Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pride and Princesses Scandal chapter 7

Chapter 7


    Mouche had us sorted. She’d read the entire contents of Dating Yourself into Oblivion and used her instincts to ‘encourage’ Jet to consider coming to the Fall Fling.

    As social monitors of the year, we were totally prepared to attend, cameras in tow, by ourselves: but arm candy always made the other girls jealous. And who could resist that? Mouche left an old-fashioned note in Jet’s locker, waiting for Jet to take the bait. When she pulled into my driveway that morning looking very excited, I thought he’d maybe replied.

    ‘Not so much, turns out I might have been a bit previous with the note, I’ve been up half the night doing extra research. I think I should’ve made the pursuit more of a challenge for him...meanwhile...’ Mouche thrust a handful of highlighted pages in my face.

     ‘Guess what I’ve come up with...’

     It turned out Mouche had refined and highlighted the next entry of the Boy-Rating Diary with a specific list:



Mark Knightly

Transfer student from Loratio and England, seriously hot, very dark and broody

Jet Campbell

Also a transfer student, just as hot; recently obtained his pilot’s licence. There really doesn’t seem to be a downside to this man...

Joel Goodman

Dangerous, brutish, charming

Jack Adams

Film school tragic; owns and runs the film club every Friday lunch time

Tom Allen

Wants to be a stockbroker, possibly more interested in money than dating

Josh Klein

Art major, sci-fi fan 

Peter Williamson

Musical theatre star (a real challenge for a date), honors student 

Adam Feldman

Academic genius, slightly stooped from being bent over his microscope, doubt he has ever spoken to a female, interested in insects.

Alex Miller

Dubious moral values, rumored to run a school gambling racket

Ethan Mandel

Future concert pianist, always dragged into composing the school musical

Tobias Olson

Xbox fan, martial arts expert, quite the rebel, caught in freshman year smoking who knew what and suspended from school for a week.

Scott Riley

Boy next door (literally lives across the road)


     While Mouche was parking, I executed a few ballet twirls and a high kick up the steps before I leapt and landed on my feet near the fence. This isn’t so unusual in our school, and besides, no one was looking. Oh, except Mark. My face went red as I hastily looked away.

    ‘How deeply embarrassing,’ Mouche said.

    ‘Why? I’ve gotta warm up for class,’ I covered, as if I wasn’t the least embarrassed. 

    ‘Wow. You’re becoming more like Buffy every day,’ Mouche said.

    ‘What a shame that series was cancelled. I’d have auditioned for a role and we wouldn’t have had to go to school at all. You could’ve been my assistant.’

    ‘Thanks, I’m sure that would be a rewarding job, Phoebe. Face it, we should’ve fleeced our father’s bank accounts and emigrated to New York years ago. We could’ve attended the Professional Children’s School thus avoiding HSYL altogether.’

     ‘Those days are over, Mouche.’

     ‘Thanks for the memories.’

     Our time at HSYL had been very harsh, if you haven’t gathered that already. Mrs Mouche had dated the school guidance counsellor and a scandal had erupted when their relationship resulted in the birth of a child – Mouche’s half-sister, Wednesday. As it turned out, Wednesday’s Dad was actually Mr Married Guidance Counsellor from nine streets away. Mouche was understandably keen to vacate this town, maybe even this state, permanently. (Of course, Mr Married Guidance Counsellor had never told Mrs Mouche that he was attached and since we’d never needed his guidance, we didn’t know, but it was all a mini social nightmare in our street and everyone was treating Mrs Mouche like the town bike).

   Mouche and I had felt more like lepers in the Gothic halls of HSYL that month after the scandal broke. Between trawling through academic work and being taunted by the Princesses chanting, ‘sluttie mommies, sluttie mommies, you both have sluttie mommies...’ You can imagine the rest. It was all caused by Mrs Mouche’s scandal and the fact that my mother totally stood by her (that’s what friends are for). And of course, I stood by Mouche, just as she had always stood by me. People saw us as the offspring of our morally dubious, adulterous mommies. Although, as Mrs Mouche said, ‘I wasn’t knowingly committing adultery since he lied to me – he was the jerk!’


      I’m sure that’s why, after playing the good girl cards, we decided to go for it and turn the Boy-Rating Diary into a real challenge. We’d learned a lot about being social pariahs at HSYL and placed our competitive natures aside to learn what it took and how important it was to have a loyal friend. 

    ‘You only need one,’ my mother once said, ‘as long as it’s a good one.’

     Or was that husbands?          


