Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pride and Princesses An Unexpected Kiss chapter 16

Chapter 16

An Unexpected Kiss 

     The day before the scheduled meeting, something truly unexpected happened which made me question my devotion to Mark.

     It had been a long afternoon of rehearsing and I left the auditorium to water my parched throat. Outside, I encountered the adorable Joel Goodman again.

     He grunted “hello” with a confident smile as he walked down the empty hallway past me. Joel had been kept back a year, after his parents “home schooled” him. They travelled through Europe, like gypsies, after their connection to Mark’s  parents went bust. Joel’s wild, black hair was all spiky from some hairdressing show and his rangy, blue jeaned hips had a studded belt around them. His sister (who was a model agent) paid him three hundred dollars to slum it in an LA show the previous week because she ’d  had trouble finding extra “young, dangerous types.” She  could’ve asked Mark and Jet as well. Their combined attitudes would have been perfect for the catwalk. 

     At least that’s  what Brooke whispered to Freya who told Teegan who told Mouche who told me. Joel got whispered about a lot. He was considered hot but a little dangerous and I was secretly thrilled that our relationship had developed from monosyllabic to the next level -  basic conversation and meeting up during rehearsal and detention “time-outs”. 

      We’d become friends but so far I’d never involved him in the Boy-Rating Diary.

      Without realizing it, I had been letting Joel hang out with me when what I really should have been doing (maybe) was dating him, even if Mrs Jones dictated his unsuitability. He was kind of bad. I didn’t  have to ask Joel what he was doing here in the hallway again. I knew.

     Joel had been suspended. His jeans hung low and you could see the top of his boxers and the bottom of his ripped torso peeping out from beneath his plaid shirt. His muscular arms carried a more than usually heavy bag, full of the contents of his locker. 

     We paused at the drink vending machine. Suddenly he stopped and turned around to acknowledge me.

     “Hey, Tuesday Girl...”

     As I told you, he was kind of smart. It’s just that, as punishment for attempting to take a photograph up Miss Holland’s skirt (Miss H was our music teacher), he’d been assigned to hang out with a different “high achieving” student every day for a month during ninth grade.  After that, he got the “dangerous” rep. Today, the rumor about Joel’s suspension (for setting off the school smoke alarms “unintentionally”), had been posted on the Princess’s webpage. Thereafter it had multiplied like swine flu. I was not completely unaware. 

     “Hey Pheebs...come here, there’s  something I wanted to say to you before I go on vacation...”

     “You can say it from there...”

     “Why, because I’m such a bad influence you have to keep your distance?”

      “Of course not,” the truth was, I admired his reckless abandon.

      I moved forward but not too close.

      He stopped and looked at me like I was soda in a fountain. He paused momentarily, then spoke.

     “You were my favorite,” he said in a deeper than teenage rebel voice.

     “Your favorite what?”

     “Day of the week. We usually met on Tuesdays.”

      This gave me an idea.

     “Mmm...Can you put that in writing?”

     “Eager to please the lady...” he said with a smile. Joel pulled out a docket or something from his pocket and wrote: 


     To Phoebe (Tuesday) Harris; you are my favorite day of the week, luv Joel.


     I stopped feeding coins into the slot and shoved the note into my pocket. I was feeling all hot and sweaty from dance rehearsals and not looking my best to greet a man as per the guides I now read obsessively, but exceptions must be made and I wasn’t expecting this. I stood my ground and faced him. 

     “Why are you carrying such a big bag? You don’t have, like, a body in there do you?”

      He laughed and lit a cigarette.

      “No. Want one?”

      “It’s illegal to smoke at school. Besides, it’s bad for you.”

       He stubbed it out.

      “I just gave up. I’m celebrating.”

      “What are you celebrating?”

      “I’m going to New York.”

      “What? You mean you’re  dropping out of school?”

      “Yep. For two whole weeks. I got suspended but I don’t think I want to come back, anyways...”

