Monday, April 28, 2014

Pride And Princesses Forever and After chapter 28

Chapter 28

Forever and After

    The next day, Monday, everyone at school looked at me and Mouche like we were not very nice people.

      Someone made a twisted remark that we’d just been dating boys “for the money” which was so horribly untrue.

      “Besides, there wasn’t a single monetary prize on our list,” I whispered to Mouche.

      The Princesses had reverted to type and taken out all their comments. All the nasty ones they left, they attributed to Mouche and me. But even though most people do tend to believe the first version of a story, something strange was happening.

     There was an alternative to the Princess blog that week. It was our secretly edited online dating diary. Mouche and I had only put boys on the site that we liked or had good things to say about and gradually we added girls that we had good things to say about as well. So, while the Princesses spent a few more days defaming the whole school and losing their popularity, people started coming to us for advice until Sunrise High became like a love fest of dating teenagers, all looking for tips on the best places to go and what to do and say.

    Petra had started it all in her bedroom the night of the wedding reception and had uploaded it with our permission the next day, so although the Princesses got in first and even tried to keep the items, we got in next. The Boy-Rating Diary contained all forms of evidences, and for once, we knew to tone down all our comments about the guys and make a fairly honest and accurate account of the teenage dating scene that was ongoing at Sunrise High.

   Of course, the Princesses spent an entire week publishing excerpts of the second Boy-Rating Diary (omitting their authorship) and spent another week slandering us. We held our heads high. If the boys really cared about us we knew they would listen to our versions of the story, because Mrs Jones says, “you can almost never really put off a man who is genuine about you. The man will never take someone’s word over yours, or rarely, and in case he has any doubts about something, he should come to you first...”

    And they did.

    Jet and Mark pretty much ignored what the Princesses had to say because manzamples don’t read boy-rating blogs. Of course those girls never spoke another word to us, for the rest of junior year.

    Mouche didn’t seem to mind. “Do you honestly think we’re going to see any of these people once we leave for New York?”

    “I’m more worried about getting through senior...”

    “It will all end up right in the end,” Mouche said. “I have another idea...this time It’s nothing to do with dating juniors....I think It’s time to plan senior year and then college...”

   “Because this all turned out so perfectly,” I said archly.

   “Perfectly,” Wednesday said, clapping her hands and chewing a long strip of candy that neither of our mothers would have allowed her. There is so much to be learned about joie de vivre from children under six.

     Thom had called that day with the good news. Mouche’s baby sister got the part.

    “Do you realise that Wednesday has managed in three years to do what I haven’t done in sixteen?”

   “Yes, consolidate a college fund...”

    Mrs Mouche was so thrilled.

   “Dogs and children,” I thought as I snuggled Mouche’s new puppy in my arms.

   “Don’t worry,” Mouche said, “We’re sure to get our scholarships and if not, Wednesday can always give us a loan...”

    Wednesday clapped her hands again. We were teaching her a new word every day, but her favorite one was love.

   “It’s all about the love,” Mrs Mouche said. Our mom’s stood in the hallway with new cups of coffee and magazines in hand. Trish and Mrs Mouche had a great business idea of their own - all about matching single parents - in cyberspace.

    “Wow,” Mouche said. “Do you think we should tell them what we know?”

    “No,” I said, “they’re just going to have to find out the hard way like we did...”

    “It’s all about the love...” Mrs Mouche said, looking at Wednesday and Mouche and Trey as he walked through the door.

     “Big love,” my mom said looking at me with a smile. I smiled right back at her.


      And I should tell you about France that summer and how excited everyone was when we arrived in Paris. We flew to London first and took the Eurostar to the Gare du Nord which takes about three hours from the centre of London to the centre of Paris. We had breakfast on the train in tiny plastic trays and Mouche kept her unused serviette for posterity, “and to paste into our new Dating Diary,” she whispered.

    The train rocked slightly from side to side when we went under the English Chanel and although Jet was fast asleep by this point, I noticed Mouche grabbed his hand because she gets motion sickness. I took a photograph of them on the digital camera my mother bought me to remember life’s important moments. I also took loads of pictures of the boys sleeping during the long journey in between sampling tiny bottles of red wine, of Mouche posing in the many different berets she’d brought with her and saying, “I look tres sophisticated,” of my feet resting against the window ledge (because they’d be doing tons of walking that very day), and of all the dull, industrial buildings the train ambled past as we entered the outskirts of Paris. 

     When the train finally stopped, Mark took charge and hailed a taxi at the station and as we drove to the Rue de la Grande Chaumiere I put my hand out of the window to feel the fresh Parisian air. In the Sixth Arrondissement, I noticed the cobbled streets were littered with puffs of tiny smoke volcanos winding up from the artistic-looking street cafes. Loads of Parisians smoke which is very atmospheric but something I’d remember to tell Wednesday not to do, no matter how sophisticated it looks, ‘cos it’s way bad for you.

