Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pride and Princesses Perfume chapter 17

Chapter 17


    We’d all arranged to gather the day after we received Teegan’s note. The Princesses waited for us in the park next to the mall near the picnic alcove opposite Sunrise High. It was as good a place as any, with a picturesque view of the town, not far from the lakes. In the distance you could see the gated community where Jet and Mark and the Princesses lived. The house of Mark’s relatives (he resided with his aunt and uncle) was famous for its secluded opulence; it’s tall, winding security fence. Instead of a duck pond, it was rumored his uncle, who was a wealthy businessman, had even installed a moat.

     “A moat, like in one of those old fairy tales?” Brooke asked Jet.

    “I guess,” Jet told Brooke who told Teegan who told me.

    “I heard there are two swans that swim around in it all day and sometimes they disappear for minutes at a time under the drawbridge!”

     “The drawbridge?”

     “It hides the dark and eerie swampland that inhabits the backyard! It’s even rumoured that the actual house is haunted,” Brooke said.

    “I bet it’s for security purposes,” Freya added.

    “The rumor?”

    “No, the moat.”

    The house (“more like a mansion”, Mouche commented, the first time she  saw it) was quite the most opulent in Sunrise. It was built high in the Sunrise Hills, about a half-hour drive from the cul-de-sac Mouche and I inhabited. Of course, Jet lived next door to Mark but his house wasn’t quite as lavish. Jet only had a pool and a tennis court but it was huge and grand and garish because his mother was a fashion designer and his dad a major shareholder of Sunrise Bank.

     This possibly accounted for Jet’s elevated status in his own mind, according to Teegan.

     The first meeting had begun.

     It was the second last day of the week and we didn’t  have rehearsals for Rocco and Julie so nobody was actively squabbling. Mouche arrived with the hem of a costume hanging out of her tote; Teegan was not far behind, talking on her cell with her notes jutting out of her antique jeans. Freya paused by the gate to check her lip gloss. Brooke turned up a few minutes later painting her fingernails and Tory arrived...help us...with an open guide: the one we had discarded, the one Mouche and I loathed, The Good Girl’s Guide: Behave Like A Man and Get What You Want

     Mouche looked worried, “Tory is not supposed to be seeking out her own subversive dating literature,” she whispered to me under her breath.

     Tory just smiled pleasantly and said, “I’m re-educating myself. I’ve  seen what’s  happening with you two and I want to be knowledgeable as well...”

    Mouche leaned over and said, “Well, there’s no need for that, Tory. We’ve done the reading and we can tell you everything you need to know about our system...”

    Teegan and Freya and Brooke and Tory all smiled and looked very relieved as we nibbled the delicious food in front of us.

     A truce had been grudgingly entered into and we were all acting sisterly.

Freya even offered to help with the costumes and passed a skirt to Brooke who was attempting to gather a ruffle. Brooke held the hem and waited with baited breath on every word Mouche said. Mouche really had a way with monologues. When she  spoke, people listened.

     If we’d been of the generation that went to Girl Scouts when they were little, I’d say it was kind of like what I imagine a Girl Scout meeting to be like. Everyone brought something extra, apart from the obvious attitude; we brought extra food and extra smiles and extra humility to make the late afternoon seem more like a suburban picnic than a gossipy teenage girl fest.

     Mouche brought cookies she ’d  baked the previous night; I offered muffins in a pink cake tin that I’d made with pink frosting and white chocolate; Teegan brought a bag of non-fat chips (“because I don’t cook, my mother says it’s a waste of time, a woman needs to develop real skills”) Tory laughed as she  placed her basket of fruit on the table because she  knew ‘real skills’ meant ‘other skills’ which meant ‘bedroom skills’.

    Mouche rolled her eyes because she was the chair of the meeting and it took a while for everyone to stop chatting.

    Mouche began:

    “I’d like to announce that Tory (who raised her hand) will be taking the minutes of this official meeting between us; a group of girls now to be known officially as the ex-HSYLs. Freya will be responsible for passing out snacks. And I would ask everyone to be as polite as possible whilst attending our official meeting. After that, I guess, all bets are off.”

