Friday, December 5, 2008

twenty one

I waited for what felt like hours. Where the fuck was Kate at? I folded some clothes absently, channeling my mother’s nervous habits. At nearly five the door opened.
“Hey!” Kate was flushed and carrying numerous shopping bags.
“Hey A.” Blanche peeked her head over Kate’s shoulder. I was surprised. Had they been hanging out? Since when were they hanging out kind of friends? To my knowledge, Kate didn’t even like Blanche that much. Kate flung her bags on to her bed, and turned to me, smiling.
“Wait til you see all the shit I bought. Whoa, your hair! It looks sick!”
“Since when do you shop?” I touched my new bob self consciously.
“Since I made her. And I agree, the hair is ah-may-zing.” Blanche annunciated, smiling.I was glad they liked it, but my irritation was overwhelming. How could Kate be so happy when I was so upset? What a bitch. Blanche sat on my bed next to me, and put her arm around my shoulder. “I heard about Marcus. What an asshole.” What the fuck? Kate told Blanche of all people? I felt my embarrassment creep over my newly naked neck. My anger with Kate grew stronger every second. She was busy pulling things out of bags, and tossing them haphazardly in piles.
“These are for you.” she threw me a pair of purple suede knee high boots, flat bottomed and devastatingly cool. I warmed slightly to her effort to cheer me up.
“I don’t know how I found size ten boots, but there you go. I know you’ve been coveting those ones from that designer or whatever, and I thought these were similar enough. I smiled despite myself. They looked nothing like the boots I wanted, but they were sweet enough it didn’t matter. I stood up and pulled them on over my skinny jeans. I looked down at the effect, and was decidedly pleased.
“Thanks Kate. These are really dope.”
“Blanche picked ‘em out for herself, but since they’re so big, we figured you’d be perfect. Elephant feet, and all that.”
“You little bitch.”
“Oh and we’re having a medieval party on Friday. I got you a cape too.” she held out a heavy velvet cape which looked ridiculous.
“Where did you find a cape?”
“I have my ways.”
Blanche was trying on sun sunglasses in the mirror, turning and primping, checking each angle meticulously.
“And I got myself some men’s vests and men’s shirts at this awesome store called Sid Vintage in Noho. Annnnd I got this. To replace your Aaron flannel.” she tossed a green flannel shirt at me. “It’s time for New Alice to let go of Aaron totally.”
“Yeah, high school baggage is so terrible.” Blanche remarked, turning towards me with her shades still on. “I had a boyfriend I didn’t get over til I dated Marcus. Oops.” she cringed when she mentioned his name.
“It’s fine. I’m over it. I’m going to show him what he missed.”
“He really is missing a lot. You’re the best.” Kate said genuinely. I smiled at her softly, a silent thank you for her support. I wasn’t as pissed anymore.
“Let’s go get dinner, and then I’m taking you two out to a bar. You have class tomorrow?” Blanche asked.
“Nope, day off for both of us.” Kate responded. “Second day in a row for delinquent Alice here. Way to skip your first college class ever.” she chuckled.
“Outstanding circumstances. But yes, we both have tomorrow off, so I’d love to go out. I’m going to wear my new boots!” I felt a knot in my stomach untwist. Girl time with my best friend and my new party pal was just what I needed. I also needed to eat, I realized as my stomach grumbled. I hadn’t eaten all day while I was wallowing.
“let’s hurry, I’m fucking starving.” I groaned to them.
“Okay, okay, I could use a good burger right bout now.” Kate stood up to go.
“I don’t get how you two eat like that.” Blanche complained, “I’d be massive.”
“Stoner metabolism. Which reminds me…” Kate trailed off. “Al, can you wait until we pack a bowl before you die of starvation?”
“Always.” I responded with an empathic nod.


I stopped myself in the hallway. I wasn’t ready to hate Marcus, but I wasn’t ready to hear his explanation either. Hurting Alice was like hurting me, and I didn’t want to hear why he didn’t like her. I couldn’t even imagine any reasons. She was my best, my most great, my girl. Instead of walking over to Marcus’ I pulled out my cell phone and dialed Blanche. I wanted to get to the bottom of their relationship without directly asking Marcus.
“Hello.” she singsong.
“Yo girl, what’s up.” I tried not to be short.
“Just coming back from lunch, you? Are you with A?” Enough with the dumb nicknames, I thought to myself. A and B, great.
“No that’s what I want to talk to you about. About Alice.”
“Is everything ok?” she must have heard the serious tone of my voice.
“Well, yes and no. can you meet me somewhere?”
“Sure. Come to my dorm.”
As I approached the dorm ten minutes later, I saw Blanche perched on the steps, posing and smoking a cigarette. Her long pale legs stretched out in the sunlight, covered by knee socks and a pleated skirt.
“Hey, Blanche.” I greeted her with a nod.
“Hey, sweetie.” she got up to air kiss me, a habit with was growing on me a little.
“So here’s the thing. Marcus and Alice hooked up and then he stopped and told her he couldn’t, that he liked someone else.”
“Whoa.” she looked shocked.
“Does that sound like him? I mean, is he hung up on someone.” I hinted.
“Not that I know of. Certainly not me. We broke up ages ago, and he dumped me.” she admitted.
“I wasn’t the best girlfriend.”
“I gathered that.” I laughed.
“Oh, fuck you.” she laughed back. I realized this was he first time since I met her she seemed relaxed and natural. I liked it, and saw a little of what Alice saw in her now, an ease of confidence and friendliness that was attractive.
“So is she okay? I mean, should I call her?” she continued.
“I think maybe not. She’s pretty embarrassed. You can’t tell her I told you, okay?” Blanche looked uncomfortable when I said that.
“She’ll probably tell you anyways.” I offered.
“Probably.” she agreed. She stood up, tossing her cigarette into the grass and turned to me.
“Hey, want to go shopping? I’m heading into town to go to this vintage store, and I bet you’d love it. Lots of men’s vests for you!” she giggled.
“I would like that. If you’re nice, I’ll even try on a dress for you. That’s always a funny experience.”
“And we need to think of a good theme for a party at my place this weekend.”
“Oh, I will go nuts with that. How about medieval? We can have swordfights and mead wenches and…” I broke off as she started laughing.
“Or roaring twenties,” I continued. I knew she would have a field day with that costume.
“As much as I love flappers, I think medieval is more original.” she said seriously, as if this matter was of great importance. Which I guess it kind of was to her. Parties seemed to be a big thing with her friends, and the crazier the costumes the better.
“So where should we go shopping?” I was hesitant to spend time with her, lest Alice get all territorial, but Blanche was being so damn nice, how could I say no?
