Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pride and Princesses The Love Drug chapter 5

Chapter 5

The Love Drug

     The first boy I saw on Monday, the second week of junior year, was Joel Goodman.  Joel is dangerous and wild and I have it on good authority that he dated both Teegan and Tory at the same time. He managed to hook up with them at Sunrise Mall one afternoon last summer. Joel is known as the virgin-converter and has a network of older and more devious buddies and a slightly unkempt air about him. There is no denying he is good-looking but he’s known to be a very bad person, not that I’m trying to moralize, it’s just that people talk. 

    ‘Whoa, he gave you such a nice smile,’ Mouche said as Joel walked past. We were on our way to the auditorium.

    ‘Please,’ I said, ‘he’s monosyllabic and barely grunts in class. Besides, I could never date a man who didn’t challenge me intellectually.’

    Peter Williamson, who was a math genius as well as a dancer, was a rare combination. He walked past us on the way to class.

   ‘Looking fine, girls,’ he said as he rushed to Algebra.

   ‘Why is it all the best boys bat for the other team?’ Mouche asked confidentially, although it was hardly a secret around here. 

    And it was good to know a boy with awesome fashion sense had noted we were looking our best.

    We’d planned new outfits for every day of the month. Our make-overs, along with our dating strategy, were sure to elevate us to a whole new level of social acceptance. We walked down the hallway with a unique resolve, like we owned the place. We were dressed very sharply in our new skirts and sweaters. Even our shoes had extra shine.

    After all, we’d had the previous weekend to prepare.

    ‘We should definitely start by wearing more appealing, feminine clothing,’ Mouche had suggested after we’d finished our Sunday night swim. We’d dragged some old dating and beauty guides back with us from the library that weekend and had raided our mothers’ vast quantities of them. They had titles like Sophia’s Pathway to Beauty and Ava Gardner’s Guide to Gorgeousness. There was also Marilyn Monroe’s Blonde Beauty Secrets and basically the stories of all the great movie stars with beauty guides from the 1960s and beyond. (For example, did you know you can make your own lip balm with beeswax, rosewater and natural food colouring?)

    I don’t want to sound shallow but we decided to start from the outside and work to within. Until midnight, we practiced hairstyles and make-up. We even dressed up Wednesday. We made her look like a smurf, then she fell asleep.  I don’t mean to sound like a Princess but we really felt we deserved some fun after our daddies had dipped into our so-called college funds and we would be working every spare minute during future holidays just to have enough money to last even a week in New York. We imagined a future time, when drenched in French perfume and looking like movie stars, we resided in our own luxury apartments overlooking Central Park. Man servants doted on us. Boyfriends wept at our non-exclusive schedules.

    Reality checked in along with dawn.

    We were wearing pink gloss and oatmeal face masks. The pasty oats were moistened with warm water and mixed with Vaseline so they didn’t drop off in clumps into the pool. Wrapped up in bathrobes, heavy duty moisturiser smoothed over our elbows and heels (our ‘rough edges’ according to Sophia’s Beauty @ p.29), our feet dangled in the water making us seem like ladies of luxury. 

    ‘I have a need for speed and a strange feeling I’m going to win this bet...’ Mouche said as she pulled her raisin feet out of the water. 

     I looked over at Mouche.

    ‘Don’t be so sure, Mouche, I’m totally going to give you a run for your money.’

     Mouche flicked some water at me.

     ‘That’s it,’ I said, ‘you’re going under,’ and instead of feet sloshing around a pond the pair of us were engulfed in a tidal wave, our clothes soaked through.

     ‘Hey, you pushed me first, I just pulled you under!’ Mouche said.

     We splashed about for a few minutes then stayed awake, texting plans, long after everyone thought we were sleeping.  

     The following day, Friday, was audition day.

     As we filed into the auditorium and looked up at the proscenium arch, Miss Tartt and Mr Sparks waved to us then pointed in the direction of our seats.

    ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d say we almost look like the Princesses,’ I mused aloud...

    ‘Except there are less of us and we have more taste.’ Mouche added. ‘I am so going to win this bet,’ she said, as if she’d solely invented the boy dating and rating competition in the first place.

     So you’re going to win, huh? Not so quickly Mouche, I’d thought laughingly. The truth is we were both looking sharp; our clothes were new, our hair extra shiny and our lip gloss sparkled. Boys were noticing us, especially Mark and Jet. We’d made a big effort as prescribed in our dating guides ad nauseum.

    It is such a shame we had to entice them with teen glam,’ Mouche conceded.

     ‘It might be time to put away the old games of cards and tea leaves. We should rely on common sense and instinct,’ I said.

     ‘Of course,’ Mouche agreed.      

    The entire student body endured the welcome speech. Due to scheduling difficulties, it was delivered by our Principal a week later than usual.

    Mr Sparks, our drama teacher, appeared slightly dazed by the length and monotony of the address and could be seen dozing off during the speech. If Mr Sparks had been talking to the entire student body, he’d at least have added a light show, ‘and maybe some disco...’ Freya sniggered in a sarcastic horse whisper.

     Teegan, the Barbie, was the next person we bumped into that day and she said, ‘hi,’ in a newly mature way. We said ‘hi’ in return because it doesn’t pay to let the enemy know exactly how the land lies. Mouche and I still resented her and her friends for taunting us when we were children and invading our new school to boot. She almost tripped over her own shoes running down the hallway barking, ‘Mark! Ma-ark!’ as if she owned him already.

     I hadn’t seen Teegan this anxious to get someone’s attention since she chased an assistant casting agent through our school car park to try to snare the lead in a teen angst afternoon special.

     ‘Now observe her undignified display,’ Mouche noted, ‘desperate to try to get Mark’s attention. Doesn’t she realize, ‘if she has to work that hard in the beginning she’ll have to work like an Olympic athlete towards the end?’

    ‘Who told you that?’

    ‘Oh, this great dating tome is called, ‘How to Treat ‘em Mean to Keep Them Keen...’

    ‘The only problem is ‘they’ have to be keen in the first place...’

    ‘So true.’

     Mark seemed pretty busy ignoring Teegan as he walked on by but when she finally fell at his feet and her notes scattered around him, instead of stepping over them like some sort of android, he stopped, picked Teegan up and gave her a sincere smile. What a gentleman.

   ‘Clearly, her decorative exterior has won him over...’

   ‘I just knew she’d be busy chasing Mark Knightly,’ Mouche said.

   ‘You are so psychic, I can almost hear her thoughts, ’ I replied.

   ‘True. You are so telepathic,’ Mouche added.

   ‘She’s just pretending to be nice. Why can’t he see through her?’ I mused.

   ‘Absolutely,’ Mouche replied. ‘If only they’d learnt what we have...men have zero radar for feminine wiles...’

   ‘I’ve noticed...’ I stated succinctly.

    ‘High school is an anthropological exercise at the best of times,’ Mouche replied.   

     The faces of Joel, Teegan, Mark, Peter and Ethan merged into the crowd as she spoke. Ethan was a pianist, the others have been introduced. Two Princesses and one listed male (Jet) were missing, but we knew they’d make an appearance sooner rather than later.

   With morning classes over, I was sitting alone at lunch with the unfilled diary, wearing my Sunrise High oversized sweatshirt and my black cut off ballet tights (the black pair layered over the pink). I was busy plotting a course of action for the remainder of the day and waiting for Mouche to get out of class. Sitting at a lunch table, sipping fizzy water through a bendy straw with the sun peeping in through the long bay windows of the room was conducive to dreaming. I kept imagining the boys on my list and what they’d look like given a style make-over and some re-programming, when Mouche arrived early.

     ‘I already have the order of dating in mind...but there are quite a lot of them and only one or two I can actually see potential chemistry with...’

