Set the Record Straight! (7 page)

BOOK: Set the Record Straight!
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I woke up an hour later to the smell of melted chocolate wafting into my
room. It smelled delicious, and I realized I was starving. I went into the bathroom and
splashed cold water on my face and then I headed downstairs to see what was cooking.

In the kitchen Allie was standing by the oven, wearing pot holders and an
apron. She was holding a sheet pan with something on it. Allie wasn't exactly a
cook. And she didn't generally operate appliances that didn't text her back.
What was going on?

“Yum!” I said.

Allie jumped. “I didn't know you were home!”

“I fell asleep,” I said.

“Why?” Allie asked. She turned and looked at me carefully.
“Hey, were you crying?”

It would be hard to flat-out lie, so I just fibbed. “A little.
It's nothing.” I shrugged. “What are you making?” I crossed the
kitchen to take a look.

“It's one of those Mrs. Moseby recipes you recommended. I decided
to sample a few before I bothered posting it on the website. Is it something about
Michael Lawrence?” The girl did not give up, ever.

As if!
I thought angrily. But I wasn't going
to let Allie know that. “No . . . it's nothing.”

She looked at me suspiciously. “Are you sure you don't want me to
talk to Will or Tommy about your crush? I know they'd be willing to put in a good
word.” Allie really loved lording it over me that she knew Michael's older
brothers. Like she had all the power in my love life.

“No! Do
not
talk to them. If you do, I will
tell Mom, and you'll get in trouble!”

“Fine! Sheesh. Can't blame a girl for trying!”

“Speaking of trying, can I try one of those things
you're making? What are they, anyway?”

“It's rolled oats with molasses and dark-chocolate chunks. You can
also add almonds or dried cherries or seeds or whatever, but we don't have any of
that stuff.”

Allie cut me a slice, and I blew on it then took a bite. It was delicious!
Chewy, not too sweet, a little crunchy, and good for you. “Yum!” I said. It
was really tasty. Maybe I could start bringing these to school so I wouldn't need
to take charity granola bars from stupid Michael Lawrence.

Allie had cut her own slice, and was chewing thoughtfully. “Pretty
good,” she agreed.

“What other recipes does she have?”

“Fruit skewers, whole-wheat pretzel clusters, frozen bananas rolled in
peanut butter and raisins, yogurt pops, smoothies, cereal
bars . . .”

“And there are meal recipes on there, too, right?”

Allie nodded. “Yeah. We should show Mom. We could make some of the stuff
for dinner.” She put down her plate, took her phone out of her apron
pocket (of course), and began to text.

“What are you texting?” I asked.

“Just texting about Mrs. Moseby. People should check her out.”

“How many Buddybook friends do you have?” I asked.

Allie shrugged. “Six hundred.”

“Six hundred?!”
That was an astounding
number to me. I couldn't imagine six hundred people being interested in what I had
to say.
Especially because I'm usually wrong
, I
thought morosely, the Tired e-mails washing back over me in a wave. Mr. Trigg would be
back tomorrow. I couldn't wait. “Don't you worry you'll text
something that's . . . wrong?” I asked.

Allie shrugged again. “Not really. It's just my opinion. And hey,
at least I'm putting it out there. I'm trying, you know? If people
don't like it, they don't have to keep reading. They can stop following
you.”

“Huh,” I said, wishing I had her confidence. I guess people
don't
have
to read Dear Know-It-All's answers.
Or they don't
have
to do what Dear
Know-It-All tells them to do if they don't want to. I shuddered a little and
then stood up. It was time to start my homework. “Thanks for the snack,” I
said.

“Anytime,” said Allie. “And think about my offer.”

“What offer?” I was confused.

“To tell the Lawrence boys about your love.”

“Oh please! Never!”

The weekend passed in a blur of homework and errands with my mom. Hailey
slept over Saturday night, and we went to the movies on Sunday and then came up for a
few ways for her to try to talk to Scott. It was a pretty mellow weekend. Sunday night,
I had an IM from Hailey.

Huxtable not his girlfriend!!!!!!!!!.

What now?

