MovieChat Forums > Free to Be... You & Me (1974) Discussion > A bit from the book version I wish had m...

A bit from the book version I wish had made it into the other versions.


You probably know that the three versions of FTBYAM--album, TV special, book--had bits that were unique to themselves and not shared by the other versions (or only between two versions).

One bit that appeared only in the book was a really neat little story by Judith Viorst called "The Southpaw." It takes place entirely in the form of notes between elementary schoolers Richard and Janet.

As our story begins, it seems our former best friends have had a falling out--she's demanding her Disneyland sweatshirt back from him and he wants his comic books back from her whether she's finished them or not. Furthermore, she's changing her goldfish's name from Richard to Stanley.

Why? Well, Janet's mad at Richard because, even though she's a good ballplayer, "no girl has ever played on the Mapes Street baseball team, and as long as [Richard's] captain, no girl ever will."

The two snipe back and forth at each other by note, and in the next few, it's becoming apparent that the Mapes Street team is getting CREAMED this season--the unbroken losing streak builds and builds.

Things start to turn around between them after a taunt from Janet about the losing streak and a turnaround of his jibe to "forget about baseball and learn something nice like knitting." Richard's genuinely hurt about this: instead of demanding a borrowed possession back, he says he no longer wants to keep something she gave him and adds, "I didn't think you'd be the kind who'd kick a man when he's down." Janet seems to realize she's gone a little too far: "I wasn't kicking exactly, I was kicking BACK," followed by a reminder about her batting average.

After this, the notes are no longer signed "your former friend," but just "Richard" and "Janet." Some of the team members are leaving due to operations, injuries, moving, piano lessons, etc. so Richard's negotiating a spot on the team, but Janet's adamant: "I pitch." Plus a package deal of a couple of her other friends (although she's willing to swap one for another when Richard begs "NOT Marilyn Jackson!").

The last note: "Dear Janet...At least could you call your goldfish Richard again? Your friend, Richard."

It's a cute little story that rings true while also tying in with the overall message of FTBYAM. The neat thing is the version that's in the new reprint of the book that came out in the mid-to-late 2000s. The earlier version's illustrations show the notes on scraps of paper; the new version's illustration (understandably) updates it to texts and emails.

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