     ‘Good,’ I said, ‘me too, that will make things less complicated.’

     ‘It says here men hate over-achievers...’ Mouche said as she carefully applied some lip balm from a tiny container.

    ‘Mmm...we’ll just have to re-educate the boys on that one.’

     ‘Here, I signed the contract in lipstick pencil. Want some?’

     ‘I don’t think that’s legal.’

     ‘I added my signature in pen just in case...’

     ‘Listen, I’ve been thinking,’ Mouche said. ‘Why don’t we just...help each other in the beginning, see what we come up with, pool our dating resources in the so called ‘dating guide’ then go for it for the last few dates. See how much useful treasure we can get from the  first ‘dates’ without them knowing they’re just being used for information and teach the boys a thing or two in the process.’

     As we ate, we made notes. A few boys from the opposite table actually looked up. Like I said, Mouche had re-vamped her look (and so had I) but hers was obviously working particularly well in relation to Jet Campbell. Jet has a fabulously inoffensive smile. He is about the same height as Mark and as fair as Mark is dark-haired and seemingly a hundred times more amiable, completely unaware of the annoying idiosyncrasies of those around him. Freya is messing up Jet’s hair and I can see him staring at her fake diamond necklace, sparkling in the lunch room light.

     ‘It’s sad that men are so attracted to artifice, but also very true according to the Young Ladies Guide and my own limited experience,’ I told Mouche.

    ‘Agreed,’ Mouche replied, highlighting a chapter titled, ‘How to please your potential husband,’ written in 1963.

    Have you ever felt like someone else has stolen your life? I was daydreaming after writing notes on Mark Knightly (tall, British-like, uptight) and I was imagining how divine it would be to star in a hipper, teen remake of Pride and Prejudice, we could just call it Pride...when Mouche interrupted my train of thought.

     ‘Oh, by the way...I have to tell you about...’

     ‘Planning time, don’t interrupt.’ I waved my paper in her face.

      Mouche ignored my request.

     ‘Jet Campbell left me this cute little post-it note on my locker and... he spoke to me again and...I think he might be the one.’

     ‘Are you joking? You can’t just settle for one. You’re starting to sound really unimaginative...like a Princess.’

     ‘I guess...I’m getting some lunch.’     

      Tapping my pen on the table, lost in thought, I’m inadvertently drawing attention to myself. As I look away, I notice the very emo/gothic looking Jack Adams who actually smiles back at me. I happen to know he is working on another teenage horror film script because he sent me a group email over summer, asking me to write comments about the stupid plot he’d written. I didn’t want to lie to him so I still haven’t replied. I look away even though he definitely has potential. I don’t want to encourage him just yet.    

   A few minutes later Mouche is on her way back to our table with today’s least offensive lunch fare – macaroni cheese and a peanut butter sandwich, fries and two sodas.

  ‘Okay, I also got us two apples...for our health.’


   So we sat there, munching the apples, reading each other’s diagrammatic plans.

   ‘It says here,’ Mouche read, ‘... the surest way to mess up a date is to be too focused on getting a boy to like you, so take the focus off the boy and create other objectives...’

   This is what Mouche wrote:


Items to be gathered for our New York Adventure:

A pen

A lucky feather

A beret

Jeans - vintage (Mouche and I both wear the same size)

A black sweater (every girl should have one)

Coco perfume

The perfect shoes

A winter scarf

A golden bracelet (prefer eighteen carat)

A pair of Chanel sunglasses

A cashmere coat


     ‘I’m inspired...this will allow us to focus on our future journey. The list will give us ‘other objectives’ for the dates so we won’t be so focused on impressing the boys and thus end up embarrassing ourselves.’

   ‘Of course, and all these items will be useful in New York; they start with the most easily sourced and become a little more difficult to obtain...’

     ‘Quick, twelve o’clock,’ Mouche whispered before I could say anything more on the subject.

      I looked up instantly.