    The taxi stopped outside the Hotel des Academies et des Arts where we were staying.  We checked in, then went off to discover the sights, wandering through the Jardin du Luxembourg and along many cobbled streets. 

     You may be wondering where “the parentals” went during all of our adventures. The boys had convinced the adults to let us travel in style and we were unchaperoned for at least thirty-six hours while they went to Bordeaux for a trade fair.

    We went to the Champs Elysees the morning we arrived. After Mouche and I window shopped in all the designer boutiques and souvenir stores, we all decided to explore Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. Jet worked out how to get us Metro tickets using coins and the vending machine and we caught the underground train to Invalides and the Place de Clichy then on to Anvers. After checking our map, we walked up the steps from the subway and visited Sacre-Coeur. On the steps outside the church, we had an amazing view overlooking Paris in the pastel sun. We sat together on the steps amongst a group of tourists until Mouche said, “C’mon, let’s go to La Rive Gauche,” in a French accent. 

     After exploring the little market stalls and many shops and restaurants in Montmartre we found a bistro to have lunch opposite Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral was gothic and carved with intricate, lace-like stone around the entrance. Painting and architecture students spend hours sitting opposite the building, just to try and capture its brilliance in the changing light.

     Across from the cathedral, near the river Seine, next to a cloud of smoke, we joked around as we ordered bread and soup for lunch. When the traditional meal arrived we had to crack the layer of cheese baked on top of the soup bowl and dip our spoons beneath to retrieve the warm liquid. It was delicious, as was the wine that our parents would never have allowed us to drink. Strangely, no one asked our ages in Paris but the waiter frowned every time Mark attempted to speak French.

    We took lots of photographs of Notre Dame after lunch but we’d had our fill of architecture by the time we reached the Eiffel Tower, even though the Parisian icon was impressive from anyone’s perspective. Mark and I took the elevator to the upper floor of the tower but Mouche and Jet disappeared momentarily behind a crowd of tourists.

    “I wonder where they went?” Mark said with a smile, before we kissed overlooking the city of love.

    “...I know, they were busy macking all over each other,” Wednesday said later on when I told her the story of how Jet and Mouche got lost. Her verbal skills had really developed.

    “Well, yes Wednesday, I think they were, but I’m not sure we need to go there...”

     Wednesday giggled as I continued to tell her about Paris.

    “That afternoon we took a boat ride along the Seine. Jet arranged for us to travel back towards the hotel in one of the famous Bateaux-Mouches with a glass covered deck. Mouche was very impressed to be floating in her own name...”

     “I always wanted to be famous,” Mouche joked. 

      You could tell Jet totally loved her by then, and not just because they got “lost” again for an extra-long time while we all went to explore the Musee d’Orsay. Mark wasn’t really into art “but I’m pretending to be, for your sake,” he told me, “which shows you how devoted he is becoming,” Mouche whispered in my ear over dinner that night. She could talk. Jet was holding her hand everywhere we went by then. He seemed way in love with Mouche, if you ask me, although everyone said they were too young to call it that. 

     On our last day in Paris, Mark and Jet explored the gastronomical surprises in Lafayette Gourmet while Mouche and I shopped in Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. But although the large designer stores were inspirational, the polka dot dresses and geometric designer gowns and flowing skirts tres chic, we found ourselves drawn to the colorful market stalls along the street that divided the shopping centres. It was whilst sorting through items for the people we loved back home that we started to miss Sunrise.

    Parisian clothes, food and shopping in general were amazing (after we overcame the language barrier by referring to our tiny iPod guides when we couldn’t remember a French word), but we still missed the vintage shops and department stores back home. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be in this amazing city, but we were really missing our moms when Petra surprised us with a long-distance call from Los Angeles. Mouche answered her cell and Mark’s guardians are sure to be surprised when they get the telephone bill for that month.

     Petra was waiting at the airport with our moms and Trey and his new girlfriend (yes, you guessed it, Missy), to meet us all when we returned home. Petra was tanned after spending the summer in Cabo with her new boyfriend Josh, and his family. She’d been only too happy to take our advice about what to wear and say to impress Josh. It appeared to have worked out better than anyone expected.  

     Mouche, Petra and I took Wednesday shopping in the stores situated along the path that curved from Bel Air into Sunrise, the day after we arrived back from Paris. We were still a bit jet lagged but it was the last day of summer and we didn’t want to miss the sales.

     Our favorite vintage store was closing and everything was less expensive than usual.

     Mouche, Petra and I tried on a whole bunch of dresses and skirts and vintage jeans. Wednesday tried on hats and sunglasses that were too big for her and even a pair of cork platform sandals that she could barely stand up in.

     Mouche and I smiled. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have had such a great holiday, amazing boyfriends and a new, slightly younger friend to show the ropes. Although our dating advice was obviously beneficial, we assured Petra across an accessory aisle that impressing boys wasn’t the most important thing in life.

    “Sometimes, It’s more important to impress yourself,” Mouche said, adjusting a pair of elbow length, movie star, satin gloves.

