Senior Becky Banks has always been in love with J.R. Hunter - the most popular guy in school. And, of course, J.R. is dating the most popular girl in school - Sally O'Malley, beautiful, head cheerleader and Becky's sworn enemy!
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Becky has some stiff competition and will do anything to get his attention - even move in with him for the school year. Becky and Sally are at war - to win the heart of the tall, dark and handsome, J.R. Will Becky's prince ever wake up? Only time will tell in this humorous tale of teenage love and angst, Someday My Prince Will Wake Up.
I’ve been plagued with an illness for quite some time now—almost a decade. It’s been the most trying time of my adolescent experience. This illness is actually something that many people are stricken with on a daily basis.
This epidemic has been the basic matter of emotion throughout history. Many people have even died from this disease. (Well, in some of the really great stories they do.)
It’s called LOVE - the disease of the heart. Now, I know that there are other diseases of the heart, but I’m not talking the literal human-body heart. What I’m talking about is feelings. A wise man once told me that your heart is not in your chest. At least not the thinking, feeling, loving and acting heart - that’s in your head. Emotions, what you sense and feel, are controlled by your brain. Obviously, your physical heart is what keeps you alive and keeps your blood pumping and circulating through your body.
Well, people do a lot of stupid things when they’re, so called, “in love.” I’ll never be able to understand it. Don’t get me wrong, I whole-heartedly disagree with being “in love,” but you can’t help it. It’s as if someone else were controlling you like they would a puppet and making you do things to entertain those around you. You also can’t control who you fall in love with. That’s another nice phrase - falling in love. I figure, when you fall in love, you’re basically saying, “Grab me roughly by the hair, push me down, and drag me through the dirt!” It absolutely stinks!
I didn’t used to be this way. I used to be in control of my life. A nice, levelheaded girl with my heart in the right place! Then suddenly, one day I saw him and I never saw my heart again.
My parents decided they wanted to live in a nice, small town where they could feel like real people. They wanted to be a part of something – to belong. So when I was nine, we moved north of Chicago where I was born, to the little town of Peaceful Prairie. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
This town is so small that pretty much everyone knows each other. I guess in some ways that’s okay, but in other ways it’s not. I mean, there is nowhere to hide! It’s scary because I have no privacy and yet, I like belonging to something.
One thing that I have managed to keep a secret, that I haven’t even told my best friend, is my crush on J.R. Hayes. His full name is Johnny Ray, and that’s what his mama calls him, but the rest of us stick with J.R. He’s got dark brown hair that always gets in his eyes, speaking of which, are the brightest blue you’ve ever seen! He’s pretty tall – about six foot-four - and muscular, and when he smiles at you with those perfect teeth and dimples, you just want to melt into the floor.
His daddy is our residential banker and because of this, J.R. is a little spoiled. The hardest truth to bear is that he has a girlfriend already - Sally O’Malley, head cheerleader extraordinaire.
My family lives in a nice house on a street called Berkley. My dad owns his own hardware store and is a well-known figure in our community. My mother is an artist and a housewife. She loves to paint and spends most of her time doing so, but she hasn’t sold anything yet. She’s always talking about how she would love to go to Paris to study, paint and meet a hunky French dude. Whenever she says this, my dad starts in with the French accent and the twirling of his fake mustache. What can I say, he’s a dork!
“Hello, Miss Becky.” That was Mr. Reynolds, the butcher. He had just come out of Dad’s shop as I was on my way in. “Stop in for a hot dog next chance you get! It’s always nice to chat with some of the young folks!”
“I will!” I grinned. He makes and sells the best hot dogs. What better way to sell the product than have samples for a buck! However, let me be clear that these are not the best hot dogs ever – those are in Chicago. They are the best hot dogs in Peaceful Prairie though!
