ROBERT, out of breath, had run all the way down the street to invite me to go on a vacation. I was sitting on my back steps sorting my baseball cards. Robert is my best friend. Our parents call us inseparable. But Florida? Was he kidding? He wasn't.
``Two whole weeks,'' he said excitedly, tugging at his earring. That's right, he wore an earring - skull and crossbones. The day was hot and sweat dripped off his nose. His bowling-ball stomach stuck out; he smelled like his dog.
Florida - wow! But wasn't Florida an oven in the summer? What would traveling with his parents be like, people who ate octopus and squid for breakfast, and grew mushrooms in their basement? Would his teenage sisters, Birdy and Neecy, be going? We called them the ``puffers,'' on account of their hair style.
``How'll we get there?''
``In our van. Saturday. Your mom already said yes.''
He made a face. ``We won't have to spend much time with them. Mostly the ride down and back.''
How long a trip was it, New York to Florida?
``Couple of days.''
A couple of days in a hot van with the puffers! Was it worth it - a vacation in Florida? You bet it was.
We arrived late Sunday afternoon.
``Incredible! I shouted, when I saw where we'd be staying. ``Two whole weeks.''
It was incredible. The beach was practically right outside the front door, water and sand as far as you could see, a snack bar only a block away, an amusement park, bicycle rental, mini-golf - everything!
The landlord, a wrinkly stringbean, showed us our apartment on the second floor. ``Anything you need,'' he told us, ``just ask.'' He could've been 90.
It took Birdy and Neecy about a minute to find something wrong. Typical teenagers.
``Hey,'' they both whined at once. ``There're only two bedrooms. Where's everyone gonna sleep?''
Horrors! Rooming with the puffers'd be a nightmare, as much for them as for me and Robert. No way.
But Mrs. Mack had it all figured out.
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