“Maybe we should go to Northampton? It’s where Smith is, so we can scope out some girls for you. Lots of lesbians in Noho.” my stomach thrilled at that thought. A regular smorgasbord of eligible dykies. Nice.
“So we take the bus?”
“Pioneer Valley Transpo at your service.” she said, flourishing her arm toward the general direction of the bus stop. As we started walking, I lit up a cigarette, trying to fill the silence. Blanche seemed comfortable just to walk without saying anything, a trait I attributed to her confidence. I often filled time with idle chatter, afraid of what the silence would mean, like I was uninteresting or bland. Blanche was aware of her power, her grace and so she didn’t need to crack little jokes to keep people entertained. She was so sure of herself. I saw a sliver of what Alice admired in her then, and how that confidence was held over you like a prize. Stick with me and all this could be yours, she seemed to say.
“So I started class today.” my voice sounded too loud after that silence.
“Yeah?” she turned to look at me, attentive.
“It Wasn’t what I thought. It was…just like high school.”
“Yes, therein lies the greatest secret of higher education. It is just like high school for a while, then you get the better classes. But at first, it’s like reverting to junior year, difficulty wise. You just have to do the work, and you’ll be golden. What class did you have?”
“Spanish 102, which I thought was more difficult than 101. I am now convinced 101 is for remedial students.”
“Hey I took Spanish 101.”
“It was like remedial Spanish.”
“See, I knew it. My teacher acted like she was teaching elementary school Spanish. She also had poufy 80s hair which I hate hate hate.”
“Not everyone can have such flowing locks as yours, Kate.” Blanche joked, tugging the end of one of my shit locks. I tossed my head around, jerking her hand with it, and made a horse noise. She giggled and let go.
“You’re kind of silly.” she remarked.
“Dude, I know. I can’t help it.”
“I like it!” she giggled again. I remembered Alice then, and wondered if she was ok, if I should call her or something. I decided to give her space. I was having too much fun, anyways.


I wanted to sleep for ten more hours. This coke was kicking my ass, and at least when I was asleep I didn’t have to think about Marcus. Whenever I awoke, my shame would creep down my spine and I would have to put my head under the covers again, hiding from everything I remembered about the night before. I had no idea why this was hitting me so hard. Maybe I really liked him, maybe I just had never been rejected. It was definitely a blow to my confidence, that’s for sure. I felt like I wanted to get up, but couldn’t. if I got up, it was saying I didn’t really care. Like I was okay, and I was most definitely not okay. I finally dragged my ass out of bed, and looked in the mirror. Jesus. No wonder he rejected me. I was hideous. I raked my hair back from my face, and turned to my profile. Too big nose, pointy chin, freckles.
“How could he not want someone else? God, anyone else?” I said aloud, dropping my hair back into place. “Fuck, pull yourself together, Alice. You’re such a fucking loser.”
I kept staring at myself, picking blackheads I imagined and wallowing. Eventually I decided to take a shower, to shock myself out of this abyss. I let the water pour over me, not washing myself, just standing under the spray. I watched some dye from my hair run into the drain absently and shifted myself close to the hot water. I resolved to re-dye my hair later that day. Changing ym hair had always been somewhat cathartic for me. I chopped my hair when I lost my virginity, and dyed it when I left for college. New hair, new self. That was going to be my mantra today, I thought, I could use a trim. I needed to give myself concrete tasks to do so I could lose myself in the, and stop thinking about Marcus. I turned the water off, and grabbed my robe. The cool air chilled my skin, and I hurried back to my room, fighting the urge to crawl back in bed. I didn’t get dressed, just fished around under my bed naked, looking for my haircutting scissors and some hair dye. I stood in front of the mirror, combing my hair straight, the wet strands sticking to my cheeks. I turned my head one way, then the other, eyeing which strands were longer and needed to be cut. When I picked up the scissors, I felt reckless, like I wanted to chop it all off. Instinctively, I titled my head forward and grabbed a chunk of hair. I trimmed it close to the skin, exposing the nape of my neck. I continued around my head, cutting my hair with light snips, angling the hair forward until the front pieces were longer, grazing my chin. It was a bob of sorts, I though, just a little more interesting. My hair was dry now, unstyled and kind of frizzy. But it was an improvement. It was a cool haircut, with the shortest part at the back contrasted with the longer parts at the front. I mixed the dye meticulously, wiping up the small spills I made on the dresser with my bathrobe. Parting my hair in quarter inch intervals, I spread the fire engine red dye over my hair evenly. Somewhere around halfway through, I realized the reason why I was doing all of this. I was going to make Marcus so fucking jealous he would kick his own ass for rejecting me. I perched on my bed, pulling my laptop onto my legs as I waited for the dye to penetrate my hair. I flipped through Facebook, going through friends I had accrued online before school started. I marked all of the cute boys on my bookmark list. I was going to date boys, until I found one who made me forget Marcus completely. I was New Alice still, I told myself. And New Alice was strong enough to not only forget about Marcus, but fucking thrive without him. I couldn’t wait til I saw him next, looking sexy and making out with someone else. He would regret last night as much as I did.


I danced all night, and I was pretty sure I was getting better at sexy dancing. Maybe. I was exhausted by one, and tried to leave at least five times before all the girls would let me go. I got a few numbers, mostly friend-types, but it was exhilarating to have real gay role models. Maybe I could figure out from them how I was supposed to navigate the straight world while being gay. It was tricky.
“Okay, class tomorrow, I have to go.” I yelled over the music to everyone.
“Okay, well, it was nice meeting you.” Carmen grabbed my hand and pressed a piece of paper into it. “That’s my number. Call me any time.”
“I will take you up on that. Expect some six a.m wake up calls.” I teased. She laughed. I made my way to the door finally, and wondered if Alice and Marcus had made out finally. I was so excited when they came over, obviously flushed and making excuses for why they were leaving. I hoped she didn’t just sleep with him like she had with that senior dude. I really wanted them to work.
I ambled across the quad, hands in my pockets, my thoughts swirling over the evening. I was in such a good mood. I thought briefly about Melanie, and wondered if she wanted to get lunch tomorrow. I was determined to show her the path of freakdom, and how great ti was not to listen to mainstream hip hop and watch The Notebook. i
Decided to text her tomorrow after my first class. I also thought about how happy Alice would be when I got home, if she was even there at all. I hoped she wasn’t kind of, that she and Marcus were listening to records and talking about life, holding hands and kissing gently. I felt like a fag for thinking like that, and smiled to myself. Nothing could bring me down right now, I thought.
