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Sloppy firsts, p.7
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       Sloppy Firsts, p.7

           Megan Mccafferty
 
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  The only personal items on display were a Sony VAIO laptop and a few pictures in silver frames. I picked up one of Hy hugging a wiry guy in phat pantz and a white sleeveless T-shirt with the words Why Too Kay? in all caps across his chest. His close-cropped hair was dyed yellow-bronze so it would glow under the strobes. Tattoo script crawled up his arm: P L U R. Peace Love Unity Respect. The Raver Mantra.

  "That’s Fly," she said with an uncharacteristically giddy lift to her voice. "Raves are wack, but I love him anyway. You can see why my ’rents don’t."

  I could see that. Then I thought about what she’d just said. Parents. Plural. She’d told me she never knew her father, so I assumed she lived alone with her mom. Maybe there’s a stepfather. I didn’t want to brave the tangled branches of her family tree, so I let it drop.

  There was another photo of Hy wearing a slinky black dress lined up with six other girls in similar slinky black dresses. They were all hiking up their skirts to show off their legs. Hy’s hair had berry-colored tips that matched her lips.

  If I’m using Hy as a Hope substitute, it’s clear that she’s subbing me for a whole clique. After spending the afternoon with her at her house, I now understand why Hy was so pissed about PHS’s anti-cell/pager legislation—she’s got a lot of friends to stay connected to. In three hours, Hy got no fewer than twelve pages. ("Beeps from my peeps," she said after every one.)

  "Was it hard leaving your friends?" I asked after number eight.

  "Not really," she said with a shrug. "It’s not like this is permanent."

  She lost me there. And she must have realized it because she quickly spun around and explained that what she meant was that she’d be seeing a lot more of them once school got out.

  I should have figured as much. She’s fortunate to still live close enough to her friends to be able to do that. If I could visit Hope, you can bet that I wouldn’t have been hanging out at Hy’s house.

  "Wanna Red Bull?" she asked, changing the subject.

  "Huh?"

  "Red Bull. You’ve never heard of it?"

  "Uh, no."

  "No surprise. I just got a few cases from the city. I should’ve known they wouldn’t have it at the Pineville Super-Foodtown."

  Those last words were oozing with a skull-and-crossbone toxicity that I resented. Openly expressing disgust for Pineville should be a privilege for people who’ve been stuck here their entire lives—not a measly two months.

  "It’s an energy drink," she continued. "Like crank in your soda, but legal."

  "I don’t think I need to be any more cranked that I am."

  No, I need a drink that’s the liquid equivalent of one of Mr. "Bee Gee" Gleason’s boring-as-hell history lectures. As if I don’t have enough sources of paranoia, I’ve been extra edgy about my no-show menstrual cycle. What if there’s something seriously wrong with me? What if I picked up an as-of-yet undiscovered crazy cow virus by eating an undercooked cheeseburger? What if I’m a bizarro, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! girl–boy hybrid, mere moments away from popping a set of nads between my legs? What if I’m a genetically mutated by-product of an intergalactic liaison between my mother and an alien’s proboscis? (That would explain a lot, not just my wayward period.)

  "Ain’t no thing," said Hy.

  Most of the afternoon was spent answering questions about life at Pineville High and watching Hy search through stacks of CDs. She’s got more than 500: Everything from Acid House to Zydeco, in no order whatsoever. So it took a while to find the one she was looking for. It’s called Kind of Blue, and according to Hy it’s the essential jazz recording.

  "Girl, you sweatin’ Scotty or what?" Hy asked.

  "Me and Scotty? We’re just friends."

  "But he’s so hunky … sobeefcake," said Hy, putting her hand over her heart and pretending to swoon. "Do you know how many chickenheads at school wanna piece of that?"

  "I know," I admitted. "I just don’t see myself with him."

  "Why not?"

  I wasn’t comfy sharing my passion for Paul Parlipiano. I launched into excuse number two.

  "Because I’m not Pineville’s typical Groupie. I’m not a cheerleader. I hate pep rallies. I don’t have fun at football games—or any games for that matter. And I’m bad at booting-and-rallying …"

  She sighed. "Just because you date a Jock doesn’t mean you have to be a Groupie. Scotty’s been scopin’ you forever. Shouldn’t he know that you’re not Groupie material?"

