Moving DayMeg Cabot
Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls
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For Madison and Riley Cabot
Many thanks to Beth Ader, Jennifer Brown, Michele Jaffe, Laura Langlie, Abigail McAden, and especially Benjamin Egnatz
Table of Contents
RULE #1 Don’t Stick a Spatula Down Your Best Friend’s Throat
RULE #2 Don’t Get a Pet That Poops in Your Hand
RULE #3 If You Don’t Want a Secret Spread Around, Don’t Tell It to Scott Stamphley
RULE #4 Brothers—and Parents—Can Be Very Insensitive
RULE #5 You Can’t Let Your Family Move into a Haunted House
RULE #6 Whatever Brittany Hauser Says, Just Do It If You Know What’s Good for You
RULE #7 First Impressions Are Very Important
RULE #8 Don’t Put Your Cat in a Suitcase
RULE #9 When You Do Something Wrong, Always Apologize (Even If It’s Not Entirely Your Fault)
RULE #10 If You Get a New Best Friend, It’s Rude to Show Off About It
RULE #11 When You Finally Figure Out What the Right Thing to Do Is, You Have to Do It, Even If You Don’t Want To
RULE #12 When You Are Setting a Turtle Free and People Are Chasing You, the Best Thing to Do Is Hide
RULE #13 You Can’t Take Your Rocks with You
RULE #14 Celebrities Live By a Different Set of Rules Than the Rest of Us
RULE #15 Don’t Judge a House By How It Looks Before You Fix It Up
RULE #16 Don’t Be a Braggart
Books by Meg Cabot
Allie Finkle’s RULES
Here’s a sneak peek at Allie Finkle’s RULES for GIRLS Book Two: The New Girl
Allie’s RULES from Book Two: The New Girl
Don’t Stick a Spatula Down Your Best Friend’s Throat
I like rules. The reason why is, rules help make our lives easier. For instance, the rule about not killing people. Obviously, this is a good rule.
Another good rule is Everything that goes up must come down. This includes helium balloons. People don’t know this, but you shouldn’t let helium balloons loose outside, like at weddings or the Olympics or whatever, because what happens is eventually all the helium comes out and the balloons fall down, possibly in the ocean, and sea turtles eat them.
Then they choke to death.
So really that is two rules: Everything that goes up must come down and Don’t let go of helium balloons outside.
Science has a lot of rules (like the one about gravity). So does math (like that five minus three will always be two. That is a rule).
That’s why I like science and math. You know where you stand with them, rulewise.
What I’m not so crazy about is everything else. Because there are no rules for everything else.
There are no rules, for instance, for friendship. I mean, besides the one about Treat your friends the way you’d want them to treat you, which I’ve already broken about a million times. Like earlier today, when my best friend, Mary Kay Shiner, and I were making the strawberry frosting for her birthday cupcakes.
First of all, who puts strawberry frosting on cupcakes? Especially when Mary Kay knows perfectly well one of my rules is Never eat anything red.
Although in this case the frosting was pinkish, so technically it was okay. But still.
Mary Kay’s babysitter—who is also her family’s housekeeper—Carol, was helping us, and Mary Kay wouldn’t stop crying, on account of Carol letting me lick the spatula. Like Mary Kay didn’t just get to lick the beaters, since it was her birthday. Did anyone hear me complain that all I got was the lousy spatula, even though truthfully I did most of the work, opening the box and all of that? No.
Also, at nine years old, you shouldn’t cry over things like not getting to lick a spatula.
Sometimes I don’t even know why I am friends with Mary Kay. Except that she is the only girl my age who lives on my side of High Street, which I’m not allowed to cross without an adult present since that kid got hit by a car while he was riding his skateboard there.
Which reminds me. Here is another rule: Always wear a helmet when you’re skateboarding because if a car hits you, your brain will splat open and kids like me will spend their time waiting for the cars to go by so they can cross the street looking for bits of your brain the ambulance might have left behind in the bushes.
Anyway, while I was licking the spatula, Mary Kay was all, “She’s getting more than me!” and “I want a taste!”
I don’t know what I was thinking. I was just so sick of Mary Kay’s whining. I mean, half the time I don’t think Mary Kay knows how lucky she is, having a babysitter who is also a housekeeper who makes cupcakes for her to take to school on her birthday. We don’t have a babysitter who is also a housekeeper, so no one in my family has time to make cupcakes, since both my parents work.
So for my birthday I had to bring store-bought cupcakes from Kroger, and Scott Stamphley said he could taste the chemicals in them.
Plus Mary Kay has parents who will buy her whatever she wants, like a hamster in its own Habitrail, because she is an only child, and her parents can Afford It.
Maybe that is what I was thinking about when I said, “Here, Mary Kay,” and held out the spatula. Maybe I was thinking about how Mary Kay has her very own pet, a hamster (Sparky) with a Habitrail, whereas I only have a dog—Marvin—who I have to share with my whole family.
Maybe that is what I was thinking about when Mary Kay put the spatula into her mouth and I was still holding on to the end.