I tripped up the stairs on my way into the door, and realized I was still drunk, aa thought which hadn’t occurred to me in a few hours. My high, I though was, was due to meeting new people, not alcohol induced. I fumbled with my keys, closing one eye to see straight. I pushed the door open, waiting to see if Alice was there. She was, but she was lying on her bed, half undressed, sobbing.
“Whoa, what’s wrong?” I was taken aback. He what?
“Marcus…said…no….he likes someone else!” she struggled to get her words out through her tears. I felt sobered up immediately, and rushed to her bed, sitting on the edge.
“Maybe he still likes Blanche?” I let the question hang in the air.
“Maybe.” she sputtered. I stroked her hair, letting her cry it out.
We fell asleep in her bed around three, and I knew I would be tired tomorrow. But I didn’t care. This was more important.
I got up at nine, my head pounding. I needed to slow down on the drinking. I let Alice sleep, because her class was later than mine. I changed out of my clothes from the night before, and smelled myself. I was rank, but I had no time to shower. I wore a hoodie, and hoped I wouldn’t be the smelly girl in class. I pulled on some jeans and slipped my sneakers on. I had just enough time to grab a coffee on the way to class.
“Hola chicas y chicos. Me llamo es professora Diaz.” My teacher was a plump middle aged lady with a ridiculous poufy hairstyle. I sighed. I wasn’t dumb, just a bad student, and I hated teachers who acted like kids were borderline retarded. She spoke so slowly I wondered if I had wandered into remedial Spanish instead. I had thought college was supposed to be challenging. We had a break halfway through and I walked outside to smoke. I lit up my cigarette, and remembered why I smoked pot before my classes in high school. This class was exactly like my senior Spanish class, not exactly what I had thought it’d be. I was worried I’d be out of my league, but it was entirely possible I would do well in this class. That was a novel thought. I wondered if Alice had gotten up for her class, and I felt a knot of worry tie into my stomach. I remembered my idea to text Mel last night, so I pulled out my phone. I typed in “Lunch today?” and pressed send. My phone buzzed a moment later with the response “Yes! : )” and I smiled. She was pretty cute, like a little sister type. I wanted to be her hip role model and decided to burn her a cd of some underground hip hop to supplement her collection. She needed direction I thought. I went back inside, fighting the urge to just leave. I had made a promise to be a better student and stop getting high for class, and I was determined to do that for exactly one week at least.
After class I went to the cafeteria, looking around for Mel. I found her typing on her laptop, and she looked up and smiled big.
“Hey, Kate! What’s up?”
“Nothing, done with class for the day, you?”
“Oh I have one later. I just love my classes so far.”
“Melanie, if you want to be cool, stop saying stuff like that.” I laughed.
“I can’t help it!” she pouted and I chuckled some more.
“I’m making you a cd,” I announced, “You need some good tunes.”
“Oh, I’d love that!”
We chatted some more about my class, and I shared with her my plan to be a better student. She laughed at that, and offered to do homework with me at the library. I realized she could be my school role model in exchange for my cultural expertise for her.
“Ok, dude, I’m going to go find Alice. She had a rough night. But I’m taking you up on the library offer soon.”
“Ok, Kate, see you soon.” I cleared my tray, and walked out into the bright sunshine. I squinted and fumbled through my bag for some sunglasses. I found my Wayfarers and put them on. I pushed off on my skateboard and cruised toward the dorm. Alice should have been done with class by now. I wanted to see if she was still upset, or if the morning had given her a little relief. Maybe they were just drunk tears, I thought. I didn’t think so, but who knew? I wanted to call Marcus, and ask him what the fuck his problem was. Who does that? Wait til a girl gets all worked up and then deny her satisfaction based on the premise of liking someone else. I wondered who it was, Blanche or Ellen, maybe Jess. Maybe me? I shook that thought out of my head. He knew I was gay. But he always looked at me like…I decided not to think about it. I peeked my head in the door first, and all the lights were out. I flipped the switch and the harsh overhead light shined through my sunglasses. I pulled them off, and I noticed a shape in the bed.
“Alice?” I asked, my voice sounding too loud in the silent room.
“What?” she spat back.
“Did you go to class?”
“What?” I was in disbelief. Skipping class on the first day? Already?
“I didn’t go to class.” she rolled over, and I noticed she was still in her clothes from the night before. She looked horrible, all disheveled, her hair stringy and unwashed. I was suddenly angry at everything, angry about Marcus, angry at her for not taking class seriously.
“Get the fuck out of bed, Al.”
“No.” she grunted into her pillow.
“Get up.” I demanded again.
“Fine.” she sat up, her dress pushed up over her waist, bunching unattractively.
“Look at you! You look like..” I thought for an appropriate metaphor, “A train wreck.” I realized it was harsh but she needed to hear it.
“I just can’t stop replaying it in my head. Over and over, ‘I can’t do this.’ ugh.”
“Al, snap out of it. He’s just a guy.”
“I’ve never been so humiliated.”
“I know, girl, I know, but he’s just a guy.”
“A great guy.”
“I’m going to kick his ass.”
“No, don’t. I don’t want him to know I’m upset.”
“how could he mess up like this? You’re fucking awesome. He missed out.”
“How can I compare to Blanche?”
“You don’t have to. You’re Alice.” she fell backwards onto her tangled sheets.
“I’m going back to bed.”
“I’m going to Mel’s room. I’ll come back soon.”
I strode out of the room, past Melanie’s and took the stairs. Like it or not, Alice, I’m kicking his ass, I thought to myself. Fuck Marcus.


After a few more bumps with Blanche, I felt like my New Self again. I saw Kate dancing awkwardly with some dykey looking girls, and I smiled. Odd as it sounded, she seemed in her element, grinning easily and I felt happy for her. I felt happy in general, for that matter. Like my limbs would burst with elation. I walked over to Marcus and leaned in close to him.
“Wanna dance?”
“Yeah, sure.” I pulled him by the elbow to the edge of the dance floor and started to dance. He followed suit, awkwardly shifting from side to side, looking uncomfortable. I pulled him to me, and our hips linked front to front as we moved back and forth. He seemed more at ease now, and his arms wove around me. His touch was electrifying, but I couldn’t tell if it was drug induced or just pure sexual tension. I decided it was the latter. I pulled my head back and looked him in the eyes. His searched mine, looking for what answer I didn’t know. I decided to go for it, and leaned in, pushing my mouth against his. His lips parted in response, and his tongue slipped into my mouth. We kept moving, slower than the beat of the song, as we furiously made out right there on the dance floor. I raked my hands through his hair, pulling his mouth in closer to mine. He broke away, and swallowed. When he spoke his voice was deeper than usual, husky.
