Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Page 6


In order to stay in Ely’s orbit, you have to make choices. Yes, Ely, you really do have a chance with Heath Ledger. No, Ely, no one thinks you’re an asshole when you fall down drunk on the pavement and your friends have to carry you home. You’re fun Fun FUN! Ely, of course I’m teasing you about wanting to sleep with you. Why would I want to ruin our friendship like that? You have to choose to let Ely believe his fantasy version of reality, for the sake of preserving Naomi & Ely.
Fuck Ely for making me crawl through his Ely-  to survive our friendship.
But if I crawl out, where can I go? What’s left? Ely can spin and weave and dart and aim with other boys all he wants, so long as I’ve remained his cen ter. His queen.
I can’t believe I’m pushing this.
“Why’d you really go back to your apartment?” I ask Ely. “Cuz I saw your dick the first time out of the apartment and Dicky was like, Mmmm, girl, you and me, we’re going to have us a good ol’ time at Ducky’s tonight.”
“Gum,” Ely says.
I lie all the time, but I hate being lied to.
If only Bruce the Second had been a Wrigley’s gum-chewer, and not an Orbit man. Four out of five dentists can basically guarantee that their sons who chew Wrigley’s turn out to be straight; odds are three out of five dentists would at least reassure a straight girl patient that their sons will stay in the closet where they belong until they’ve figured out their sexuality for sure. No need to place those sons’ names on a No Kiss ListTM.
Bruce the Not My Boyfriend Anymore has no idea the jeopardy he’s jumping into. I sort of feel sorry for him. He probably has no idea that when it comes to boy prey, Ely is all about the hunt but doesn’t give a shit about the capture. And I’m not going to be the  to warn him. time on the  train I tried to warn Bruce the  about me, but we ended up making out instead. I’d rate our chemistry a . Bruce can figure Ely out for himself. Good luck.
Keep moving, Naomi. Don’t react. Don’t give it all away.
As Ely and I approach the lobby seating area, where the sleep-lessheads congregate, I check myself out in the lobby mirror. God, I am so pretty. What a waste, if Ely doesn’t notice—at least, notice my looks in the Wow-Naomi-is-boner-hot way, and not in the Wow-those-stilettos-I-picked-out-for-Naomi-go-great-with-her-dress way. Truth: If my little black dress looks amazing on this body, it’s because my waist wears his belt around it. If my face shines, the glow is Ely by my side.
Ely is probably right. The best I’ll ever get is if I fuck me. In fact, I’ve tried, but masturbation turns out to be hella time-consuming with not very satisfactory results. Or maybe I’m just doing it wrong. My work ethic has always been weak.
I’ve never understood why looking hot has to be equated with sex and conquest. Whatever happened to anticipation, to courtship, to true love? Can’t a person look hot and not have it mean something? Call me an old-fashioned Naomi bitch, but I’m holding out for true love. Even if it is an unattainable fantasy.
I’m not going to make the mistake of letting beauty (mine or his) guide my attraction to any man. That love-at-first-sight crap does not work. My father saw my mother’s picture in a magazine and fell for her before he’d even met her. When I was little, he would spend more time photographing her than photographing the images that were supposed to be supporting our family. But his attachment to her looks could only be sustained so long. Dad eventually tossed aside the beauty myth for the very real lesbian across the hall. He even wanted to leave Mom for her, but then the lesbian remembered she was a lesbian after all, so Dad just left, and Mom decided to cover her beauty under her bedcovers.
I don’t think it was Dad choosing a lesbian over her that most damaged Mom’s sense of her own femininity. I think it was losing her marriage to a woman she’d called “friend.”
The poker players halt their game when Ely and I reach their area of the lobby. We pause at the same time to silently admire Gabriel, dealing cards to the sleeplessheads. Yeah, I’d have him—who wouldn’t?—but he’s ranked number two on the No Kiss List ListTM, and I UNDERSTAND THE BOUNDARIES.
Sue knows trouble when she sees it. “Naomi, does your mother know you’re going out so late?” I suspect it’s my outfit that concerns Sue, not the hour.
“Yes,” I lie. My mother’s passed out in the pharmaceutical daze she’s been in since Dad left. The doctor finally cut off her sleeping pill supply, but Bruce the First didn’t know that when he gave her his stash in exchange for Mom doing his laundry after his sister went on strike and told him to stop being a big baby and learn to do his own damn laundry.
I do Mom’s laundry, too, now. I don’t mind. She’s very good about separating her whites from her colors. But no matter how many laundry loads I do for her or dinners I prepare for her or nights I spend curled up in bed next to her, I just can’t shake the blue out of her. I wish I could be that gold-standard daughter.
Mr. McAllister stands up from the leather couch, clutching last month’s Vogue. Pervert. “ ’Night, all,” he says, taking a bow before walking over and stepping into the elevator.
“Wait!” I call out to him.
The elevator door opens back up. I turn to Ely. “Are you sure you didn’t leave anything else up in your apartment?”
He so looks guilty. I so want to hate him.
“Like what?” Ely mumbles.
“Like your balls, to go along with your dick?”
“Language, young lady!” Sue scolds, gesturing in the direction of sweet Bruce the First with Mrs. Loy’s Chihuahua in his lap. High school boys. So fresh, so clean. So pathetic and yet so irresistible. He breaks my heart for breaking his heart. I kill me.