  Jesus Christ. Was this a conspiracy?

  "Are you trying to get me to go out with Scotty?"

  Hy laughed. "Girl, I’m not trying to get you to do anything. I’m just saying that you going with Scotty could be the thing that throws off Pineville High’s hierarchy."

  Hy is the only person I know who could turn a routine question about Scotty into a rallying cry for the oppressed teen proletariat.

  "You could be model girlfriend for 2G, setting the standard for the rest of the millennium," she said.

  "Oh, yeah," I snorted. "Boobless, neurotic, PMS-y …"

  "All I’m saying is that you could revolutionize the notion of popularity."

  "Because I’m not the typical Groupie," I said.

  "Word."

  I got it. Me going out with Scotty was subversive in the same way that Marcus wearing the Backstreet Boys T-shirt was subversive: We messed with mainstream culture simply by embracing it. It was genius in theory, sure. But did it change the fact that I couldn’t imagine actually kissing Scotty and performing uh, other girlfriendly duties?

  "But what if I totally immersed myself in the culture of football games and keggers and turned into a bubble-gum bimbo?" I asked.

  "Hmmmm …"

  "Hmmm … what?"

  "If you wanna come correct, why are you slummin’ with Bridget, Manda, and Sara?"

  "What do you mean?" I asked, even though I knew.

  "You hate them."

  Another one of Hy’s humdinger zingers.

  I laughed. "It’s that obvious, huh?"

  "You can’t play me," she said, shaking a Wu-Tang CD at me for emphasis. "You’re rollin’ with girls you hate because you’re afraid of being alone."

  I started getting really sad. If Hope were still here, I wouldn’t have had to make that choice. Together, we would’ve broken free from the Clueless Crew. But without her …

  "Is that it?"

  There was only one answer to that. And if I’d said it out loud I swear I would’ve lost it right then and there. Hy didn’t make me.

  "Girl, stop trippin’. You’re dope despite being born and raised here. You’d be down with me and my peeps."

  I considered this for a moment, long enough to stop feeling sad and ensure that my words wouldn’t come out choked and teary.

  "Bubble-gum bimbos," Hy said, laughing. "That’s the shiznit. You and I are better than that. And though I don’t know him, Scotty sees something in you, which might mean that he’s not an assembly-line meatballer."

  "Maybe you’re right."

  I had to say I found this conversation very encouraging and empowering. To hear Hy not only accepting me but aligning herself with me boosted my ego quite a bit. Maybe we will be friends after all. And I’m trying not to feel guilty about it. Being friends with her doesn’t make me any less of a friend to Hope, does it?

  the twenty-eighth

  I dreaded going back to school today, fearing Marcus Flutie fallout. But nothing happened. Marcus didn’t even sneeze in my direction. I’ve decided that his erratic attention means that he doesn’t have a malicious motive. His taunts didn’t have anything to do with me. He could’ve done it to anyone. I could’ve been anyone.

  Anyway, Sara had more important things on her mind.

  "Omigod!" she whispered with glee. "I had sex in Cancún!"

  Marcus was a long-forgotten memory.

  Hy and I got the lowdown at lunch. Apparently Sara and Manda spent the whole week lying about their age and getting inebriated college guys to buy th
em margaritas. I can’t go into all the dirty details of their seven-day ho-down because it’s too disturbing.

  Here’s all I can say about our fair Sara’s deflowering: It took place on day six of their trip in Room 203 of La Casa de la Playa, an establishment that Sara’s and Manda’s frat-boy friends in a fit of cleverness renamed "La Casa de la Cucaracha." He was a Kappa Sigma at some school in Arizona and went by the last name of Bender. (Bruiser ’N’ Bender. Isn’t that precious?) He wore a condom. Upon climaxing, he paid homage to one of Mexico’s finest actors by yelling ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! This tribute to Speedy Gonzalez was appropriate since the whole messy act took no more than two minutes.

  Wait, it gets even more repulsive. Manda could corroborate Sara’s story because she was in the room throwing a freaky-deaky fiesta with Bender’s frat-boy buddy, Sherm "The Worm." (Insert tequila shot/oral sex joke here.)

  They both think this is the coolest thing ever.