“Want to get out of here?” he looked into my eyes again.
“Yeah.” I said quietly.
“What?” I leaned into his ear.
“Okay.” he looked nervous, which I found endearing. “Let me just say bye to Kate.”
That irked me, I wanted him to want me so bad he couldn’t stand it another minute. But that meant I could find Blanche and get a little more, just a little bump for the road. I didn’t know why they called them bumps. Bumps sounded like you went down after, when in fact you went sky high, sailing through the outer limits where no possibility was out of reach. I pulled Blanche aside and we went to the bathroom yet again.
I decided to say good bye to Kate too, and I walked out on the floor, edging through groups of wild dancers. Marcus was already there, talking into Kate’s ear as she smiled. I tugged his sleeve, and he turned to me. We locked eyes again, and I could feel the sexual tension well up. He and I waved good bye, stammering excuses about class tomorrow awkwardly. we made small talk across campus, a ritual I was getting used to: The small talk before the make out. I wanted to reach down and grab his hands, but since I was in heels, I was terrified I would be able to reach. I was a good 4 inches taller than him now, something I wasn’t used to. I couldn’t wait to get back to the dorm so I could take my shoes off and be closer to his height. We went up the stairs, and he turned to me, eyes squinting in the fluorescent lights. I wondered if I looked ok under the harsh lighting.
“Let me check if my room is ok.”
“Okay.” I laughed. It was so cute, how concerned he was. I hoped he wanted to impress me. He stuck his head out of the door.
“All clear.” His Mohawk was all disheveled from my hands running through it, and he looked absolutely adorable. His room was a single, and full of punk posters and band stickers on every surface. I sat on his bed, feeling uncomfortable and debated taking my shoes off. I figured I should just stay seated, and I tucked one leg under me. He sat down next to me, after turning off the lights. He leaned in, and I felt him kiss my neck softly. I sighed and moved my mouth to his. His lips were soft and full, and it was a much better kiss than the previous night’s. We leaned back onto his bed, his hands moving over my dress. I went for his belt buckle, fumbling slightly. He stopped my hand and looked at me.
“Can we just kiss?”
“yeah, okay.” I was a little taken aback. What boy didn’t want more?
After a few minutes he pulled away and sat up.
“I can’t do this.”
“Alice, you’re great, I just like someone else. You’re beautiful and everything, and I’m attracted to you, but I can’t use you like that.”
I felt tears well up. I had never been rejected. I started to shake and I straightened my dress, and got up to leave.
“Alice, don’t be mad.”
“I’m not. Whatever.” I spat out bitterly. I felt shame creep into my face in the form of a dark blush. I slammed the door on my way out.


I was amazed it was that easy. Some of my frigid feelings for Blanche warmed because she had included me in this. I suppose I was just jealous of her, and of the changes she seemed to be inspiring in Alice. But this change was one I could live with, for sure. We had gotten there at what I thought was a late time, but it seemed like gays had a relative sense of fashionably late. The party was sparse and I felt shame for dragging everyone here. I saw Blanche and Alice at the bar, rolling their eyes and looking too good for everyone. Marcus and Ellen were arguing dramatically about some photographer who Marcus hated but Ellen adored, and Jess looked like she was concentrating really hard on standing upright. I sighed and looked around again, trying to scope out some potential test subjects for lesbian studies 101. I spotted a few overweight girls in cargo pants in one corner, and a few groomed boys in another. There was a third group of androgynous types, girls and boys with short hair and flat chests under wife beaters. I knew the term transgender from psych class, and I thought maybe they were, which confused me further. If they had girl parts, would I like them or would they like boys? I really didn’t get it. Were they gay men or straight men or lesbians? I needed a drink. I walked to the bar, waving at Blanche and Alice as I neared. I ordered a gin and tonic, and let the bubbles soothe my confused mind. Some of the androgynous ones were pretty cute, but I couldn’t will myself to go over and say hi. At least not til I was solidly drunk. I gulped my drink, overhearing Blanche and Alice’s idle chatter. I guess she needed someone to have girl talk with, and I was sure as hell glad it wasn’t me. Blanche’s femininity was something I didn’t have and didn’t want. I finished my drink, and felt the alcohol seep through my veins into my extremities. I pulled Marcus aside and asked him what I should do.
“Wait til it picks up.” he suggested. “Then go talk to someone.”
“Okay, okay.” I eyed the line of people filtering in, and saw a few more cute girls. It was weird to be able to check out girls without worrying if they were straight. I’m sure a few here were, like Blanche or Alice, but for the most part I felt confident that I could hit on any of them without creeping someone out. It felt good. I turned to Ellen, emboldened by my last drink, and asked her to dance.
“”Finally.” She said breathily, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask.” That struck me as a little cliché, her bad girl act was hitting one note over and over. But if I danced with her, I knew I’d send out a flag that I was into girls to the whole room. So I let her pull me on the floor, and we awkwardly placed our hands on each other’s waists. I’d only danced with a few boys, back in junior high, or danced crazy with Alice, so I was at a loss of how to sexy dance. I just followed her hip movements, swinging mine back and forth in time to the music. She smelled like shampoo, the scent wafting whenever she moved her long brown hair. I leaned closer to her, moving my hands to her lower back. It felt so natural to feel these curves like this, her breasts pushing against mine causing a heat wave to my nether regions. After the song ended, she fanned her face dramatically and said she needed a drink. We walked over to the bar, and I got two vodka tonics. I leaned back and surveyed the room again. It had gotten more crowded and I saw some girls who looked kind of like me, boyish but a little feminine. I turned to Ellen and asked if she knew anyone here.
“Um, some of those girls were in my classes.” she pointed to a group. “And that girl is a radio station DJ.” she indicated with her chin to a particularly cute girl with cropped blonde hair and almond eyes.
“Can I meet her?” I asked.
“Sure.” Ellen grabbed my hand and led me over.
“Carmen, this is Kate, she’s a recently out frosh.” I cringed at those terms in paring. Out of what? I knew she meant the closet, but I felt like I was out of my element more.
“Nice. I’m Carmen. I’m a sophomore.” she smiled at me, and I noticed exactly how cute she was. She was tall, and I normally didn’t like tall girls, but she was like a model, all thin limbs and graceful energy.
“Let’s dance, ladies.” she suggested, pointing to her friends who were already getting down to some hip hop song.
