kids home. The talent show started at 6:00 pm and the participants needed to be at the school by 5:30 pm to get ready. The day before a drawing had been held so that each performer knew when they were scheduled. Poppy and Sid got the last spot. There were eleven performers in front of them.
Since they were signed up for the talent show, Poppy and Sid didn’t have to be involved in any of the field day events unless they wanted to, which they didn’t. The day was pleasantly warm and they just hung around outside, watching the events, walking around and talking, anticipating how the evening would go. They were at the same time both excited and nervous. But in the end they knew they were as ready as they’d ever be and they couldn’t wait to put all their good work out there for others to see.
The plan was for Dan to pick up Sid and his little sister at their apartment at 5:00 pm and bring them over to Poppy’s where the kids would finalize getting ready. Then he’d take them to the school, drop them off at 5:30 and go back for Mary and the two little kids. Poppy’s Grammy and Grandfather would meet them at the house. Grace would meet all of them at the Little Theater a little after 6:00 pm after she got off work.
When Sid got to Poppy’s and saw her for the first time, all decked out in her new poodle skirt, black and white shirt and saddle shoes, he clapped his hands and grinned, “You look great, Poppy, just like a teenager from the ’50’s.”
Poppy actually blushed, “Thanks. I owe it all to my mom and Grammy.” Then she inspected Sid more closely, “Hey, what’s that in your hair?”
“Do you like it?” Sid asked, nervously. “I thought it looked kind of cool.” His mom had brought home some Top Brass hair product from the grocery store to help with his ‘look’. He had slicked his hair back into duck-tails, thinking it made him look like the guys dancing in the ’50’s video. He hadn’t told Poppy about it, wanting to surprise her instead.
“I love it,” she said and touched his hair carefully. “Just the right amount of gunky grease.” She laughed and so did Sid. She checked out his look. His slicked back hair went great with his blue jeans, white tee-shirt, dress shoes and dark sport coat. Together with her outfit, she was sure that people would be surprised. “We look great, if I do say so myself,” she said, meaning it. It was getting to be fun, dressing up and acting different. Almost like Halloween, but without the candy. “What did your mom think?”
“She loved it,” Sid said. “She’ll be there a little after 6:00.”
Just then Poppy’s Dad came in. “Alright, you two, let’s get this show on the road.”
Poppy grabbed the CD and started for the front door, only to be intercepted by her mom. “Just a second, young lady, let me get a good look at you.” She held her daughter at arm’s length and made her spin around, poodle dress flaring. “You look fantastic,” she finally said. “Let me take some pictures.” She made Poppy and Sid pose as she snapped a bunch of photos with her iphone, the kids mugging for her and goofing around. Finally she was done. “Go knock ’em dead.” She gave them each a hug. “Look for us all out in the audience.”
The kids hustled out the door with Mary watching, hoping that all would go well for her daughter and her friend. She glanced at the clock. 5:20 pm. Less than an hour until show time.
For Poppy and Sid, the hardest part of the whole evening was waiting. By performing last, they had to sit off to the side of the stage through eleven different acts. A couple of kids sang songs, and they were really good, especially a shy, reserved girl in fourth grade who belted out the theme song from ‘Frozen’. When she was done, the crowd erupted in applause. Poppy gave Sid a look, like Yikes, as they clapped for her. “She was great,” Poppy said. “No kidding,” Sid agreed. They both started to feel some butterflies kick in. Other performances weren’t as good. One kid played a solo on his trombone that fell kind of flat in more ways than one. He finished to some scattered hand claps. Poppy and Sid clapped loudly, feeling a little sorry for him. They noticed that the crowded was thinning as each kid performed. Sid leaned over to Poppy, “At this rate, the only people left will be people who know us.”
“Maybe that’s Ok,” Poppy replied. “Less to worry about.”
Sid laughed a little thinking maybe she was right.
When the kid before them finished a demonstration of karate, Ms. Swenson came over to where they’d been standing behind the curtain on the side of the stage.
“Are you both all set?” she asked. She was wearing a bright blue velvet dress and a string of pearls. She looked hot and a little flustered, but she put on a big smile for Poppy and Sid. She really wanted them to do well.
“We are, Ms. Swenson.” Poppy said, with Sid nodding.
“When I introduce you, do you want me to use your names, or do you have a name for yourselves?
Poppy and Sid knew exactly what she was talking about and they had discussed what they should call themselves at length. They’d toyed with many names before finally settling on one. The one that had been obvious all along.
“Yes, we have,” Poppy said, looking at Sid, who gave her the ‘thumbs up’ sign. “You can call us ‘The Rockin’ Robins’.”
With that Ms. Swenson walked out on the stage and said into the microphone, “And now, direct from the year 1958 to you, I present…’The Rockin Robins’.
Poppy and Sid hurried out onto the stage to smattering of applause, settled by the microphone, looked at each other, took deep breaths and let them out. And when the first strains of their song started up, they weren’t outcast fifth graders from Ms. Swenson’s class anymore. They were cool rock and rollers from the ’50’s singing and dancing for all they were worth. And by the time the song was over, the audience was not only clapping for them, but clapping with them. Everyone was smiling. Their parents were cheering. Poppy and Sid were a hit. Sorry, ‘The Rockin’ Robins’ were a hit. Poppy and Sid were just along for the ride.
