Y'all know how they call the first shot of the Revolutionary War "the shot heard 'round the world"? Well, when Tommy kissed me at the Homecoming dance, that was like the kiss seen by the entire world. That innocent little peck (okay, maybe it was more than a peck) was like the opening volley in a darn war. Momma always said that vengeance belongs to God alone, and ladies shouldn't get mixed up in such things, but a small part of me loved the expression on Bobby's face after Tommy pulled back from the kiss. I had liked it enough to pull him back down for another. And maybe for another.
So after that, the party had really gotten interesting because then Chloe didn't like how Bobby was getting upset, so she pulled him down for a rather sloppy kiss. I mean, really, if you are going to kiss a man in public, you had better be classy about it. Momma always said that nobody wants to see someone else's tongue flapping around in public.
Maybe it was a combination of Mr. Daniels and the heady feeling of being kissed by someone other than Bobby, but their blatant display of sloppy affection was more disgusting than hurtful. I made a dramatic show of rolling my eyes heavenward, and then turned my back on them both. "I don't know about y'all, but I am ready to have me some fun!" I winked at my friends, and then pulled Tommy out on the dance floor. Missy and Abby and Artie and practically the entire offensive line and their dates joined us, and within minutes, we were having the absolute best time. Granted, some people kept shooting us dirty looks because we sort of took over the entire dance floor, but really, there was room for everyone.
I snuck a few peeks to the table where Bobby and Chloe were sitting, and she was taking animatedly to the rest of her black-attired flock. Tommy looked a little out of his element as an overweight guy wearing way too much eyeliner rambled on dramatically. Tommy always loved dancing, but I suppose his new friends thought it was lame. Maybe not every song the DJ played was my favorite, but sometimes in life you just make the best. It couldn't be fun to pout on the sidelines and whine about the music selection.
"Are you having fun, Miss Maggie?" Tommy grinned down at her as they moved. He really was a handsome boy with all those curls.
"Why, yes sir, I am," I smiled up at him. "Thank you for everything, Tom. I really do appreciate it."
His nose wrinkled as his smile grew deeper. "So, the kiss didn't make you uncomfortable or anything?"
"Oh, no no. It was fine." I blushed. "Well, more than fine." He laughed, and I hit his chest. "You know what I mean!"
"I do; I'm just teasing you, honey. Do you think we made him jealous?" He snuck a peek over his shoulder at the sad situation across the gym.
"I'd like to think so! He knows he's the only boy I've ever kissed! Any man would be jealous!"
Tommy cocked his head to the side. "Really? I didn't know that. I guess I thought--"
"What, because I'm popular I'm a floozy?" I shook my finger at him in mock anger. "Really, sugar, you should know me better than that. Really, I'm like that adorable girl in that movie Clueless. Have you seen it?"
"Negative. Come on, baby, I'm a man." He puffed out his chest.
I giggled. "Yes, yes. Well, in the movie she says," I tried to affect my best valley girl voice. "You know how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet!"
Tommy was laughing. "What?!" I hit him again.
"Don't ever do that accent again; it was too weird. But, yes, I know what you mean. See, Maggie May, that's why I like you. You're such a good girl."
I flushed. "Hopefully good doesn't equal boring."
He laughed again and leaned forward to brush his lips across my forehead. "No, you're definitely not boring."
My skin felt goosebumpy where his skin had touched mine. This was such a strange feeling. "So, what's the plan after tonight?"
Tommy looked thoughtful. "Well, do you want him back?"
I started to chew on my lower lip, but then stopped when I remembered all that lipstick.. I wasn't sure. I loved that boy almost more than I loved my Momma, and that was saying a lot. But, Bobby really had hurt me. Maybe this was just a phase? Maybe we'd gotten so used to being together that he had wanted to see what else was out there? "I don't know..." I shrugged up at him. "I just wish this had never happened."
"I know, honey. I know." Tommy patted my back, and we danced together in silence for a few minutes--the cheerful mood growing somber. This just was horrible. I had to just open my big mouth and say what I really felt, and now I'm sure Tommy felt badly.
"Excuse me, sugar, I'm going to the powder room." I smiled briefly and crossed the gym towards the restroom. Sometimes, when I was sad, I felt better after putting on lipgloss. There was something about having shiny, smooth lips that put me in a better mood. Momma always said that you dress to change your mood--I wish I was at home in my adorable PINK yoga pants watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and instead, I was here dolled up to perfection. Momma was right though--I would have been much more depressed if I stayed home and didn't wear makeup.
I could feel the eyes of half the room on me, and I kept a smile on my face until I got inside the restroom. It was blessedly quiet--the booming bass fading to background noise. I took out my favorite MAC lipglass and started to dot it on my lips. I felt better already. I smiled at my reflection. This night wasn't as bad as I thought. I ducked in the stall to grab tissue paper for blotting and to readjust the tape holding up my boobs when I heard the door open and shut again. Three girls were chattering all at once, and I peeked through the crack to see who they were. My stomach turned. It was Chloe, and two of her friends whose names I didn't know. I backed against the wall and lifted my dress up so they couldn't see it peeking out from beneath the stall. I wasn't in the mood for a confrontation tonight.