I trailed the two onto the dance floor, and felt my nerves buzz with anticipation. I was meeting real lesbians. Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I was so excited for Blanche to get there and see my outfit. I was trying something new, something cooler, and I wanted her approval. I heard a loud knock on the door, and I threw it open to find Blanche. She burst into the room in her usual whirlwind fashion, air kissing and saying hello to everyone. She was wearing a tiny leather miniskirt topped with an oversize shirt and tons of scarves and bangles. I tugged at my short dress awkwardly, wishing she was dressed retro. It was probably over as a style now, she seemed like she would know the next thing before I would anyways. She turned to me and grabbed my hands.
“You look ravishing, dear.” I blushed and stammered a thank you. I was glad she noticed I had tried something new, but I saw Kate roll her eyes. I figured she was just jealous I was getting attention.
“Come to the bathroom with me.” Blanche winked.
We excused ourselves, and I followed her as she hurried down the hall. She pulled out a baggy in the empty bathroom, and shook it back and forth like I was a dog and it was a bone. She backed into a stall, and I followed, taking the bait. I sniffed up two lines, and pinched my nose like I had seen Blanche do. She tossed her head back like a horse, inhaling dramatically. We were laughing when we went back into the room, giggling over my retelling of last nights events. I felt invincible, so I sat close to Marcus on the bed.
“I like your tights.” he said, eyeing my legs. I stretched them out to their full length and looked down.
“I like them too.” I remarked, turning them one way, then the other. I noticed he was looking too, out of the corner of my eye.
“Okay, let’s go to this party already.” I announced to the group. I felt like I was the leader of the night’s festivities, playing hostess. I looked around to the group, and everyone stopped their conversations and started to get up. The sense of power must have been radiating from me, I thought. I slipped into some heels my mom had bought me, which I had sworn never to wear. But tonight I didn’t care if they pushed me over six feet, I wanted to be noticed. I didn’t even feel awkward in them tonight, I felt like I was ten miles high off the ground. We all trooped out of the room, in a raggedy line, and started out across the grass. The walk seemed longer than I remember, and I realized that was because I was wobbling on heels instead of on a skateboard. Blanche caught up to me, linking our arms together. I felt so girlie, and it was something I wasn’t used to.
“So I got you a present.”
“More?” I assume she was talking about drugs.
“Nope, here you go.” she handed me a card, some girl’s ID. Her name was Hannah O’leary. She was 5’11 and looked about two hundred pounds. She had long brown hair and freckles.
“You’re welcome.” Blanche sang out.
“What is this?”
“Your fake, duh. She’s fat so you say you lost weight and dyed your hair. I pad some girl twenty bucks for it in my dorm.”
“She looks nothing like me!” I protested.
“But she’s tall, and has freckles. She looks enough like you I promise.” She seemed sure of herself. “I also got Kate one, Kate, where are you?”
Kate jogged up to us from a little behind, and fake panted.
“What?” she looked at me, eyebrows raised.
“Present for my new frosh buddy.” Blanche held out an ID for her too, some tan girl with dreadlocks.
“Who is this?” she asked.
“It’s you, now, Theresa Connely.”
“Does she look like me?” and she did, actually. Tan, with bright blue eyes, just like Kate’s. Her’s was a better match then mine, but I figured it was hard to get Ids for giraffe girls like me. Plus, they’d look at the shit locks once over and think it was the same girl.
“Oh my god, thank you!” Kate pulled Blanche into an awkward hug, since they were still walking.
“So we’re twenty one tonight?” I asked.
“Memorize those birthdates, ladies.” Blanche advised.
I looked down at the card in my hand, trying to make out the numbers under the lights framing the path.
“Let me see yours.” Kate demanded. I passed it over and she burst out laughing. “She could eat you, Al!”
“I lost weight.” I giggled.
We walked up to the student center, and I got a nervous, paranoid feeling in my stomach. I knew I could get arrested for this, possibly. Or at least written up.
We formed a line, Kate and I at the back, trying to act casual. By the time we got up there, the doorman was so used to checking twenty one IDs that he barely looked at ours. I was elated. Look at us now, West Harlow. Look at us now.
Later that day, I was clicking through the UMass website, looking at my course descriptions. I was technically undeclared, which I wish I could major in. Undeclared, the study of what the fuck was I doing at college. Oh well, I thought, at least my class requirements tell me where I needed to be and what I needed to be doing. Classes started tomorrow, a fact which caused me almost as much dread as going to the GSA party tonight. What if it was just a major make-out fest and I was left alone, the sad girl by the spiked punch with no one to dance with? God, that’d be pathetic. I swiveled around my chair, and faced Alice, godfather style with my hands on the armrests.
“So what class do you have first tomorrow?”
“Art history, god that sounds miserable.” she flopped back into her pillows.
“I have Spanish 102, because I am smart.”
“No you just memorize 20 words and only use those to answer your questions, hombre.”
“La bibliotheca esta a la derecha.”
“The fajitas got me in the mood. I should get extra credit already.” I swiveled back around, and checked my university email. There was a message from the GSA reminding me about the mixer tonight. As if I could forget. All this hype was making me feel like throwing up those delicious fajitas. I checked the clock, for the thirtieth time or so that hour. It was seven forty five, and I figured it was early enough to start drinking. I heaved myself out of my arm chair and went over to the closet where we hid our booze. I also checked m caller id, and saw no one had called. I thought it was weird Marcus hadn’t checked in about tonight, but I’d call him in a little. I slugged straight from the bottle, a mouthful of harsh tasting vodka. I flipped open my phone and pressed recent calls. As the phone dialed and rang, I took another pull.
“Yo dog.”
“Hello, Kate.”
“Sup buddy? Ready to come over and get buck for this party?”
“Let me check…I’m wearing pants, so yeah I’m ready.” I laughed.
“Alice is coming, are the other girls?”
“Uhm, Jess and Ellen are here now let me see if they’re down.” He paused, muffling the phone and yelling something over at them. “Yes. Jess is always down for a party, she says.” I felt a thrill knowing Ellen would be there. Alice took the bottle from me, and calculated a mixed drink with some plastic cups, pouring back and forth to mix the combination perfectly.
“Ok, everyone come over and drink already!” Alice yelled into the phone.
“Okay, okay, Jesus you two are wild.”
“We know.” Alice yelled again, brutalizing my eardrums.
“Ouch.” I complained, snapping the phone shut. I sipped some of Alice’s drink, admiring her handiwork.
“Mm, vodka orange juice, delicious.” I nodded with approval.
“Just don’t drink too much. First, you don’t want to be the sloppy lesbo, and second you don’t want to vomit all the fajitas because I am not about to clean that shit up.”
“I won’t, I won’t.” I hadn’t drank to excess yet at school, a feat which I was extremely proud of. Occasionally in high school, I got booze sick, puking in cars or bushes inappropriately.