   ‘I totally love my mom but I just can’t believe she did it with him,’ Mouche admitted,

    ‘You’d think she could’ve used contraception... but then we wouldn’t have Wednesday, who is seriously cute.’

   ‘It says here, ‘the ‘accidental’ conception is rare past thirty...men are terrified of needy, baby-hungry, gold diggers desperate to secure them for their net value and sperm...

   ‘Ew...once again...disgusting. Besides, ‘men need to re-learn to be grateful...they require direction in the art of seduction...like in the old days...make them thankful that women even want to sleep with them...’

   Gold diggers? Nothing in return? Who’s the gold digger? Who asks for nothing in return?’ Teegan’s ears pricked up when we walked by her. She gave us a piercing stare. Teegan was a virtual conduit for any form of relationship gossip. Of course, this particular gem came from Miss Suzy’s Bunny Girl Secrets but I wasn’t ready to share them with my nemesis just yet.


      Singing had been re-scheduled and replaced with English class because our teacher was in the auditorium with Mr Sparks, preparing the audition roster for Rocco and Julie. Before class started, the rain was tapping on my window. It never rained in Sunrise and Mark was late. I was pending his arrival like an ingenue awaiting her first Oscar but he didn’t appear and I was more disappointed than I’d let show. Finally, ten minutes after the lesson started,  he showed up, late, which raised eyebrows but since he was the only person in the class (apart from me) who’d read the prescribed text (Wuthering Heights), the teacher was willing to forgive him once she’d read his notes. She seemed exceedingly pleased to have been graced by his mere presence. We were working on a modern re-write of the dialogue from the famous scene when Cathy tells Nelly it would degrade her to marry Heathcliffe as Mark walked down the aisle towards the vacant seat next to me.

     Teegan immediately staked her claim. She planted her dainty, black tap shoe firmly at his feet to prevent him going any further.

     ‘Oh, hi Mark,’ she said, ‘I just love your jacket. Did you get it at French Connection UK? My cousin used to work at the store on Kings Road...’

     He gave me an apologetic smile, then sat where he was bade.

     I was a little annoyed that my Franco hadn’t fought for me, but since we hadn’t properly conversed there was little I could do, except wait longingly and plan.

     At lunch I was tapping my toe under the table, humming the last bars of a piece I was learning on keyboard for music class when someone touched me on the shoulder and all I could see was a mouth move. Then I took out my ear plugs, turned off my play list and heard a voice. It was quite deep and mature and male. The voice unmistakeably belonged to Mark Knightly.   

    ‘You’re on the swim team, aren’t you? I saw you race yesterday. You won. You were good.’

     ‘Oh, thanks...’ I said, kind of lost for the right reply.

     Mark had already won points for making the first move, which is very important.

    Now, one of the first steps in my reference guide (which Mouche decided was mostly outdated, but nevertheless quaint) detailed how to appear nice, yet unobtainable.

    I didn’t think this would really work but when Mark said hello after English class earlier that morning, I tried it. I didn’t actually speak, I just smiled back shyly but when he kept walking, I thought I’d really blown it.

     But here he was trying to get my attention again in the last minutes of the lunch hour.

    ‘Well, um...I guess I’ll see you at the auditions...’

    ‘Yeah, the play is compulsory,’ I said dumbly. Mouche cringed.

    ‘But aren’t you and...your friend PA students?


    ‘Cos I saw you both...dancing around this morning. So you must like...artistic stuff, right?’

     I nodded and smiled like a total dork.

     Silence sat uncomfortably between us.

     ‘...see ya, Phoebe,’ he said and walked off.

     I looked at Mouche and flushed, ‘Did you hear that?’


     ‘He said my name!’

     ‘Oh, please, c’mon, we gotta go...’


     We ran down the corridor to the school auditorium.

     All the serious PA students were warming up at the bar and a few people were hanging out backstage, going over scenes for Rocco and Julie.

     When try outs were about to start and we were waiting in our seats, Teegan said to me, ‘so, did you manage to get your hooks into Mark?’

    ‘Not exactly,’ I replied.

    ‘Why not? I saw him talk to you at lunch. He’s definitely open to it. I’m sure he’d date you, even just for one night.’

     I ignored her insinuation that I wouldn’t be worth dating more than once.

    ‘That’s not true,’ Freya said with the phony compassion she was renowned for. ‘He’s definitely into me,’ she smiled patronizingly. ‘But you never know, if you wait your turn once I’ve discarded him...’

     I walked over to Mouche.

