Boy Meets Boy

Page 30


Snagged on two counts. Not a great way to start the day.
I become neurotic about what to wear. Because suddenly every piece of clothing has something to do with someone else. Shirts that Jess helped me pick out. The pants I wore the night I first met Noah. The clothes from yesterday thrown over the back of the chair—it's amazing to believe that I kissed Kyle and was dumped by Noah all in the span of a single pair of jeans.
In the end I dig into the back of my closet and find a sweater my aunt got me for my birthday last year. It's orange and green, and brings out the orange in my eyes even though my eyes are usually green. The neck is a little too tight and the arms are a little too long. I wear it anyway.
I figure this is my new beginning… or my last resort.
The first person I bump into when I get to school is Rip, the bookie. I can tell he's been waiting for me. He stares for a moment at my sweater but doesn't say anything about it.
“So is that it, then?” he asks me. “You got no one, right?”
Technically, I figure this is true. I've lost Noah. I don't want Kyle. Tony was never an option.
I don't have anybody.
I think again of Noah.
“The betting isn't over yet,” I tell Rip.
“Seems pretty over to me,” he says with a grin. I can see him counting the money in his head.
I surprise myself by clamping my hand down on his shoulder and thinking of a sports metaphor.
“Listen to me,” I say. “You can't run a Super Bowl pool and then declare the winner midseason. As far as I'm concerned, we haven't even gotten to the playoffs yet. If you start collecting, I'm going to tell everyone that you're playing them for a fast one. They won't like that.”
Rip thinks for a moment.
“I'll give you until the Dowager's Dance,” he says finally. “That way, more people can place bets.”
I nod and remove my hand from his shoulder.
As he skulks off, Infinite Darlene appears from behind me.
“Rip never dates anyone,” she observes.
“Why?” I ask.
“He doesn't like the odds.”
Infinite Darlene is staring at my sweater now.
“I know I should hate it,” she says, “but I actually like it.”
“Thanks, I think.”
She is dressed immaculately in a vintage Charlie's Angels T-shirt and white pleather miniskirt. (I have no idea how she pulls it off. In fact, I have no idea how she pulls it on.)
“How's it going?” she asks me.
“I can't even begin to tell you,” I say, then blurt out the whole story.
“Oh, honey,” she says when I'm done with my wallowing, “it's like my grandma used to say: Just when you think life's got you in a gutter, a tornado will come along and destroy your house.”
“And then you rebuild?” I ask.
“Well, she never mentioned that part, but I suppose it could happen.”
I am not cheered up.
Then, to make matters worse, Infinite Darlene coos, “So, sweetheart, are you ready for the committee meeting sixth period?”
The dance committee meeting. I've totally forgotten about it. And I'm in charge.
Infinite Darlene continues. “I know that wench”—that would be Trilby Pope—”will be there. I know there was no way for you to stop her from signing up. So it's not like I hold you responsible. But please make sure she keeps her talking to a minimum. It gives me such a migraine.”
“I'll be fair,” I tell Infinite Darlene.
She sighs. “That's what I'm afraid of. Believe me, it does neither of us any favors.”
With that, she swings and sashays away.
I don't see her again until sixth period, in the small room the library reserves for meetings like this. I am not at all prepared, but I'm ready to fake it.
There are ten people on the committee. The first I see are two best friends who join everything together; since their names are Amy and Emily, we call them the Indigo Girls, even though they're straight. Then there's Trilby Pope and Infinite Darlene, sitting at opposite ends of the room—Infinite Darlene is glaring at Trilby, and Trilby is simply gazing at the floor in response. I'm sure this drives Infinite Darlene crazy—she likes nothing better than a glaring match.
Kyle is in the back of the room looking a little lost. He's not on my list, and I have a sneaking suspicion he joined up late.
Then there are the Club Kids. From the start of kindergarten, they have been slaves to their college applications. They join any club available, perform every volunteer hour they can, and stab each other in the backs with sharpened No. 2 pencils in order to be valedictorian. (Ironically, the kid who's going to end up being our valedictorian, Dixie LaRue, is a total party girl who refuses to let the Club Kid pressure get to her.) Since the Club Kids tend to spread themselves thinner than Saran Wrap—with the personality to match—I know they'll probably show up for one or two committee meetings at most, put it on their resume, and then move on to the Future Arms Merchants of America Club, or whatever.
The problem is, they always want to speak up before they leave. They feel that doing so many things qualifies them as experts in everything.
This is very rarely the case.
“I think we should have a seventies themel” Club Kid A calls out as soon as I gather the group.
“Having a seventies theme is so nineties,” I tell her. “Any other suggestions?”
“How about ‘The Future?” Club Kid B chimes in.
“Or ‘The Diversity of Life?” Club Kid C adds.
“How about we just go for ‘Vagueness’ as a theme, huh?” I interject. “This is a dance, folks—not a science fair.”
Club Kid D, who'd been raising his hand, puts it down now. No doubt, he thought he was at the committee meeting for the science fair.
“How about The Wizard of Oz?” Club Kid E meekly proposes. I can tell from the glint in her eye that she's at least an acquaintance of Dorothy.
It's not a bad idea. But like many Club Kid ideas, it's not particularly grounded in originality. Last year's Dowager's Dance theme was The Sound of Music. And as much as I'd love to lay a yellow brick road down in the middle of the gymnasium and force the chaper-ones to dress like flying bellhop monkeys, I'm afraid it will only pale in comparison to last year, when most of the kids showed up in outfits made from their parents’ old curtains.