Sunday, August 18, 2013

POPULAR (chapter five: Hilary)

Chapter Five
Before we focus on Hilary Jones, you should probably know all about my best friends, Wednesday, Tyler and Veronica.
    Wednesday’s an actress and spends a lot of semester on set. Tyler and Veronica are my other besties and Veronica and I hang with a group called The Princesses. We’ve been friends since middle school. Recently, Tyler started working as a secret shopper and everything else has gone out the window. He’s obsessed. It’s all, “forget about friends and the good works of others” and just fashion, fashion, fashion. Tyler is also heavily into music and dance and Veronica is more into singing and acting. Tyler is so busy at lunch, usually, that Veronica and I sit with our group, The Princesses. Veronica was not surprised to note how popular Ethan had become by midday of his first day.
     Ethan was the center of attention as I chose my sandwich. He’d already put himself down for track and soccer and was instantly surrounded by other juniors eager to friend him.
     He was kind of making a joke of me trying to ignore him as I adjusted my knee socks. Before I made my appearance in the cafeteria he pulled a face at me just as Gigi started rubbing his arm in the lunch queue. Some girls are so transparent.
     Ethan gave me a wink as I smiled politely. Of course, I was being ridiculous by even pretending to be jealous. Let’s face it, Ethan was already a hit with the nerdy set. I’d never really doubted it. I have to admit (although I’d never tell him) Ethan, of all the boys of my generation, has some serious form. What I mean is, he has obvious ‘on paper’ potential.
      Just as I finished my sandwich, Hilary appeared. I was thinking about how we’d decorate the auditorium for the autumn dance (otherwise known as Dance Fangdango) when Hilary announced her entrance by again dropping her entire tote and contents on the floor of the cafeteria. Some students stopped what they were doing and sniggered.
      I took note of her obvious potential for social oblivion just as Ethan walked in with Ariel (adjusting her glasses, nose in Anna Karenina) and Gigi. Gigi was dressed for cheer try outs. 
      He pulled a face when he reached my table, whispering, “all alone Em? You are welcome to join us.”
     Gigi smiled. I made a note of her in my blog. I didn’t like the way she was possessively pawing Ethan but it was up to Ethan to see the error of his ways. After all, he invaded my turf, not the other way around.
    At that exact moment Flynn Elton  entered the room. Flynn is the son of one of Daddy’s former work colleagues. His family recently moved back to Bel Air from New York City and we hung out at the pool over summer, while my own pool was getting refurbished. Flynn’s all “Hi,” so smoldering.
    I’m inviting him to my pool party this Saturday. In fact just about everyone from my junior class (as well as Ethan, Ariel and Gigi) is going to be there. That’s what I was thinking about when Ethan whispered, “You need a new project,” as he left the cafeteria.
    Hilary was standing very close to me by then. She just spilt the entire contents of her purse and her drink, after she paid for her lunch. Again, nobody had offered to help her. Thrice in one day was too much.
    That’s where I came in.
    Hilary was covered in hot chocolate and last season’s jeans. It was like she had ‘help me’ tattooed on her forehead. Strangers smirked. In the absence of other Princesses, I decided it was up to me to show some social kindness. Excitement welled in my stomach as I stood up. A lot of kids said ‘hey’ as I walked past them. Ethan had joked once that I should never neglect my, ‘social station’.
    “And what is my station, Ethan? You are always so good at reminding me.”
    “You are a teenage girl Honey. You don’t have all the answers. You need to get over yourself and start acting real.”
     I’m sure he wanted me to say that during our days spent lounging by the infinity pool, during summer vacay, reading magazines and tending Sugarplum’s needs, in between going to and from my doggy shelter, I had developed a crush on him.  
     In his dreams.
      But let’s not talk about Ethan for the moment, since I’m in a roomful of semi friendly strangers (strangers are just friends we’ve not yet met - a wise quotation by someone very smart) and I’m just about to make one of them my friend.
     For a long time now, let’s face it, my group has had a lot of say in what’s popular, who’s hot and frankly, who is not. Because it is a terrible thing to show meanness to others (and cyber bullying is the worst) I have to help Hilary. I need to show her the social ropes and make her part of my A team.
    As the newbie adjusted her scrunchie (So very 1989) I walked up to her again.
    “Hi,” I said. “Would you like to come and sit with me?”
    I offered her my hand to help her off the floor after we’d picked up the rest of her stuff.
    Lead by example, it’s what I tell all the puppies at the shelter when I’m trying to encourage them to be on their best behavior so someone will adopt them out quickly. New owners always adopt the ones that strut their stuff and run to them. Unfortunately they don’t speak English but this girl does.
    Hilly looked a little less lost as she smiled at me, “I dropped my lunch.”
    “Obviously. Never mind.”  
    I pulled her up off the floor as she brushed her knees. Someone had already stomped on her purse and candy had fallen out. Peeps shrugged and returned to their conversations.  
   ‘Forget the candy,’ I told Hilary, ‘Throw it in the trash. It rots your teeth even though it’s delicious. I try to have at least two candy-free days a week and guess what? One of those days is today. You can share my lunch.’
    I unpacked my sushi, there was more than enough for two.
    Hilary nodded, speechless. I love it when people take my advice.
    Over lunch, I explained everything I knew about how school worked, socially. I even invited her to sit with us.  
    “There’s just one thing,” I said as the bell rang out for class.
    “What?” She looked exhausted from having to take on board so much new information but I was sure she’d be glad of it in the morning, when she’d had time to process.
     “I think we need to do a makeover.”
     “Hipsters were over a decade ago,” Ty interrupted as he raced back into the cafeteria to collect his notes. Just in case you wondered, Ty’s an honorary member of our group, although he’d never admit it.
      By now my two best friends had arrived back at our table with what was left of their lunch. Tyler and Veronica encouraged Hilary to take the leap.             
     Tyler smiled as if a makeover was a serious necessity (he wants to be a fashion designer) and Veronica just said, “it needs to happen… and soon. Honey has the best room for a makeover. She has an entire guest room that was converted into her personal dressing room… with stage lights around the mirrors.”
     “Oh, wow,” Hilary said.
     “It’s true,” I nodded.
     Veronica smiled enthusiastically.
     “Meet us after school,” Veronica added.
     Hilary smiled in agreement.
     And if I’m not just a little bit na├»ve or very much mistaken, did that look in her eyes spell wonderment?
     Or fear.