When I woke up this morning, I found I'd turned into my mother. There I was, in my mother's bed, with my feet reaching all the way to the bottom, and my father sleeping in the other bed. I had on my mother's nightgown, and a ring on my left hand, I mean her left hand, and lumps and pins all over my head.
"I think that must be the rollers," I said to myself, "and if I have my mother's hair, I probably have her face, too."
I decided to take a look at myself in the bathroom mirror. After all, you don't turn into your mother every day of the week; maybe I was imagining it - or dreaming.
Well, I wasn't. What I saw in that mirror was absolutely my mother from top to toe, complete with no braces on the teeth. Now ordinarily, I don't bother to brush too often - it's a big nuisance with all those wires - but my mother's teeth looked like a fun job, and besides, if she was willing to do a terrific thing like turning her body over to me like that, the least I could do was take care of her teeth for her. Right? Right.
You see, I had reason to believe that she was responsible for this whole happening. Because last night, we had a sort of an argument about something and I told her one or two things that had been on my mind lately. As a matter of fact, if it's OK with you, I think I'd better start back a little farther with some family history, or you won't know what I'm talking about or who (whom?).
My name is Annabel Andrews. (No middle name, I don't even have a nickname. I've been trying to get them to call me Bubbles at school, but it doesn't seem to catch on.) I'm thirteen; I have brown hair, brown eyes, and brown fingernails. (That's a joke - actually, I take a lot of baths.) I'm five feet; I don't remember what I weigh but I'm watching it, although my mother says it's ridiculous, and I'm not completely mature in my figure yet. Maybe by the summer though.
My father is William Waring Andrews; he's called Bill; he's thirty-eight; he has brown hair which is a little too short, but I've seen worse, and blue eyes; he's six feet (well, five eleven and a half); and he's a fantastically cool person. He's an account executive at Joffert and Jennings, and last year his main account was Fosphree. If you're into the environment thing at all, you know what that is: no phosphates, low sudsing action, and, according to my mother, gray laundry. We had boxes of the stuff all over the kitchen. You couldn't give it away. This year, he has New Improved Fosphree (That's what they think!), plus something called Francie's Fortified Fish Fingers. Barf time! If there's anything more disgusting than fortified fish, I don't know what.
Oh yes, I do, I just thought of what's worse. My brother. He is I cannot begin to tell you how disgusting. It may not be a nice thing to say but, just between you and me, I loathe him. I'm not even going to bother to describe him - it's a waste of time. He looks like your average six-year-old with a few teeth out, except that, as my grandmother keeps saying, "Wouldn't you know it'd be the boy who gets the long eyelashes and the curly locks? It just doesn't seem fair." No, it certainly doesn't, but then what's fair? These days, not much. Which is exactly what I was trying to tell my mother last night when we had the fight. I'll get to that in a minute, but first a few facts about Ma.
Her name is Ellen Jean Benjamin Andrews, she's thirty-five -which makes her one of the youngest mothers in my class - she has brown hair and brown eyes. (We're studying Mendel. I must be a hybrid brown. With one blue- and one brown-eyed parent you're supposed to get two brown-eyed kids and two blue-eyed kids. So far there are only two kids in our family, but look who's already gotten stuck with the brown eyes. Me. The sister of the only blue-eyed ape in captivity. That's what I call him. The blue-eyed ape. Ape Face for short. His real name is Ben.) Anyway, back to my mother. Brown hair, brown eyes, and, as I've already mentioned, nice straight teeth which I did not inherit, good figure, clothes a little on the square side; all in all, though, she's prettier than most mothers. But stricter.
That's the thing. I can't stand how strict she is. Take food, for instance. Do you know what she makes me eat for breakfast? Cereal, orange juice, toast, an egg, milk, and two Vitamin C's. She's going to turn me into a blimp. Then for lunch at school, you have one of two choices. You can bring your own bag lunch, with a jelly sandwich or a TV dinner (They're quite good cold.) and a Coke, or if you're me, you have to eat the hot meal the school gives you, which is not hot and I wouldn't give it to a dog. Alpo is better. I know because our dog eats Alpo and I tried some once.
She's also very fussy about the way I keep my room. Her idea of neat isn't the same as mine, and besides, it's my room and I don't see why I can't keep it any way I want. She says it's so messy nobody can clean in there, but if that's true, how come it looks all right when I come home from school? When I asked her that last night, she just sighed.
A few other things we fight about are my hair - she wants me to have it trimmed but I'm not falling for that again (The last time it was "trimmed" they hacked six inches off it!) -and my nails which I bite.
But the biggest thing we fight about is freedom, because I'm old enough to be given more than I'm getting. I'm not allowed to walk home through the park even with a friend, because "New York is a very dangerous place and especially the park." Everybody else's mother lets them, "but I'm not everybody else's mother." You're telling me!
Tomorrow one of my best friends in school who lives in the Village is having a boy-girl party and she won't let me go because the last time that friend had a party they played kissing games. I told her the mother was there the whole time, staying out of the way in the bedroom, of course, and she said, "That's exactly what I mean."
What kind of an answer is that? I don't get it. I don't get any of it. All I know is I can't eat what I want, wear what I want, keep my hair and my nails the way I want, keep my room the way I want or go where I want. So last night we really had it out.
"Listen!" I screamed at her. "You are not letting me have any fun and I'm sick of it. You are always pushing me around and telling me what to do. How come nobody ever gets to tell you what to do, huh? Tell me that!"
She said, "Annabel, when you're grown-up, people don't tell you what to do; you have to tell yourself, which is sometimes much more difficult."
"Sounds like a picnic to me," I said bitterly. "You can tell yourself to go out to lunch with your friends, and watch television all day long, and eat marshmallows for breakfast and go to the movies at night ..."
"And do the laundry and the shopping, and cook the food, and make things nice for Daddy and be responsible for Ben and you ..."
"Why don't you just let me be responsible for myself?" I asked.
"You will be, soon enough," she said.
"Not soon enough to suit me," I snapped.
"Is that so!" she said. "Well, we'll just see about that!" and she marched out of the room.
Excerpted from Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers Copyright © 1972 by Mary Rodgers. Excerpted by permission.
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