Monday, April 28, 2014

Pride and Princesses A Proposal chapter 19

Chapter 19

A proposal

    The next day, I woke up, plugged in my headphones and started on the one physical activity I tried to do a few times a week, alone, jogging. To clear my head, I ran the track along the path that led from my house to the Sunrise lakes.

    The main lake divided our neighborhood from the hidden homes of Jet and Mark and the Princesses who lived high on the hill overlooking the town of Sunrise itself. It was a Saturday and I was up early, preparing for my babysitting duties that afternoon. I still had half of Act Two to memorize and a paper to write for English on the traditional text of Romeo and Juliet, a prospect I wasn’t joyfully anticipating. 

   I’d woken up feeling extremely angry, although I realized anger was a wasted emotion and I knew I should share my feelings with Mouche but my anger seemed to go beyond all articulation. I was going faster and faster (breaking a sweat known only to me during dance classes) when I rounded a corner. As the music blared loudly in my ears I ran face first into Mark Knightly, almost knocking myself out. He seemed to scoop me up very swiftly in his arms.

     “Mark must have been very strong from all the swimming and riding and hunting...” Mouche said avidly as I relayed the story to her much later.  “I hear back in England they kill animals for sport!”

     “Not just in England,” I said as I read Mouche’s brochures for her charity of the week, the local Animal Protection Society. She was considering talking her mom into taking home a rescue dog which I thought was a very good idea.

     But I continued, “Mark sat me down under one of the many oak trees that lined the path of the gardens that led down to the lakes....”

    When I came to, he was leaning over me intently and my soon to be enraged eyes stared straight into his remarkably blue, surprisingly honest-looking ones. He was wearing a turtleneck sweater and jeans, even though I thought the day had been hotter than usual for this time of year. Too hot in fact. I edged apart from him very quickly, dazed and irate.

    “Eww. Get off me,” I said, when I collected my wits, even though he was only patting my shoulder as I was sitting hunched, against a tree.”

    “I’m sorry...we collided.”

     Always saying sorry went against everything I knew about males.

    “I didn’t  expect anyone to be...”


    “Blocking my path,” I replied.

    “Actually I came out here to look for you. I got your number from your cousin, Ella. Then I rang your home and asked your mother where you might be. I...wanted to speak to you...alone.” My mind was in overdrive while I watched his perfect lips move. Mrs Robinson states, “...never be desperate to fling a man your number, let him do the work. If he wants you, he’ll find you. After all, men do traditionally like to hunt and gather...”

     I snapped out of my reverie. I didn’t like where the conversation was heading.

    “I see you don’t have your entourage in tow?

    “What do you mean?

     “Your fan club, Teegan and Tory and whoever else...”

     “Are you...jealous?

     “No. I only went with you to Fall Fling because it was Mouche and Jet’s idea.”

     “Actually, it was just as much my idea.”

     “Oh please, you could have fooled me...”

     I brushed d the autumn leaves off my track pants and stood up.

     “Wait,” he said (so manly).

     “I sort of want to finish my jog before my muscles go cold.” Along with my heart I wanted to add. Mark had a cute little dimple in his chin that I’m told from reading one of those ancient Chinese tomes on face reading, is a sign of great beauty. Face it, I was out of my league and who would want to be with a boy-man as much of an arrogant nightmare as this one.

    “I was...well, I never get the chance to talk to you in rehearsals and I was just wondering if I could introduce you to my sister, Petra, sometime. She’s a bit shy, and she  goes to HSYL but no one speaks to her there because she’s  the new girl. I’d like her to have some friends her own age, or a bit older because she only mixes with adults twice her age and I’m a bit worried about her. I think she would like’re creative and interesting and...”

    I was shocked and surprised.

   “You mean my manners aren’t too “shopgirl”, my connections to the social life of Sunrise High not too “common”?”

    “What? I didn’t  mean, well, I said some things at the time that were honestly meant...”

    I was fuming.

   “But that was before I knew you...before I knew better... I didn’t  know how...lovely you...”

   “Oh, and as if your remarks at the Fall Fling weren’t  enough, do you really think I’d forgive you for ruining the social happiness of my best friend forever Mouche Macintosh?”

    “...I don’t know what you mean. I know I was unforgivably rude to you at the dance but my sister had just come out of...this place where she was sent for ...well, I was worried about her and I know I behaved badly and....I...”

    I couldn’t  believe all the apologies that were rolling off his tongue. It was as if the Mrs Jones Guide was completely wrong about men never apologizing and my head was really more messed up with our boy rating games than ever before. This was not supposed to happen. My mind should have been clearer than ever by now and I really needed some head space to make sense of Mark’s outburst.

    I looked towards the lake mist and the water’s edge to clear my mind.  

    Mark seemed more confused than ever. Before he could say another word, I turned on my heel and ran back the way I’d arrived. I determined that Mouche should know the whole story. It was time to share all the information I had gathered. 

