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(A description of what I'm doing is here.)
4592 / 23861 words. 19% done!
"Dudes! You made it!" This came from Judith, one of Miriam's goth scene friends who remained loyal to The Band regardless of what it was called and who the members were.
"Yeah, we couldn't miss the inaugural gig of Interrobang Widdershins," Colleen said.
Judith nodded, head bobbing in time with the music. "Miriam told me they have a totally new sound now, you know? They've integrated the old stuff with a more electronic feel. Now that they've got Brian on the laptop, it's going to add a whole other dimension!" She let her hands fly up and around her head, fingers spread wide, on the word "dimension".
"Awesome," I said, because it was the only thing I could think to say. I would never admit this to Miriam or Judith, but frankly, I like my music a little more Carrie Underwood than Underworld.
"So, hey, I really have to take a piss, come with me, Maddy?" Colleen said, grabbing my arm and saving me from an hour long dissertation on the nuance of the goth music scene.
Thank you, I mouthed to her as we made our way through the bodies packed tightly in the tiny club.
La Musica Noche is one of the only night clubs in town that lets local bands play on a fairly regular basis. It's one of those places that's small, hole in the wall, you'd miss it if you weren't looking for it. It's also hit or miss. You go there on any given night, you're leaving it up to fate what sort of musical genre gets pulled from the grab bag of local artists. Which is kind of fun sometimes, actually.
Colleen pulled me into the tiny, windowless bathroom, the only other patron of which is already barfing dramatically into one of the toilet stalls.
"So I say we ditch and go see what Wake and Dan are up to," she said, whispering as if barfing girl might overhear and rat us out.
"Not tonight, Col. I kind of promised Miriam I'd stay for the whole 'new dimension' experience."
Colleen made a grumping noise and hopped with agitation from foot to foot. "But this is so boring! Dan just got a new car, he's going to take it for a spin around the park and we're invited!"
Colleen's a thrill seeker. Things that the sane person might see as dangerous or even potentially fatal, Colleen sees as entertainment.
"It's just that I don't particularly feel like getting peeled off a tree by the police tomorrow morning. I was planning on sleeping in."
She groaned. "Come on, Dan's a totally good driver, he's not going to kill us." Outside the bathroom, the onstage band produced a noise that went strait to my sinuses. "This music, on the other hand, just might."
I stared at her, while she gave me her very best puppy dog eyes. "Come on, Mads, Miri'll forgive us!"
"I don't think she will. She's pretty excited about this Interrobang Weaselshin thing."
"She's always excited about a new band project. How many times does the music actually sound different? We've heard it all before. We can be supportive friends from the back of Dan's new ride. Yes?" She clasped her hands together and got down on one knee. "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease?" she whined, in a very good impression of a five year old.
The girl in the stall let rip a fresh wave of vomit.
"Okay, fine, I'm with you. Let's get out of here."
"Yaaay!" Colleen shrieked, jumping up and clapping. "You won't regret it!"
I followed her out the club, trying to ignore the guilt pangs washing through me.
** ** **
So I know that part of Colleen's desire to go hang out with Wake and Dan was one part car, and three parts trying to hook me up with Wake. She's been working on this mighty master plan of hers for about a year now, and while I truly appreciate her efforts to get me some makeouts, I've failed to convince her that Wake just isn't interested in getting his mouth anywhere near me. For any reason.
I've had a crush on him forever, the ridiculous kind of crush where you know nothing will ever come of it, and yet you can't help fantasizing that maybe THIS will be the dance where he leaves a bouquet of flowers in your locker even though you know he doesn't have the combination. Or maybe TODAY will be the day he sees that hairdo you put so much effort into, hoping he'd see it, and discover that it makes you look like a whole new person, the sort of person he'd want to date.
None of this stuff will ever happen, because things like that just don't happen. I've grown to accept it. I've come to terms with the fact that Wake will never wrap his beautiful, lightly tanned arms, the ones with slight curves from the muscles he's built through years of playing guitar, around me and whisper softly into my ear. It's okay. I will live. But I still have a tough time saying no to an excuse to see him. Colleen knew exactly which magic words would pull me away from my devotion to Miriam.
Sometimes I wished I had Colleen's confidence. She had this knack for talking to boys as if they were just people, not scary, physical embodiments of potential rejection. Colleen and Dan had been friends ever since that month they tried to date. It didn't work, but they kept hanging out anyway.
Dan lived in walking distance of La Musica Noche. Not so far that you wish you had Bret's car to drive you, but just long enough to work up a really solid set of nerves.
Colleen nudged me with her shoulder as we walked. "You scared of a little fast driving, Mads?"
I shook my head. "I can deal with Dan's driving, I think. I've got at least three shirley temples' worth of liquid confidence."
Colleen rolled her eyes. "One of these days I'm going to trick you into taking a Jell-o shot. Then what will you do?"
"Won't happen. I have made a note to henceforth be wary of any Jell-o from you."
"What if I convince somebody else to give it to you?"
"The note just changed to being wary of any and all Jell-o offers."
"I should just stop telling you my evil plans."
"Probably a good idea."
