Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Did She or Didn’t She?

By Claudia Wolff from Foul Play at the PTA, July 2011, second in Laura Alden’s PTA Mystery Series

I walked into the Children’s Bookshelf and wanted to smile at all the books. Picture books, board books, chapter books, Young Adult books – each was just waiting for the words to be read so it could come alive.

But I kept my smile inside. I was on a mission and being pleasant wasn’t going to help me accomplish my goal.

“Good morning. Let me know if—” A woman poked her head around a bookshelf. “Oh. Hi, Claudia.”

I nodded at Beth Kennedy, bookstore owner and secretary of the local PTA. I, however, was Vice President, and I had a bone to pick with her. “Here.” The papers in my hand fluttered as I thrust them at her.

“Um….” She took the papers, glanced at the first page, and frowned. Which she shouldn’t have, because it was the draft version of the minutes she’d written up for the last PTA meeting. She should have recognized it straight off. “Um,” she said again, “this is all marked up.”

“It’s corrected,” I said. “I fixed your punctuation and spelling errors, took care of your grammar mistakes, cut out all those unnecessary sentences, and made sure the really important things were included. Honestly, Beth, your minutes aren’t very good. Maybe you should take a class or something.”

The vertical line between her eyebrows deepened. “So you’re saying my use of the serial comma is incorrect, that separate is spelled with an ‘e’ in the middle, and that I should have included the lengthy discussion about the rest rooms?”

I huffed a little. Once again, Beth wasn’t with the program. “What does cereal have to do with commas? And of course my thoughts about the bathrooms are important. If a lawsuit comes up because some mother thinks her daughter got sick from germy sinks, we can show we addressed the issue. You can never be too careful these days. I can’t believe you don’t think this needed to be in the minutes.”

“There wasn’t any motion.”

“It was discussed.” I pointed at the minutes. “It needs to be in there.”

She rubbed her forehead. “Okay. Fine.”

“That’s good to hear,” I said, smiling. “I knew you’d see things my way. At the bottom, you’re a fairly reasonable person, aren’t you?”

On my way out, I caught a glimpse of movement in the reflection of the store’s windows. I whirled, but saw only Beth sorting through a stack of books. She hadn’t really stuck her tongue out at my back, had she?

I shook my head and left. Shy, mild-mannered, scared-of-a-mouse’s-shadow Beth? Stick her tongue out at me? Not a chance.


  1. I'm sure Beth would never consider doing such a thing. But next time you have a chance, look up "separate" in the dictionary. Okay, if you must, look up "seperate" too.

  2. And buy a slim volume called 'Elements of Style'! Economy of wordage is discussed, as well as the other things you're concerned about. ('About which you are concerned', if the grammar police are watching!!)

  3. Of course, she wouldn't Claudia. What possible reason would she have to stick her tongue out at you?
    Oh, boy....

  4. Claudia writes:
    Thank you, Erika. That's exactly what I thought!
    Janet & Victoria, I'm sure you mean well, but I'm just too busy to do all that research. Anyway, that's what Beth is supposed to be doing, right?

  5. Something tells me that you got off easy! Just saying.

  6. Claudia, we must get together sometime. You sound like my kind of gal!

    Domestic Diva Mysteries

  7. I have Murder at the P.T.A., which I got from the Mystery Guild. Haven't finished it yet but I like it and sometime I'll have to order the second one.