Quest for the Quiche
My mom used to tell me that if I was patient and wise, the right man for me would come waltzing into my life and sweep me off my feet. Well, I have to tell you, I've been waiting, and so far the only man who's ever come waltzing through my life was my gym teacher, Mr. Baldwin, and he really can't waltz to save his life. Sadly he didn't even sweep me off my feet, rather handed me an F for not learning how to waltz. Even sadder is that I am now seventeen years of age and still haven't found my cliché, yet everyone else has seemed to.
Take Jennica Lauper, for example. She's what you would call a nerd, or a geek, and spends more time in the library than her own home. What happened to her? She got her very own popular jock to fall for her during their tutoring sessions. It sounds straight out of a book; cute bookworm meets devastatingly handsome jock, chaos ensues, and then he confesses his love for her and ravishes her – in the library.
You could say that I'm still looking for my cliché, and I will leave no rock unturned, no tree uprooted, no – well, you get the point – until I find one.
At the moment, I have heard the rumblings of new neighbors moving in; a family of three – and there's a boy my age. I'm pretty sure he's going to be the most gorgeous thing to walk these carpeted hallways – maybe even the face of the planet. You the know the type: blond, tall, devilishly good-looking. The best part is that when I step out into the hallway our eyes will meet. He'll think me Venus incarnate and wish to ravish me while my mother is pulling a late shift at the hospital. We'll –
"Erin, what are you doing?" speaking the woman… Her eyes question me in a way that only a mother can.
Slowly I close the front door and slip on an innocent stare. "Trying to catch a glimpse of the new kid in the building." The one who shall ravish!
Mom gives me a strange look. "You already saw him."
My eyes widen. I've seen the miniature god and not remembered his beautiful face? "When? Where?"
She rolls her eyes. "Yesterday in the mail room just after we got groceries."
My face contorts as I remember briefly the pathetically sad creature lurking the stairwell.
"Yeah, you had that face." Mom goes back to scrap-booking on the kitchen table, her favorite pastime when she isn't a nurse.
The boy I remember is a pimply-faced thing with mousy blah hair and a tick in which he sucks the mucus out of his nose through his throat every fifteen seconds. Perhaps he's one of those Hunchback of Notre Dame types – sweet and endearing once you get past…well…everything. Ugh. Scratch that. Just the thought of touching him made me want to rinse my body in antibacterial gel.
My sexy, ravishing lover now a mere flicker, I mutter to my mother that I'm going to the park and head out the door. I'm beginning to think this whole cliché thing is going to take some kind of strategy – maybe even blackmail. I could try the whole penpal/lovers online scenario, but the last time I'd tried, a twelve year old boy had tried to hack my computer. Mom hadn't been pleased at my cavorting around with technology.
"Well, if it isn't the Queen of Quiche." A familiar voice greets as I step out the door into the bright sunshine.
Three or four years ago Thaddeus and I met on the stairs of this very apartment building, I with my Jane Austen, him with his guitar. He'd told me I was such a girl. I'm not really sure why the affirmation of my sex was so irksome, but ever since I've taken to calling him Thaddeus instead of T.J. I was never really one for acronyms.
I restrain the urge to glare and simply turn with a bored, dead-panned expression. "Hello, Thaddeus. You're still alive, are you?"
Before he's pegged as 'the one' let me just say that Thaddeus is not at all a cliché. In fact, the reason I probably hate him so much is that in the two years I've put up with him, he has remained elusive from my stereotyping ways. The kid wears both band t-shirts and sports t-shirts, plays soccer and guitar equally well, is not in need of a tutor, and does not lead a gang. He doesn't cut himself or whine like an emo kid, he doesn't act like a jock, and he makes decent enough grades that he can't fall into the ultra-nerdy or utterly stupid category. He's an enigma. I hate enigmas.
He shrugs and fiddles with some strings on his guitar, making a few chords sound deep and ominous. "I was thinking of slashing my wrists and writing a song about it, but I decided I have more to live for. Besides, it would probably be the death of Gran." He lives with his grandmother on the third floor – a charming old lady.
