"Night, Mom," Laura said, passing through the living room on her way back upstairs from the kitchen. In one hand she carried a plate of grapes; in the other a notebook. "Night, honey," Harriette said absently. She was busy opening the day's mail. Too many bills, she thought, shaking her head.
"Have a grape." Laura popped a grape into her mother's mouth. "Anything interesting?" "If you call the bills for cable TV, electricity, the phone, the oil, three credit cards, and the mortgage interesting," Harriette said, "then I'm truly fascinated."
"Well! I guess I'd better go study." Laura headed for the stairs. Then she paused. Now, she told herself, now is the time to do it. "After all, the school dance is next week." She tossed the words ever so casually over her shoulder, and waited-one second, two seconds-for the bomb to go off.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" her mother exploded. "School dance? What's this about a school dance?" Laura turned. Her smile was angelic. "You know, Mother dear," she said in her sweetest voice. "It's the Sadie Hawkins Day Dance. Girls ask boys. I'm gonna ask Greg Hudson."
Harriette raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Have I met him?" Laura leaned wistfully against the railing. "No, but picture a Greek god ... with his own moped." "Well," her mother said, "just make sure Mr. Apollo has you home before eleven." "Eleven?" Laura echoed in outrage. "When are you gonna realize I'm becoming a mature woman?" She tossed her sleek black pageboy in defiance.
"When you can get through breakfast without spitting Cheerios at your sister, Harriette returned smartly. Laura couldn't argue with her there.
"Hey," Harriette went on, "is that the new nightgown I bought you?" "Yeah." "Let me see you model it."
Reluctantly, Laura laid down the grapes and notebook. She shrugged off her robe and modeled the new nightgown dutifully. She had asked for hot pink baby-doll pajamas, but her mother had said no way and picked out the same old boring granny gown. "Very pretty," Harriette approved. Laura groaned aloud.
Just then, the front door opened. In walked Steve Urkel - without knocking, as always. Hello, gang!" he twanged. At the sight of Laura, he pulled up short. "Oh! Laura! Nightgown!" was all he managed to get out before he fainted. Disgusted, Laura put her robe back on.
"Are you okay?" Harriette asked Steve. "I'm fine," he stammered, recovering. "I guess it was just the shock of seeing Laura in her unmentionables. Ooops!" He clapped a hand over his mouth. "I mentioned them!"
"Mom!" Judy called from upstairs. "Richie keeps trying to eat the pieces of my pepperoni-pizza jigsaw puzzle!" Harriette put down the phone bill with a sigh. "Duty calls," she said. She went upstairs to rescue Judy's puzzle from little Cousin Richie.
Laura glared at her mother. Deserter! How could she go off and leave Laura alone with the world's biggest pest. "What do you want, Steve?" She picked up her books and snack and headed toward the stairs. But Steve went after her and, taking her arm, dragged her toward the couch. "Only to serve you, milady. Let me relieve you of your burdens." He took the snack and notebook from her, led her over to the couch, and sat her down. Then, to the tune of "Camptown Races," he sang: "Let's sit you down upon the couch, doo - dah, doo - dah. Gonna pop some grapes into your mouth, Oh the dooh - dah day.
Now you're in your place, I can fan your face..." Laura grabbed back the notebook he was fanning her with. "Steve," she said through clenched teeth. "Exactly what do you want?" "Oh." Steve undertook a serious study of the ceiling. "I just thought you might like to ask me to the Sadie Hawkins Day Dance." He batted his eyelashes at her.
Laura took back her plate of grapes less violently than she had the notebook. "Uh, Steve, listen." He might be a nerd, but even nerds had feelings. Particularly when the nerd had a crush on you that would not quit. "I was going to wait for you to call," Steve went on. "Then I realized it would be like waiting for your brother, Eddie, to be invited to come on Jeopardy." Laugh. Laugh. Snort.
Laura's big brother, Eddie, was a nice boy but he wasn't exactly known for his brains. Laura gathered her courage. "I was gonna ask Greg Hudson to the dance," she said. Steve was shocked. "Greg Hudson?" Laura nodded.
The smart, good-looking, rich guy?" Laura nodded. "But why?" Steve's whine was even more irritating than usual. "Well, 'cause I sorta like him a little," she confessed. "Actually, a lot... actually, a whole lot." Steve bit his lip. He turned away quickly. "I see. I see. Uh..." For once, he was at a loss for words. Then he found some.
"I really hope you and Greg have a good time. You'll probably get stuck going in a limo... which is too bad, because my cousin was gonna take us in his horse trailer. Laura avoided looking at Steve's face, but he sounded strange. "Are you all right?" she asked gently. That was the way it was with him. One minute he was bugging her, the next minute, making her feel sorry for him.
"Yeah. I'm all right," he told her. "It's... it's just something in my eye. That's all." He took off his glasses and wiped his eye on his sleeve. Then he turned to Laura and put on a brave smile. "Well, what do you know? It was my very own finger!" "Steve, I didn't mean to hurt you. I just don't want to lead you on.
Steve squared his shoulders. "I know. I'll tell you what. You go ahead and ask Greg 'Teeth - Are - a - Little - Crooked' Hudson to the dance. But if he turns you down - a decision which could only be the result of brain damage - I'll be there waiting with the ol' horse trailer. Deal?" He stuck out his hand.
Laura smiled and shook it. Steve really did have his charming inoments. Even if there was only about one a decade! "Deal," she told him.
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