    Brooke giggled. Tory chewed gum. Teegan rolled her eyes and Brooke searched for her misplaced contact lens and Bible just in case she needed to swear on something (in a good way). I’d noticed Brooke had become way more religious this week.

   “Firstly, I’d just like to say, Mouche and I have been forced to unleash upon our small society, The Plan. And since we’ve had more secret dates this month than you all have had hot dinners, the plan obviously works.

    But we are not evil girls and since we are all pre-women the time has come to declare a truce and forget past wrongs all of us may have caused each other...”

     Teegan and Brooke looked magnanimously at me and Mouche, but Mouche understood the importance of straight-talking in the sales pitch and continued on...

    The Plan is essentially a secret and if you (you meaning Phoebe, Teegan, Freya, Brooke and Tory) tell anyone else, it will be less of a girls club and all out war. Besides, I have to warn you, our plan for dangerous dating is so good that if you tell anyone else, everyone will want to do it and there will be anarchy...”

     Freya looked quite alarmed and Teegan mouthed, “What’s anarchy?

     Brooke mouthed back with her cupie doll mouth, “chaos, famine, destruction, the end of the world, dummy...”

     Mouche continued to talk whilst I flexed my ankles and pretended to look serious, “before we start on the topic of...Teegan’s discovery... (Teegan beamed with pride) I’d like to thank everyone for arriving promptly...”


The meeting continued and everyone’s face lit up after grievances about school, boys and clothes had been aired:


“I would now like to officially ask you all to join our Plan for The Year of Dating Dangerously. Please take the time to read it well and hide it even better. The meeting place is here; the guide book (Teegan presented a large blank faux-leather bound pink diary – empty – our original one was hidden safely). This diary will be kept at all times, in a common place; a group locker ostensibly used for sports and other sundry items but which shall now be referred to as “the secret locker” – spoilage (i.e. treasured gifts) from the dates can be kept there (we weren’t too worried because we didn’t think a new plan would bring any but of course, we’d underestimated the resolve of the overindulged, who would make it their mission to outdo us and especially each other...)


The girls in “our group” took the paper in silence and read it wistfully. This is what it said:




1.     A kiss is meaningless, remember the higher prize and use what you can to get it. Let everyone know you’ve staked your claim, including the object of your affection.

2.     Romance is so yesterday, a date today is so different from a date in the sixties. Pre-men expect a casual hook up. So why should we care? Act like a guy and care as little as they do.

3.     For the secret rules of this game “a date/ hook up” must consist of a beginning middle and end and all details have to be written up in the Boy-Rating diary which is kept in a mutually hidden place. All secrets must be revealed in this guide. All secrets to all of us, all the time. At the end of the school year, if we all agree to go public with an edited version, it can be uploaded onto a shared blog.

4.     Proof:  there needs to be proof of the date in the form of photographs for our treasure chest, gifts, love tokens (and especially red roses) as these are indicative of true love.

5.     The girl needs to make every effort to impress the boy; after all, around here, any decent guy is a wanted commodity.

6.     The ultimate love token comes in the form of a love letter. Whoever gets the most love letters and gets Mark Knightly to take her to the prom, wins the competition.

7.     All details must be shared; contributions to be made by all parties, with an overview and progress report due on the last Friday of every month; meeting to re-convene here.

8.     Any previously dated man must not enter our mutual place of work.

9.     All resources have to be combined in our secret box (AKA “the Treasure Chest”) to be bestowed upon the winner.

10.  The Game shall remain a SECRET between the ex HSYLs even if and when we decide to involve other people in our game.


     Brooke was the first to look up in awe.

    “Uh, I’m not sure whether or not I agree with Rule One.”

    “Each to their own,” Mouche replied. “Now, can we leave the discussion of the Rules for later. This second sheet is vital...”

    At that point we gave them a list of the original boyzamples but subverted the descriptions. So, for example, we said a boy without integrity (eg. Alex Miller) actually had loads of it and other boys who were total man sluts (eg. Ethan Mandel) were actually extremely gentlemanly on a date. You can imagine the rest.