Thaddeus is possibly the only person who knows about my quest for the cliché – or as he likes to call it: the quest for quiche. When I'd told him that a cliché had nothing to do with eggs or pastry he'd laughed, and ever since has deemed it as such. Sometimes I think men are around to remind me that clichés only happen to women in books.
"So, where are you off to?" he asks, not looking up from his meticulously graceful picking of strings. "Got a gang member to reform? A jock to cheer for?"
I make a face at him. "For your information, I'm going to the park."
"Cool," he says nonchalantly, pausing to mess up his unruly dark hair. "Just don't be meeting with one of those teachers – things could get messy. I don't think I could be your friend anymore."
I roll my eyes. "Sure, Thaddeus, whatever you say." Little does he know that I could never go for the whole teacher/student love cliché – I'm just not into it. Besides, there really aren't any teachers younger than forty-five at my high school. Ew.
The park is a tiny thing, maybe as big as a housing lot, and located between two other apartment buildings. There's a patch of grass, a few trees lining the back, and a swing-set with a bench not far away. Sometimes a few homeless guys will hang around at night, but it's a relatively safe place. I go there to mentally prioritize my cliché list – which cliché I'd rather have, what kind of stereotypical boy I would like, etc.
I think the best possible cliché would be the nerdy boy becoming my lab partner and, with a little help and encouragement from me, of course, he would transform into a very sexy nerd. Then he would ravish me – in the science lab. I haven't enrolled in any science courses until next semester, so the ravishing will have to wait until then. I tell myself that I'm a patient girl, that I can wait, but it's very hard.
I myself, if stereotyped, am 'the girl next door' type. Not utterly beautiful, but not hideous enough that I don't get the occasional stranger checking me out. Brown hair, brown eyes, medium build, medium height, decent grades – you know the type. I'm okay with this, and so will my sexy nerd come next semester. I don't think I've ever been so excited about AP Biology before.
The next morning I find myself at my locker before the morning rush of classes. I don't remember which class I have, but I'm sure that my feet will guide me to the right classroom like they always do. Half-heartedly I fish out text books from my impeccably neat locker and begin discarding items I don't need until later – the usual. Out of the corner of my eye I spot him: Marcus.
Marcus is the captain of the football team, tall, dark, handsome. He heads towards me and I can feel my heart rate pick up a beat or two. This is it – he's finally going to confess his love for me! He's probably been waiting in the wings for the best time to tell me when his friends aren't around to judge him for his heartfelt decision. I wipe my suddenly clammy hands on my jeans and lick my dry lips. How is he supposed to ravish a pair of dry, chapped lips?
"Hi." It's then that I realize that I'm smiling stupidly at him as he comes nearer. I am such an idiot.
He pauses in front of me and gives me a look that tells me I'm a lunatic. "Uh…hi." He then proceeds to open the locker next to mine.
I quickly lock up my locker and run for the hills – or in this case, the halls. All of this anticipation for my cliché is making me batty.
"That was smooth, Erin. Very smooth." T.J. comments from his locker not far from mine. He enjoys being the peanut gallery, stupid boy.
"Shut up, Thaddeus." I can feel my face heat up at the mere mention of my blunder. I really should have known better that the hot jock would never go for the plain Jane unless put into a one-on-one situation – like a class project.
In fact, I'm fairly certain that if we had any classes together where there was a need for a class project, and we'd been paired together, he would fall head-over-cleats. He'd then ask me to go to a party where I would be humiliated and he would brush away my tears with his thumbs, look into my eyes, and confess his undying love for me. Then he would ravish me – at the party.
I sigh. AP Biology is looking so good at the moment.
At lunch I find myself outside with Dayle, my best friend. He's been that way since ninth grade. Compared to most guys, he's pretty cute, in a teddy bear sense. Dark brown eyes shadowed by dark brown hair give him an air of mystery, and when he smiles, you just want to hug him. I truly believed we could have been the ultimate cliché – best friends fall in love all the time. I half expected that in grade eleven he would come to me one day in the hallway, breathless from running, brown eyes bright with his newfound discovery of love for me. "Erin," he would say passionately, "I'm in love with you." I would stand there in utter shock and realize by gum I loved him too! Then…he would ravish me – in the hallway.
