Monday, April 28, 2014

Pride and Princesses Dating and Rating chapter 18

Chapter 18   

Dating and Rating

    We had never seen such previously non-studious girls open a guide to algebra, let alone a guide to dating. Suddenly they dispersed, armed with a list of personal targets and one defective (in my opinion) dating guide to source and memorize in the hope that greater knowledge could also lead to an embarrassment of riches for one very smart girl.

    In the weeks that followed, Mouche and I and the Princesses conspired to date all the guys on the list. We consolidated pages of notes about those dates, and the Princesses were compelled to write “truthful stuff” (including updates and asides at the end of each chapter).   Some of their ideas really needed to be shared and could only be more helpful than not. We modified our ideas to form, as well as the Boy Rating Diary, a box of “items useful in New York,” which we called our “treasure chest.” We also decided to form an online site for teenage girls that could well open us up to litigation (according to Mouche); but in the interests of free-speech would become known as the anonymous “buyer beware site” – how and what to avoid dating pre, post and during teen world – using our Sunrise High pre-men as prototypes. This final version of the jointly authored diary would be titled, “The Boy-Rating Blog.”

    If we were in love with any of the boys this expose might be a conflict of interest, as presumably none of them would ever want to speak to us again, but currently we were not concerned with love.

    It was no secret that although I was yet to date Mark, he seemed to like Mouche. Jet seemed suddenly a little interested in me when Mouche all but ignored him and the Princesses were “otherwise engaged” writing bragaholic messages about all the guys on the list.

    After a few days, the Princesses were making fools of themselves all over town and we had to amend the “kiss on the first date rule” because some of the Princesses were overly enthusiastic. We decided to intervene, call another meeting, and reveal the truth about rule one.

    Teegan said, “What?”

    Mouche said, “look, the truth is, we didn’t expect you to take that one seriously. Of course you shouldn’t  be all over these guys the first time you go out. It’s like introductory dating for pity’s sake. Hey, for all we care, don’t sleep with them until you’re  married – it might teach them a lesson.”

   “Yes, think how powerful women would be if they all kept their legs crossed until then,” Brooke added, taking the concept to its righteous extreme.

   “A lesson?” Freya said in awe and wonder.

   “Yes,” I repeated. “A lesson in who holds the power. If we all agree to not sleep with them, then they all have to do some serious wooing and smarten up their act!”

    I say this like an English teacher and later Mouche commended me on my possible mooting and oratory skills.

   “I couldn’t  have said it better myself,” Mouche added. Meanwhile Jet was glancing longingly at her during rehearsal, but she  seemed to be avoiding him again.

    “November meeting is adjourned until after the play,” Freya noted.

    “All in favour say I.”

    We all said “I”.

    We re-convened to Teegan’s  family Lake House where everyone started discussing possible junior prom outfits. After the extra cupcakes had been stored in cake tins and a location for treasure finalized (a spare locker would be used until items could be transferred to our actual ‘treasure chest’), Mouche and I made ourselves scarce.

    Outside in Mouche’s  car, Mouche and I re-commenced the conversation started months ago, just between us, about the rules.

  “When should we let them know about the rest of the rules?”

   “Honestly? Let them learn themselves...make them do some research for a change.”

   “That shouldn’t be a problem.”

   “Besides, we’re not the “make out” police. We can’t stop them from behaving like little tarts if they want to. We can only advise them. I feel our, let’s just say somewhat incorrect original advice in that regard, was a little beneath us.”

    “It could possibly undermine the plan.”

    “True, the plan was a little hazy.”

    It was going to be interesting. They had one of the major rules and we wanted to watch the power in the school halls and shop malls turn from the boys to the girls; for the second half of the year. Boys would have to do the running if they wanted any attention from the girls at all. And once all the girls had given them a good dose of their own medicine, the boys would have to make more of an effort.  

    Later that day Mouche met Ethan Mandel at the Sunrise cinema on the corner of Eighth and Ninth Avenues and took me along for the “date.”  Ethan brought along his friend Josh Klein (the artist) and everything started off well enough, although Ethan said hardly anything and his friend even less leaving us to sound either garrulous or stupid which is totally against our planned rules. But we got the business matters of the evening out of the way early when Mouche suggested a slight chill and both boys offered a scarf – very sweet and one just happened to be cherry cashmere and in perfect condition. Mouche said she ’d  give it back at the end of the night but Ethan just said shyly, “oh, that’s  okay, it looks better on you anyway.”

    Top marks for generosity and another item for the treasure box found. Items gained thus far included:


A pen

A lucky sweater

Vintage jeans


A velvet beret

A scarf

And so many more yet to come...


   “C’est la vie,” I said, practicing my French.

    “Any extra items can be donated to the LA homeless shelter,” Mouche added.

    We walked into this tiny ramshackle cinema called; what a surprise, Sunrise Cinema. But it had the best popcorn and candy and Ethan bought loads for everyone which I thought was way generous of him.

    Our first double date seemed to be going smoothly.

    Money and generosity aren’t everything although I suppose they’re a start.

