Sunday, August 18, 2013

POPULAR (chapter seventeen: bachelors and bachelorettes)

Chapter Seventeen
Bachelors and Bachelorettes
We arrived early at Dance Fangdango and the School Auditorium was lit up with lights.  The theme of the prom was Vampires & Princesses, I’m not sure where we got that from but the boys voted for vampires and our committee voted for princesses, so the theme was a compromise. Perhaps that’s how all the best decisions are made. I’m not saying we should always compromise but sometimes we should. Like, if women ran the world, they’d be okay with compromising and there wouldn’t be any war. At least, I don’t think there would be.
   Flynn arrived with a girl on each arm, dressed as Dracula. Hilary was dressed as Ariel (from the Little Mermaid) and I went as Kate Middleton (in her shimmery blue engagement dress – it’s a very sophisticated look). The other real Princesses, well, they just came as themselves (an option we’d also had) and you couldn’t blame them. You might as well use your clique name while you have one. I’m with Oscar Wilde on social stuff. For example, Oscar Wilde was all, never knock society, only peeps who can’t get into it do that. That’s how I feel about the Princesses. Peeps who aren’t invited, well, they get a little snarky about us.
   Sometimes I think Ethan is a snob without realizing it. Just look at his initial reaction to my newest friend. Let’s face it, his house and family are the most famous and notable (and rich) in the whole district – even richer than mine. So I guess he hasn’t got much to be humble about. Oh, except Ethan is just a little bit withdrawn socially. For example, he re-iterated that he didn’t dance but was tagging along just to, “laugh at high school drama queens (like me) and enjoy the atmosphere.”  
   There were hundreds of tiny lights decorating the auditorium; a roof of stars covering a roomful of teenage dreams. The walls were draped in dark curtains framing a scene lit to emulate Dracula’s castle.  
    Ethan took a handful of food from the plates shaped like hands and walked over to the gaming area to play pool with some of his nerdy friends.
    As the dance got going, music played, lights twinkled, food was spread ready on trestle tables and the photo booths were rarely vacant. The disco balls were lighting the place like fireworks and the school auditorium looked like a vampire’s eighteenth century castle by the time the rest of our group arrived. The auditorium was stunning and tons of peeps congratulated me and Hills and the Princessses and the School Social Committee.
    It’s hard to believe the committees were really mean when they were in school but Phoebe told me they were. Mrs Teegan, Tory, Brook and Freya founded The Princess Society. It is kind of ironic they all got married at eighteen and became teen moms. This allowed them to simultaneously ‘look down upon’ their unmarried ‘sisters’ but Phoebe said (apart from their usual cattiness) they totally shone in their new roles as moms.
    Anyway, they always make a point of being nice to me because my mom is always in New York and rarely does school socials, so I have to put in the effort of two peeps, but that’s okay.
     Some teachers are hovering in the corner chatting to my art teacher, Ms Dash. Ms Dash is one of my toughest cases. I’m not sure what to do with her. She’s liked Mr Henry, our computer science teacher for years and neither of them are getting any younger since his divorce. I’ve tried everything. I texted myself about Ms Dash every day and realized I’d have to work harder and use a better plan to get them together.
    Ms Dash really is the nicest teacher ever and instead of being jealous of the Princesses she always encourages us to rise to our true potential. The only problem with Ms Dash is that she tends to tell the same story more than twice and has an unfortunate habit of laughing whenever she’s nervous.
    I see her now across the room, giggling profusely. I walk over and smile as I offer her some mini-chicken burger sliders and mention that Phoebe (previously a student) says “hi”. She says, “I remember your tutor, Honey. When Phoebe Harris came here, she was just about your age. To think she’s now married to Mark Knightly (Ms Dash gave a little giggle) and about to have her first child. What clever girls Phoebe and Mouche were.”
     A little tear came to Ms Dash’s  eye and I felt bad for making her sad by reminding her of her former student, Mouche, and all that is lost.
     In the interests of being social, I moved further from the group of teachers and on towards the group of boys who had turned up (with others) including, of all peeps, Flynn Elton. I thought it was best to pretend I’d overlooked Flynn’s previously bad  behavior. Let bygones be bygones.
     There is an old Chinese saying that goes something like, if you seek revenge, take two shovels. I guess that means even if you get back at the other person, you hurt yourself just as much in the process.
      Flynn really rubbed it in, though. It took all of my self-control not to pour a drink over him or announce his bad behavior to the world… not that anyone was listening. The music was loud and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.   
    I noticed Flynn was with two girls. I shouldn’t say I don’t like them (‘cos that might be misconstrued as unfriendly) but I don’t.  Let’s just say Hestor Hill is, like her namesake from the Scarlett Letter, a real piece of work. Hester is dressed as Bella from Twilight. She was supposed to become a Princess in her freshman year but decided being a Princess was lame. She didn’t take any of our advice and wasn’t at all interested in any of the groups we support (Shar Pei Adoption, for example – only a truly mean girl wouldn’t want to be part of that!).
   Hester smiled at Flynn then frowned at me.
   Don’t you just hate it when girls do that? Act like the other girl is the problem, not the boy. Boys would never treat their former friends with such petty malice, would they? It’s not at all social. She must have heard all about Flynn and me. Whatever. I can’t be bothered with the negative emotions of girls who should know better.