What now, indeed,
I thought. I sighed. Sometimes
Know-It-All doesn't know.

Chapter 8

GIRL DIES OF SHOCK IN SCHOOL KITCHEN. A FEW PEOPLE MOURN.

Hailey was waiting for me at my locker the next morning, naturally, a huge smile on her face.

“So?” she asked, launching right in.

“I think it's great news!” I said.

“I know, I know,” Hailey agreed, nodding and smiling modestly. “So, really. What now?”

“Um, get to know him?”

“I knew you were going to say that!” Hailey groaned. “But how?”

“Well, more coed soccer practices? Or find out what else he does?” This was where my advice fell apart. I knew you could share interests and activities with your crush, but it didn't mean he'd end up liking you.
Or that you'd like
him, I thought.
By now, my anger at Michael had faded to being just annoyed, and most of it was at myself, I had to say. I knew he was right about remaining objective, and it ticked me off that I wasn't as good at it as he was. He was right to call me on it.

Suddenly I felt myself swept off my feet and spun into the air. I kind of lost my breath. When I was set back down on my feet, I turned around to confront my spinner, and I saw that it was Michael himself, a huge, sooooo-cute grin on his face. He looked gorgeous, his eyes flashing happily, and his cheeks a little pink. I hope they weren't pink from lifting me up. I was almost as tall as him.

He launched right in. “Sorry about yesterday, Pasty. I shouldn't have been so self-righteous. Great news, though! Mary the chef e-mailed me to apologize for bailing yesterday and to ask for a meeting today after school!”

How could I stay mad? I grinned back. “Apology accepted on the condition that you never talk down to me, your coreporter, like that again.” I put my hands on my hips.

“Deal,” said Michael, and he put out his big
warm hand for me to shake.

I wished I could hold onto his hand forever. “So that's great news about Mary. What time?”

“Right after school.”

Darn. That was when I had planned to chat with Trigger, now that he was back. I sighed. I guess one more day wouldn't kill me. “Fine,” I said.

“Don't look so excited!” Michael teased.

“No, I'm excited. Thanks. That's great.”

Michael looked at Hailey. “What's gotten into this one?” he asked, jerking a thumb at me.

Hailey shook her head. “She's a mystery even to me,” she said.

“Shut up, you two,” I said, smiling. They'd made me laugh. “I'll see you at the meeting. I've gotta run to Earthonomics, or whatever our science class is called now.”

Right after school I met Michael outside the cafeteria.

As a joke I chanted, “Objective, objective, objective,” under my breath.

“Very funny,” he said, and he swatted me as he swung open the door.

No one was in the cafeteria, so we wandered back into the kitchen, calling “Hel-looo!”

“In here!” called a friendly voice.

We turned a corner, and there was Mary Bonner, the chef. Seeing her now, I realized that I had seen her before, but never knew who she was. She wasn't wearing chef's clothes, but rather a pretty flowered dress with a crisp white apron over it. She had red hair and freckles and a smile with dimples, and she looked like one of those ladies you saw on a TV cooking show. She was not what I'd been expecting!

“Hi! Thanks for coming on such short notice!” she said. “I'm Mary Bonner, the executive chef here.” She put out her hand, and Michael and I took turns shaking it and introducing ourselves.

“I've just been testing out a new recipe. It's lots of work, so I'm ready for a break. Let's sit over here.” She led us to a round table with four chairs and a striped oilcloth table covering. It was cozy, like you'd find in someone's house.

“Would either of you like some tea?” she asked, gesturing to an electric teakettle that was steaming on the counter.

We said, “No thanks,” and she put down a big plate of cookies in the middle of the table and joined us.

“Here, help yourself.”

I looked at Michael. Was it objective if I had a cookie? They looked and smelled amazing. They had chocolate chips in them, but it looked like there was a bunch of other stuff, too.

“Go on! They're not poison! And I love to see kids eat!” Mary said, smiling warmly.

“Thanks,” I said, and I picked one up and took a bite. It crunched, which surprised me, and it was salty and sweet and chewy, too. It was delicious!

My eyes nearly popped out of my head as I chewed.