“Hi, Dad,” I smiled as I saw my father’s tall figure stacking cans of white paint. He was creating a display for a new brand that he had purchased that rolls on purple, but turns white when it dries. This was amazing to him and he figured that everyone had to have it. I tried to explain that probably everyone outside of Peaceful Prairie already knew about it. I mean, our theatre is still playing Star Wars for goodness sakes, but he was adamant.
“Hey, sweetie, how are you?” He smiled down at me and pushed his glasses up on his nose. Dad was kind of a nerd type. If pocket protectors were still around, I’m pretty sure he’d have one. But he was still handsome and I loved him to death!
“I’m good. I have a message from Mom. She wants you to get a roast on your way home, since you don’t give her an allowance.” I grinned up at him.
Dad shook his head, his sandy blonde hair falling out of place. “Getting to be just like her - a smart mouth and sarcastic to boot!!” He laughed. “Well, tell your mother I’ll be home with a roast under my arm at the usual time.” He grinned and ruffled my hair just as another customer walked into the store.
“Hello, Mr. Anderson, what can I do for you today? Have you seen this new paint,” my Dad asked.
I walked out of the store, shaking my head, and started home.
“Hey, Becky,” Donna Carlson called from her mom’s hairdressing salon. “Don’t forget to come in for a trim! Mom says it’s been awhile since you’ve had one!”
I waved and yelled, “Book me an appointment for tomorrow, would you?”
She waved in agreement.
I kept walking, enjoying the warm sunny day. As I looked up and down the main street going through town, I saw people sweeping their porches and loading things onto trucks to take to surrounding towns. The older gentlemen were sitting in rockers outside, soaking up the sunshine, drinking lemonade, and playing checkers. A bunch of kids were playing tag in the park, enjoying what was left of their summer vacation. It really is a quaint little town – a place that feels like home. Everyone is always friendly and you never hear of anyone fighting or arguing. There are the usual few bad kids, but they don’t get into that much trouble.
I was passing the candy store, Mr. Yum’s - owned by a very nice Oriental couple - and looking longingly into the window at my favorite delicacy, gummy bears, when I bumped into a tall, broad figure.
“I’m sorry.” I lifted my head and found that I was looking into the sky-blue eyes of Johnny Ray Hayes.
I was reminded of how we first met. This was way back when we first moved here - the summer that I turned nine. I was at the park swinging on the swing set, hair blowing freely behind me; legs pumping back and forth – higher and higher. I was almost touching the tops of the tree branches, I was so high. Then he ran through the park with his friends. I couldn’t stop staring at him, he was so beautiful. I stared so hard that I kicked him in the head when he ran past. He fell to the ground holding his head and his friends yelled at me. I stopped the swing and jumped off to run toward him. He was writhing around in the sand in agony.
“Are you all right? I’m sorry!” I exclaimed and knelt down.
“What does it look like?” he snapped at me. He stood up and dusted off his pants.
I felt terrible. I looked up at him and saw that his hand was reaching down for mine. After all that, he was going to help me up! I took his hand and stood, looking way up at him. Even back then, he was much taller than the other boys.
“Just don’t let it happen again,” he grumbled, glancing at the other boys to see if they were watching. He turned to run away with them and then looked back at me and winked with his good eye and ran away with his friends.
I stood there staring after him in awe. Even in what I was sure was excruciating pain, he was such a gentleman. I fell instantly in love with him. The next week he threw gum in my hair and I just knew our love would last forever.
Back in the present, my heart stopped beating and I felt a little faint. I also inwardly groaned. Things have changed since we were nine. He’ll probably look down at me in disgust and blame me for not watching where I was going. Ever since he hooked up with that Sally O’Malley in our freshmen year, he hasn’t spoken to me at all or any other girl for that matter.
“That’s okay, Rebecca,” he grinned, teeth sparkling. “I was staring at the gummy bears.”
I stared at him in shock and then I managed a laugh. “So was I,” I smiled at him weakly.
“Well, then, there you go.” He cocked his head to one side and then said, “See you later, Rebecca.”
