either. I wanted to see if Mrs. Morgan would reveal Maura’s bad behavior to my mother. I hadn’t mentioned it. The less I mention the Morgans to my mom the better. She already takes every opportunity she can find to compare Missy to Maura. No need to give her an opening.
Anyway, as I slowly spread peanut butter on graham crackers, what I heard was not a despairing Mrs. Morgan asking my mother how to make her wayward daughter into a good girl like me. Instead, I heard that one week from Friday they are having Maura’s birthday party at the country club. Apparently Maura not only got through the weekend without punishment, but she is also about to have the birthday party of the century.
“We started this when she was in middle school,” Mrs. Morgan said, sipping her tea. “Maybe we’ve let things get too elaborate, but it is her eighteenth birthday. She wants to have a Roaring Twenties theme, so that’s what we’ll do. Last year it was Gone with the Wind . You should have seen the gowns the girls showed up in!”
“Wow,” my mother said, but I could hear the judgments she was making in her head about the way parents spoil their kids these days. I don’t know what it is about Mrs. Morgan that has her so enthralled. It’s like she thinks this is her chance to be one of the cool kids.
“Anyway, there’s a lot of shopping involved,” Mrs. Morgan said. “I think half the reason Maura has kept it up is to have my undivided attention. Since Billy was born, she’s been obsessed with her birthday parties. She decided on this year’s theme about a week after last year’s party.”
My mother nodded. Then she glanced over at me. I’m sure she was getting suspicious of my lurking in the kitchen.
“Why don’t you and Lizzie come with us on Sunday? We’re going into Boston to shop for outfits and favors. It’ll be fun.”
All I could think was that it would not be fun. I hate shopping and Maura hates me. If we go, the day will surely end in disaster.
Mrs. Morgan turned around on the couch where she was sitting so she could see me in the kitchen. “What do you say, Lizzie? A day of shopping? It’s about time to do some back-to-school shopping anyway.”
I stood frozen on the spot, butter knife dripping peanut butter in one hand, trying to think of how to respond.
“Lizzie isn’t much of a shopper,” my mother said. “But it might be fun, huh, Lizzie? Maybe you’d like shopping if you had someone your own age to give fashion advice instead of just your old mom?”
The cheerful act my mother is always putting on in front of Mrs. Morgan is so frustrating. She and I had barely spoken since the night of the battle of the bands, but with Mrs. Morgan in the room, suddenly we were chums, pals, the perfect mother-daughter duo.
But as I stood there trying to come up with a reasonable way out of shopping with the Morgans, I had to concede that my mother often tries to lure me into shopping trips, and I almost never give in and go. She wants to be the sort of mom who takes her daughter to the mall and gossips, and I don’t let her. Besides, she and I do not have the same taste. Usually I just let her buy me things and then I convince her nothing fits or I stick the stuff I don’t like in the back of the closet. Lately she’s been more willing to let me order stuff from catalogs. I think she’s just glad I’ve taken an interest.
“I’m just not sure,” I said.
“Let me check the calendar with Greg to make sure he won’t miss us,” my mom said.
On the one hand I was glad she had just rescued me from having to answer. On the other hand, I knew this meant she was going to get her way. Once Mrs. Morgan was gone, she’d tell me in no uncertain terms that we were going and I was going to like it, and that would be that. I put my snack on a plate. I wasn’t even hungry, but I’d made a pretty big project of putting a snack together, so I had to keep up the show. I took it to the den, where I could call