Maybe that is what I was thinking about when I kind of shoved the spatula into her mouth a little.
I meant it as a joke. A birthday joke.
And okay, I know it was mean. But I just wanted to teach her a lesson about not being so greedy. I meant it in a joking way.
But I should have known Mary Kay wouldn’t take it that way. As a joke, I mean.
And I should have known she’d start crying, this time for real, because the spatula went down her throat.
But just a little! Like, it BARELY went down. Maybe it touched her tonsils. But that’s it.
Still. This is not a good example of treating your friends as you would want them to treat you. Also, it was all my fault.
I said I was sorry about a million times. But Mary Kay still wouldn’t stop crying. Finally, I had no choice but to go home and sit in the wheelbarrow in the garage and tell myself it was all my fault, I’d broken the only rule of friendship that there is (which I didn’t make up myself).
Although a part of me couldn’t help thinking that Mary Kay had broken an important rule, my own rule, Never eat anything red—but especially don’t choose that color for your cupcake frosting if your best friend can’t stand strawberry, even though I have to admit that the frosting was pretty good; it tasted more like vanilla with red food coloring in it than it did like strawberries, which I hate.
But still. The rule I broke was the more important one, the Treat your friends the way you’d want them to treat you rule. I certainly wouldn’t want someone to shove a spatula down my throat—even if it was just a little. I pretty much deserved not to be Mary Kay’s best friend anymore. Especially since, clearly, I didn’t know the first thing about the rules of friendship.
That is when it became clear to me that I needed to write them down. The rules, I mean. Because there are so many to remember that sometimes even I forget them. And I’m the one who’s making them up.
So I found a spiral notebook in a box near t
he Christmas ornaments that Mom had marked school supplies. Then, using one of her permanent markers that she saves for writing on her home improvement tools and told us kids especially not to use (except that this was an emergency, so I knew she would understand), I wrote ALLIE FINKLE’S RULES FOR GIRLS across the front of it.
Then I wrote KEEP OUT IF YOU ARE NOT A GIRL (I wrote that because I have little brothers who are always butting into my business. I don’t need them knowing my rules. They can make up their own rules if they’re that interested).
I was sitting back in the wheelbarrow writing out the rule about remembering to wear a helmet while skateboarding on High Street when Carol surprised me by coming into the garage and asking me to come back to Mary Kay’s house. She said Mary Kay was crying even harder because I’d left. Also, she said that I probably hadn’t done any permanent damage to Mary Kay’s uvula or tonsils.
I got out of the wheelbarrow and went back to Mary Kay’s, even though I didn’t really want to. I did it because that’s what friends do. When I got there, Mary Kay hugged me and told me she forgave me and that she knew I hadn’t meant to hurt her.
I was glad Mary Kay had forgiven me, but secretly I felt a little mad, too. Because of course I hadn’t meant to hurt her. I swear, it’s a total burden having a best friend who is as sensitive as Mary Kay. I always have to be super careful around her not to say or do the wrong thing (such as accidentally touch her uvula with a spatula) because Mary Kay is an only child and used to getting her way.
And if she doesn’t get her own way, like if we’re playing lions (her favorite game. NOT mine. My favorite game is detective. Not that we ever get to play it) and I say she should be the male lion for a change because I have rug burns from crawling around, doing all the hunting and I want to lie around with the cute cubs (even though in the wild the female lions do all the hunting, not the male lions, as I know from my extensive reading on animals), she just starts crying.
Or if I get to lick the spatula, and she wants it.
Still, I showed her my notebook—the one in which I was writing the rules. I thought maybe if she saw the rules, she might actually try following them for a change, especially the Treat your friends the way you’d want them to treat you one.
First, I made her swear not to tell anybody about it, though. I explained to her that I was going to hide the notebook in a special place under the slats beneath my bed so my brothers wouldn’t find it. I thought this actually might make her interested in reading it.
But it didn’t. Mary Kay just yawned and asked if I wanted to play lions.
Which is too bad, because if anyone could use some help with the rules of friendship, it’s Mary Kay.
I’m starting to think I could use a new best friend. A different, noncrying best friend. Just for a change.
It’s kind of funny that I was thinking this, because when I got home from Mary Kay’s that night, Mom and Dad told us we were moving.
Don’t Get a Pet That Poops in Your Hand
It wasn’t the hugest surprise that Mom and Dad said we were moving. Mom has been wanting a new house to test out her home improvement skills for a while. Mom doesn’t like our house because it doesn’t need any home improvements. It’s a contemporary split-level in Walnut Knolls, which is a subdivision.
Mom wants an old falling-down Victorian house in town that she can restore to its former glory. She and Dad just bought an already finished house in a subdivision because it was the only kind of house they could afford right after Dad got his teaching job.
My dad teaches college. What he teaches is computers.
Dad has been teaching computers for a while now and recently got a chair. When you’re a professor, getting a chair doesn’t mean that you finally get to sit down at work. It means that you get more money. Also, my littlest brother, Kevin, started kindergarten, so Mom went back to work as an adviser. She advises college kids on what classes they should be taking (such as computer classes).