   At one stage Ethan and I decided to go get more popcorn and snacks and we started talking (I’d offered to be the errand runner because I could tell the movie was becoming really scary). I was surprised when Ethan agreed to walk with me to the candy bar. He seemed to think it chivalrous to pay. Since making a good impression is particularly important on the first date, I let him. Boy-rating can be ruthless and boyzamples may not get second chances.

   The weirdest thing was that he made mention of the “new guy at school,” Mark, who just happened to be a distant cousin of his. “Oh, but our side of the family doesn’t  really speak to his. It’s just that we do soccer practice together and we got talking last week,” he said.

   “Oh, really?” I replied.

   Well, what about? I wanted to ask, but bit my tongue instead, sensing that Ethan, with his retro haircut and dark under-eye circles but bright eyes (from all the extra DVD watching) would offer any further information of his own volition.   

    He continued, “After team practice, we all went out and Mark and I talked for the first time since we were children. He was really nice...although loads of people think he rates himself too highly.”

   “Mmm,” I mused, he didn’t have to tell me which people.

   “Girls can be like that,” I said amiably.

    Mouche and I are both very good at getting strangers to open up verbally. I could sense Ethan wanted to spill the beans. He continued, “Anyway, Mark seemed particularly pleased with himself that evening. I mean, he was really happy, the opposite of his friend, Jet, who is usually the easy going one.”

    Ethan said this like he was in some kind of 1990”s movie and I noticed his shirt was quite paisley. Brooke had told me once that his parents had been groovy hippies who’d had Ethan late and worked for some record company. Apparently, they sat around talking about San Francisco thirty years ago and drinking herbal tea a lot.

   “What do you mean?”

   “Well, it seemed that Mark was congratulating himself on having convinced Jet to stay away from a particular girl who Jet was kind of into.”

  “Did he...mention the name of the girl?”

  “No, only that she was a pretty blonde who went to our school...”

   I immediately guessed it was Mouche.

   Ethan was looking at me kind of quizzically. Smoothing my hands over my hair (I’d used the straightening iron on it before we came out), I instantly said, “Oh, my hair is really dark brown underneath the caramel highlights.”

    Did I say that? It’s so not in any guide to discuss details of a girl’s grooming habits. As Mrs Robinson says, “keep a little man wants to hear how the portrait got painted...” But at least Ethan is not actually my date.

    I resumed my line of questioning...

   “Did Mark say why Jet stopped liking this girl?”  

   “He seemed to think it would be a bad idea for Jet to involve himself with the one person, limit his options so to speak, and maybe her family...didn’t  have any money.”

  “Well, maybe Mark should mind his own business.”

  “Maybe.” Ethan said quizzically. He seemed to like the fact that he’d  obviously got me on my high horse.

   “And did the girl have any say in this?”

   “It seems like the girl had to find out the hard way. Jet stood her up...oh, I mean, he and Mark went skiing or something...”

   I was livid, so angry I insisted on paying for my own popcorn, wondering if dating guys was really the answer to any of our teenage girl problems. I soon got over this worry of course.

   Seated, I felt slightly numb and in a state of panic.   

   The film we were watching had some cute older-man candy. The leading actor was spending the whole movie trying to protect his girlfriend from these creepy people, way out in the woods. It was the scariest movie I’ve  ever seen and Josh snuggled close which was kind of funny because I think he was more scared than I was during the scene where the strangers try to bash down the front door.

   Ultimately, it was the most terrifying movie I’ve ever sat through and a good excuse for Josh to squeeze my hand; except, when I looked over in the dark, it wasn’t Josh squeezing my hand, it was Ethan. Yikes.

   Meanwhile, Mouche had gone to “take a call” on her cell.

   Things were getting complicated.

   I pulled my hand away. Ethan may be playing most of my solos but I had no idea he was this much of a cheater. Even if he had given me vital information about Mark I was still seething over when and how I might use it. He hardly made Jet and Mark seem like “ideal men,” least of all himself, because he now seemed untrustworthy.

    Mrs Robinson’s  guide would say, some boys are strong in the wrong places and weak at the wrong times. Why hadn’t  Jet stood up for Mouche and why was Mark such a snob? What a hateful individual. I didn’t  think, even if he was so rich or so handsome, I could suffer another minute in his company.

    That night I was too smart to write about what happened at the movies in the shared Boy-Rating Guide. But I did jot it down in the original, hidden one. I would explain to Mouche before she  read it, after I’d let the news about Mark’s  duplicity sink in. In retrospect, I think this part of the story might have driven a wedge between me and Mouche before other events did. I hoped Josh didn’t  notice how annoyed I was after I’d spoken to Ethan. Josh was kind of a nice date.

    Oh, I forgot to tell you, he heard (via Mouche) that we liked a particular brand of perfume that his mother sold called Junior Miss18 (it was faux French) and he presented me with a bottle of it as a welcome gift! I think Ethan thought it was funny because, although he offered to pay for the popcorn, he wasn’t really that chivalrous.

    Later at rehearsal the next week he told Mouche (who told me she “hadn’t even kissed him”) that he “wasn’t a one woman man.” I didn’t  have to warn Mouche because she ’d  already gone off him with her eye on a bigger prize: winning the competition, and to do that, she ’d  have to date more people than Ethan Mandel.  She’d have to date Mark.