Well, then. Distraction, thank you so very, very much for seating yourself in the lobby in the middle of the night. No, not that distraction. Gabriel’s major league, and I might not look it but I am still farm team. Attention: pinch hitter. Bruce the First, step up to the plate, please.
Ely can buy his own damn drinks tonight. A girl who looks like me should not be such a . It’s time for a changing of the guard. Why shouldn’t the  be a  instead, or anything or any1 to help me escape the lie of  ?
“What are you saying, Naomi?” Ely asks.
“Are you coming or not?” Mr. McAllister bellows from inside the elevator.
“Not!” Ely responds. The elevator door closes.
My mouth opens in honesty—long overdue. “I’m saying I hope you have a good time tonight with whatever it is you’re not telling me about. Because I changed my mind. Girl’s prerogative. C’mon, Bruce. Let’s take Cutie Patootie out for a walk. You and me. I don’t want to go to that stupid NYU party with you, Ely.”
Stupid NYU parties, that’s what got us into this situation in the first place. Last fall, our first semester at NYU, we went to a party at the Robins’ dorm. Ely and I were the hit of the High School Musical sing-and-bong-along crowd as we sang “Breakin’ Free” together. Our routine was well rehearsed— we’d performed the leads in our own high school senior musical the previous spring, me cast as Troy, and Ely cast as Gabriella. But that night, as I danced and sang Troy’s part, “We’re breaking free!” when Ely as Gabriella was supposed to twirl and sing out “We’re soaring!” and together we’d sing “Flying!” all of a sudden Ely flew away instead of singing, just like that. Some real Troy look-alike had caught his eye and demanded his immediate attention.
People think beauty is a blessing, but sometimes it’s not— like at college parties, when your gay best friend dumps you for a cute boy, and every other guy there is too intimidated to talk to you. That’s where Bruce the Second came in. Later he told me he didn’t think he’d ever have a shot with a girl like me, so why not take a chance on talking to her? Become her friend? He sat down next to me as I sulked over Ely’s abandonment. He said, “You know, people think Ginger Rogers was Fred Astaire’s favorite dance partner. But that’s not true. He always said his favorite partner was Rita Hay-worth.”
I must have been really drunk not to have gotten it right then and there.
“I always thought his favorite was Cyd Charisse,” I slurred. I’d never seen one Fred Astaire dance movie; I was merely repeating something my grandmother had once said. Not like that stopped me from talking on the Fred/Ginger/ Rita/Cyd—and who the fuck is Gene Kelly, anyway?—topic with Bruce for maybe fifteen minutes. Then I couldn’t take it anymore. The boring subject. I grabbed on to this Bruce; time for distractionary making out.
What can I say? I liked Bruce the Second the accounting major. He added up to easy boyfriend. No pressure. No expectations. He was always available when Ely wasn’t.
And I know it’s like I should be furious with Ely now, and wondering if I was just Bruce the Second’s gay learning curve, but even as I’m about to take off with Bruce the First, really what I’m feeling is Please, Bruce the Second, please. Don’t take Ely away from me.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Ely says. “Even for you, Naomi, this is outrageous. You’re going to stand here wearing my belt and tell me you’d rather go out with Bruce the First and that stupid fucking dog?”
The other side of me is thinking, Go back upstairs, Ely. Fuck off and fly away. Find what you’re looking for, who’s so clearly not me. I wanted you to be my first, Ely, and you laughed at me. I held off Bruce the Second when he tried to be my first, not only because I wondered if he only wanted to do it with me just to prove that he could but because I wanted that first time to be special. Shared with someone I love rather than someone I like. It didn’t have to mean you wouldn’t be gay or I was in love with you. It wouldn’t mean I was just trying to get back at Ginny cuz the only thing she’d hate more than you getting it on with a girl would be you getting it on with a girl who happens to be related to my dad.
“Yes,” I tell Ely. I hope the word sounds like a slap. “And don’t curse in front of the children.” I cannot believe we are having a conversation this fucking stupid. I cannot believe I am pushing it farther still. “And how do you know Cutie Pa-tootie is fucking stupid? Is there some IQ test for Chihua—”
“It’s Cutie Pie, not Patootie,” Bruce the First interrupts. He bounces up from his chair. The dog barks, tail wagging, eager for a trot outside.
Bruce the First. First. I’m going to show that boy a good time tonight. And it’s not going to be some superficial good time that’s all about pink cocktails and pretty boys and getting laid. There will be no party tonight, there will be no imbibing or ritual dancing to Madonna and Kylie Minogue songs as if I like them, and there will be no Naomi & Ely adventure. I’m taking Bruce and that dog somewhere instead, don’t know where yet, but somewhere nice and wholesome. Maybe a Bible study group for insomniacs. Maybe roller-skating at the under-18 club. Maybe to girl-Robin’s dorm to play Pictionary. We’re going to act our mean age—not our inflated, sophisticated Manhattan age.
This city is so fast. Ely is so fast. My heartbeat is so fast. I want to slow down.
“Just so we both clearly understand the stand you are taking, Naomi, I’m going to ask you this once and only once. Do you really not want to go out with me tonight? Or are you lying?” Ely asks.
“No.” I’m lying. About what, I’m not sure.
One thing I’m absolutely sure of. Step aside, Donnie Weis-berg, wherever you are, and make way for a new name on the No Kiss List ListTM: Ely.
The winner, as always.
Last time I offer her gum—I’ll tell you that.
Here I was, thinking we had all these pillars of our friendship in a row. Only it ends up that they’re dominoes. And all it takes is a pack of gum to send ’em tipping over.