Dan's house is in the iffy part of town. Not the scary part, the part where you feel like you need a gang of doberman pincers and body guards to walk down the street, and even then you should probably leave your purse at home. Just the iffy part. The part where you might consider keeping your pepper spray at the ready, just in case. His house is small, small enough that he, as the youngest of three, shares a room with his older brother (Wake) in the garage.
Colleen marched right up, foregoing the doorbell and knocking directly on the warped metal door of the garage.
"Open up, bitch!" she yelled, not stopping the banging. When the door didn't fly up immediately, she began pounding out rhythms, even getting her feet and head involved. Finally, we heard shuffling, grunting, and the door began its ascent.
"Goddamn, woman, I was taking a fucking nap," Dan hissed.
Colleen forced herself under the door, which Dan had only managed to raise about halfway, and waved for me to follow her. I did.
"What were you taking a nap for, loser? It's not even ten yet," she said.
"Some of us need our beauty sleep, okay?" Dan sat down on his bed, which was crammed into the corner of the extremely cluttered garage. Potato chip bags and empty beer cans littered the floor, while a stack of old pizza boxes created a wall between Dan's side and Wake's side. "What the fuck do you want?"
"I heard you got a new car," Colleen said, drawing out the word "car" as if she were accusing him of doing something wrong and she might tattle on him for it.
"Yeah, it's in the shop right now."
"Aw, man. I was hoping we could take it out for a spin."
Dan made a grunting noise and flopped down on the bed, eyes closed, as if wishing we weren't there so he could get back to sleep. "You wish. I'm not letting you anywhere near this one. Espeically if you've been drinking."
"I have not been drinking!" Colleen protested.
"Right. You were at Miriam's show and you managed to stay sober. I believe that one."
"Okay, I had a few shots, but I promise I'm not in barf mode!"
Dan rolled his head to the side and opened his eyes just enough to glare at Colleen. "Doesn't matter. Rosie still hasn't forgiven you."
Rosie is Dan's old Honda beater that Colleen threw up in. Even after several scrubbings and nine different air fresheners, the interior still smelled vomit-tastic.
I listened as they went back and forth, doing what seemed to me more like parrying insults than having an actual conversation, before I couldn't keep the question in anymore.
"So where's Wake tonight?" I asked.
I felt like a moron as soon as I said it. I'd tried to make it come out sort of innocent, like I wasn't really asking about Wake specifically. You know, just something to make casual conversation, since Wake is usually always around. But instead, it sounded desperate, needy, as if the only reason I'd come by at all was to catch a glimpse of him. Which was the truth, but no one else needed to know that.
Colleen shot me a "way to suck at being smooth" look. I sneered at her.
Thankfully, Dan managed to miss our silent exchange. "He's out with Janell."
My heart sank. "Janell from dance team?" The one who graduated last year with a full scholarship to Martin? The one who won prom queen last year and had also been the lead in every school play? The one with long, toned legs that went on forever? The one I'd been jealous of since the first day I saw her, because of how she managed to pull of pretty and perfect without even trying?
"How the fuck should I know?" Dan said. "All I know is that's the last thing he said before he left the house. 'I'm going out with Janell.'"
"Okay, sorry," I said.
Colleen sent another look my way, this one a bit more sympathetic. Then she turned her attention back to tormenting Dan. After a few minutes of feeling out of place for the zillionth time that night, I stood up, made sure I was carrying my purse, and said, "Hey, Col, I'm gonna head home, I think."
"Aw, you can't! We haven't even begun to paint the town red! It's an ugly sort of rust color right now."
I shook my head.
"We've got hours left! It's Saturday night! You can't just go home!"
I shrugged. "I've got, you know, that paper to write or something. I'll see you later." I lifted the garage door and struggled my way out underneath it, pulled out my pepper spray, and headed in the direction of my house.
** ** **
Somewhere between sixth grade and now, Colleen and Miriam managed to develop some confidence and self-esteem. They marched through the school halls with their heads high, waving at people I'd never dream of talking to, joining clubs I'd be afraid of getting rejected by, participating in extra curriculars that intimidate me with the thought of how tightly knit the other participants already are. I have no idea how it happened, either. I keep thinking that maybe I missed a class along the way, the one that teaches you how to not feel like a complete dork in social situations.
The nice thing is that both of them either don't notice or don't talk about how out of place I seem around all of the things they seem to find so easy. They've tried to help me out, in their subtle (and not so subtle) Colleen and Miriam ways, and yet I remain Madeline, the social spaz. Yay hooray for me.
At least I feel comfortable in my bedroom. My bedroom, where I can hide out from the rest of the world and fantasize about the Madeline who takes chances, who talks to people that would otherwise intimidate her, who lives life rather than watching her friends live it for her. In my bedroom, surrounded by my posters of people I idolize and the things I've loved since childhood, I can escape into the world where I am this badass that people thrill to see walking in their direction. I am the one the other girls envy, because I have that It, that Something, that Extra Flair that makes heads turn.
My bedroom, where I fantasize until the fantasy becomes a dream, and the dream becomes sleep, and my mom has to turn the light off for me so it doesn't wake me up in the middle of the night.
** ** **