Better off Friends

Page 9


But then I realized that having my two best friends date could be a good thing. I sometimes felt I had to choose between hanging out with one or the other. Now we could all hang out in a group.
“Sure,” I offered.
After all, what was the worst that could happen?
I don’t think I give you enough credit for your positive attitude.
Yes, I’m Queen Optimist.
Well, I wouldn’t put it that way.
I was being sarcastic.
I’d rather be cautious than assume that everything will just work out.
It’s called being laid back.
Or unrealistic. But whatever works for you.
Exactly. Whatever works.
Had I known that getting a haircut was going to make me a chick magnet, I would’ve shaved my head the second we arrived in Wisconsin.
I could tell that Emily was acting differently at lunch our first day back. But I assumed it was because Macallan wasn’t around. Then she started doing all that stuff girls do to let you know they’re interested in you. She threw her head back after I said something that wasn’t that funny. Then she kept touching my arm and gazing into my eyes. At first, I thought that maybe she’d lost her mind over summer break. Then it dawned on me: Emily was flirting.
It wasn’t that a girl had never flirted with me before. I’d had a few girlfriends back home. But ever since I’d arrived in Cheese Country, I hadn’t had any girls pay any attention to me in that way.
I wasn’t sure if I could tell Macallan about Emily. I mean, I knew Macallan and I were just friends, but people always talked about us like we were a couple. And when they did, Macallan usually scrunched her nose or did something that made it clear that the mere thought made her stomach turn. Which was a little harsh, but I knew where she was coming from.
Then when Macallan told me that Emily was interested in me and even helped me ask Emily on a date, it sorta cemented it. Macallan and I would never be like that. We were just friends. That’s how she saw me. And maybe we were better off being only friends.
Which was cool. Especially since she was my best friend here.
I decided to surprise her with a special treat after school. I told Mom not to pick us up so it would be only the two of us.
“Where are we going?” she asked when I took a left turn instead of a right.
“It’s a surprise.” I grabbed her elbow and led her down the street.
“Okay.” She sounded like she didn’t trust me. “Have you decided what you guys are going to do on Friday?”
“Who wants to know?” I found myself asking that a lot that week. Anytime Macallan inquired about my upcoming date, I wasn’t sure if she was curious or if she was getting intel for Emily.
“I am. I wanted to see if you needed any advice on what to do.”
“Oh.” I felt stupid for sounding paranoid. “I figured we’d get something to eat and see a movie. Is that too boring?”
“Sounds good to me. There aren’t a lot of options around here.”
“Yeah, same as back home.”
Macallan’s shoulders tensed. I was about to ask her if I’d done something wrong, but we were approaching our destination.
“Look!” I pointed up at the Culver’s marquee.
Her eyes got wide. “Yes! You know Turtle’s my favorite.”
“Yes, I do. When we drove by this morning and I saw that it was the custard flavor of the day, I knew we had to come here. My treat.”
Macallan smiled as we entered the restaurant and got in line. “Well, if it’s your treat, I’m getting four scoops.”
“As I expected. I think I may get a double ButterBurger, too. Gotta get more weight on.” I patted my stomach. I wanted to be able to get onto a few teams next year in high school, but I was still the skinniest guy in our class. “I figured between you becoming a culinary master and all the deep-fried food in this town, I would’ve gained some weight by now.”
“What a hardship.” She shook her head. “Probably not the best idea to bring up in front of Emily the plight that is your inability to gain weight. She’s tiny, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t self-conscious about her weight.”
“That’s so ridiculous. I’ve never gotten why girls have, like, the most messed-up idea of what they look like. Emily’s body is, um …” This was the part where having your best friend be a girl got tricky. I couldn’t really say “sick” like I would to my friends back home. “She’s not fat. Nowhere near it. Neither are you. You’re both, um, like, totally, ah … fine.”
Macallan folded her arms over her chest. I decided it would be best to keep my mouth shut. I knew I made her uncomfortable. Macallan had recently started growing in, um, specific places. I couldn’t help but notice that her shirts were fitting differently.
I was only a guy, and therefore human.
Very, very human.
I shook my head to try to get the image of Macallan in her purple V-neck shirt out of my head. Thankfully, it was our turn to order. Once we got our custards, we grabbed a table.
“So, any other topics of conversation I should avoid on Friday?” I asked while Macallan happily dived into her vanilla custard with caramel, chocolate, and pecans.
She nodded. “It’s best to not talk about next year — she’s really paranoid about going to high school.”
As she explained about Emily’s sister and everything, I made mental notes. There seemed to be a lot of things that I would have to be cautious about on Friday. It wasn’t like with Macallan, where we could pretty much talk about anything.