or, A Young Lady's Guide to Navigating Parties, Relationships, and Self-Esteem
I was in pottery class the day I met him. My efforts to make a pelican out of clay weren't working out too great, mostly because I was a terrible artist and the neck was too skinny to support the head, so the bird kept self-decapitating. I was sitting there, staring at the headless lump of mud, when someone sat down next to me.
I looked over. The new guy, the really hot new guy who everyone was freaking out over, met my eyes and smiled. "Hey," he said.
He was so beautiful that I was immediately swamped with fear. Clearly, he was a popular person, and therefore was up to no good.
"Hi," I said warily.
"How's it going?"
I'm sorry to say my interest in his face outweighed my interest in staying silent."Can't complain. You?"
He nodded sagely. "It's all good."
I nodded back and returned to staring at my blob of clay. My black-and-pink hair fell in my eyes, but I didn't move it. Movement was a weakness.
He leaned forward and put his elbows on the table, getting clay dust all over the sleeves of his black jacket. "So why don't you ever talk?" he asked.
I made a face. This was one of the only questions people ever asked me; "why are you so weird" and "what's wrong with you" were the top other ones. "Because I don't really have anything to say," I replied neutrally.
"Everybody has something to say," he said.
So he wasn't so much in the brains department. He'd have to be, if he was trying to have a decent conversation with me. I shrugged. "Not me."
"Well, what are you thinking about, then?" he asked.
"Okay," I said. Nobody had ever asked me that question before, but I was dying to answer it truthfully. "Yesterday in math Cammi said she got drunk at your house and woke up in bed with you, and now she thinks she might be pregnant because she has a sudden craving for pickles."
His lovely dark eyes widened. "I—oh, shit."
"That's what she said," I agreed.
With a muttered curse, he flung himself off the stool and darted out of the pottery class and into the hallway. I bit my tongue and grinned. I was so cruel, and it felt so good. All the girls in my school was freaking out over the arrival of a black guy who was hot and non-threatening enough to overcome their latent racism, and as such had began a race to be the first to sleep with him. Cammi, apparently, had been the winner in that area.
People always repeated gossip in front of me because they knew I wouldn't be able to tell anyone else. I didn't feel bad about sharing it with the hot guy. Talking to cool people always freaked me out, and it was nice to finally gain the upper hand.
Little did I know that was not the last I'd see of him.
The next day, at the morning break, I was surprised to find him leaning against my locker, looking entirely like he'd escaped from a photoshoot in his white muscle shirt and ripped jeans. "I want to talk to you," he said.
I sighed, secretly flattered but not willing to show it. "Move out of my way, please." He shifted over one locker, still staring intently, and I dialled the combination and yanked open the lock.
"Cammi's not pregnant," he said. "We didn't even sleep together."
"I know, she said so to Terry in math today, although she claims you two did make out. She also expressed profound regret that she didn't remember any of it." I shot him a look and took my math binder out of my locker. "Is that what you wanted to know?"
Amusement was beginning to creep into his expression. "No, actually. Mind if we talk outside?"
It was hot outside, and I did not like the heat. "Whatever you want to say, it can be said here," I said.
He squinted at me and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Okay then. Why did you tell me about Cammi?"
"Because I wanted to. Are you done?
"No. Why are you so hostile?"
I met his eyes briefly and then looked down at myself, summoning a jaded smirk. "Look at me," I said. "I'm practically the poster child for the emo revolution. What else can you expect?"
"You seem more evil than emo," he observed.
I was pleased that finally someone feared me, and told him, "It's a curse. See you around."
I turned to leave, shouldering my bag, but not before I heard him mutter sarcastically, "I'm glad we had this little chat."
"Look, Frankie, no. I'm sorry, but no."
Frankie was my obligatory gay friend. His description, not mine, since I felt no obligation to have friends and was mystified that he had stuck around this long.
While all the girls in my school desperately wanted a gay friend to help them shop for shoes and dispense wise relationship advice, Frankie was sadly not the answer to their prayers. Despite being very gay, Frankie was not fashionable nor fabulously bitchy, but a pothead skater-punk who was shorter than me and played the guitar badly in shitty band and had far too much fun doing so, and picked up other drunk punks on the weekend and had his way with them.
Frankie was way too cool for me, actually. I didn't know why we were friends.
He leaned against the lockers and attempted his most friendly, charming smile. "It'll be fun, Fee."
"Define fun," I retorted, shoving my math textbook into my bag.
"Fun as in not staying at home alone, staring at a computer screen for hours, wishing that something interesting would happen?"
"That's not what I do," I lied.
Frankie stared at me. "I know about your man-porn folder."
"Don't talk about the man-porn folder!" I hissed, darting my eyes around to see if anybody had overheard, but it looked like the secret was safe. I jabbed my finger at him. "You like the man-porn folder more than I do, you damn hypocrite."
"Yeah, but I actually get laid. You don't."
I slammed my locker door shut dangerously close to his eyes. He didn't even blink. With a heavy sigh, I wheeled around to face him. "Frankie, I'm not going to a party with you, I'm not getting drunk with you, and I'm definitely not going to get high with you."
"I'm not going to get you high!" he protested, getting up and following me as I stalked away. "You think I share my weed with just anybody? Look, Fee--"
"Don't call me that--"
"--It'll be fun and a chance for you to meet some new guys."
"Do you not understand the word no?"
"Not when it applies to parties."
"You're a creep. And possibly a rapist."
He grinned at me, a wide, open expression. He was too damn adorable - and too damn stupid - for his own good. "Come on, Fee. Do it for me."
I sighed loudly, so he would know that I was extremely annoyed with him, though as usual I was secretly pleased he was making a fuss about it. "You're a terrible person."
"That's a yes, then?"
I fixed him with a glare that he couldn't see behind my dark sunglasses. "Yeah."
He beamed at me, said, "I'll pick you up at ten, then," and then sauntered away. The quarterback for the football team stared at his ass as he went by.
Huh, I thought, surprised. The quarterback was your quintessential rugged, athletic type, probably the last person you would peg to be gay. It made me happy that at least one other person was as socially broken as I was, especially one of the popular jock boys. Frankie's ass wasn't all that great. Definitely not worth turning gay for.
"Oh yeah," Frankie yelled, turning around halfway down the hall to talk to me. "I saw the hot new guy checking you out today! You're a winner!"
Then he did the Breakfast Club fist-pump and ran away.
Huh, I thought again, not displeased with this information. Even if he was completely, completely wrong.