What I meant to say was, “Yeah, see you” very casually with a carefree flip of my hair as I turned to leave. What I think I actually said was something unintelligible and then I tripped over my own feet as I turned, steadying myself on the wall of the store.
I almost had cardiac arrest right there and then. He was actually civil! After he was out of sight, I stood there gasping for breath and realized that I should run over to Mr. Cotter’s, the printer’s, and put out an ad in The Daily Prairie. Front page news! I could see the headline now; JOHNNY RAY HAS FOUND HIS TONGUE! The town would go wild.
As I continued home, I contemplated on what could have made J.R. actually speak to me. It’s possible that maybe pigs are starting to fly. I looked up into the sky, but only found wisps of stray clouds.
I shook my head. Well, the world didn’t come to an end. I’m still standing; although I was struggling a bit back there. Maybe it was my imagination - it had to have been!
I walked into my house and called out to my mother that I was home. She, in turn, called to tell me to help with dinner.
“Set the table, dear, for six.” She was at the counter mixing something in a bowl, her hair all mussed, with flour on her shirt.
“Why six?” I asked, “Are we having company?” I got the suggested number of plates out from the cupboard.
“What was your first clue?” she asked me sarcastically. As my Dad already mentioned, Mom was sarcastic. But I don’t think that I am as sarcastic as she.
“Who’s coming over?” I asked.
“The Hayes’ are.”
My jaw dropped. “Are you serious?” I asked.
“No, I’m kidding. I just want to pretend we’re having company so I can cook more food.” She grinned, green eyes sparkling. “What’s wrong with the Hayes coming over?” Her eyebrows rose, “Got a crush on Johnny Ray?”
“Mother, if I had a crush on J.R. Hayes the whole town would know. Besides, J.R. is going out with Sally, so I have no interest in him whatsoever.” I huffed and finished with the table.
“All right, don’t get so defensive. I was just kidding around.” She looked into the oven at her baked chicken.
“How come you didn’t tell me before that we were having company? And why do we need a roast?”
“I just forgot to mention it. The roast is for tomorrow. I forgot to buy it today when I was out and you know the stores are closed on Sundays.”
As I finished setting the table for six, I wondered how the evening was going to turn out. J.R. is an only child like I am so he has no little siblings to make fun of, which is why I’m sure that he makes fun of all the girls at school. The major thing he makes fun of about them is their names. For instance, my best friend is named Josephine Gardener. He calls her The Hose. (Because hose sounds like the beginning of Josephine and her last name is Gardener. And you use a hose in the garden – do you see where I’m going with this?) The names he invents aren’t really bad, just, annoying. Now, my name could easily be a target - Rebecca Banks. I’ve thought of names I could be called, so I would be prepared if anyone happened to call me them. For instance, BB, or Baby, comes from Becky Banks. Another one is Root Beer, from my initials, or the real kicker, RUB. The reason for this one is because of my middle name, Urbana. My parents say that is the town (by their college) where I was conceived. I say that’s too much information! So far, no one from P.P. has found out my middle name, but before we moved here, it was the most famous name at my elementary school.
I’ve been living here for seven and a half years now and I have not yet received an annoying name from J.R. He only calls me Rebecca. Nothing else, not even Becky, just Rebecca. I guess he can’t be bothered with me to try or maybe he doesn’t want to get into trouble with his mama. Our mothers are very close friends, but it surprised me when I heard that we were having them over for dinner because we never have. Sure, Mrs. Hayes is over a lot, but never the whole family. And we’ve never been over to their house either.
“Are you listening to me? Hello?” I heard my mom exclaim.
I looked at her, “What?”
“I said go and put on something nice. This is sort of a formal dinner.”
I looked down at myself. “This isn’t formal enough?” I was wearing cut-offs and an old T-shirt.
“Hardly!” My mother grinned and smacked me with a dish towel.
I shrugged and headed towards my room. Formal? What in the world for?
