| Teen Serial |

Upper Class: Chapter 5

Why do I feel pressure to look good for Zeesy? She’s my friend — shouldn’t she be someone I don’t feel any pressure from?


Naomi has an awkward encounter at the doctor’s office. She later feels bad that she turned down her mother’s offer of a ride.


roll over and stretch. It’s the first day of summer vacation, and I don’t want to move. I want to lie here all day, cozy and oh so relaxed. The phone rings, breaking the morning stillness. I reach over and pick it up, pretty positive that we Taubs are the only humans left using a house phone.

It’s Debbi. “Get up. Zeesy just landed. She’ll be at my house in an hour and a half and then we’re going.”

“Blah blah blah,” I grouch into the phone. It’s too early for her bossiness.

“Naomi Menucha Taub. Get up.” She hangs up.

The child is beyond pushy.

I roll onto my side and curl up into a ball. Mmmm, I’m excited for camp, but camp is not relaxing. At all. It’s a regular blast, but I wouldn’t mind another day or two of sleeping late with absolutely nowhere to go.

The phone rings again.

I snatch it up. “Debbi Simons. You are the world’s bossiest friend. I am going to poke you with my hair clip if you call me one more time.”

“Uh, hi. This is Mrs. Berkowitz from Bais Yaakov office. Is Mrs. Taub there?”

Oh, cringe cringe cringe.

“Um, can you call back in a few minutes?” I ask meekly.

Debbi is in soooo much trouble.

MY outfit is beyond cute but why do I feel pressure to look good for Zeesy? She’s my friend — shouldn’t she be someone I don’t feel any pressure from? I smooth my hair behind my ear; my gold charm bracelet slides up my wrist, little hearts jangling. I wish for a second that I had a Tiffany heart like Zeesy, and then shake off the insecurity. Zeesy likes me for who I am. She doesn’t care about those kinds of things. So why do I?

Ma is in the kitchen, schmoozing with Libby. They stop when I come in so I know they were discussing shidduchim.

“We buying Libby a date dress today?” I ask nonchalantly, just to cause a stir. “Nothing black, right?”

Libby pokes me in the ribs. Ma purses her lips.

“So who is he?” I ask, pouring myself a coffee. Ma gives me a look. “Naomi. Quit while you’re ahead.”

I never really understood that saying, but I know it means I better shut this shenanigan down.

“Kay, kay, kay. Libs, you ready to go?” I throw her my best “I’m your adorable younger sister” look.

She laughs. “You bet. You want to call and give Debbi and Zeesy a five-minute warning?”

I grab my bag and snort. “No need. Debbi has been ready since the crack of dawn.”

 WE shriek and jump and hug and shriek some more. Libby looks a bit winded. “It’s like watching a bunch of parakeets,” she says weakly. Zeesy looks amazing, she is sooo tanned, I’m totally not jealous at all. Just, you know, I am.

I sneak a glance at Debbi. She looks so confident, so calm. Did she also change five times this morning? It doesn’t look like it. Although how would you actually know if someone did that? I sneak a glance at our reflection in Debbi’s window. We all look equally excited, happy.

Libby stretches, her silky straight brown hair falls behind her shoulder. “Okay, girlies, time to go. Those Lakewood stores are not going to buy themselves out!”

Zeesy laughs as she gets into the car. “I feel like such a country bumpkin.”

I look at Debbi, so calm and confident. At Libby, so sure of herself.

“To tell you the truth,” I say candidly to Zeesy, “so do I.”

 Itry not to stare as Zeesy pays for her third Sonia Rykiel sweater. I can’t even afford one. But it’s fine, there’s plenty to buy that’s within budget. No comparing, I remind myself. Even when Debbi shrieks, “OMG, Zeesy, don’t kill but I’m getting that one, too,” and runs back in to buy the sweater as well. Don’t compare….

I want to be having fun, but it’s hard when Zeesy and Debbi can afford to buy all of these more expensive items and treats, and at this point, I have just enough money to go out for dinner.

Libby gives me a one-armed hug. “You okay, hun?’ she whispers.

I nod, rolling my eyes.

They run into French Press Coffee for lattes. I trudge after them, my shoes making sad squishy noises on the pavement. Should I buy a coffee and then have less to spend at dinner? Or save my money for dinner, and be empty handed in the French Press Coffee pictures? Libby slips something into my hand. I look down; it’s a 20-dollar bill.

“Oh, no, Libs, I’m totally fine.”

She winks at me. “I know. Order us both one, we need it. Iced!”

I love her. We sip our iced lattes, and then it’s time to hit up a few more stores before dinner time.

Flipping through the photos we just took, I smile. We all look pretty. We all look stylish. We all look the same. Take that, Sonia Rykiel. It’s amazing how inaccurate a photo can be.

 Dinner is really fun, I have to admit. My mood wasn’t great at first, and the girls noticed because they both started being super nice. Which was pretty condescending but also kinda sweet. Libby felt bad for me, which was a little embarrassing. Oh well.

“That dress you got is insane,” I say to Libby. She blushes. Debbi and Zeesy lean in. “Okay, spill the beans right now,” I order Libby.

Libby cracks up. “Right, I’m just going to confide in you guys about my shidduchim.” We cajole and promise and bribe and okay, I throw a threat or two in, but she won’t budge.

“Fine,” I say, sighing. “Well, at least you’ll look gorgeous when you meet Moshe Maplebaum from Missouri.”

We all crack up; Zeesy laughs so hard she chokes on her Sprite. We lift our glasses in the air. “To Moshe Maplebaum.”

“And to Camp Ashreinu!” Debbi chimes in.

Camp! Ah!!

 WE get home after dropping off the girls at Debbi’s. It’s already ten, and I need my beauty sleep; camp is in a day and a half, and there won’t be much sleep after that.

I walk into the house laden down with bags, tired from laughing so much.

Libby goes to put her dress away, and I walk heavily up the stairs, half asleep.

Ma comes out in a robe holding a glass of tea. I give her a hug.

“How was it?” she asks, smiling.

I nod. “Amazing, thank you soo much.”

“Of course, sweetheart. Listen, Yocheved called and asked if I can watch Levi tomorrow. I can’t. We have our last staff meeting before locking the building.”

I try turning and walking toward my room. If I don’t hear it, then it can’t be true, right?

“So I told her she can drop him off here, and you’ll watch him, okay, Naomi?”

Not. Okay. Very, very far from okay.


To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 952)

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