"And did you see her dress? Can you say sluuuuuuut?" One of the voices I didn't recognize was talking, and Chloe laughed.
"I know. She's the biggest whore. I bet she thought if she dressed like that, Bobby would come running back to her."
"Well, obviously he wanted someone who was, like, real. Not a robot pagent queen."
"Haha. For real. He tells me these stories about her that I just cannot believe."
"Oh my god, like what? Tell me!"
"Well, he said that once she made him watch some show that had Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey in it after they got married, and remember that whole Chicken of the Sea thing?"
"Well, she turns to him and goes, 'Wait, Ahhh'm confused. Why would they label tuna as chicken?" Chloe's imitation of my accent was horrible.
"Are you serious? What a moron."
I felt like my skin was on fire. What horrible girls! Who just stood in a bathroom and tore someone down like that? Momma always said that only the most insecure people badmouthed others. It made them feel better about feeling inferior. And, how dare Bobby tell her that story! I had sworn him to secrecy, and besides, I really had been confused, and he had told me he thought it was adorable.
"Yeah. I don't know what he ever saw in that stupid whore. God--what is this awful music they keep playing?"
You know that feeling you get when you know you should just be the bigger person and not care, but you really really feel like you need to say something? Like something's just burning inside you? That's how I started feeling. How dare they be so nasty! I had never done one thing to those girls, and they were ripping me apart like it was nothing. Momma had always said that sometimes a woman's got to show her teeth or else people will just walk all over her. Something about being a steel magnolia. Well, I wasn't going to let these girls ruin my night.
I opened the stall door, and in the mirror, I saw their eyes grow huge. Feigning indifference, I walked to the mirror that they were hogging, and the girls parted--still staring. "Hello--enjoying your night?" They ignored me. I applied more lip gloss before turning and smiling sweetly at them. "I sure am." I knew I intimidated them. Momma always told me that beautiful women were intimidating to average girls, and while that sounded conceited, she told me to never let it make me feel superior. The good Lord blessed me, and I should be thankful and gracious. But, what Momma didn't know wouldn't hurt her. I mentally apologized to Jesus before composing what I wanted to say next. Finally, I fixed my eyes on Chloe. For all her swagger, she seemed a little afraid. "I pity you." I bit the words off like bullets. "Hating people for no good reason--it's just a little sad. You are an ugly person, Chloe--from inside out. Bobby will realize that eventually." I leaned in close--our noses almost touching. "I would be very careful, if I were you." She backed away from me. "Have a nice night." As I turned to leave, I heard her start to retort, but I was out in the hall before she heard me.
After that nasty business with Chloe, I felt a little over this dance. Sure, it was my time to shine, but honestly, I could shine wherever I wanted. I found Missy talking to Abby near the punch bowl, and I pulled them aside. After telling them what happened, and physically restraining Missy from marching over to slap Chloe silly, we decided to grab the boys and make our exit. In addition to our charming plantation style house nearby, Momma and Daddy also had a beautiful house right on the beach in a little gated community. I'm sure they wouldn't mind our using it--I had very responsible friends. They knew better than to trash a house--their parents would just kill them.
I felt a little bad as I looked back and saw all the people leaving with us--both the Varsity and Junior Varsity cheer leading squads and most of the Varsity sports teams were pouring out of the gym. The dance looked a little sad without us there. Oh well.
I had called Momma and Daddy on our way over, and they said it was perfectly okay to move the party there as long as we promised to clean up when we were done. That part was easy--there was a really lovely cleaning service who were on call 24 hours a day, and I could just ask them. Before long, everyone was having the best time. I sat on one of the deck chairs with Missy, nursing a Jack and Diet Coke. I'd taken my shoes off, and in the ocean breeze, my curls were out of control. It was the most beautiful night.
"Do you miss him, Mags?" Missy's voice was soft. It was quiet out here on the little private beach. Everyone else was inside.
"I do. I hate that I do, but I can't help it." I turned on my side to look at her. I felt a little bit tipsy. "He's just the most wonderful boy in the world, Miss. Even after what he did to me, I still love him so much."
Missy sighed. "I know. First loves are always hard to get over. But, honey, after what he did, I don't want you to take him back. It's unforgivable."
I looked down at the ice melting in my drink. "I know. Sometimes, I get really angry about it, but I'm mostly just sad. I thought we were going to get married one day. I really did."
"I know. I'm so sorry, Maggie. I know this is easier said than done, but just give it time. It'll get better."
"Thanks, Miss. I don't know what I'd do without you."
Missy stretched--the polka dot dress showing even more leg. "I don't know what I'd do without me either." I pretended to hit her, grinning. She took the bottle of whiskey next to her chair and poured me a generous shot. "Drink that down, Maggie."
I held the glass up to my face. "Good lord, Missy. Are you trying to get me drunk?"