     ‘Never mind,’ Mouche said. ‘It’s payback time.’

     Mouche and I huddled together in our tights and oversized sweaters and ballet shoes. I have had loads of pairs of those pink shoes over the years and so has Mouche. But Mouche is not sentimental. I am. I have all my shoes displayed along the walls of my bedroom, along with the programs of every play I ever attended, when my mother and I went to New York. We saw every show on Broadway, using Daddy’s credit card before he had it blocked off.   

    ‘Here. So, you get to write up today’s entry, should be interesting.’ Mouche whispered, placing the pink diary in my tote.

    ‘I’ve decided we take it turnabout; you get this week – then, in the end, we combine the knowledge of everything we have learned from the first ten dates.’

   ‘You’re hopeful. I kind of messed up at lunch. So I think we can safely say we will be attending Fall Fling alone.’

   ‘Give it a few days.  Teegan is a piece of work.  If Mark has any brains he’ll work that out; meanwhile we need to re-focus. I think these old guides are really good. If nothing else, they might show us what not to do. Are you ready?’

    ‘Yep,’ I say, ‘I’m a bit nervous.’

    ‘Don’t be, you’re fab. I’m so excited. I love auditions when I’m not doing them. You’re going to be amazing.’

    Mouche could be humble like that. She really is an excellent performer when she deigns to grace the stage. I guess she just finds more joy in being behind the scenes these days, and for this production, she will get full credit for design and choreography as well.

    The strobe lighting was being tested as together we sat in the auditorium in the semi-dark, our new bags on the empty chairs beside us, a picture of a fake universe on the roof making the theatre appear like a wondrous planetarium. Our favourite teachers, Mr Frames and Miss Love were busy organizing the order of auditionees.

      Mr Frames said, ‘oops, wrong show’ into the microphone when he mixed up Mr Sparks’ directions and generally acted uncoordinated in front of Miss Love. Then he finally projected the right slides for the background: modern day images, Los Angeles streets, a mock version of Marina Del Rey, The Grove, Santa Monica Pier.

     ‘How does it look people?’ Mr Sparks asked via microphone.

     ‘Awesome,’ some wish-to-be called out sarcastically. 

     As we turned our heads, we overheard Freya discussing possible junior prom themes with Jet Campbell.

    ‘I changed the theme because we need a couple of boys on the dance committee.  We’re not sure whether to do an inspired Bond theme or ...’ Tory, meanwhile, looked intently at Jet but he seemed to be bored with her attention and lit up when he saw Mouche.

   ‘Mmm,’ Jet said, looking in the direction of Mouche and me. He even took a step back when Teegan tried to paw his arm. Perhaps he had better taste than I imagined.

    The soccer team, led by Alex and Tom, arrived and sat behind us. They began talking very loudly about how they were only here because Mr Sparks (they said his name in mocking high tones) had promised them extra credit and time off to do what really matters – play soccer.


    We felt slightly outnumbered but refused to be intimidated. Watching straight men audition is not pretty. The director, Mr Sparks, was preparing his opening speech (always a classic) and testing the microphone with a little tap of his fingers.

    Ethan Mandel was rather begrudgingly warming up his fingers on the piano (I have to admit I love to hear him play). He was practising his ‘incidental theme’ composition and Mouche and I were whispering about the content of today’s notes.

   ‘Mmm... this really is a nice shot,’ Mouche whispered, pasting the first photograph of Mark Knightly, taken on her cell phone, into the initial pages of the Diary, along with the one of Mark and Jet arriving at LAX  and a combined photograph of the Sunrise Soccer Team . Teegan looked over as if she sensed something was up and not just a change of hairstyle.

    ‘I hope this isn’t stalking. This could be misconstrued as evidence at some kind of teenage stalker of the year convention. You don’t think it could fall into the wrong hands and make us seem more viperous than the Princesses, do you?

    ‘No, it’s not for public consumption, yet. Anyway, leave it to Teegan, her nasty side is going to be revealed without too much help from us...’

    By late afternoon, Mr Sparks was getting more and more frustrated. Most of the boys refused to take ‘the process’ seriously. Only one of them could really sing, dance and act; Peter Williamson, no surprise there.

    ‘I wish we were doing a musical,’ Peter said, rolling his eyes as he sat down next to Mouche, his scene study partner.

    ‘Me too,’ Mouche agreed tolerantly.