I decided to wear a red, spaghetti strap sundress with white lace trim. It was a little low cut, but not too much, and had an Empire waist that tied in the back with a white ribbon. It was mid-calf length with slits up the sides. The dress was my favorite because it brought out the green color in my otherwise hazel eyes, and the highlights in my curly brown hair.
I looked at myself in the mirror. Good enough, I guess. I walked down to the kitchen to clear it with my mother.
“Where are your shoes? Are you planning on combing your hair?”
I growled and trudged back up to my room. She’s never satisfied. She had changed, too, and now looks like a fashion model with her trim figure and long legs. Well, at least there’s some hope for me since I look mostly like her.
When I finally came down, hair combed and all (even a little make-up), my father was home and straightening his tie. They were both in the kitchen waiting for the Hayes to get here.
“Why is this so formal?” I asked, hands on hips, standing in the doorway.
“Hi, sweetie, you look beautiful.” My Dad came over to me and kissed me on the cheek. “It’s a nice change, don’t you think?” He smiled and pulled on his tie again.
“Why?” I wanted to stomp my foot.
“Honey, we just wanted our two families to get together and ...” my Mom paused and glanced at my Dad.
“We also have business to discuss with Mr. Hayes,” my Dad said.
“What kind of business?” I frowned.
“We’ll tell you when we’re sure if it will come through or not.” Dad left the kitchen to go get another tie, mumbling that the one he had was too small.
“Well, I sure feel out of the loop,” I grumbled.
“Honey, stop it. We just don’t want to get our hopes up until we’re positive it will work.” My Mom smiled and kissed my forehead on the way to get the door. The Hayes’ were here.
I stood in the kitchen, not quite sure what to do. Should I go out there and face J.R.? Or should I be a wimp and stay in here?
“Becky, get your butt in here,” my Mom whispered angrily, poking her head around the kitchen door. I think my question has been answered.
I walked sedately into the living room, smiled charmingly at the Hayes, and sat down elegantly at my mother’s side.
“Hello, Becky, how are you?” Mrs. Holly Hayes said after I sat down. She was a small woman with short, stylish brown hair and a loving smile. J.R. got the dimples from her!
“Fine, thank you, and yourself?” I smiled charmingly again.
“Wonderful,” she exclaimed and looked at Mr. Hayes, and then to my mother.
“Hello, Mr. Hayes, are you still rolling in dough?” My eyes twinkled as I grinned.
“Becky!” My mother gasped.
Mr. Hayes laughed out loud and slapped his leg. “Still rolling in it, Becky!”
He was just as tall as J.R. with graying dark brown hair and glasses. He had tons of laugh lines and was very handsome. I’ve gone to see Mr. Hayes occasionally at the bank, originally to open a savings account, but he was just so helpful and charming that I went back a few times. Well, more than a few, because we’ve become quite good pals. He wishes that J.R. could get attached to me so I could become his daughter-in-law. I haven’t told him that I’ve wished the same thing for years, however. My parents don’t know that I go to see Mr. Hayes, so that is probably why my mom seemed shocked when I said that. It was an inside joke between Mr. Hayes and I.
“Hello, J.R.” I smiled shyly at him and looked right into his eyes.
“Nice to see you again, Rebecca.” He smiled back and we stared at each other for a few moments like dumbbells until my Dad walked into the room.
“Sorry, I’m late - had to get another tie! Hello, Alex.” My father shook hands with Mr. Hayes. “Lovely seeing you again, Holly, J.R.,” my Dad nodded at him.
“Well, shall we eat?” We all stood up and went into the kitchen. I was surprised, to say the least, when J.R. held out my chair for me to sit down. I looked up, smiled and thanked him, and then looked at my Mom after I was seated. She was more surprised than I was, especially since my Dad didn’t do the same for her. She seated herself and looked at him so he could pray over the food.