“I can’t wait to start tonight!” Alice exclaimed, shaking me by the shoulders. I shimmied along with her shake, exaggerating like I was being electrocuted or something. I began to get ready, trying to look cute for all the potential first lesbian experiences that awaited me. I borrowed one of Alice’s tank tops, topped with one of my dad’s old vests from the seventies. I pulled on my baggy Dickies, and looked in the mirror. I looked like Charlie Chaplin with cleavage.
“How’s this Al?” I turned around on the spot, rotating for her approval.
“Nice.” she was struggling into a fresh pair of tights, neon blue ones with runs riddling them. Over this she put a tight black mod dress, and I could tell she was emulating Blanche. She pulled her hair back into a pony tail, arranging her bangs straight across her forehead. She painstakingly applied makeup with an unsure hand. She never really wore it and I laughed, watching her poke herself in the eye with mascara.
“Nice, Alice. Who you trying to be anyways?”
“You gave me the idea when you called me Twiggy.” she rolled her eyes.
“You look like a tall Blanche.”
“Shut up, I do not.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Do not.”
“Fuck you.”
She threw the mascara at me, and I ducked. When I raised back up she threw a compact at me, hitting me square in the chest.
“Bitch!” I aimed with the mascara, but a knock at the door stopped me. I opened it a crack seeing if it was an RA or our friends. Since it was the latter, I flung the door open and gave Marcus a big hug.
“I think you’ve been drinking.” he raised his eyebrows at me.
“How do you know?”
“Because you have a wild look in your eyes, and you almost crushed my ribs. You’re like the hulk when drunk, you don’t know your own strength.”
“Oh, you think you know me now, homie?”
“You also get kind of gangsta when drunk.” Alice and Jess laughed, and I knew it was true.
“Don’t hate the player…” I trailed off.
“Hate ridiculous drunken comments.” Alice finished.
“Not what I had in mind, Alice.”
“Let’s, as they say, get crunk.” Marcus suggested.
“I am so down it’s insane.” Jess exclaimed.
“Hey, Kate. How’s it going?” Ellen had sidled up beside me. She was dressed in a short black skirt and small black top, with red lipstick and black rimmed eyes. She looked smoldering, and I got suddenly nervous. I felt like my stomach would reject my vodka all over her so I just shook my head slightly.
“Nothing.” I managed to get out.
“Oh, word?” she smiled, looking all come hither.
“Want a drink?” I imagined her red lipstick smeared all over my mouth and shook my head again. Now was not the time for inappropriately sexual thoughts about anyone, I scolded myself.
“Yeah, duh.” she said coyly. I mixed her one, mimicking Alice’s procedure, making Ellen’s a two to one ratio. I figured getting her drunk wouldn’t hurt.
“Jesus.” she said after one sip.
“I like them strong.” I winked and mentally told myself to stop flirting. I just couldn’t help it with her. She was such a sexpot.
Everyone was hanging around on our beds, making the room look homier than usual. Jess was matching Marcus shot for shot, impressive for someone of her small stature. She was definitely a party animal.
“Ughhhh,” She moaned after five or six. “I quit, I quit.”
“I win!” Marcus held his hands up, Olympian style, shaking clasped hands over his head.
“Ok, beauty queen, enough self congratulation.” Jess rolled her eyes, slurring slightly.
“Oh no, she’s Jess-ted.” he remarked.
“Jess wasted. She gets ridiculous.” Ellen explained. “She gets a teensy bit belligerent.”
“Do not.” She said solidly.
“See what I mean?” Ellen giggled, and I felt a hot surge of attraction for her. Ni looked away, telling myself to keep my options open tonight. I didn’t want to fumble around with Ellen, inept and drunk. I needed a practice girl, I realized. I thought back to Aaron, who turned out to be a boyfriend, not a practice boy. I wanted a girlfriend, too, but who said I couldn’t fool around a few times first? It was possible that I could meet an amazing girl through GSA, a girl who liked me and wanted to be with me, but in case I didn’t, I might meet a right now kind of girl. Then I could move on to Ellen, and having regular hook ups. I took another drink from the bottle and Ellen whistled.
“I’m part Russian.” I explained.
“And part alcoholic.” Alice added.
“That joke is so old, Alice. You’ve been making it for two years.” I complained.
“I thought you forgot about it because you’re always so drunk.” She responded.
Everyone laughed, and I shoved Alice’s shoulder. Her phone buzzed, playing Pink Floyd loudly. I began to sing along til she answered it.
“Hey B.” she answered. B? Obviously Blanche. I felt a twinge of jealousy. I didn’t have a nickname, unless you counted asshole.
“Yeah, come over, we’re all drinking. No, No, I’ll tell you about it later.” She giggled. “Oh my god, yeah. Too funny. See you soon.”
“What was that all about?” Marcus asked quizzically.
“Nothing” she smiled mysteriously. He looked at her with questioning eyes, and I could tell he was liking the whole mystery woman routine. I had caught him checking her out too, and I felt a new hope for them as a couple. I really wanted that, to have a reason for him to be here all the time. I got along great with Aaron, and I missed having a dude friend to chill with. Unless they were getting down, it was always us three hanging out in Alice’s basement, and I missed that easy comfort. But then, if she was having these one night stands, who knew if she would hurt him. He had told me about him and Blanche, and I didn’t want him to hurt like that again.
“Blanche will be here in twenty minutes are so, then we can head over?” Alice looked around. I was surprised to see her so assertive. But again, she was New Alice, so who knew what on earth she would do next?


We cruised down on our boards over the quad towards Amherst. We passed by frat row, getting cat called by brothers drinking morning brewskis. I smiled at them and waved, and Kate catcalled back. I felt great today. Reassured that I was now officially a college girl. What did they call them? Co-eds? That reminded me of twin sets and library cards, but the idea was the same. I pushed off quicker, impatient to get to he Mexican place Marcus had told Kate about. they Didn’t card, and I really needed a mixed drink to calm my raging head. My hands felt shaky, a version of the hangover I knew was induced by the coke. I had decided not to tell Kate, just so I didn’t freak her out. Plus It Girl Alice was Blanche and my secret, my superhero alter ego who came out at night and wrecked havoc on parties. It was too exciting to share, as if talking about it aloud would trivialize the experience. We pulled up to the restaurant, a hole in the wall that smelled amazing. I leaned my deck up against the handicapped railing and Kate followed suit. It was only a little crowded in the small restaurant, and we got a table easily. We sat down, and I settled my long frame uncomfortably in the small chairs. Kate had tucked her legs under her, and was ordering fajitas for both of us from the waitress. She knew me so well, knew to ask for no green peppers and extra onions. This comforted me for some reason, I guess having a best friend in an new environment meant a lot to me, a thought that hadn’t crossed my mind since I met all these new people. I felt a surge of gratitude for Kate then, and responded to it by kicking her under the table.
