Tuesday, July 9, 2013
THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter four: New School )
Back at school the following week, Paige overheard Darcy say how lame it was that their new high school “didn’t even have a swimming pool.” His friend nodded and Paige couldn’t believe how entitled they sounded. She’d heard Australians weren’t at all socially particular but these two really broke the mold.
“Honestly, you’d think they were titled aristocrats, the way they act,” Paige told Shiloh, who nodded and smiled happily at the group walking by.
That group was The Princesses, and we were already thinking about voting Shiloh in.
Plenty of clubs had asked Darcy and Ryan to join but Darcy didn’t like being mobbed. Even so, he looked lonely and miserable sitting, waiting for Ryan to join him at recess. He was thinking how much more fun he’d have helping to drive cattle across the Simpson Desert back in Australia or going to New York to film another web series when his younger sister, Blair, called him again on his cell. Blair was in rehab for obsessive compulsive disorder issues, amongst other things.
Darcy rushed outside to take Blair’s call. He didn’t like to neglect her since she suffered from depression and low self-esteem. He’d already had his cell confiscated once by some overzealous teacher who didn’t understand (it wasn’t Darcy’s way to explain his personal issues) and he didn’t want to risk detention again.
As he stood by his locker in the hallway, the youngest Bennet sisters came running outside to gossip about a text one of them had received from a boy. Darcy was irritated by their behavior. Sia Bennet’s language was bad but Rebel’s fashion sense was worse. Darcy blocked the sound in his right ear and was glad that at least his sister would never act so loud and embarrassing in public.
After Darcy finished his call, he walked inside to finish his lunch. The Bennet sisters were all seated at a table by then and still gossiping. Rebel looked up at him with food in her mouth and laughed as if he were the joke and not her.
“Revolting,” Darcy said of the cafeteria food after he took a bite of his pizza. “I’m going to ask Macey to make me something edible to bring tomorrow.”
“Mine’s pretty good, actually,” Ryan said, chewing happily.
“I like it here,” Ryan confided to Darcy, “the girls are cute and the open spaces on the freeways and in the suburbs remind me of home. What an amazing country! I can’t wait to drive Route 66 and go exploring over summer.”
“Whatever,” Darcy said. He hated to show enthusiasm. It was totally uncool but he grudgingly had to admit the US was one of the most beautiful places on earth from some of the travels he’d done with his family across country as he was growing up. It didn’t stop him missing where he was from, though. The view overlooking Sydney Harbor first thing in the morning was one of the most spectacular on the planet and Darcy longed to show it off to his friends someday. Looking over at the table of mis-matched sisters, the two older, good-looking and studious ones and the unruly younger ones, he doubted he’d meet anyone suitable here.
“And remember Darcy, to make a friend, you have to be a friend,” Macey had warned him when he was six.
Yeah, whatever, Darcy thought. “Who are they?” he asked Ryan.
“They are the Bennet sisters. The eldest, Shiloh, is in my home room. I think she’s nice.”
Darcy rolled his eyes.
“That’s all I need, my best friend going gaga for some local girl. Who am I supposed to hang out with if you hook up with her? Mackenzie?” Darcy laughed at his own joke.
At that moment, Rebel flicked a bread roll at Sia, whilst Senta (who wore glasses and was so named because, being the middle child, she was at the center of the family), glowered at both of her younger siblings as she highlighted pages of her dictionary.
Darcy noticed Ryan’s admiration in his voice and the way he smiled at Shiloh. Then Darcy looked in horror again at the youngest girl, Rebel. It was like that moment in Marley and Me when the couple found out Marley was the tear away of the litter. The Bennets were trouble.
“Well, her sisters have a lot to learn about eating in public. I can’t believe there is anyone to friend here…”
“Cheer up, the cafeteria is half empty. Besides, the Bennet sisters are by far the cutest girls I’ve seen since we arrived in Beverly Hills.”
“Mmm… The eldest is overly pretty. She looks too smiley, almost to the point of stupidity and the middle one is too smart looking. She wears glasses when she reads, she studies too much. The second-eldest is pretty enough but she has no style and speaks her mind too loudly. She’s obviously judgemental. Did you see the way she just looked at me? ...”
It takes one to know one, Ryan thought.
“I doubt we’ll meet any girls I could bring home to grandfather.”
“Oh, I’d forgotten about the wedding vows…” Ryan laughed.
“Don’t remind me.”
Darcy had just received a letter from his cray cray grandfather, upping the stakes. Again, he offered Darcy the first part of his inheritance at twenty- one, an entire sixty thousand acre cattle station, only if he was engaged to be married. Darcy knew he’d have to find or hire a suitable girl to present as his ‘steady’ by summer.
“I doubt there are even two suitable girls in the whole school worth dating.”
“You could always go online.”
“My grandfather could trace that in minutes…”
“You could always date Mackenzie…”
“I’d rather stick pins in my toes. She’s such a viper. My fake girlfriend needs to at least appear legit. I doubt I have any chance of fooling him at all with Mackenzie.” Darcy had no intention of ever getting married. He liked the idea of playing the field… forever, but his grandfather was old fashioned and believed in long engagements and even longer marriages.
“Early marriages and lots of children create stability within the family,” he’d informed Darcy’s father.
“With your attitude,” Ryan told him, “I doubt any woman would be willing to go along with your game.”
“Most people are willing to do anything for money. But you’re right. It would be better if she actually thinks I like her…”
“Whatever,” Ryan shrugged. “Anyway, it’s in our best interests to make friends.”
“That’s why I’ve already signed us up for the soccer team and the school play. Oh, and it says here they’re doing a G-rated version of Spring Awakening.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Sure, they’ve taken out all the adult themes and profanity.”
“Melodies? No, it says here they took out the songs too, so they don’t have to pay for the rights. They’re just basing it on the original story. Cheer up Darcy. We both like to perform, right?”
“Are you serious? Plays are just so…”
“They’re for girls, Ryan: girls and girly-boys. Not for us. I’m taking debate.”
“Debate’s not a great way to meet your future wife…” Ryan said sarcastically. “You need to meet women who aren’t... overly academic.”
Darcy nearly choked on his soda.
“And make friends in general…”
“Friends? You mean like her?”
Darcy pointed to Shiloh and in that moment Paige also looked up. Darcy hated to admit it, but when Paige stared straight at him with her blue stare and glossy pout, it was like he’d been hit by a bolt of lightning. What a cliché. He almost hated himself for feeling the way he did. If he knew what he felt he’d be able to describe it as… an opposite attraction. Didn’t Macey always tell him, “in love, like meets like?”
Darcy averted his glance and reminded himself it would be foolish to be diverted from his fake girlfriend hunting task and side tracked by the threat of romance.
It bothered Darcy that Paige Bennet’s challenging stare had unnerved him. He couldn’t shake the idea that she’d overheard his comment about Spring Awakening (she took drama class along with me) and that she was somehow judging him – way too harshly.
He checked his schedule: debate class.
“I think this afternoon is going to be… fun,” Ryan offered.
“You can’t be serious. I don’t know how we ended up here but it feels like the end of days…”
“Darcy, I’m reading the athletics schedule and it sounds good. We go to practice after try-outs tomorrow. I really think this new school is going to be the making of us, mate…”
“And I feel like leaving right about now,” Darcy stood up, pulled his shades back over his eyes and slumped past the Bennet sisters, ignoring Paige as he left the room.