     ‘It’s Mark Knightly glancing at us from across the room. Don’t stare. You’re being very obvious,’ she whispered.

      We could overhear Freya talking at the opposite table...

     ‘So, how did you find out he was rich?’

     ‘Well, by the water fountain, on my way here...’Brooke added.

     By the water fountain,’ Teegan repeated. ‘That’s starting to sound very romantic.’

     ‘Exactly. Anyway, I heard him talking about a rich uncle in Scotland who’s planning to leave him a castle after he croaks...’

     I wish my uncle would leave me a castle. Then we’d never have to worry about our college funds.’ Mouche said grimly.

   ‘Never mind. We’re going to be self-made women, Mouche. By the way, are they serious? I’m not sure if castles in Scotland are worth that much but maybe we should move him to the number one spot on our list...just in case,’ I joked and considered removing Jet’s name (even though his family owned multiple companies – according to Teegan - and she googles everyone) with the stroke of a pen.

    Mouche instantly picked up her pink pen and drew another line straight through Jet Campbell and wrote Mark Knightly over it and added a bunch of love hearts. Then she scrawled: wildly rich - major possibilities.

   ‘That’s so twelve years old Mouche. I never knew you were such a gold digger.’

   Underneath Mark’s name she made a space for his advantages / disadvantages / physical attributes columns. We haven’t filled that out yet.

   ‘Objectively speaking, money is just a bonus and I could never actually marry a man for that, even if my college fund is depleted.’ Mouche said.

    ‘Who said anything about marrying? Perhaps we should wait until one of us has actually had a proper conversation with him first.’

     ‘You’re right. I doubt marriage is even legal at our age.’

     ‘Oh great, one o’clock, Miss Tartt...’ I whisper, hoping not to draw attention to myself.

    ‘Hello girls. Did you have a good summer?’

    ‘Yes Miss Tartt,’ I said. Mouche started to smile as I spoke.

    Miss Tartt is a failed Broadway actress with shortish sticky-out red hair and the figure of a former dancer who’s started to binge eat just a little too often. She doesn’t like me. Competition. She gives me looks that could kill roses. I don’t think it’s very professional to behave that way. Like, when we had try-outs for last year’s fashion show, she made me re-audition about ten times and waited right until the end to call my name as part of the ensemble. And only a few dance majors were available.

    ‘Hi Miss Tartt,’ one of the boys called out from across the room. Boys can be rude like that.

    Miss Tartt should have ignored him, as etiquette might dictate but, never one to shrink like a violet, Miss Tartt actually said, ‘hello boys,’ in a very theatrical voice.

    I’m so embarrassed for her. The guys certainly seemed to like it though. Obviously, she needs our future dating guide. We’ll add advice for older women.

    ‘Do you have an audition piece ready for try-outs, Mouche?’

    ‘I didn’t realize they were on today, Miss Tartt. I’m thinking of working behind the scenes.’

    ‘Oh. Well, they’re 3pm sharp. See you both there. Oh, and Mouche?’


    ‘I’d just love it if you could help design the costumes again.’

    ‘Oh, yeah, sure,’ Mouche said, trying not to sound too enthusiastic.

   After Miss Tartt left, Freya joined us and mocked Mouche.

  ‘Oh, that would be marvellous, Miss Tartt...ew...you two are such suck ups. That woman is totally skeezie – no wonder you’re both her favourite students in the whole world...she’s only nice because she wants you to do her dirty work...’

   ‘Ah, I believe that is your modus operandi, Freya,’ Mouche said.

   ‘You know, she’s just a teacher who really wants to be an actor and keeps casting herself in the lead role – Tory’s role,’ Freya replied.

    ‘I think that might be Phoebe’s role you’re confusing with Tory’s role, Freya,’ Mouche said.

    Mouche and Freya both had a point.

    Freya huffed off and said, ‘later girls,’ as if we were all friends.

    Suddenly Mouche leaned in and stepped lightly on my toe under the table.