"Yes, I am. Drink it down right now. I'm doing it with you." We giggled and took the shots together, and for good measure, Missy took another swig out of the bottle and coughed. "Okay. Now follow me." She stood up and reached to her side to unzip her dress.
"Miss, what are you doing!? Stop before someone sees you!" I looked inside, hoping no one was about to come out.
"You shush, Maggie May. You're too uptight." She kicked the rest of the dress off--wearing only her black strapless bra and matching panties. "We're going swimming. Right now." With a huge grin on her face, she took off towards the water--feet pounding across the sand.
I shook my head as I watched her. I wished I could be more like Missy--she just did whatever she wanted and cared less what people thought. I reached down to take the bottle of whiskey she'd left and looked at it. I knew what Momma would say about this, but honestly, a little ignorance wouldn't hurt her. I closed my eyes and finished the rest of the bottle--only an inch or two. Then, I untied the halter from around my neck and stepped out of my dress. The duct tape underneath my nude slip from Victoria Secret was getting annoying, so wincing, I tore it off and threw it on the ground. Whoever invented that trick, while quite clever, also must hate women. Missy hooted from the water as I ran towards her--maybe I wasn't brave enough to get down to my underwear, but wearing a skimpy slip was sure a start. With a move that would have made Bobby proud, I tackled her into the waves--unable to stop giggling. Maybe the infectious laughter attracted attention, because after a minute or so, I heard hoots from up on the second floor balcony. I saw most of the football team up there, and I suppose they felt like they were missing out because in about a minute, most of them were running down to the water to join us.
Now, I feel like it may be unladylike to notice these things, but the boys were definitely not shy about staying covered off. Most of them shed every stitch of clothing and jumped in with us--laughing and splashing each other. I made sure to avert my eyes. Where there are beautiful boys, girls inevitably follow because the rest of the cheer squad was right behind them. Most of them behaved and kept their undergarments on, but a few of the more drunk ones stripped completely bare. I made mental note to give them a stern talking to next practice.
I felt Missy grab me from behind. "See, Mags, isn't this much more fun than moping on the sand?!" She pulled me under, and we came up for air giggling. I'm sure I looked like a drowned rat, and tried to wipe most of my makeup off with the hem of my slip.
"Yes, ma'am. This was a good idea." Well, besides all the debauchery around us that was making me a little uncomfortable, this was really fun. Someone brought down a pair of speakers with an i-Pod dock, and soon enough, music was booming. A dance party in the ocean was millions of times better than anything our school could have planned.
"Maggie May! I have something for you!" I saw Tommy wading through the waves, (thankfully) wearing black boxer briefs. Good lord, that boy looked good enough to eat. I tried to only focus on his blue eyes. He held out the crown I'd thrown on the deck chair, and he carefully put it on my head. "You're still the queen no matter where the party moves to!"
Everyone cheered, and I felt very loved. I had some really amazing friends. "I'm the mermaid queen!" I declared, remembering my Momma's silly analogy earlier.
"I want to be the Mermaid King then," Tommy laughed, lifting his chin until he looked regal.
"You sure can. Here, sugar." I reached down and grabbed a handful of seaweed, and stood on my tiptoes to arrange it ceremoniously on his head. Before I had finished, he'd put his arms around my waist and pulled me in for a kiss. Maybe it was the alcohol affecting me, or perhaps just the way that boy looked with hardly a stitch of clothing, but I let him kiss me for as long as he wanted. And I might have kissed him back a little.
People around us were hooting and jeering, but it really didn't bother me. Friends were allowed to share kisses, right? He pulled back after a few minutes and smiled down at me. "So, I have an idea."
"Mmhmm?" I felt a little dazed by everything--mostly just warm and fuzzy and wanting to be kissed again.
"I think we should date."
"Do you now?" He was just so darn cute, with his blonde curls plastered all down his forehead.
"I do. I think it'd be good revenge on Bobby..." He had a dangerous glint in his eyes.
I felt sort of weird for a moment. I shook my head to clear my thoughts. "But he's your best friend. That seems so..."
"Do you want him back or not?" Tommy looked intent.
"I...I...ah..." My head was swimming--I wanted to have fun and not talk about damn Bobby anymore. I pouted up at him. "Stop asking such hard questions." Oh goodness, I think I was drunk. I was having a hard time forming my words.
The glint in Tommy's eyes faded, and he shrugged. "Fine, we don't have to. I just thought--" The poor boy looked so forlorn for a second that all I could do was throw my arms around his neck. Dating Tommy would help me forget about Bobby, and even though it seemed a little devious, if Bobby got jealous because of Tommy and me...well, I didn't mind one bit.
I stood on my tiptoes again and planted a big one on his lips. "Tommy Philips, of course I will date you."
The Revolutionary War was one of the best things that happened to our country, and if it wasn't for that "shot heard 'round the world", we might not have such wonderful results. Maybe Tommy kissing me at the dance wasn't so akin to that famous battle, but it sure as hell promised to bring war to our little South Carolina school.
Bobby Bishop had better watch his back. Hell had no fury like a Southern girl scorned.