Instead he'd pulled me aside one lunch time, and just as I was leaning in for that deep and lasting kiss that would be forever etched in my memory, he'd pulled away from me, taken a deep breath and said, "Erin, I'm gay." Not the most romantic line ever coined in existence. Why do all the cute ones have to decide at the last minute? We could have been married out of high school!
You would think that instead of being my boyfriend, the least the kid could do was become my match maker, but no. Dayle's much too shy for that kind of thing. In fact, I don't even have a match maker, aside from my mother, that is, and I don't exactly trust her judgment in that department. You wouldn't either.
I pick apart my sandwich distractedly, retelling the story of the new boy in my building. "I think it's hopeless."
Dayle shrugs. I don't think he cares all that much anymore; the topic of the quest for quiche – cliché – is getting old. "You could always join the cheer squad."
I make a face of utter disgust. Jumping around and baring my assets to the world while appearing cheery just isn't my thing. I don't know how anyone does it. "I'd rather join the math club and have my eyeball dissected."
"Eating here," Dayle mutters with a frown. He has a weak stomach.
I pluck some grass and let it run through my fingers observing the students milling around me. Tim walks by with Thaddeus. That's another thing about that stupid boy: he has friends in every stereotyped 'group' of people. I just don't understand.
Tim glances over at me briefly before chuckling at something Thaddeus says. Now Tim, I could definitely go for. Quiet, emo, dark and brooding. I could be his muse, the inspiration to all of his songs – of course they wouldn't directly say my name. "She's got my heart in her hands…" something like that would be okay with me. I'll leave it up to him. He'd tell me to come to a concert of his, and there he would dedicate the song to me, his true love. Then he would ravish me – on stage.
"He's got a girlfriend." Dayle breaks into my thoughts.
Well, it was a nice thought.
"AP Biology." I repeat to myself just as the bell goes, signaling the end of lunch.
During the last class of the day – History – I zone out thinking of some other way to bring around my cliché. Maybe if I went for the 'damsel-in-distress' thing some hunk of burning love would come my way. I could drop my books in the parking lot and some cute boy would help me pick them up. We would lock eyes, and, after a few more encounters, he would corner me in that same parking lot and tell me –
An eraser hits the back of my head, jarring me out of my day dream. "Hey, Erin. You got a pencil?"
I glare at Thaddeus, who usually sits at the back of the classroom, but today has decided on the middle. Why can't he remember to bring his own damn pencils? I rub the sore spot on my cranium. "No."
"Then why are there three on your desk?" he asks with curious hazel eyes.
I huff and throw a pencil at him, aiming for his eye but coming nowhere near close. I really am a girl. He grins like he wants to laugh at me, but the teacher at the front of the class deters him from it. Jerk.
Two minutes later a wadded ball of paper hits my head. I glare at him, but he simply grins and gestures to the paper on the ground by my desk. Glancing up at the teacher whose back is turned at the moment I snatch the crumpled paper and unfold it as quietly as possible.
Would you consider yourself Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty?
I give him a strange look, but he doesn't notice me because he's paying attention to the class.
Quickly I scribble an answer and toss it back, smacking him in the chest. He doesn't answer back so I continue on with the class until it's over and rush out of there before I have to talk to the dimwitted boy.
I plod home wishing I knew what cliché was going to happen to me so I could anticipate it. Not knowing has me going berserk, that's for certain. I think at this point I could go for a skater boy even though they would think more about skateboarding than me.
"Hey, hon'." Mom calls as I enter the door.
"Hi." I greet, unenthused.
She whips around the apartment like a mini-tornado, gathering things that she needs. "I just got called into the hospital early, so I won't be able to have dinner with you."
"Okay." I watch her in mild fascination. She really is a natural disaster in her own right. She says it's because as a nurse she has to be thinking of a million things at once. I think she takes drugs.
A quick kiss, a rushed "Bye, hun'" and she's gone.
I think about maybe ordering in some food or making some, but the idea of eating just doesn't appeal to me at that moment. Instead I waste some time doing homework and checking my email.
The sun is setting by the time I trudge downstairs to the front entrance of the apartment building. Lo and behold Thaddeus is at his usual post, guitar in hand. He has a box of pizza sitting on the thick cement railing.