Afterward Dan and Mary treated everyone to a treat at a local ice cream shop. Grace was there along with Grammy and Grandpa, Poppy and Sid, of course, and their brother and sister. They sat at a big round table eating ice cream and talking. Poppy and Sid just took it all in, happy to see everyone else so happy. They thought their performance went pretty well. There were a few glitches in some of their dance moves, but their voices couldn’t have sounded any better. All their practice had really paid off. Even the kids in their class that happened to attend thought their performance was pretty cool. The talent show ended with certificates of participation being handed out to all the performers. Then special ribbons were awarded for the first three places. ‘The Rockin’ Robins’ won for third place. When their names were announced Poppy and Sid just sat for a moment, stunned, until Mary prodded her daughter. “Get going,” she said, pushing Poppy to her feet. She and Sid went to the stage to accept their ribbon, both embarrassed and proud at the same time. The crowd clapped and gave them a big, heart-felt cheer. The kids never expected to win anything, they were just doing it for fun. As they left the stage, Ms. Swenson gave them a ‘thumbs up’. She was smiling and clapping along with everyone else.
After they finished their ice cream celebration, the parents and grandparents sat around talking. They were all impressed with the kids. Poppy’s poodle dress was a hit. Grammy was all smiles accepting everyone’s complements. When asked about the hair product she’d brought for Sid, Grace just laughed, saying, “It was just one of those spur of the moment things. I’d overheard the kids talking about their ‘look’ and thought the slicked back style would look good on Sid. I’m glad he liked it.”
In general, the parents and grandparents couldn’t have been prouder of Poppy and Sid. Over the years they had all agonized with their kids as they were mistreated, sometimes bullied, and often times ostracized for being different. It was good to see them, now, accepted, if that was the right word for it. But for Poppy and Sid, they looked at the whole thing in a entirely different way. They didn’t do what they did to be accepted. They were used to being outsiders. No, they did it just for the fun of it. If pushed they might have agreed that it was fun to have been in the limelight for just a few minutes, but that wasn’t really such a big deal for them. They were happy with how their lives were and were adjusted to being looked at as different. They didn’t need the recognition of others. All they needed was to know that they had challenged themselves and had done the best they could. And they did, and that’s what they were happy about.
While the adults talked inside, Poppy and Sid when and sat outside on a bench near the entrance. They were still dressed up, still looking like they had just stepped out of a Dick Clark show from the ’50’s. People walked by, some acknowledging them, others ignoring them. It was all fine with Poppy and Sid. They were starting to come down a little from the evening and they were both in mellow, reflective moods.
“What do you think?” Poppy asked Sid. “Did you have a good time?”
“I did. I thought we did great. How about you?”
“Yeah, it was fun.” She looked out over the parking lot. The sun had set into a sky glowing a summery mauve. The evening had a calm, peaceful feel to it. “I’m not sure I’d do it again, though.”
“How come? Too much work?”
“No, not at all. That was part of what we had to do to do a good job.”
“What, then?”
“While we were up there, singing and dancing and the music was playing and all the people were looking at me, I had a weird kind of vision.”
“Like a dream or something?”
Poppy laughed a little, shaking her head no. “Well, kind of. You probably aren’t going to believe it.”
Sid looked at his friend, wondering what was going through her mind. “Try me. What?”
“I started thinking about this book I was reading, and I pictured, just for a moment, me just sitting in my bedroom, reading my book, and having it nice and peaceful and quiet.”
Sid burst out laughing. “You’re kidding. With all that was going on, you started thinking about reading?”
Poppy laughed, too. “I told you it was weird. I couldn’t help it. It just came to me and then it was gone.”
Sid put his arm around Poppy and gave her a friendly hug. “You know, I kind of get it.” Then he paused, “Sometimes I’d think about walking in the woods when we were practicing. I never told you.”
Poppy smiled, “Maybe were aren’t cut out to be performers. You know, be people who enjoy being on the stage.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right.” Sid started drumming his finger on his thigh. “I have to admit, though, it was kind of fun.”
Poppy patted his shoulder, “It was. I’ll never forget it.” She smiled an inner-secret kind of smile, “We’ll always be ‘The Rockin’ Robins.’ Sid smiled back at and nodded, agreeing. Then she added, “I don’ t think I ever would have done it without you.”
“Me either,” Sid said and sat for a moment looking out into the night. It felt good to be there with Poppy. They were so comfortable with each other. He never expected six months ago that he’d have a friend, let alone someone like Poppy, to be able to just hang out with. He looked over at her. She grinned at him, kind of like she knew just what he was thinking. And what he was thinking was that Poppy was right, that no matter what the future held for them, they would always have the memory of when they were ‘The Rockin’ Robins’ and for just a few minutes they were something nobody ever expected them to be. And it had been pretty fun.
Tomorrow was the last day of school and then it was on to summer vacation. Who knew what would happen after that? For now they were content to just sit on the bench, reliving the evening, lightly tapping their fingers to the music of ‘Rockin’ Robin’, the song that brought them together and bonded them to a friendship that could last for who knew how long, but just maybe for the rest of their lives.

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