“Asshole.” she laughed.
“I’m just glad you’re here with me, loser. You know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Like we made all these new friends, but only you know my fajita order. That’s important.”
“I like all these new people too, and I’m glad we met them, but I know what you’re saying.”
“I like all our new friends too. I really like them, and I’m kind of surprised they like us.”
“I’m not, we’re rad.” she smirked. “But really, yeah, how did we luck out? What Blanche was saying, about meeting the right people, I feel like we did. Like Marcus. He’s so awesome. Have you moved on from your crush though? What with your sennnnniorrrrrr.” she drawled, making fun of me.
“I guess so, I mean, I don’t know.” I really didn’t. last night I was over him, but I thought back to his easy grin now and I wasn’t so sure. He really was nice, like Kate said, and he was pretty cute. But then, he liked girls like Blanche, so my chances with him were limited to a drunken makeout, maybe. I pushed that out of my mind and asked Kate about Ellen again.
“I mean, she’s nice and all, and so cute, but I hardly know her. I want my first lesbian experience to mean something.” She looked sheepish. “But you and Aaron, that meant something, you know? I want that. A real girl who likes me.”
“I get it. I couldn’t have just lost my v card to anyone. Remember our plan for a practice boy?” I laughed.
“We are such idiots. Who has a practice hook up?”
“We were young, and it was an okay idea at the time.”
“No it wasn’t, it was retarded.”
“Okay, okay, you’re right. We were retarded.”
“Thank you.”
The waitress brought over sizzling plates, and we ate in comfortable silence, making little fajitas full of delicious fillings. I liked the ease of our relationship, but I knew I wanted to see Blanche tonight and regain some of my party girl status. The party tonight would be low key, I figured, and I hoped she had a little more coke to liven things up for me. I realized now how people got addicted to it, how they wanted that sense of power and pure happiness at all times. I knew I had to be careful though, not to get strung out and briefly considered holding off tonight. But classes started tomorrow and I was nervous. Kate and I had tried to register for all the same ones, but we got last pick as freshman, and got stuck in really different classes. I would be alone then, to face professors and smart kids and more new people. I didn’t trust myself to be a social person without the shield of Kate. She made that easier, we could laugh off rejection. I alone would fear humiliation, fear embarrassing myself in front of a group of people I didn’t know. I chewed thoughtfully, and saw Kate was doing the same. I wondered what she was thinking about, but decided to let her be. Sometimes she was surprisingly introspective, and I left her alone with her thoughts.


I sat on my bed restlessly, waiting for Alice to come in. I figured she stayed at Blanche’s but when she didn’t answer her phone, I got worried. Had she gone home with someone? That was not like my Alice. But I guess it might be like College Alice, whoever the fuck that was. I packed a bowl absently, then let it sit on my dresser, without smoking it. Around eleven the door finally creaked open.
“Where the fuck have you been?” Alice was wearing unfamiliar clothes, boys clothes. They made her look small and vulnerable, hanging off her skinny frame.
“Out. Whatever.” she rolled her eyes. She looked like shit warmed up, all pale and sunken eyed.
“I’m sick of this whatever bullshit. Tell me what happened.”
“I went home with this senior named Steve.” she seemed to perk up a little, and sat on my bed next to me. “he was really cool and we…you know.”
“You did? Your first one night stand!” I shook her hand, congratulating. Who was I to judge? She seemed ok about it.
“Yeah, I know right?” she smiled, relaxing, our previous tensions easing a little.
“Celebratory bowl pack?” I presented the piece to her, brandishing it like a prize. She lit it up, pulling the smoke up into her mouth.
“So Ellen?” she exhaled, creating a ghost-like cloud in front of her face.
“Nothing happened, but it will I think.” I said, quietly, a smile creeping over my lips. I took my hit and passed it back.
“You think?”
“I couldn’t last night, I know it sounds stupid, but I want to get to know her. Not be rash or whatever.” she passed the piece back over to me.
“So you want her to be your girlfriend?”
“No, I just don’t want things to be awkward with everyone. What if we stop talking, then what‘ll happen to Marcus and Blanche and Jess and everyone?”
“Good call! You’re so love smart for a lesbian newbie.” she blew smoke directly into my face. I fake coughed, making a small scene. She laughed and stuck her tongue out at me.
“Speaking of gay stuff, are you cool to go to the GSA thing tonight?”
“Uhm, I will if Blanche wants to.”
“Marcus is coming with me, so you don’t need to go…” I trailed off.
“Oh, okay, great because Blanche and I were going to…” she stopped, and started again, “Come with you guys.” I could tell that wasn’t her original plan, but the disappointment must have showed on my face and changed her mind.
“Thanks. I really need you there, best friend.”
“And I will really be there, best gay friend.”
“You’re my best slut friend now, Ms. One night stand.”
“Proud of it. Sort of.”
“Was it good?”
“I honestly have no idea.” I burst out laughing, and tackled her into my pillows. She hit me on the head with one, and we continued wrestling til she was sitting on my chest, tickling me. It felt just like old times in her basement, and all my previous anger was forgotten for the moment.
“I am starving, Alice. Can we go downtown and grab lunch. I’m buying, daddy sent me a check.”
“Sounds good to me. Where are we going?”
“Ole?” she laughed at me outburst.
“We need to discuss your new sex life and my future sex life over nachos.”
“Mmm sex and nachos.”
“You’re so right.” she got up and began to change into normal clothes, shedding the shirt and pants which smelled distinctly like boy. I pulled my tangled hair into a sloppy ponytail, twisting impatiently the locks which were turning into dreads and looking in the mirror. I tried to picture what Ellen saw when she looked at me, but all I saw was my slightly hungover self with makeup smeared under my eyes. Hot, I thought to myself, I am so hot. I wiped my eyes with a tissue and turned to Alice.
“Ready to go?”
“Just a minute.” she was pulling on tights and a mini skirt, topped with one of her brother’s little tee shirts.
“Don’t get dressed up, dude, we’re just getting nachos.”
“Whatever.” There it was again. I guess college Alice cared about looking good. I felt like I had to match her, so I changed out of my flannel pj pants into some skinny jeans which made my butt look good. There was a sliver of flesh above the waistband where my small sweatshirt rode up, and I admired my nicely toned stomach a little in the mirror.