     “Wow...I don’t know if that’s  something to celebrate..” then I forgot the Mrs Jones Guide and just said what I thought, “...that could be a really dumb idea...besides, I wasted loads of time checking your work.”

    “No time is wasted Phoebe Tuesday. Besides, I have an older brother there. I can catch up on Wuthering Heights when I’m gone. Don’t worry. I’ve never been to New York but it’s got to be more interesting than here. I can’t wait to go.”

     I couldn’t  wait to get out of Sunrise either. Maybe it had something to do with Mark.

    “Me either,” I said, trying to sound way cooler than I am. I leaned back on the door of the locker, “after the play is over, and I’ve  graduated, I want to go to Julliard...if I get in.” Joel smiled.

    I gotta tell you being around him at that moment made me feel a little shy. This was starting to bother me. I was becoming the girl I was before I became the self-assured pre-woman I am.

    “Well,” I said, “break a leg in New York. The drink machine awaits...”

    But before I could turn he leaned over and kissed me and the last thing I expected was to kiss him back, especially as he was all smoke-addled and I was sweaty.

     Proof your love life can change in a second.

     “I always wanted to do that...” he said. Then we heard the squeak of unoiled hinges and Mark walked out from behind a nearby locker. Trust Mark to ruin my day. He glanced at Joel knowingly, then turned around, and walked off in the opposite direction.

      Joel smiled at me like the kiss hadn’t meant a thing, said “adios amigos” and left.


     How rude,” I wrote in the diary that night and when I told Mouche she agreed. “They just love you and leave you. What’s the point of that?” I started to cry. Mouche consoled me.

      “This is so unexpected...”

       “I know,” Mouche said. “...but was it good?” she asked.

      “Well, it would have been...if we hadn’t been interrupted. It was kind of special because it was the first real kiss I’ve ever had apart from my dozens of stage kisses, as you know, and most of them were with Peter Williamson...”

    “Here, I have something for you. I found it backstage when I was going through the costume boxes.”

     “The vintage jeans...but don’t I have to obtain them via a date?”

     Obtaining items from so-called dates will not a self-determined woman make...except maybe in France. So, I’m going to add that the rules of “obtaining items” can be amended as and when we see fit. I think the unexpected encounter you had with Joel can definitely count as a date and you just need a little help with the items. Anyway, these jeans are perfect for treasure trove item three.

    We both tried them on. They were a little long for me but I just rolled them up.

     I got to keep the guide that night. I sat up in my canopy bed like Pollyanna thinking about Joel and how best to describe what had happened. A little part of me was seriously annoyed. For ten minutes he’d taken me out of my triple threat Princess-hating world and taken me into the possibility of Loveland. And in Loveland, it seemed to me all the rules, the entire plan, went out the window. It’s like that old disco record Mrs Mouche plays all the time when she’s doing the vacuuming once a year.

    Love was way complex.

    But in the end, I kept it simple.

    “Keep it simple sister,” Wednesday was learning to say. I know because Mouche taught her and there is nothing funnier than a three year old with glitter face saying; “keep it simple sister,” in a bluesy voice. Thom is just chomping at the bit to take her on at Starz; I think He’s  given up on Mouche and me, but what you really need in the biz is an agent who believes in you.

     “No”, I replied when Mouche asked me if I’d heard from Thom since the Alien audition,     “I really need him to believe in me...” I whined a few seconds later.

     “What you need is to believe in yourself,” Mouche said.  In any case, Thom wanted Wednesday to audition for a commercial that will be ongoing and set her up for life, financially (or at least for college), if she  gets it.

     “We shouldn’t exploit her talents,” Mouche said.

     “But couldn’t we ask your mom?”

      “You know what she’ll say,” Mouche replied.

      Somehow, Thom convinced us to take Wednesday to the open call the next day. Thom rang and rang until we relented and Mouche agreed to take Wednesday to her first Kidz audition without telling her mother who, “didn’t  want anything to do with that exploitative business,” now that she  had her own career and love life back on track.