    “However, if you want more tips there is always the new Boy-Rating blog we’ve started in preparation for college,” I added.   

    “But sometimes you have to look deeper than the surface of things,” Mouche said.

     It’s what the boy rating diaries taught us, and she was right. I always envied the fact that Mouche could say what she meant and mean what she said.


      You may be wondering about the Princesses.

      Jet’s neighbors were obliged to attend summer school.  Their blog had taken over their lives. They managed to add so many nasty words and images to the site that it crashed and their grades (which weren’t very good to begin with) suffered.

     They were plotting their next devious adventure across discarded academic notes as we shopped. Stars in their own little world, the Princesses would soon be forgotten by us. Far from seeing their popularity skyrocket, it plummeted. When they were finally outed with the top-secret information we’d kept hidden from them in the original Boy Rating Diary, they totally lost it.

    You didn’t think we’d show them everything, did you? We had tonnes of secrets ready to unleash on our world, but maybe we’d hold off, for now. Mouche envisaged showing an abridged version of the original diary, one day, to her own children and had saved each of the treasure chest items. We donated the rest to Goodwill. 

    And that’s the end of the story.


    When they were eighteen, Mouche and Jet eloped to New York. My best friend always knew what she wanted. We were going to share an apartment but I ended up moving in with Mouche and Jet for that one golden summer.

    So it wasn’t exactly as we thought it would be.

    I never did go to Julliard. I got a scholarship to NYU instead and I became a law student. 

    Mouche, who didn’t even want to be a triple threat or a boy chasing guru, had the perfect husband and ended up going to Julliard to study dance on a scholarship. She planned to study law at night, “when I’m old,” she told me, “like thirty or something...”

    But Mouche never did get old. She was shot in a convenience store in New York just six months after you were born. You were with Jet at the time. Mouche had stopped dancing the previous year to have you. It was nothing to give up, compared to what she gained, she told me. I saw what a wonderful mother she made.

    I wanted to write this all down and give you the diary to read when you are older. I hope you don’t mind.

    So many of the important things I knew because of Mouche. She sure taught the Princesses and me a thing or three. As a junior lawyer, living in NYC, working sixteen hour days, I took a weekend off and went home to Sunrise to pore over the diary notes and letters we wrote each other. I picked up old photographs and digital ones, the scribbled glitter words, the gifts and phrases of our teenage world. All of these items brought Mouche back to me. Finally I saw her with scratched knees standing on the porch in the shining sunlight, yelling out and waving for me to come outside when we were eight. Maybe she was waving goodbye.  

    I picked up the items we had folded and placed, one by one, in the treasure chest. Mrs Mouche had given them to me, “because,” Mrs Mouche had said, “she would’ve wanted you to have them.” The items really belonged to her. Mouche was the heart of the game.

The night she graduated from Julliard we had a huge party. Mouche held a glass of champagne decadently in her hand. She wore the latest, most fashionable shoes and the famous jeans from our treasure chest as she gave her impromptu “commencement speech.”

    In her words, Mouche incorporated so many of the things we’d learnt when we were young girls, not just about being women but about being human:

    “If you strive to do and offer others your best, if you live to serve your art but do not cut yourself off from the world, if you give more than you get and always treat your audience with respect, then you might be invited to the most fabulous party on the planet, whatever your dream and from wherever your starting place. Hopefully, when you leave that party, the people will feel happier than they were before they met you, kinder than they might have been if they hadn’t. The colors around them will be more intense, the music more beautiful, and the costumes more lavish. Then the dancing will seem more spectacular, the singing pitch-perfect, the acting better than real life, the food and drink more delicious than anyone imagined and yourself more appreciative of the sparkling applause...”

    The sound of hands clapping flew over the auditorium as she spoke. It was better than I’d ever had when I’d been a student on stage at school, better than I’d had in the one Broadway show I’d finally been picked for after six months of auditioning, before I quit and went to Law School full-time. In those six months Mouche had put me up in her apartment and never given up, “because you would never give up on me,” Mouche said.

    But she never did go to Law School like she intended. She  didn’t  get to see her brother graduate from Medical School or become a surgeon even though she  always thought he would and she  didn’t  see Wednesday bank her college fund cheque or become the head of her own little Princess clique (a kinder one, she  promised me, with a twinkle in her eyes). And worst of all, she didn’t see you grow up which is an unspeakable loss.

    Six months after she died she came to me in a dream, her blonde hair making her seem more like an angel than ever before. In reality, she looked a lot like Wednesday looks now, except her hair was poker straight and in all the commercials that Wednesday did, her hair was curly, “like a Princess,” Wednesday noted.

    “Who said blondes aren’t smart?” Mouche asked, which is why I’m giving this to you. Because the things that matter aren’t the items you can see or touch or buy but the true love and friendship enclosed herein.

     Mouche would have wanted you to have them with more love than I can ever bestow, try as I might...   

     Your Godmother,

     Phoebe Knightly.