   The jaws of the Princesses dropped open when we handed them the list of collectible treasure hunt items (we’d made some more refined and others more general to account for the extra size of the “new” group).

   “Isn’t this a bit morally dubious?” Brooke asked. She ’d  given up on her contacts and had begun cleaning her glasses with a napkin.

   “Yes, isn’t this like, Diary of a Teenage Callgirl?” Freya responded, her mouth twisting slightly in anticipation.

    “Only if you think prostitution is wrong,” Tory replied, her pretty but vacant face searching for the up side.

    “I think it’s definitely wrong...unless you love them,” Teegan said, hinting at hidden depths previously unrevealed. “But I guess, shared knowledge of all these boy dates would really enhance our romantic futures...”

    Diary of a Teenage Callgirl...mmm...that’s  a really good title for a blog,” Freya added with more creativity than I’d given her credit for. 

     “Listen up, girls. Here are the lists of items we want to gather in our treasure chest,” Mouche handed out the sheets of printed paper with a sweet smile.


Treasure Hunt Items

A pen (for writing up the guide)

Designer clothing

Designer perfume

The Perfect interview Shoes or boots in two sizes since we are all one of two sizes (convenient)

A golden bracelet (preferably eighteen carat or over)

A pair of Chanel sunglasses

A cashmere coat

A winter scarf

A diamond ring


    “How are we supposed to get all of this?” Brooke asked.

    “That’s  the game,” I said, “for those of us who don’t have objections.”

     “Well, I think It’s materialistic and wrong,” Brooke added.

     “Then don’t play,” Teegan said.

     Brooke looked crushed until Mouche relented. After all Brooke now knew a version of the Plan so it seemed sensible to include her or she  might spill the beans to the rest of the school and ruin everything. 

     “Okay, Brooke, you can still play just leave out the kissing and gathering of items...” Mouche said.

    Teegan rolled her eyes, “geez Brooke, you’ve become so uptight. Like that’s  going to be any fun.”

    Brooke simply shrugged, “well, it’s nice to be included.” 

    “Fine. You work it out,” Mouche replied.

    “Since you’re  so smart, why don’t you just tell us,” Teegan suggested.

    “It’s all in there, read the fine print...we need to rely on our personal attributes to become self-made women.” Tory added.

    We also handed them a list of “helpful” dating quotes from discarded guides...

    “It’s all in the list,” Freya replied, “....wow...you guys are way knowledgeable.”

“Meeting to re-convene at the end of next month. Be here or... be somewhere else,” Mouche said in her offhand, jokey way; as if she  was saying be here or beware...

    Teegan, Freya, Brooke and Tory were delegated Adam, Alex, Tobias and Scott. They didn’t  seem too happy about it but each was prepared to try for specific research, love letters and possible items. We all decided after we’d had one more date a piece, to share items gained and lessons learned, then all bets were off to date Mark and bring him to the prom. Because both Mouche and I had decided he was a pretty disagreeable sort of fellow, we had no emotional investment in the dating process whatsoever; everything to win and nothing to lose. The Princesses, being even more materialistic (save perhaps Brooke) than ourselves, were sure to be better at scamming gifts from our prospective boyzamples and then we could just swoop in, and divvy up the spoils.

   “Mmm...I have a question,” Tory asked. “Would it be possible to change the bracelet to a charm bracelet? It might be easier to gather charms...”

   The Princesses were already thinking on an entrepreneurial level. Perhaps their business minds were even keener than ours. We hadn’t  really planned on that. It seemed obvious that we would outsmart them, having access as it were, to prior information.

   “Good idea,” Teegan said.  I must admit Mouche and I agreed. Our designated “dates” were Ethan and Josh, then all the boys on the list would have been “dated” and “rated”. We could (in theory) swap them around and consolidate “items” and “love letters”.

    By the end of the school year we would announce the “winner.” The winner, being in possession of better rules and extensive guides to dating, would of course be Mouche or myself (we could also halve the gifts – but the Princesses weren’t aware of that fact. They thought we were all in it for ourselves after the initial date and rate).