[Pt. II] Ch. 42: “Her name’s Tika, right?”
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Saturday, September 19th, before classes
Homeroom 2-C

We’d had consistent clear weather since we’d come to this world a few weeks ago, although it had cooled down from hot to warm during that time.  However, starting on Friday the blue skies turned to grey and kept getting darker.  I left school straight after my classes, and pedaling my bike home as quickly as I could.  By the time I got home, the sky was downright gloomy out.  It wasn’t long before it was raining, and Joel came back from soccer practice which had ended early due to the weather.  

The sound of rain on the roof and windows made it easy for me to fall asleep that night.  It was still heavily pouring the next morning.  I thought about riding anyway, and then changing clothes at school, but figured I’d easily end up late.  It would be better to try on a day I that started with a free period.  Instead, I caught a ride with Joel since he was still getting driven to school. I took advantage of the ride to bring the boxes from Hull along.  We dropped them off at our homeroom before heading to physics lab. 

After lab, during the homeroom period, Mr. Kirill asked whose they were. Joel looked at me, so I raised my hand. 

“They’re for the American culture booth for the festival,” I said.  “And part of one of the boxes is candy to donate to the class’s movie café,” and then after a moment when he didn’t say anything, “I’m sorry for bringing them in without asking.  Is it all right to keep them here until next Friday?”

“Ah, I suppose.  Especially since some of that is for the class.”

Zaya expressed an interest in checking out the candy, and there were plenty of murmured agreements with her.  Mr. Kirill gave his permission, so I opened one of the boxes and passed some of each kind of candy around the room.  It was fascinating to see the reaction; there was a local candy that had copied the “chocolate in a shell” formula, but only with dark chocolate.  The very sweet milk chocolate we were used to from home was uncommon here and seemed popular. However, the artificially fruit flavored candies had a more mixed reaction.   I made a mental note to mention that to Hull, as he was looking for things US companies can export. 

After homeroom, I had advanced honors world history, and luckily was not taken aside by Ms. Calliot today.  I had a fair number of notes from primary sources, but not as many as I’d hoped, and I really did not want to update her on my progress with the paper.  I had a free period and figured it would be a good time to follow up on Hull’s request to come do meet and greet sessions at our booth over the weekend.

I wasn’t sure who to ask, but the student council seemed like a bad place to start given that there might be trouble if I ran into Neil again.  Instead, I went to the upper-school Dean’s office.  Dean Jerdew’s secretary gave me kind of a “what are you asking me for?” look when I asked, but she took down a note and said they’d get back to me.

There was supposed to be a discussion after classes ended for the day about the class’s movie and snacks for the festival, so I headed back to my homeroom to wait for it.   When I got back tour homeroom, Kai and Amy were out – after the homeroom period they had Advanced Honors Biology lab.  Two labs almost back-to-back sounds like way too much work for me!

Joel and Jack, however, were both around and were talking.

“Hey Mark,” said Joel.  “Jack is offering to help with the booth.”

“Nice!” I said. “Any particular reason?”

“I was asking Joel how you two were going to get any time to check out the festival, if you have to run the booth the whole time.”

“Does it really take two of us? I figured we’d just take turns.”

Jack thought for a moment.  “They usually have two, one to prep food or do whatever they’re doing, and one to collect tickets and manage the line.  If there’s a line.”

“Tickets?” I asked.

“That’s how they want people to pay for things.”

“Ah.  I don’t know if we’ve figured out if we’re going to charge for anything, but if we got a good turnout I guess a second person would be helpful. Anyway, thanks, we’d be happy for the help.”

“You’re welcome,” said Jack.  “It seemed like it would be a cool experience.  At least half the kids in this class have at least one newcomer among their great grandparents, and more than half of the newcomers were Americans.  I think you’ll be busy once people discover the booth.”

“Do you think anyone else would want to help with the booth?”

“I can ask my sister,” he said.

“That’d be cool,” said Joel.  “Her name’s Tika, right?”

Jack nodded.  As conversation went on, I realized that I hadn’t given nearly enough thought to what the booth would do besides sell (or give away) hot dogs and souvenirs. With less than a week before the festival, I knew I needed to come up with more of a plan soon.