“Wow! What is this? It's great! Michael, you've got to have one. Go ahead.”

He took one and Mary laughed. “It's a compost cookie,” she said. “It's basically a chocolate-chip cookie but you throw all kinds of leftovers into the batter, too, like pretzels or potato chips, mini-marshmallows—whatever you have lying around.”

Amazing! Everyone would love these.

Compost Cookie Starts School Riots.

“Wow! I love it! Why can't we have these at lunch?” I asked without thinking, then I covered my hand with my mouth. I hadn't meant to be rude.

Mary laughed gently. She wasn't mad. “I wish!” she said. “The ingredients are just too expensive. And, for our baked goods we have to use mixes that come from a central plant.”

“Why?” I asked.

“State law,” said Mary sadly. She sighed. “So I know you have questions for me, but I'm excited to show you the suggestion box and the reaction we've had already, in only a day and a half!”

She stood and went to her desk, then she brought back a shoe box that was overflowing with notes. “Look at this!” she said happily. “Here, read some!”

I chose a piece of paper. It said, “The food stinks. Can't you do better?”

I was shocked. My jaw dropped, and I looked at Mary, but she was still smiling. I picked another.

“Lunch makes me puke . . . And why can't we have more cookies?”

One after another, I read them all; about seventy total. Different writing paper, different handwriting, all obviously from lots of different people. But they all pretty much said the same thing.

“Yikes,” said Michael.

“Double yikes,” I added. I looked at Mary. “Aren't your feelings hurt?” I asked her.

“Not at all! I'm thrilled!”

This woman was either a nut job or she knew something I didn't know. “Why?” I asked.

Mary rested her elbows on the table and put her chin on her hands. She looked really young, but I guessed she was about my mom's age. “For two reasons. One, I'm thrilled that kids care enough about the food to take the time to write a note. It shows how much the food matters to them and how much they think about it, which I've known all along. The second reason is that it reinforces what I've been telling everyone all along. The kids hate the food.” She smiled again.

“But it's your food they hate!” I blurted.

Mary shook her head. “No, it's not. It's the government's food! It's what
they
say I have to make,
with the ingredients they send me. Listen, we try the best we can to make it taste good. But our equipment in here is way behind the times—the warmers make everything mushy and the coolers make everything wilt—and the frozen stuff they send me is really gross, not to mention unhealthy. Or some of it at least. I have dozens of recipes and suppliers I'm dying to use, but they won't let me.”

“Why?” Michael asked. I glanced at him. He was really into this, I could tell. He was getting all fired up. “Unions, trade agreements, vendor contracts, RDA quotas, public interest groups, lack of funds. It's a lot that we're up against. Look, I'm a trained chef. I've worked in fancy restaurants in the city and cute café's around here. I took this job because I liked the schedule—it let me have summers off to be with my kids—but I also took it because I thought I could make a difference. I had no idea how hard it would be to change anything!” She pounded her fist on the table. “So I want to put together a plan. I want to incorporate the suggestions of the kids, tweak them a little to keep them healthy, take a big proposal to the
principal and to the superintendent of schools—all the way up—and I want to get things changed around here. The suggestion box was a great start. Marcy's idea, by the way.” She winked at me. Oh gosh, I guess she knew I'd been crying on Marcy's shoulder. I glanced at Michael, feeling uncomfortable. I hoped Mary wouldn't say anything.

“Great!” said Michael. “I'm sure we can help you,” he added.

I looked at him.
What about not getting involved, mister?
I wanted to say. Ha!

Mary was nodding. “Thanks,” she said. And then she looked wistful. “The one thing I'd just love to have is a little garden, or a tiny greenhouse, where kids could help grow some fresh organic herbs that we could incorporate into the meals. You wouldn't believe how much success they've had in California with this sort of thing. Kids who grow food themselves are more likely to try it multiple times and in multiple ways. They're more likely to ask their parents to buy it at home. Plus, fresh organic food is the healthiest choice. And it's good for the planet!” Mary was glowing
with excitement. She laughed at herself. “Oh, here I am getting on my bandwagon again!”

BOOK: Set the Record Straight!
9.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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