Eli squinted dubiously out the windshield at the unobtrusive storefront with the "P" logo.
"Shouldn't you be doing this with one of your girlfriends?" Contrary to what a handful of the more dickheaded homophobes at school had to say, Eli was most definitely a guy, and happy that way.
Amanda pulled the keys out of the ignition and folded her hands in her lap. And refolded them. Then she stashed the keys in the gigantic Coach bag that was her pride and joy before folding her hands in her lap yet again. "What?"
He rolled his eyes. "This. Your quest for discreet contraceptives?" He gestured to the clinic. "I'm thinking you need another vagina riding shotgun on this mission."
"Did you just say vagina? Um, ew?" She wrinkled her nose as she reached for the little rubber chicken that hung from her rearview mirror. Eli had picked it up for her at the dollar store freshman year. Before she got her license, it'd lived in her locker.
"Better get used to it. I'm pretty sure they, like, have to give you the 'You and your vagina' talk in there." Eli cocked his head as she stashed Julius—the rubber chicken—in her bag. "And what the hell are you doing to Jules?"
"Someone might recognize him."
"And know you were parked in front of Planned Parenthood?"
"Exactly." She rooted around in her bag and pulled out the biggest pair of knockoff designer sunglasses he'd ever seen.
"Because of course there are so many other people in this town who drive a sea-foam green '92 LeSabre?"
"It's sagemint, dick." She tucked her ashy hair behind her ears and slipped the shades on. "And the LeSabre was a very popular model."
"Whatever. Kim Kardashian called. She wants her glasses back."
He couldn't be positive since half her face was obscured by tinted plastic, but usually Amanda's lips only thinned like that when she was glaring. "Look, can you just humor me here? I can think of about twenty people who'd just love to spread a rumor about this, including three-quarters of my vagina-possessing friends, so would it kill you to at least play along with my attempts to feel incognito?"
Eli couldn't imagine anybody would care that much about Amanda's incipient sex life, but that might've had something to do with the fact that he'd been hearing way more about it lately than he ever wanted to. If he didn't owe her for listening to the blow-by-blow after he'd lost his virginity, he probably would've started plugging his ears and going "lalalalala" every time Amanda brought up her boyfriend about three months ago.
"What about the other quarter?" he asked.
"What?" She was back to rifling through her bag.
"The other quarter of your friends with lady-parts?"
"Lisa'd probably go straight to my mom. Or her youth pastor." Apparently giving up on whatever she'd been looking for, Amanda pushed the bag away with a huff. She gave Eli a pleading look from over her sunglasses. "Can we focus here? I'm nervous as hell."
"As you should be. Have you ever actually seen a speculum?" He shuddered theatrically.
"E-LI-as!" She smacked his arm. "So not want I need to hear right now."
He let his head fall back against the seat and turned it in her direction. "Yeah, okay. You sure you're ready for this? We can come back another day…"
"No, no. I want this." She gripped the steering wheel at ten and two like she was ready to drive away instead. "I'm ready."
"You know, you guys could always just use a condom…"
"Oh, believe me, we're going to. I just need to cover all the bases. You know me—I'm not going to be able to have any fun with it if I'm even a little bit worried about going on college tours this spring all preggo."
Elias kind of doubted a control freak like Amanda would be having any fun with it anyway—especially not when she was planning on losing her virginity to another clueless first-timer, but that was better left unsaid. "And you're sure?"
She shook her head. Then she nodded. "It's time for me. And Nate's a good guy."
True. At least Nate didn't puff his chest out and get all fakey-nice self-conscious macho when Eli was around the way her last boyfriend did. "So why are you dragging me here with you instead of Mr. Wonderful?"
"I want to surprise him," she said, a shy grin spreading across her face.
Eli rolled his eyes again, but managed to refrain from gagging.
"Don't make me invoke the BFF clause of our friendship contract, Elias Henry Goldstein."
He hated it when she played the full name card, especially since she knew how to say it exactly like his mom did. Obeying was like a Pavlovian response. "I knew I should've read the fine print on that thing," he said, resigned to the fact that yes, he really was going to have to go in with her.
"It's time to man up and help your friend get The Pill." Amanda adjusted her bug-eyed glasses, checked her teeth in the rearview mirror, and finally lurched out of the driver's side door.
"I can't believe I'm advancing the cause of heteronormative sex," he muttered as he got out of the car.
Amanda hesitated in front of the door.
Eli waited a few seconds. "I'm, uh, pretty sure it's one of those types that opens when you push it."
"I just had a thought."
"You don't say?"
She gave him a pissy look from over her glasses. "What if somebody from our school is already in there?"
"You'll have someone else to sit with you and I can wait in the car?" he asked hopefully.
The look she was giving him cooled by about fifty degrees.
He still didn't seriously think anyone at school would care whether Amanda went to Planned Parenthood or not. And even on the off chance that someone did care, it was hard to see what the big deal would be. People had been talking shit about Eli's sex life for years now and he'd never let it slow him down. Then again, he wasn't as uptight as she was.
"Um, you'll share an awkward nod and trust each other to keep the incident to yourselves? Mutually assured reputation destruction?"
She considered that for a moment before shaking her head. "Nope. Clarissa Larson or Jennifer Stewart or about five other girls could be in there picking up prenatal vitamins or something for all I know…no mutual exchange of secrets there."
He reminded himself that Amanda's tendency to over-think everything was endearing. Usually. "Okay, on the extremely tiny chance that someone you actually know is in there, do you really think they'd say anything to anybody?"
"I did kind of help spread the word when Jenny sharted herself in pre-algebra…"
She scuffed the tip of her sneaker against the sidewalk. "It was three years ago and I still feel terrible about it, okay?"
"Yeah, well, you should. She never lived that down." He thought for a moment. Really, if the wheel of karma put Jenny in the clinic today, it would probably serve Amanda right, but she wouldn't want to hear that now. "So if Skidmarks Stewart is in there, we just pretend like we're selling ads for the newspaper and leave, okay?"
"But I'm not on the newspaper."
"So you're helping me."
"But you're not on the newspaper."
Eli took a deep breath and crossed his arms over his chest. He could totally be stalking the cute new guy at the pretzel shop right now. "Do you want to do this thing or not, Amanda?"
She screwed up her face like she tasted something foul. "Yeah, okay," she said, and pushed the door open.