After fourth period, and Zaya and the other festival committee members called on the class to discuss the progress made on the three streams of work for the festival – snacks, movies, and decorations.  It sounded like there was a plan in motion for each of them, but not much had been accomplished.  For snacks, everyone thought we should have popcorn in addition to sweets, and we needed a VCR and TV – preferably a big one. 

Joel and I were got asked to check with the student council if we could borrow a video cart, and to check if they even had a popcorn maker we could borrow.   While there, I could check in on a grill as well – assuming Neil didn’t derail things.

When we reached the student council room, it was busier than the prior week.  Elise was there, and I recognized the President, Anson, from the opening assembly.  Sadly, Neil was there, too, and there were a couple of other unfamiliar people at the table with them. 

As we waited, I couldn’t help but overhear the request from the two groups ahead of us.  One was a class who hadn’t even gotten their idea approved yet, and the next was a club who wanted to move their assigned booth.

When it got to our turn, Anson asked, “How can we help you?”

“Two things for class 2-C,” said Joel, “and one for the American cultural booth.”

“Okay, what can we do for your classroom?”

“We wanted to borrow one of the AV carts with a TV and VCR, and we wanted to see if there was a popcorn maker we could borrow.”

“Oh, you were the ones with the movie café,” he said, making a note.  “It’s no problem on the AV cart, I’ll have the custodians bring one up to your classroom. For the popcorn maker, let me check.”

He turned to one of the unfamiliar faces, “Ray, do we have a popcorn maker?”

Ray looked through a pile of papers before responding, “We don’t, but I’ve seen one at events before.  It probably belongs to the cafeteria.”

Anson jotted something else down and handed it to Joel.  “Bring this approval to the administration building and ask for the head of food service.  She’ll be able to tell you if they could spare one.”

He went on to ask, “You said you also had a request from the American cultural club?”

Before either Joel or I could reply, Neil interrupted, “Surely, you don’t mean to support that charade any farther than we were forced to?”

Anson looked at Neil, his smile fading, then back to us, “You really should have come to me directly, rather than going around us to the administration, but what’s done is done.  But what do you need?”

I replied, “I was hoping we could borrow a grill.  Someone back home in the government sent over a lot of hot dogs for us to cook.”

Ray spoke up without even looking at the papers, “You’ll need to get those from the cafeteria.  You’re not the first group to ask, but I think they have several.”

Anson nodded and wrote another note for us.  As he handed it to me, he sighed, “Next time, please try to go through proper channels.”

“Uh, about that,” I said.  “I left a request with the Dean’s office asking if we could bring the representative of the US State Department onto campus to do a meet and greet at our booth on the weekend days.”

“You were anticipating trouble with Neil?” asked Anson. 

I nodded and noticed that Neil was both clenching his jaw in anger and glaring daggers at me.

Anson sighed. “I’m not getting in the middle of this one. If the administration approves it, I’m not going to argue with them. I imagine it will come down to the security arrangements.  Next time, though?”

“Next time we’ll go through proper channels,” said Joel.

“Good,” said Anson. 

Neil looked like he wanted to say something, but didn’t, and we left – there was a small line of other clubs and classrooms behind us.

Joel was already a little late for soccer practice, so I decided to go to the administration building alone.  I found the head of food service was unavailable, but the department’s secretary was able to help.  He accepted the two notes from the student council and took down my requests. 

As I left the building, the rain was lighter but still going; I thought briefly about hanging out at the library to continue researching my paper until Joel finished or practice was cancelled, but I decided against it.  Instead, I decided to head home and spend a quiet afternoon by myself. 

The streetcar was mostly empty in the early afternoon. As I got home, I thought about the cat who had been hanging out near our apartment.  I hadn’t seen it recently, the food I left out was being eaten, so I thought it was still around.   Because of the rain, I put the food closer to the back door, just under the awning.  I hoped it wouldn’t get wet before the cat could eat it.

I had a novel from home that I hadn’t started yet, but I realized that Yali was coming over the next day and I had barely practiced at all this week.  So, I took out one of the globes, and the textbooks, and decided to figure out how to practice channeling power without an external source like the power-stone or brick of ore.

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