Whoa. New story. Trying to be funny.
Involves boys touching other boys. And drug references. At this point, nothing you wouldn't show your mother, unless she is a drug-hating homophobe.
Then you might want to not do that.
Today, I stop for scrap metal at the home improvement store and come up to the register ready for a zombie war.
"Hi," Counter Girl says brightly when I bring up my things to buy. There's PVC pipe in my cart too, because I've been meaning to get some but have forgotten the last three times I was here. "What are you building today?"
"My proa needs work," I tell her. She's new here —the HELP WANTED sign is finally gone from the door— and her eyes are blank with confusion. "It's a type of boat. Only mine goes on land and is powered by a huge kite. I drove it here, if you want to see it."
She nods enthusiastically, signalling for one of the other, more seasoned Home Improvement Shoppe employees to cover the single register. The veteran's lip curls when he spots me. I smile coldly at him and struggle to balance the awkwardly shaped scrap metal in my cart. Counter Girl doesn't notice.
The proa is left in a parking space. I'm not worried anyone will take it because everyone would know it was mine immediately. I'm the only person who drives a lime green proa around. "This is it," I tell Counter Girl. Her eyes grow wide and she reaches down to touch the side of it.
"That is fantastic," she says.
It's not fantastic. It's a board with wheels and a very rough steering mechanism. "Thanks," I say. "Minimalism at its very finest."
Counter Girl must miss my sarcasm, because she doesn't miss a beat asking, "What are you going to do to it?"
I shrug. "Put in hand pedals in case there's no wind." I kick one of the wheels and the proa groans in protest. "Or wind in the wrong direction." I got lucky today, getting all the way to the Home Improvement Shoppe without having to stop and drag the proa there.
"That is so neat!" Counter Girl smiles again. "Do a lot of people in Baywick Point have these here?"
Aha! She is new in town. "Nope. Just me. And I don't usually drive it places. It's really moody." There is a lull in our conversation. "So…where are you from?"
Counter Girl giggles hysterically. "Oh, southern California."
Of course. They don't introduce themselves or offer to help anyone. "Like," I scour my mind for cities in southern California. "San Diego?"
She laughs. "Oh, no, I'm from near Los Angeles." For a moment, she looks like someone has offended her. San Diego isn't so bad.
"I used to have an aunt from LA," I say conversationally, "but she died in a gang fight."
Counter Girl looks appalled. "I don't live in that kind of LA."
I didn't know that there was more than one. "Oh. Well. Okay." I start loading the scrap metal onto my proa and belt it down with bungee cords. Counter Girl doesn't offer to help me. "I'm Teagan, by the way."
Counter Girl looks completely blank. Maybe she forgot her name or something. "Lindsay," she says finally. Maybe not. "Nice to meet you."
"Same to you, Lindsay-From-California."
And then I get in my proa, let the kite catch the wind, and start speeding off in an unidentified, uncontrolled direction. When I look back — it's not like I really need to steer anyway, no one is out— Lindsay is just staring after me.
Someone new at school today.
"He's so cute," a member of my harem squeaks at me. When this only garners an eye roll, she continues, "His name is Winter! Like the season. He's from somewhere on the west coast, you can tell by his accent, but I don't know—"
"Southern California," I interrupt.
My groupie —her name is Antoinette— stares at me with wide eyes. "How did you know?" She asks me. "Did you talk to him?"
"I met his sister. She works at the Home Improvement Shoppe." I note how pathetic the lack of new people in Baywick Point is. "She's nice. In a very sitcom sort of way." I shrug and take my textbooks out of my bag. The math teacher is talking, but somehow he's not really saying anything.
"Oh?" Antoinette looks more interested than I expected. Then again, she watches sitcoms. "Is she pretty? I mean, as pretty as he is?"
"I haven't met him," I point out, though this doesn't phase Antoinette.
"I mean, what did she look like?" This is her correction. "Is she pretty? Is she graceful and beautiful and—" Antoinette cuts herself off, sighs, and casts her eyes down. "Yeah."
"She's nice enough," I say again. It's hard to think of her as all those things. "She's kind of perky," I say finally. "Like that girl on that one show."
"The OC?" Antoinette lives for those sort of shows. Her eyes grow wide. "But is she prettier than me?"
"No," I counter. Even if it's true, and even if I don't care how Antoinette looks because I don't think of her like that, Antoinette is my friend and it's important that she thinks she's beautiful. "She's pretty, but she's not that pretty. You're much more beautiful."
Antoinette turns a dark red and glances down at her table. There's all this graffiti on it. Very pretty. Just like Antoinette is pretty. "Thanks Teagan," she drawls. She picks up a pencil and starts to draw circles on the desk. They interlock and interweave. I stare at them as they appear beneath her long, slender hands. "Everyone wants to eat lunch with him."
"I'm not surprised." The girls are slowly running out of boys to date and break up with. After a certain point, the pool will shrink and they'll have to resort to cradle snatching. Even if the eighth graders in Baywick are meaty little fuckers. "Did you invite him to eat lunch with us?"
"I didn't think he would want to," Antoinette admits, looking ashamed again. "I mean, the prettier girls got to him first and he's one of those boys."