    By now Ethan Mandel, was secretly swigging some suspicious liquid out of a flask he brought from home which he referred to as ‘cough syrup.’ In any case, his playing just got better and better, to the point where he didn’t want to stop even when everyone was talking. Rumor abounded by 6pm that the silver ‘flask’ contained absinthe (wildly popular in Paris at the turn of last century for containing hallucinogenic properties).

     By 6pm the preliminary list of names was read aloud: the last two boys and the last two girls standing; ‘okay, now can we have Phoebe, Freya, Peter and ...Tobias...’

     Miss Tartt spoke the words with a flick of her dancer’s skirt, ‘the parts would be finalized and placed on the bulletin board next week.’

    ‘I have an announcement to make,’ Mr Sparks said, ‘...this will be my last play here. As some of you know, I recently completed my PHD in Elizabethan studies...yes, you may applaud.’

     A few of the drama geeks clapped tepidly.

    ‘Thank you...really that’s not necessary. Anyway, I’ve accepted a post at the Royal Academy next year, so let’s make this production the best ever.’

     Everyone groaned. The jocks because they knew they had an easy option and the drama students because we were used to Mr Spark’s bizarre theatrical ways and would really miss his enthusiasm.

    Mouche rolled her eyes next to me and whispered, ‘go get ‘em!’

    It was my turn for a recall even though I wasn’t certain which part I was up for.

    ‘I don’t want you to impose character just yet,’ Mr Sparks spoke loudly to justify the fact that he was still in the process of stealing our teen dramas in order to complete his ‘original masterpiece...a comic and heartbreaking journey through teen world titled: Rocco and Julie – a tragedy in three acts!’

     When the boys came back to the raked seats and Jet and his group sat behind me, Alex pulled my ponytail like a twelve year old.

    ‘I’m surprised you didn’t try to snap her bra-strap as well, you moron,’ Teegan, sitting beside me, said loudly. It was suddenly an unlikely alliance, almost sisterly. Teegan seemed to be coming over to our side.  I gave her a hesitant smile and she gave me a truce smile in return. I’m kind of glad Mouche didn’t see me do that, though. I caught Teegan peering over my shoulder to see what I was writing and I snapped the pages shut.

    Alex had wrecked my concentration, I began reading over the part of Julie in my seat, waiting for Mr Sparks to say, ‘thank you, Freya. Phoebe, you may begin...’ and noticing Jet notice Mouche as she discussed dance moves with the teacher-choreographer for the first scene.

    When Mouche sat down in the stands, as I was heading onstage for my audition, she suddenly whooped and hollered like a one woman fan club, breaking the dating rules and not caring what anyone else thought.  By then, Mark was sitting quietly in the corner. He looked unimpressed about the possibility of being roped into the roles of stage manager and understudy.

   As I glanced at my script, I have to tell you, although it was based on the original, it was quite different; from scene one, it wasn’t quite what everyone expected. Mr Spark’s version of Romeo and Juliet starts at a dance, in a school gym, with starlight for a rooftop...



    Music plays.  ROCCO holds out his hand to Julie at the party where they first meet. Julie is dressed in high fashion, Rocco wears street.


    Our tale of two star crossed lovers begins with two families...both from opposite ends of Los Angeles. Rocco lives in a trailer park and Julie resides in Bel Air. Rocco and Julie see each other across the dance floor, Rocco’s best friend Tyrone is with him.


    I’m out of here


    I’m staying to meet the girl of my dreams.

    Julie is serving herself some fruit punch.

JULIE (overhears)

    Really, you shouldn’t reveal so much before we’ve even met.


    I’m Rocco


    I’m Julie

    Rocco takes Julie by the hand.


    Palm to palm and lips to lips...


    Not so fast...Rocco. We’ve totally just met.


    Then take my hand.

    Julie takes his hand

    And feel my heart

    Julie feels his heart

    And hear it beat for you

    They kiss.


    Okay, so we stopped the audition before the kiss.    

    Afterwards, when I was hanging around backstage, pulling on my jeans over my dancer’s tights, Mouche hastily scribbled on page three of her entry in the dating diary:


  Auditions today!


Something weird is happening. Phoebe is a star and boys are noticing us. It must be the ‘Guide for Young Ladies’ advice in chapter 2 – ‘feign disinterest’- that’s working, because Phoebe and I have been ‘feigning disinterest’ all week...and MARK KNIGHTLY and JET CAMPBELL have already spoken to us. 


PS. Jet Campbell just handed me a note. It said: Wanna go to Fall Fling together? Jet He left his number. Does that mean I’m supposed to text him? Does that even count as a love letter? Mouche