      If Wednesday gets it, the commercial will set up her college fund. Then Mrs Mouche might be happy about it, and glad we arranged to take her.  Besides we both love any excuse to drive to the heart of Los Angeles.

     I was wiping sparkles and face paint off Wednesday’s face.

    “I want more,” Wednesday said.

    “No Wednesday. Kids wearing make-up look like little hussies. They want to see you looking natural!”

    Wednesday was immediately put out and crossed her tiny arms and legs and snuggled up to Mouche.

    “Okay,” I said, finally deciding to use the curling tongs on Wednesday’s hair. Mouche’s mother had forbidden me to do this to Wednesday’s golden baby locks long ago. But Mrs Mouche was away on a business conference and wouldn’t  be back until Sunday so I was in charge.

     “Okay girls, I trust you,” Mrs Mouche assured us as she  flounced off the front porch, her suit freshly dry-cleaned, her make-up newly applied, her hair blow waved. Mrs Mouche was really a great role-model for young girls. She  had lifted herself up from male and financial disaster.

     “Out with the old and in with the new,” Mrs Mouche always said.

     Once she  had left for the airport we were safely on our way.

    “I hope this works out better for you than it did for me,” I tell Wednesday. 

    The casting was in Santa Monica.

     After we sat with Wednesday for the morning while they took her photo and listened to her say a few cute words, we had the whole afternoon to ourselves and we went to Third Street Promenade for lunch. Then we drove to Venice again and checked out the market stalls all afternoon.

     “This is fun,” Wednesday said, in full sentence. Mouche wiped ice-cream off her baby sister’s face and smiled.

     At home that evening, Wednesday slept deeply.

     “She’s exhausted,” I said to Mouche.

     “I know,” Mouche said, “I hope we did the right thing.”

     “Of course we did,” I told her.

      “I can’t wait to have children one day. Well, I mean, I’d like to get married first, and of course, I wouldn’t plan on kids until I’m at least twenty or thirty.”

      I smiled. I knew Mouche would make a great mother.

      “But not yet,” I told her.

      “No, not yet,” Mouche joked.

     “Now, getting back to the Boy-Rating Diary,” I continued...

     Of course I had to re-capture the story of the previous date as well as update the encounters section with the brief but slightly beautiful moment between Joel and me.

      Mouche said she was too emotionally exhausted to re-live the episode with the Princesses or my speed date with Joel. Besides, she said, “I have a meeting to prepare for tomorrow...I have the best idea, the funniest idea in the whole world....we’ll beat those skanks at their own game and get our dates sorted out in the process...”

      I must admit, I was not one hundred percent sure what Mouche was up to, but she  promised to brief me at 8am the next morning before school. 

      “Oh, and I have news to tell you regarding Jack Adams, film school tragic.” Mouche said, brushing her teeth. “We’ve developed a mutual love for All About Eve and things have progressed. We may even decide to go skating together if I can drag him away from his blue screen,” Mouche said.

      “I’ve  only got my one interlude with Joel to write up and now He’s  skipped town just when we were on the verge of becoming epic.”

      We both laughed as I continued writing in the original Boy-Rating Diary.

      “This should have come at the end,” I wrote. “I don’t care about gathering stupid treasure chest items anyway, I never really did.”

       When it was Mouche’s  turn to write up her chapter, she  scribbled next to mine in pink fluoro; “big mistake Pheebs, always keep your eyes on the prize and remember the rules of the game.”

      But what were they?

      Mouche seemed to be changing them as we went along and sometimes I wondered if she  was telling the whole truth. I saw her flirting with Ethan Mandel whole days before she  ever mentioned it in the boy rating notes under “Mouche’s  Boys: (sub-heading) Boys I’ve  kissed this year.” It was getting a little bit confusing, for sure.  

     Then I stuck in the note with Joel’s name on it and when I looked on the other side, where the tape met the paper, I noticed Joel had scrawled his number and his email, just in case, he wrote, you’re in New York.