     I returned home and showered. I made some lunch – a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon from a packet where I had to check the use-by date. I texted Mouche, then I remembered she was doing her Saturday shift at the shelter. I suppose I should’ve joined her as it is, according to Mrs Robinson, “very good indeed to help others.” I fully intended to just as soon as I finished all my extra-curricular activities for the year (dating, essays and the play). 

    After lunch, I sat at my desk and wrote a first draft of my English paper. I wrote about the role of women in Shakespearean tragedy and reached the conclusion that Juliet was somehow a younger version of some even stronger females that Shakespeare wrote who were also played, originally, by male actors (young boys). I wondered why it was often men who wrote female characters and when I decided to add my ‘meeting in the park with Mark’ to the shared Boy Rating Diary I was very happy that the angry words infused in the pages were written by real girls, not just boys pretending to know what girls think.

     Sentences and phrases like, ‘He’s  a complete and utter moron’ and ‘I don’t find him that good-looking anymore’ and ‘ conceited he couldn’t  be as clever as he thinks he is’ and ‘his poor sister, fancy having to put up with a brother like that; a hyper-intense bore, a stuck-up  snob..’ I wrote the worst words I could think of under the heading ‘Mark Knightly’ (we were up to page 88 by then) but let’s face it, those words were way harsh because I still didn’t  really know him. But if hatred was just the inverse of love, then I hated him an awful lot.


     I flicked through the combined Boy Rating Diary thus far, every section had a different girl’s name and then every boy, a different rating with comments etc.

      For example:

     Phoebe Harris:

     After the first meeting, Teegan, Freya, Brooke and Tory were certainly getting noticed - almost as noticed as we were. Perhaps more. They were following our guide to the letter and it was only due to their extreme narcissism that they didn’t  question the logic in say, part six, where we’d added, “always wear sexy, furry clothes and show a little skin - men love this,” when it was so obvious that Mouche and I were doing the exact opposite and covering up in cool jeans and sweaters (admittedly with a little fur around the edges). We wore classic items that kept a little mystery.

      Brooke kept her glasses on and her tops buttoned but upped the smile factor and her nice girl ways also seemed to be working. You had to give her credit for having her own mind – for once. 

     Strangely, the ways of the Princesses did seem to, shall we say, be bearing fruit and Mark and Jet and the rest of the football team had never been so popular...”

     My new entry took longer than expected. I had to write about meeting Mark in the park and also add the other news I’d heard via various Princesses. The diary was a good way of telling Mouche about the horrendous fact I’d discovered: Mark had actively stopped Jet from dating her.  I tapped my pink-feathered pencil on my desk. I knew Mouche wouldn’t  be back from the shelter before 3pm, so I had most of the afternoon to finish my essay. Then, I remembered something else I needed to add to the diary. “It seems the streets aren’t safe from either Knightly’s (Mark’s  sister was yesterday seen visiting a clothing store with her aunt, according to a text from Ella) or Princesses (Teegan’s  older sister –Missy, the casting assistant – was earlier in the day seen breakfasting with our florist, Tim, who is totally a closet case according to Mouche).

      Suddenly, I thought about Joel. As it turned out, Joel had emailed me twice.

     “He’s practically obsessive,” Mouche noted.

     We added these emails to the chapter titled, letters and to the one where Joel apologizes for abruptly leaving and twice asks me, can you come to New York? (I emailed him to say – maybe next year) so I think that might have put him off but there is no way I’m quitting the play to be with some guy offering no more than a transient weekend – who did he think I was?

      Boy-rating was starting to make me analytical, and occasionally a little bit angry, not an emotion I’d previously allowed myself to express. Mrs Robinson’s guide would have something to say about that: i.e. stay contained...) In The Good Girlfriend guide it says, “never write love letters...make sure your date writes the love letter.” We are modifying the rules to include incidental notes and emails as love letters! So, although Joel was forgiven for running off after kissing me (very passionately) I realized Joel was not exactly the stable boyfriend material the Boy Rating Diary craved. At least dating and rating a variety of boys had taught us to be highly selective. 

    “And let’s face it,” Mouche said, “people (i.e. Princesses) are only too happy to see you paired up with the most inappropriate males (for example, Martin’s son).”

    I am holding in my hand notes of the dates thus far (prior to consolidation). I’m reading them during my quick lunch break. The notes are lying on my desk along with some of the more recent ones in Mouche’s  drawer. I’m just about to get to them:


Here are some more juicy details about the dates that occurred this past week:


Mouche Macintosh:

     The game has expanded. Mark is interested in Phoebe. I am interested in dating Mark (for the ultimate United Nations experience) and Phoebe says, “Go for it.” So, I don’t think she’s really interested. She says ‘strong and silent’ isn’t as hot as it’s supposed to be. We went for brunch. Phoebe said, in the interests of the game, she  didn’t  object.