   ‘Mark Knightly is walking back this way. See if you can convince him to talk...’

    We put our notes away in a pink folder.

    I was busy reading How to Please your Potential Husband. Mouche had opened up A Woman’s Guide to Bringing out the Best in Her ManPart 1; The Approach.

    ‘I’m so not ready for the approach. We’ve never even spoken,’ I added with hesitation.   

    ‘Well, I’m ready now – first cab off the rank and all that.’

    This could be like watching a train wreck in motion and I was nervous for Mouche. After all, she was just as inexperienced as me at proper dating and bound to make a fool of herself with an older, more mature man.


    Freeze the image:

    We were all alone in the cafeteria by then, since almost everyone else had left for study hall. Freya, Teegan, Brooke and Tory had drifted off. The chatter had quietened down and we hardly noticed Mark and Jet again, so immersed were we in reading our guidebooks and finalizing ‘The Plan.’


My dating guide was open on a page titled;

How to Attract Your Prey:

·           Always be neat

·           Wear a bright shade of lipstick

·           Use sweet smelling perfume

·           Always be interested in your man’s conversation

·           Make sure your hair is soft and shiny so he can rub his hands in it

·           Make sure you wear attractive, feminine clothing; skirts and dresses are uniquely female...


      I’m wondering if this old-fashioned advice could get much worse. I quickly close the guide.

    ‘It would be enough to make my mother retch,’ Mouche says, ‘she collects these guides as a joke.’

     Suddenly Mark is walking towards us.

    ‘Our ‘man-friendly’ looks are definitely getting us noticed....’

    ‘Or is that our cousin’s unfounded reputations?’ Mouche whispers. ‘Boys think the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree so we need to act remote.’

    ‘If he talks, you should talk,’ I replied.

    ‘Just ignore him,’ Mouche says, as Mark walks straight past us on the way to study hall.         

    Well, that conversation went smoothly,’ I said.

    ‘Give him time, Pheebs. Guys are analytical and need extra moments to process attraction...’

     I laughed as we walked to English but my expression changed to disappointed when I realized Mark and Jet had ditched the class.

     ‘As has been the case from time immemorial, while the boys ditched, the girls worked...the boys hunted...the girls gathered...’

      I was reading over my history notes in study hall after Mark and Jet had successfully managed to abscond. I saw them leave the car park via my study hall window, but nobody as yet recognized Jet’s car and from a distance they looked like teachers....albeit very rich ones.  

    ‘Second week of school and they’re already in trouble,’ Freya stated.

     ‘I just love bad boys,’ Teegan replied.

     After biology, which I’d slept through, history was cancelled but our classes were late so although I’d also tried to ditch along with Mouche, we got caught in the entrance hall (or exit hall in our case). The teachers are more than a little militant at the start of the semester, but luckily, they let us off with a warning. 


     ‘Sometimes I just can’t wait for school to be over so I can start my real life,’ Brooke mused like a child.

     Social skills are far more important than intelligence; it says so right here.’ I whispered to Mouche in the library.

    ‘I’m not so sure about that,’ our teacher said, eavesdropping.

     ‘We need to network!’ Mouche passed me a note attached to the diary. Page nine was open with all our gathered quotes from man-dating guides of yesteryear attached. The basis for the diary was gaining some real momentum.

    ‘Honestly, if school is just like a microcosm of the real world, it’s a wonder any of us survives it. At least in the real world you can hide from people you hate,’ I whispered just as Freya walked by, a little too close to my ballet slippers for comfort. Behind her, her twisted sisters trailed like ducks near a pond. They were caught leaving by the overly zealous teacher and had been herded up like cattle. Now they’re all chewing gum in retaliation; so ninth grade.

    Freya ‘accidentally’ kicked over my bag as she entered the room.

   ‘Oops, sorry,’ she said. Usually, she travels in a pack. It makes it a lot easier to disguise her evil intentions.