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She was eight years old, with long straight blonde hair and a temper. Her name was Katie. She liked macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and spaghettios. We ate a lot of spaghettios that summer.

Her parents had a bearskin rug on their bedroom floor that entirely creeped me out. She had more Barbies than I had ever seen in one place before, other than the Kay-Bee Toystore at the mall. Her house was about half a mile up the road from ours, down a long gravel driveway, set back in some trees. It freaked me out when I had to be there after dark. Thankfully that only happened once or twice.

When I first took the job as Katie’s summer babysitter, her dad offered to pick me up for work each day on his motorcycle. I was a little weirded out by her dad and his motorcycle, so I chose to just ride my bike over every morning.

I don’t remember a lot about that summer, really. Just the spaghettios, and the bearskin. I remember arguing with Katie about everything– I was fifteen and had just discovered the joys of logical thinking and I loved to argue. She was eight. Arguments worked out about as well as I’m sure you can imagine they did.

I remember watching All Dogs Go to Heaven about 8,000 times that long summer. And I remember sitting on the couch at their house, with Katie glued to the tv screen yet again, copying interesting quotations out of the Reader’s Digest into my journal. I had quite the quote collection when I went back to school in the fall.

I remember earning a check each week, and feeling so grown up because I had a job and real money. I wish I could remember even one thing I spent it on.

It was a weird summer, but not a bad one. The next summer I spent working at Burger King, which paid better but didn’t involve playing Barbies or watching animated movies or an hour-long “rest time” in the afternoon.

And I guess if you have to enter the workforce, all that stuff isn’t bad to have in your first job.

Although you might want to forgo the spaghettios.