    The date was okay but no real fireworks or anything. Mark spent the whole time asking me about Phoebe and I think they suit one another. The Princesses are throwing themselves at all the boys on our list. The guys seem to be strangely bettering themselves though. Maybe they’re not so dorky after all. And in the interests of sharing, I have thrown Jet into the ring. He even took Teegan flowers! Maybe our original rules were flawed.

    Could it be that the Princesses have discovered that showing enthusiasm is not a bad thing? Are we all learning from the fake truce and really beginning to be nice to each other? Could it be possible that we are making like friends for real this time? And is this for the greater good, not just for our dating game, but the good of teenage society?   

    Teegan, Tory, Brooke and Freya have each had one date a piece. They are added to the FAKE diary but the fake diary has become REAL; the two diaries have merged – we are beginning to trust the Princesses! I’ll let them do the talking in their own words (they also added more identifying factors) So, here is what you’ve all been waiting for: A list of the dates so far:


Date: Teegan and Jet

Place: Breakfast @ Sunrise Puppy School (since I have a new Chow Chow puppy and Jet offered to help train him!)

At first, all Jet could do was talk about Mouche and how she  won’t talk to him. I followed every rule in the list, and he was surprisingly responsive. I wore the very cool cardigan fashion, loosely buttoned but with a demure polka dot scarf because his eyes nearly popped out when I went up to him before rehearsal and said, “hi, Jet...I’ve  often wondered why we’ve never dated...”

     “Huh?” he said. Then he kind of laughed as if his friends might be listening.

      The dogs liked him a lot which is a good sign.

      I took a pro-active stance as per The Guide.

 Items gained: a pair of gloves. It was slightly windy and Jet insisted on buying me the fine woollen gloves I admired at the Sunrise General Store on the way home.

 Kisses gleaned: one (on the hand) when my new puppy was let loose and dragged off his leash. I made a yelping cry and insisted Jet kiss my wrist better.

Rating: 9/10 (Jet loses a point for being already taken. I think Mouche holds firmly in her manicured fingers, a place in his heart.)


Tory and Jack Adams

Identifying factors: home cinema

Alcohol consumption: none, drinks diet soda

Job and personality: high school junior, film obsessive

Kisses: one, on screen, between the actors; I put my arm around him and he had to rush out of the room as I whispered, “I hear you like to make…adult movies.”

Items gained directly: a copy of La Dolce Vita

love letters? He’s promised to send me an email of his top ten list of all time great action films

Possibility of re-date: maybe, if I can find an ancient copy of Solaris. The good stuff; we are all thinking of starting a Sunrise Movie Club which has to be a pro-active venture.

Rating: 6/10

lost 4 points for luring me into his “studio” when I thought he wanted an interview for a reality TV show and to make out; but what he really wanted was to show me some old 1960”s French film He’s  mad about. Jack seems to be quite the romantic at heart.    


Brooke and Tom Allen

Identifying factors: high school senior, obsessed with investing his money; where he gets that from is a mystery

Alcohol consumption: none, but Tom raided his father’s study looking for hidden bottles and spent half an hour trying to locate his father’s misplaced Financial Review

Job and personality: high school mathlete and economics major. This was the most boring date of all time, plus contrary to the “dot point list”, Tom has the makings of a bad value system. Is he reformable?

Kisses: one, but loses points because I had to initiate it; I know! The boy rating diary has encouraged me to be far more adventurous than I normally would have been on a first date.

Items gained: another sweater - his mother offered it to me when it got chilly (ah, I believe that was cashmere, girls; project success!) and he told me not to bother bringing it back (does that mean she  didn’t  like me? ) Ah dahrrr, Teegan (who was way jealous and trying not to show it) wrote.

Mouche edited this section with an interjection, “you should donate to the homeless charity, Brooke. We have way too many sweaters now...”

Items gained directly: monetary advice, ‘priceless’ according to Tom’s dad. Love letters? Doodles on the back of a drink coaster with love hearts and hugs: “Does this count as a love letter?”

Possibility of re-date: not sure, Tom doesn’t  invest time in high school relationships that won’t go anywhere. Besides, his mother wants him to marry, “a descendant of the Vanderbilt’s...” but, learning about the NASDAQ wasn’t as dull as I expected and we did hold hands watching the financial news.

Rating: 6/10 – room for improvement


Freya and Peter Williamson –local production of Guys and Dolls, Peter was more interested in taking notes on the choreography than practicing it with me over ice-cream at the Sunrise Diner. Ten for effort. He was dressed in shoes with lights and tiny wheels on the soles of them, so he could roll down the pavement like a ten year old. Everyone stared as he moon walked past.

Rating:6/10 for exuberance and the fact he didn’t  seem to care what anyone thought about him.


To be continued...