"Want some?" he offers the box and shoves it in front of my face.
I glare but take one anyway.
"Someone's down a pint." He notes my sour expression as I pick off the olives and throw them into the bushes nearby.
"You would be too if your cliché wouldn't show up." I huff and sit opposite him, the pizza box sitting between us.
Thaddeus shrugs. "I think the whole 'quiche' thing," he air quotes, the nerve, "and the 'sweeping' thing – they're all just made up by desperate girls who read too much Jane Austen."
"Really, and I suppose you believe in the caveman tradition of selecting a mate by dragging her off by her hair?" I can see him as a caveman, hunched over, chanting unintelligibly. If he even thinks of touching my hair…
He shrugs again and looks at me with an expressive mixture of amusement and contemplation. "Not quite."
Silence hangs between us for a moment. "What was with your note today anyway?"
"Just curious." He says evasively, brushing hair out of his eyes.
"Like you're one to care," I scoff.
"I don't care about clichés, but that doesn't mean I don't care." He shrugs and chomps a large bite of pizza, continuing to talk with his mouth full. How appealing. "I just don't go looking for one."
At his words I get an idea. In fact, it's a rather brilliant idea. Quickly I glance at the shadowed park across the street and decide to go for it. I hop off the railing and head down the steps. I don't know why, but Thaddeus follows.
Irritated, I glance back. "Go away."
He follows me anyway because as well as being annoying and uncliched, he doesn't listen very well. "What are you going to do here in the dark?"
I sigh. "If you must know I'm going to wait for a sexy rapist to come and take my virginity and fall in love with me. If that doesn't happen, then a vampire is sure to come and suck my blood – a sexy vampire." I'm hoping for the vampire over the rapist.
He blinks and furrows his brow – or he probably does because I can't see his brow with all that hair in the way. "I think you need help."
I glare. "I think you need to get a hair cut, but I don't voice those kinds of opinions, now, do I?"
"You just did."
I sigh, aggravated. "Why are you here?"
He shrugs. "I like you."
"Huh, it shows." I'm fairly certain he just likes to aggravate me on an hourly basis.
"And I asked you if you were Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty just to make conversation."
"Right." I roll my eyes, not really listening to him.
He keeps trying. "Fine. I'm not exactly a rapist, but I will take your virginity if you want."
I fling my hands up in the air, praying to God to strike him down with lightening. "This is why we will never be together."
"You don't take me seriously at all, and besides that you're just…normal. Too normal. Uncharacteristically normal – and I can't have normal in my life."
"Right, because you're so abnormal," he rolls his eyes. "How do you know that your ultimate cliché isn't normal?"
"Because so far there has been no ravishing involved – none! A good cliché always includes ravishing."
"I thought it just includes a happily ever after."
"It does…after the ravishing."
"So you're saying that if I ravish you we can live happily ever after?"
"Of course not – I don't want you to ravish me."
"But you said –"
"Look, can you just go so the rapist or vampire – whoever it is – can get on with whatever is supposed to happen?"
He starts to leave but stops and turns around again, facing my irritated face. "Look – Erin, I like you – a lot. I would ask you to go out with me, but every time I talk to you, you act like I'm a disease." I had to agree with him there. He was kind of like a bad cold – maybe even a flu. Or maybe he was like that flesh-eating one – what was that called? "So, instead I'm just going to kiss you, and hope to high heavens that it's enough to make you understand that normal is okay."
Without further ado he kisses me. I'm too shocked to really do anything, but if we're categorizing kisses I'd have to say that it's a sweet kiss, gentle and strong but not overly demanding. It's definitely not a ravishing kiss that strips me of my clothes and sends my knees buckling out from under me. I can't say I hate it, though. It's rather…nice.
"So," he pulls back and smirks at my dumbstruck expression. "If we're talking clichés, here, this would be the one where the girl hates the boy until he confesses his undying love for her and ravishes her in the park, correct?"
I think my cliché just found me.
A/N: Reading too many story summaries that were easily stereotypical, as is this. I had to poke a little fun. Hope it was as amusing to read as it was for me to write.