  What’s truly pathetic is that Sara actually thinks that Bender is now her boyfriend or something. She knows he’s going to keep in touch with her. Manda isn’t helping matters by encouraging this fantasy.

  "Why else would he have asked for Bruiser’s E-mail address?"

  Hy and I couldn’t believe that they could be so oblivious to this, the most basic of post-one-night-stand face-savers. Then Hy decided to stir up some controversy by asking provocative questions. This is her most endearing quality.

  "So does Bender know that you’re only sixteen?"

  "Fifteen," corrected Sara.

  "Fifteen," amended Hy.

  "No," said Sara. "I figured I’d tell him the truth later."

  "Hmmmm …"

  "Hmmmm… what?" asked Sara.

  "Well, technically, he raped you."

  "WHAT?!"

  "He was twenty-one. You were fifteen. That’s statutory rape."

  "Omigod! No it’s not! I was drunk off my ass, but I wanted to do it."

  "Doesn’t matter," said Hy. "The law’s the law."

  I wondered about jurisdiction—whether he could be prosecuted in the United States for a crime that occurred south-of-the-border. (Ha. In more ways than one.) But Hy was so matter-of-fact about it that Sara’s face was turning all sorts of colors. It kind of reminded me of a Mexican sunset. Or a tequila sunrise.

  "Well, I wouldn’t press charges anyway," said Sara.

  "Oh, I didn’t think you would." Hy glanced at me as she casually sipped her Red Bull. For the first time, I read her mind.

  "Your parents might," I said, picking up where Hy left off. "You know, if you got knocked up or diseased or something."

  "Omigod! So now you’re going to start in on me too?"

  "What about Fly?" attacked Manda. "He’s nineteen. Rape. Right?"

  Sara smiled at Manda for coming to her defense, then shot Hy a So, there! look.

  "Who says Fly and I are having sex?"

  There was an awkward moment of silence. Then Sara turned her attention to Bridget.

  "And what are you going to do when Burke turns eighteen, Bridge?"

  Bridget had been sidelining this whole conversation. Her pretty face squished with annoyance for being dragged into it against her will.

  "Who says Burke and I are like, having sex?"

  I just about fell down with shock. Bridget’s devirginization was a foregone conclusion in my mind, and apparently everyone else’s. I figured Bridget had been giving Manda and Sara the passion play-by-play all along. I was wrong. Their suntans drained from their faces.

  Unfortunately, La Aventura Mexicana de Manda y Sara was still open for discussion. As if the blow-by-blow (pun intended) account of their trip weren’t bad enough, our Spanish teacher was so eager to hear about their journey to her homeland that she let them take up class time to tell us all about it. Of course, Señora Vega got the censored version.

  "The Mexican people are so welcoming of Americans," said Manda.

  "Sí!" said Sara.

  "And their culture is so rich with tradition," said Manda.

  "Sí!" said Sara.

  How they managed to keep a straight face is beyond me.

  In the middle of all this, Scotty passed me a note saying: They party for a week and we have to sit here and listen to them talk about culture? B.S.! I turned and mouthed, "I know!"

  This was a breakthrough for Scotty and me. He usually doesn’t stoop to my cynical level. Maybe I never paid enough attention before.

  Still, no one missed me more than Pepe. I’ve forgiven him for that brief period when he was too busy basking in the post-talent-show glow to toss one Bonjour! my way. Today he couldn’t stop spinning around in his seat to smile at me. Madame Rogan got tired of shouting, "Tournez-vous, Pierre!" ("Turn around, Pierre!") and moved him a few rows away from me. He waved good-bye and dramatically said, "Je suis triste. Au revoir." ("I’m sad. Good-bye.") Everyone laughed, but not in a mean-spirited way because Pepe gets away with stuff like that. It was funny. But I felt like I was going to cry.

  April 1st

  Hope,

  Just to reinforce the lessons learned in our last phone call: Sara is a skank. Bridget is still a virgin. Manda is too, but she might as well not be because—in my totally unsubstantiated opinion—oral is way more intimate than real sex.

  Did I mention that Hy hasn’t done it either? It’s more than a little unbelievable, but why would she lie? I’ll take her word because knowing such a hip virgin makes me feel like less of a leper for being one too.