So we are getting more money because of that, too.
Since both Mom and Dad will be at the college all day, they want to move closer to it—also to an old house, which Mom can have fun fixing up in her spare time from advising.
Only, I don’t see what’s so fun about fixing up an old house. I don’t see what’s wrong with staying in the house we have now, which doesn’t need fixing up and has wall-to-wall cream-colored carpeting, except in my room, where the carpeting is pink.
“But, Allie,” Mom said, trying to explain. “The new house is so much bigger than this one. Mark and Kevin will be able to have their own rooms, so they won’t fight as much. Won’t that be nice?”
I know I am supposed to love my brothers, and I do. Like, I wouldn’t want either of them to be hit by a car and have their brains splattered all over High Street.
But I don’t particularly care if they have their own rooms.
“But what about my canopy bed?” I asked. Because I just got a canopy bed for my ninth birthday (I am older than Mary Kay by a month. Possibly this is why I don’t cry as often as she does, because I am more mature. Also, I am more used to hardship, not being an only child).
“We’ll take your canopy bed to the new house,” Dad explained. “In the moving truck.”
My brother Mark was very excited to hear about the moving truck. Mark is in the second grade, and all he thinks about are trucks. Also, bugs.
“Can I ride in the moving truck?” he wanted to know. “In the back, with all the furniture?”
“No,” Dad said. “Because that is against the law.”
“The new house is much closer to where Dad and I work,” Mom went on. “So we’ll be able to spend more time with you kids, because we won’t have to drive so far to get to the office.”
“What about my rock collection?” I wanted to know. “I have over two hundred of them now, you know.”
I know rocks might sound like a very boring thing to collect, but I select my rocks very carefully and keep them in paper grocery bags on my closet floor. Each one of my rocks is, in its own way, extraordinary. Most of my rocks are geodes, which if you don’t know, are very average-looking rocks—on the outside.
Inside, however, they have crystals that sparkle like diamonds. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you might actually mistake a geode for a diamond.
You can’t really tell just from looking at a rock whether it is an ordinary rock or a geode. Well, I mean, you can, but it takes practice.
Also, geodes are not easy to crack open to get to the crystals inside. To crack them open, you either have to throw them very hard against the sidewalk or driveway (which I would not recommend doing, because they leave marks on the driveway that sometimes won’t wash away for up to a year or more, as I found out the hard way) or hit them very hard with something metal, such as a hammer. I learned from experience that your dad’s golf clubs are not very good for this.
I found most of my geodes while scavenging in the many home construction sites in and around Walnut Knolls. Even though Mom and Dad say we’re not supposed to go walking around construction sites, the truth is, you can find many amazing things in the dirt piles bulldozers have made.
“Ten large grocery sacks of rocks,” Mom said, “is simply too many, Allie. Especially considering the fact that you’ve never even cleaned your rocks, nor do you take very good care of them.”
“They’re not rocks,” I informed her. “They’re geodes.”
“Whatever they are,” Mom said, “they just sit in those sacks, cluttering up the floor of your closet. You can pick out three or four special rocks to take along. But the rest you’re going to have to put back in the dirt where you found them.”
I couldn’t help letting out a really disappointed cry at this. Because, seriously, I have put a lot of time and work into my rock collection. Sure, maybe I haven’t cleaned them. But I love them, just the same.
But then an even worse thought hit me.
“What about sch
ool?” I asked. “If the new house is close to your work, that means it must be really far from school. How are we going to be able to walk that far and still get to school on time?”
“Well,” Mom said, “you’ll be going to a new school, because we’ll be living in a different school district. But Pine Heights Elementary is right around the corner from the new house. In fact, you’ll be able to walk home for lunch if you want to! Won’t that be fun?”
But I didn’t think that sounded fun at all. I thought that sounded terrible, actually.
“I don’t want to go to a new school!” I cried. Really cried, on account of, well, I was crying. I may cry less often than Mary Kay does. But I still cry sometimes. “What about Ms. Myers?”
Ms. Myers is my teacher. She is the best teacher I ever had. She has hair that is so long she can sit on it.
“I’m sure you’ll love your new teacher, too,” Mom said. “We’ll go over and meet all your new teachers before you start at the new school, so you’ll get a chance to know them. How does that sound?”
“That sounds good to me,” Mark said, chewing. He was eating fish fingers with ketchup, despite my advising him never to eat anything red.
Mark, it was clear, didn’t care about moving—except whether or not he got to ride in the back of the moving truck with the furniture. He didn’t care about having to start a whole new school and make all new friends.
“Shut up,” I said to Mark.
“Don’t tell your brother to shut up,” Dad said. When Dad tells you not to do something, you stop doing it. That is also a rule—and one Mark and Kevin actually follow.
“What about Mary Kay?” All of a sudden I remembered my best friend. Only I didn’t remember the part about how I’d just been sort of wishing for a different, noncrying best friend. “If we move, I won’t be in the same class with her anymore! I won’t live down the street from her anymore!”
“You can still go visit her,” my little brother Kevin said helpfully. “You can take the bus.”