   I’d moved around the entire room (or my section of it) and the dance was in full swing when Flynn Elton presented himself to me in total vampire mode – cape, fangs and all. He looked seriously hot, apart from the fangs, but it’s difficult for me to think about him like that anymore. Like a rare parrot, he’s revealed his true colors. Besides, there were tons of peeps making the floor like a mosh pit by then.    
   “So, Honey, do you want to par-tay?” Flynn asked, holding out his hand debonairly.
   “I don’t think so, Flynn,” I said frankly. “I’m busy making sure everyone else is having fun.”
   “Really?” He touched my shoulder and whispered into my ear. “Do you still have your knickers in a knot?”
    That’s the closest you’ll ever get to my underwear, I thought, as I gave him a withering look.
    “That’s sexual harassment, Flynn. But what is so much worse? Your costume is a total fail.”
   He’d modeled himself on Dracula and was even affecting a try hard British accent and had stolen a very British saying. Pretentious much?     
    “Flynn. I may have thought you were nice… once…. I’m over that now.”
    “Nice? You practically threw yourself at me in the department store!”
    “You wish! I think someone has a perception problem!”
    “Yeah baby, you.”
    Don’t you hate it when boys who’ve acted like total losers pretend it’s all about how you have acted?
   I shrugged him off.
   I just hate it when men rewrite history.
    You really have to assert yourself sometimes in the presence of others intent on bringing you down.
    Now, just because Flynn was clearly bad for mois didn’t mean I’d given up on him and Hilary or the goodness of boys in general. I brushed Flynn aside. (He actually moved on to Ms Dash. I happen to know he was angling for an A in History of Art and thought Ms Dash would be just the person to supply it). By now, Ty and Jess had pulled me onto the floor, but I was dancing so close that I heard every word Flynn said.
   “Oh Flynn, I never dance on these school occasions and never with students.” Ms Dash  looked longingly at Mr Henry and I knew she wished he’d make a move. He was pressing some formula into his calculator.
   “Oh, c’mon, it’d be fun,” Flynn pressed, determined to win a higher mark via flattery.
   “I don’t think so, Flynn. What would the faculty say? I’ve met little charmers like you before,” she smiled. “No is my final answer.”
   Flynn shrugged, it was her loss and he’d just have to find some other way to get the mark he wanted.
   Mrs Dash, ever the kind woman, noticed the only girl in the entire room who was seated alone. The girl was tapping her foot, looking like she’d love to be up on the dance floor.
   That girl was Hilary.
   The fault lay with me for encouraging her to trust Flynn and I felt bad that she was highlighted under disco lights, sitting isolated.
   Ms Dash smiled again at Flynn before he walked off and added, “I may not be dancing but that girl over there – Hilary – she’s in your class. I think she’d love to dance.”
   Flynn looked down his nose at Hilary from the length of the room. The music was a little quieter by then and the boys in the pool corner – the anti-socials like Ethan, had finished their game and were sipping drinks, observing the action taking place on my side of the room.
   “No,” Flynn said, “I’m so over this lame teen dance. Way over it…”
   The music stopped.
   “Besides, why would I want to dance with a girl no one else wanted?” Flynn added really loudly.
    The whole room heard his comment. I wanted the ground to swallow him up – I felt so bad for Hilary. Snubbed and made to look small, even at her prettiest and most social, all because of one mean, snobbish boy. How wrong could I have been? It was my entire fault. I’d been so… misdirected.
    The entire room was silent.
    Ethan, in all his cool jacket and jeans glory (he looked stunning under the strobe lights partly because he was naturally good-looking and also because he’d finally taken my wardrobe advice!) walked across the room while everyone else just stopped and stared. He made a beeline for Hilary, whispered something in her ear and she smiled and he took her hand.
   The music started.
   In seconds, they were dancing. Everyone stood and stared… for a moment.
   They made a great couple and I couldn’t believe what a great dancer Ethan was.
    Ethan showed up Flynn times a thousand. He acted like a true gentleman. Afterwards, I whispered to him, “you’ve been hiding your talent!”
   He just smiled, “I was right about Flynn.”
   “I know,” I conceded.
   I really was impressed by his amazing social skills and genuine kindness. He was so much more than just hot and witty. He was charming and cool at the same time. He was everything, in short, that Flynn wasn’t: mature and sensitive. Wow. Ethan was everything I hadn’t acknowledged until now.
    When the music stopped, Hilary was dancing in a group and Ethan moved off the dance floor.
   We stood near the trestle tables, sipping our sodas as we talked.
  “You look like a Princess tonight,” Ethan said.
   I smiled, “that’s the whole idea.”
   He paused for a moment and looked at me closely.
   “Do you want to dance?”
   I nodded, surprised. 
   Ethan held out his hand and it seemed like the whole room cleared as they played some old song from the eighties that was fully rocking. We even managed to get the jumps and the twists together. We laughed and talked when the music stopped.
   “I was so wrong about Flynn, Ethan. There is such a lack of…”
   “Yes, maturity to him. I was wrong to try to set Hilary up with him. Rafe was the better man and now he’s not even at the dance.”
   I could tell Ethan was contemplating what I said from the little crinkle developing between his eyebrows.
   “You were wrong, but so was I. Hilary is one of the nicest girls I’ve met and she definitely improves once you get to know her better. Perhaps it’s your influence. I’m glad to hear you’re giving up matchmaking.”
   “Who told you that?”
   “No one, I just assumed you’d learned your lesson.”
   “Well, you assumed wrong. I already have a new project under way which I’m hoping you’ll become part of…” I gestured towards a hapless-looking Ms Dash.
   “Honey…” he said my name like a warning.