The meal went perfectly and everything was fine until afterwards. My father and Mr. Hayes went into the library (actually it’s the den, but we have our bookshelves in there so we call it the library) to talk about the business deal or whatever was going on. My mother and Mrs. Hayes retired into the living room with a cup of coffee to chat (after ordering J.R. and me to clean up the table and do the dishes). This was my main problem. What was I supposed to say to him? Nice weather we’re having, isn’t it? What do you think about our current financial position in the government? How about those silly cheerleaders? Again, my problem was solved for me.
“Nice weather we’re having, isn’t it?” J.R. glanced at me and to the window.
I laughed. “Yes, it’s quite nice.” Quite nice? I laughed again. “So, you like gummy bears, huh?” I smiled at him.
“Yep, they’ve been my favorite treat since as long as I can remember.” He laughed as he put the dishes in the dishwasher. (We’re not totally behind the times here.)
“Mine too; especially the red ones.” I washed off the counter with a sponge.
“I kind of fancy the worms, too.” He closed the door to the dishwasher and started it up.
“Ahhh, yes, but the bears are cuter.” I’d bet this was the worst conversation anyone has ever had in the history of the world. As if he realized this at the same time I did, he looked at me and we both laughed.
“Let’s take a walk.” He suggested suddenly.
“Are you sure you want to be seen out of doors with me?” I asked. “Considering the image you have to keep up and all.”
“Yeah, it’s okay. I feel dangerous tonight. I feel like taking risks.” He grinned.
“Don’t go crazy.” I grinned back.
So, we took a walk. We talked about normal things - school, church, all the shops and people in town, and then I asked him if he knew what our fathers were talking about.
“Not a clue. I’ve been wondering myself, though. It might be something to do with your Dad’s shop.” He glanced at me.
“Hmmm, you could be right. I don’t see what else it could be.”
“Maybe they’re arranging our marriage, you know, like they do in different countries. And they are settling the dowry and stuff like that.” He joked.
“That has got to be it,” I nodded, grinning.
“Well, I wouldn’t be surprised. Ever since you came here every week my dad has said something like, ‘That Rebecca’s a fine girl. She’d be mighty good for you, Son.’ Whenever we get to talking about school and stuff like that he throws you into the conversation somehow.” He nodded. “For example, ‘Son, I ran into Rebecca at the bank today and she said the funniest thing … oh ... what was it? Oh, I can’t remember, but she is hilarious! You two would be good for each other. You need to laugh more and she’ll make you do it! Ha!’ And he slaps his leg as if remembering what you said that was so funny. I have yet to learn what you tell him that has him in constant laughter.” J.R. shook his head, grinning.
“Well, I never knew that I could be such a hot topic of conversation.” I smiled a little, my face paling. I’m glad I hadn’t told Mr. Hayes that I liked J.R., who knows what might have happened then! “You must think your dad is a nut ball for saying things like that. How embarrassing! We hardly know each other! Not to mention the fact that you have a girlfriend.” I looked at him in horror.
“It’s true we hardly know each other, but we know of each other, right? I mean, I know that you are the best actress at PPH. And I know that your best friend is the Hose, er, Josephine. From what my dad says, I know that you are hilarious and very witty. I also know that you love gummy bears.” He smiled. “Come on, I’d like to hear what you know about me.” He elbowed me a little.
“OK,” I paused, deep in thought. I probably know too much about him, but I was not going to tell him that! “Well, you’re awesome at sports. No matter what sport it is, you play it and are good at it. You are very creative in the way you think up names for people, for example, the Hose. You don’t seem stuck up like a normal jock would be, however, seeing as how this is the most I’ve ever talked to you, maybe you are …” I grinned. “And you also love gummy bears and worms.”
“See, we know each other.” J.R. put his arm around me like I was one of the guys on his team and he was getting ready for a huddle. I thought he was even going to tousle my hair, but he didn’t, thank goodness.
“I guess so.” I shrugged, “If that is all you need to know about a person than we’ve got it covered!” I laughed. “By the way, have you made up a name for me? I have never heard you call me anything but Rebecca.” I inquired.