  I like Hy. But she always refers to NYC as "the city," as if it were the only metropolis on earth. And to further show off her cosmopolitan superiority, she tries too hard to be both "street" and "elite." She doesn’t pull off either one. Hy was the poorest student at her private school, but she clearly picked up the POVs of her high-society schoolmates. She’s got an opinion on everything and she just has to share them.

  Pineville doesn’t have Latin classes? How do they expect you to rock the SAT verbal section without Latin? There’s no girl’s lacrosse team here? It doesn’t matter if there’s zero interest. Two words: Title IX. This year’s school musical is South Pacific?Damn. That’s wack. Last year we put on an original musical written and directed by a senior who’s now at Juilliard. It was called Rotten Apple and was about Lilith, you know, the first woman bounced out of Eden. You’ve never heard of Lilith?! Where do you think the name for Lilith Fair came from? You’ve really got to wise up to feminist theory …

  No fear. Hy and I will never be more than casual confidants.

  While I’m off the subject of virginities and lack thereof, how do you feel about me getting together with Scotty? I’ll let you decide whether that’s an April Fools’ joke.

  Cryptically yours, J.

  april

  the sixth

  Prom fever has already hit PHS with a vengeance. I will lose it if I hear one more chirpy voice say, It’s pink, and it’s cut down to here, with a layer of chiffon that starts about here, and goes just a squinch above the knee …

  As a sophomore, I shouldn’t be forced to listen to this talk about the junior–senior prom. I certainly shouldn’t be forced to feel bad about it. But enough girls in honors are going with upperclassmen that I feel like a loser because no junior or senior boy wants to get me drunk off Boone’s Strawberry Hill so he can cop easy sex off me in the backseat of his parents’ SUV.

  Jesus Christ. What’s wrong with me?

  Rob asked Hy. She said yes, then took it back when she found out from Sara that he was suspended for jerking off into a Milky Way wrapper during study hall last year. Hy’s refusal shocked everyone but me. If anyone has the guts to dis the captain of the überjock triumvirate on account of his sexually deviant behavior, it’s Hy.

  A few days later she was asked by a junior in her Economics class. Once she did a background check ("Okay. Has he waxed his jimmie in public?"), she surprised all of us by saying yes. Especially me.

  "Won’t Fly get jealous?" asked Bridget.

  "Nah
, he knows he’s more dope than any high-school shorty."

  "What I really want to know," I said, "Is why an NYC club queen would want to go to Pineville’s lame-ass prom."

  "I wanna see what a Pineville throw-down is like. Is that okay?" She sounded a wee bit annoyed.

  "Hey. Fine by me," I shrugged. "But you’re the one always dissing Pineville’s social activities."

  "That’s because I haven’t given them a chance yet." Hy slowly broke out into a smile. She has very white, very even, very perfect teeth. "Besides, I missed a lot of my friends’ Sweet Sixteens and need to do some flossin’. I wanna rock a new dress."

  The Clueless Crew loved that one because it’s exactly the type of thing they would say, minus vocab cribbed from The Source. It was very weird. Is this what promaganda does to people? Makes them think it’s perfectly normal to wear a corsage or a crinoline?

  Bridget is going with Burke. Yes, they’re still together, uniting daily before Chem for a pre-third-period dry-hump against Burke’s locker.

  I can’t believe they haven’t had sex yet. But I’ve known Bridget since birth, and she has never told a lie. Whenever we committed a kiddie caper—like plucking all the American Beauties off old Miss Weinmaker’s prized rosebushes, or scarfing a box of Thin Mints that we were supposed to deliver to the Girl Scouts supporter who rightfully bought it—she always copped to the truth before I could even begin to launch into our (false) alibi. I’m not kidding. I think lying would complicate things too much for Bridget. She wouldn’t be able to keep her stories straight.

  Anyway, because the prom is a special occasion, Manda is breaking her "Seniors Only" rule by agreeing to go with Vinnie Carvello, a junior who just happens to be P.J.’s older brother. This nearly drove the younger Carvello to commit hari-kari with a bottle opener. ("Oh, now she decides to freely give out hummers?") Manda is also going to Eastland’s senior prom with some guy she’s "known forever," which probably means she let him feel her up under the boardwalk last summer. Manda is a pathological prom goer. These will be her fourth and fifth. Promming for her is like low-level prostitution. She gets all dressed up. They pay for everything. She gets them off.

 
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