Black is Best

‘Samuel! All your sports ribbons are at the bottom of your school bag along with a squashed ham sandwich and a rotten apple. Yuk!’

My mum usually makes me clean out my own school bag but she is cleaning it out today because tomorrow I’m going to stay with Auntie Ellie in the city. The reason I’m staying with Auntie Ellie is because Mum has to go away for a couple of weeks to look after Auntie Penny, who is very sick.

So Dad has to look after the kids all by himself, except Dad won’t be looking after me because looking after three children is too much work for one person when there is training and practice every day. Seven days a week there is training or practice. My brother, Max, has football training four days each week and my sister, Carmen, has ballet practice four days each week. That’s why I’m being sent to Auntie Ellie who, I heard Mum tell one of her friends, lives in a hovel. I know what a hovel is because I looked it up in the dictionary. It means a small wretched dwelling.

Max has lots of football trophies on his shelf above his bed and lots of certificates all over his walls in between the posters of Nick Riewoldt. Dad said that one day he might even play for St Kilda. Carmen has lots of ballet trophies on her dressing table and certificates pinned to her noticeboard. On her bedroom walls she has pictures of ballet dancers by a famous painter called Degas. Mum says that one day she might even be able to dance with the Australian ballet.

I don’t have any trophies and I don’t have any certificates. All I have are those stupid white ribbons. They are participation ribbons that they give you at school even if you don’t win anything. They are meant to make you feel better but they don’t. And no-one’s parents want to pin them to the fridge door like they do with the blue, red and green ribbons. White is a bad colour. In war people hold up little white flags when they want to surrender. When they have given up. I learned about this in school.

I don’t have any trophies or certificates because I’m not very good at sport or dancing. I have coordination problems. I know this because I heard my parents talking about it one day. I walk the dog with my dad which is fun and I play the drums. I got a drum kit for my last birthday. I heard Max telling one of his friends that he hopes I get a sense of rhythm for my next birthday. So I suppose I’m not very good at music either.

But I don’t care because what I really like doing is playing computer games and trading my Pokemon cards. I love Pokemon. My favourite Pokemon is Pikachu. I have a Pikachu t-shirt which is my favourite thing in the whole world. On Saturday mornings at the gaming store in town they have a Pokemon club. I can’t go though because it’s at the same time as both ‘the big game’ and ‘rehearsal’ which are even more important than training and practice so there is no-one to take me. I’ve packed all my Pokemon cards and my t-shirt to take to Auntie Ellie’s hovel.
Guess what! Auntie Ellie likes Pokemon! Last night we stayed up to ten o’clock playing and then Auntie Ellie showed me her favourite computer game called World of Warcraft which is played by people all over the world. I was tired the next day but that didn’t matter because I slept in until ten o’clock. Auntie Ellie slept in too, until eleven, but then she didn’t get to bed until four in the morning because she was battling Na’Oxtridon, Troll Master of the Hordes. While she was still in bed I looked around the house for trophies and certificates but I couldn’t see any. That made me happy.

I like Auntie Ellie’s house. It’s small and crowded with lots of pictures and posters and pot plants everywhere. I don’t think it’s a hovel. Today Auntie Ellie is going to show me some of the websites she designs. She says it will be educational so it can count as schoolwork. Auntie Ellie’s job is building websites for people and she doesn’t even have to go to a big office in the city, she can work on her computer at home without even having to get dressed! I want a job like that when I grow up.

Guess what! Auntie Ellie said she had a surprise for me this morning. And guess where she took me? To the gaming store! There’s lots of people all dressed in black and all playing battle games. It’s very exciting. I’m glad I’m wearing my Pikachu t-shirt which is black. Auntie Ellie is wearing black too. Even Auntie Ellie’s hair is black! And did I tell you that Auntie Ellie has body piercings – a nose ring and a stud through her tongue? My mum doesn’t approve of this. I heard her telling one of her friends. Auntie Ellie has to pull on my arm to drag me away from the battle games. She points to a noticeboard and there it is – the poster for the Pokemon Championship next weekend.

Since I’ve been staying with Auntie Ellie I’ve begun to understand something. That people are different. That Carmen and Max are more like Mum and Dad and I’m more like Auntie Ellie. Mum rang last night and said Auntie Penny is getting a lot better. This is good because I like Auntie Penny and I like visiting her house and walking her dogs, B1 and B2, along the beach. But I think Mum should stay an extra week just to make sure. Because next weekend is the Pokemon Championship and I’m going to win!