“Actually, no, I haven’t.” J.R. looked at his shoes.
“Oh? How come?” I asked. I knew it! He didn’t want to bother!
“Well, the reason is that I like your name and couldn’t bear to mess it all up and call you something mean. Your name suits you perfectly.” He shrugged, looking embarrassed.
“You’re kidding me!” I laughed. “And here I thought that I wasn’t good enough for one of your fantastic nick names.”
“Oh no,” he grinned. “At the very most I would call you Becca, maybe, but I wouldn’t stray too far.”
“That’s very reassuring. Thank you for your discretion. I was thinking up all kinds of names for myself that you could be calling me behind my back, but I hadn’t heard anyone use them. Usually people pick up on your names and use them themselves. Even I call Josephine “The Hose” on occasion, but I had never heard anything about me,” I explained.
We continued on our walk talking about all the different names he had for the kids at our school. Some were very clever, I must admit. For instance, two girls on the cheerleading squad named Diane and Debbie; he called them Double D. They never went anywhere without the other. And then sometimes Dana hung out with them – then they became 3D.
But I still had to wonder, “J.R., if you were to nick name me, what would it be?”
“Seriously? You really want me to name you? Are you sure you want that kind of press?” he joked.
“Yes, I want you to name me. But maybe we don’t have to tell anyone what it is,” I suggested.
“OK, well then, let me see …” We stopped walking when we got to the park in our neighborhood, and sat down on the swings. He looked to the sky for an answer. “Rebecca. Becky … Banks …” He tapped his chin, thinking. “My first thought, if I didn’t know and respect you, would be Piggy.”
My jaw dropped. Hadn’t thought of that one!
“Now, don’t get upset. That name derives from your first name Becky kind of sounding like Piggy and your last name being Banks. Piggy Banks, you know? Not that you’re anything resembling a pig,” he explained quickly. “However, since I know and respect you, that name will obviously not do.” He cleared his throat and continued to think.
I smiled and kept swinging. Well, I asked for it.
“Forget it. I’m just going to go with ‘Money.’ Anything else is too mean.” He looked over at me and grinned, “Sometimes I might call you ‘Short Change’ or ‘Cha-Ching,’ if that’s all right with you.”
I laughed, “Sounds good to me. I like it!”
We kept talking and swinging – he even started pushing me after awhile and gave me a few “under dogs.” It was truly nice to spend time with him and I actually got to know him a little more. OK, a lot more. And the more I got to know him, the more I fell in love with him.
The next day I stopped in to get my trim at my usual time around ten in the morning. Donna washed my hair and as she did, she told me the latest gossip in Peaceful Prairie.
“You will never guess who Mr. Cosmen is dating! They were spotted at The Parlor holding hands and sharing a cone! Can’t guess? I’ll tell you–Sally O’Malley’s mother–can you believe it? She’s only been divorced for what, a month, two maybe? Do you think they were dating before it was finalized? It sounded like they seemed pretty cozy for just dating a month!! And Mr. Cotter had an asthma attack two nights ago and is still in the hospital. They say he’s doing better, but I hope he gets out soon. He’s such a nice man and his wife makes the best blueberry pies! Principal Jones spoke with the Sheriff about the graffiti they found at the school. Did you hear that someone spray-painted the words ‘Hayes sucks!’ on the scoreboard? Who would write such a thing? He doesn’t suck – he’s the best football player this town has ever seen, well except for when Principal Jones was in high school. I heard he was really good too. ” She finally took a breath and sat me up to towel dry my hair.
“Thanks, Donna. You’ve caught me up. I didn’t know any of that!” I grinned and headed for the chair so her mom could cut my hair. As I sat down I heard her start all over again with another customer. Compared to Donna, her mom was mute as she cut my hair and gave me my usual cut and style and sent me on my way. Then I decided to go visit Mr. Hayes to discuss last night’s talk with J.R.