Those boys. The ones that surf and smile and have wavy blond hair. They're transplants from somewhere else, or they're tourists, or they went to private school. They're not meaty little fuckers. "Oh." My interest wanes. Those boys are very boring. Granted, almost everyone is boring, but they're even more boring because you can't just punt them across the street when they bump into you.
"Yeah," Antoinette says in her twangy little accent. "So I didn't even bother."
That's why we're friends. Antoinette's mother is Vietnamese and her father is French —God knows why they ended up in Baywick Point— and most people think she's either stupid, snotty, or both. Since no one else would talk to her on her first day of America-land, we became friends. No one talked to me either.
My harem is rather small, comparatively, but Antoinette has no idea how pretty she is. Also, her vehicle of choice is a faux-fur covered bike.
"So who did he agree to go to lunch with?" I feign interest because otherwise I'd actually have to pay attention to imaginary numbers. I hate imaginary numbers. They're like imaginary can openers: pretty much useless.
"Samanthe," Antoinette fumes. "Because she's the prettiest and most popular and smart—"
"Bitchiest," I cut in. Samanthe likes boys because they have boy parts. That's it. Secretly I think she's a lesbian with penis envy. "And she's not the prettiest. She just has an awkward spelling of her name. I wouldn't tap that in a rented sedan. And I've tapped raccoons in a rented sedan."
That was a strange trip to Yellowstone.
Antoinette manages a weak laugh, but stops short. She looks back and forth in case someone is watching, which they aren't and leans in close to me. "But you're," she lowers her voice, "gay. So it doesn't count."
"I still wouldn't tap that. She's so plastic." I wrinkle my nose, completely glossing over Antoinette's exaggerated secrecy. "And I do mean plastic. I bet if you dump water on her, she wouldn't even get wet. Or she'd melt."
Antoinette still looks uncomfortable. "I pity the janitor sent to clean that mess up."
The math teacher is still talking. He's still not saying anything. Education, please. Anytime.
"Well, I pity the poor guy who has to eat lunch with her," I say with a wink. Antoinette smiles and draws another near-perfect circle on the desk. "Perhaps we should liberate him?"
Her face brightens. "That sounds like a great idea!" She says it a little too loudly and the math teacher stops talking to look at her. The rest of the class glances over, but they all know us and don't even bother saying anything.
I yawn. "Liberation," I mutter. The clock tells me it's time to pack up and get ready to leave. Another uneventful class period. Sometimes I wonder about the state of the public education system. Sometimes I can't actually muster up the energy to care.
Once we are released, Antoinette and I meet up with the rest of my harem: Jane, Martina, and Kevin. Kevin is the token heterosexual guy. He likes Jane. Jane likes him. They aren't going out. This a reoccurring pattern with them. I think it's stupid.
"We're saving the New Kid from Samanthe," I say. Everyone nods enthusiastically, even Kevin. Thank god for our party of five. "Come on." I get to be the leader. It's my harem.
We flounce over to Samanthe. This is to intimidate her, because we are pretty scary, bouncing in unison and smiling like we've been dosed with nitrous oxide. Must be a leftover fear of the dentist and his happy gas or something.
Samanthe looks like someone caned her with a tire iron.
"Hi," I say, directing my gaze at New Kid. "Winter, right?"
He looks me up and down, expression suspended for a moment between disbelief and lack of recognition, before he finally says something. And that something is the something that we all want to hear from someone as impossibly beautiful as New Kid. "Teagan, right?"
"I see my reputation precedes me." I'm not funny, but New Kid laughs anyway.
"You met my sister yesterday. At the home improvement store? She told me about your land-boat thing. Did you get it fixed?" He tilts his head to one side, examining me.
He is so pretty. His features are angular —none of that baby-faced, girly-boy bullshit— and his eyes are the same shade of blue as his sister's. He doesn't have the same hair as all of those boys: it's black and lies flat against his head, hanging down in front of his eyes like a sheet. Antoinette was in no way exaggerating.
"Though you have other plans," I stare pointedly at Samanthe and her gaggle of poorly named friends, "I thought I could perhaps persuade you to join us for lunch tomorrow."
"He's sitting with us all this week," Cyndelsey snaps. She is Samanthe's second in command because she has the weirdest name, but she isn't quite as pretty as Samanthe.
New Kid looks completely stunned.
"Just think about it," I say, before Samanthe can further traumatize him. I fish a blue plastic necklace from around my neck, untangling it first from its peers and then from my hair. "Free Mardi Gras beads when you join the dark side."
"Just get out of here," Samanthe spits. She turns to New Kid, pouting her giant apple lips at him. "I'm so sorry." This is followed by a wink involved, but I intent to block it from memory. She waves us away, as if she can really dismiss us, and goes back to her hushed giggling.
Back at our home base, Jane seethes.
Kevin thinks that is hot.
Off to a start. Just a start.
I used to write humour. It wasn't fantastic, but people liked it. I hope people like this, too.
I had such a lame reference to reviews and red kryptonite, but it was so lame it made my head hurt.
Your input on how to not-suck is much appreciated.