“Remind me to call Marcus later.” I said aloud.
“Yep yep.” she tugged her shirt down a bit, and checked herself out in the mirror.
“Ok, Twiggy, enough primping. Your sugar Mama is hungry.”
“Ok, fine, let’s get going.”


I was special; I knew this because Blanche told me so. I was the ‘freaking coolest freshman ever’ and I could tell it was true. The coke made me feel like I WAS infinite. I was this awesome girl, with fucking red hair and long legs. I was fucking rad.
Kate kept trying to get me to dance, but I was now tired by that. Blanche rolled her eyes at me when she saw Marcus and Kate doing some sort of psyco-synchronized dance routine. I didn’t mention I had helped plan it.
“Marcus is so juvenile, that’s why we broke up. He wanted me to be, like, his girlfriend, and I wanted to just, you know, explore my opportunities.” That was different from what he had said, but who was I to judge? As he danced there in his make-up and combat boots, he looked silly, not like the sex god I had previously thought. Did I really want a boy who seemed unaware of my prowess, my innate coolness that Blanche was preaching. I wanted a boy who fucking worshipped me, like I deserved. Let him come to me. I was sure everyone around me could sense this new glow from within.
“Let’s go talk to those seniors.” Blanche pointed to two radio station Djs she told me where the coolest guys. One of them was even taller than me, so I was down. I was so down.
“What’s up, Trevor?” she air-kissed. “Steve, this is Alice. She’s bad-ass.”
“Hey, bad-ass.” he smiled.
“Hey.” I rose to my full height, looking him in the eyes.
“Whoa, you’re pretty tall, huh?” he looked me up and down appreciatively.
“Do you say more than one word at a time?” his lop-sided grin intrigued me.
“Sometimes. Lie right now. I’m going to tell you to buy me a drink.”
“Oh, underage drinker, we got here, Trev.” He passed me a foamy cup of beer from his hand. “Drink up.”
Ten minutes later Blanche was sucking face with Trevor, and I could tell I was getting close with whats-his-name. Steve. His name was Steve, I told myself.
“So, Alice, want to come check out my records in my dorm room? I’ll play you a private set.”
“Let me tell Blanche. I think she needs air anyways.” I laughed. I really wanted another line, my buzz was wearing off, and if I was about to do what I thought I was about to do, I needed to feel that sensation again.
“Let’s go to the ladies, lady.” I pulled her off Trevor’s neck and over to the line.
“I want more!” I enthused.
“More what?” she winked.
“More everything! More you, more you know what, more Steve, more me!”
“You are nuts.” she laughed, a little too loud.
“These guys are so cute, way better than Marcus, you’re right.”
“Told you so. He’s lame.”
“He wasn;t even into me, what a queerer.” I drawled. I knew that was cruel, but it felt so good to be bonding with Blanche over something. Anything, really. For the first time in my life I felt like an It girl, the girl you wanted to be at parties. I always felt like a token player, a funny girl to make people laugh, not a real main character. Blanche was easily the coolest girl I knew, and I was her party buddy, the girl she introduced to cute guys as her cute friend. In the bathroom, we giggled our way into a stall, Blanche pulling out her stash from her purse. I watched again as she sprinkled out lines of this wonder-drug, the drug that transformed me into New Alice. Brave Alice, better Alice.
After sniffing a few lines of perfection I headed back out to find Steve. I found him lounging by the bar, looking around disinterested. He hadn’t even dressed up, he was too cool to care he looked out of place in a beanie and tight pants. I had washed off my makeup in the bathroom, and unbuttoned some more of my shirt. I wanted to look older, and hot.
“Want to get out of her?” he grinned.
“Definitely” we tripped across campus, talking shit about nothing until we could just get back to his dorm room and start making out like I knew we both wanted to.
I woke up the next morning groggy, confused. Where the fuck was I? I realized there was a hairy arm over me, and the night came rushing back. I had fucked a senior. Holy shit. It was my first real one night stand. I eased out of bed, not waking him and began to dress. All of a sudden I realized what I was wearing would be infinitely recognizable as morning after clothes. I poked Steven on the shoulder.
“Hey do you have some clothes I can wear?” I held up my shiny outfit with regret. I figured he and I would be about the same size luckily.
“Yeah sure,” He got up, naked, and I cringed. I couldn’t face this through my fog, the first unfamiliar penis in the light of day I had ever seen. I was used to Aaron, knew all of his body easily, and this foreign man was kind of intimidating. I covered myself with my New York Dolls rags. He tossed me a t-shirt and some dirty-looking pants.
“I’ll clean them and bring them back.” I said quietly. I dressed without saying anything as he watched from his bed. He seemed at ease, probably because I was so much his junior. He did this all the time, I thought to myself. I gave him my number, just in case, and walked out into the light of day.


Alice had disappeared off somewhere, leaving Marcus by himself. I saw him over Ellen’s shoulder, watching us, looking lonely. But then I looked back and Ellen was right there, right in front of me, and I panicked. Her skin smelled like sweat and a light perfume I couldn’t place. But the scent floated over the air, intoxicating, and I was freaking out. There was so much pressure, I barely knew her and I was supposed to kiss her. And Marcus, standing alone looking like a drag queen because we forced him to dress like that, it tugged my heart.
“I’m going to get a drink.” I yelled. Ellen pouted and let her hands drop from my waist.
“That was getting hot and heavy, huh Kate?” Marcus said into my ear, while passing me a covert sip of his drink.
“Jesus, yeah.”
“I know I shouldn’t say this, but you looked really sexy.” I hit him on the shoulder and took another swig. At least I was getting some support. Where on earth was Alice? I looked around and spotted her, pretty easy when you look for a nearly six foot tall girl with flaming red hair.
“So she’s into it, it looked like.” Marcus continued.
“But I hardly know her. And what if things get weird with us, it’ll ruin our friendship.”
“What does your gut say?” I thought about that and replied,
“Don’t do it yet.”
“So don’t. I was worried about those things too. Plus Ellen is kind of flighty. She might hurt you.”
“Yeah, I got that impression. She’s just so damned cute.” I handed him back his drink, after one final slurp.
“Jeez slow it down.” He raised an eyebrow, a gesture I was becoming increasingly familiar with. “How about some sweet synchronized dancing?”
“Let’s do it!” I pulled him by his hand out to the floor, and we started to do the dance routine we had made up on the walk over. It involved disco points, claps, spins and booty shaking. We drew an audience, and Ellen clapped from her station by the DJ booth. All of a sudden, I noticed Melanie drunkenly joining in, looking hilariously unkempt. I got a newfound appreciation for her then, for her enthusiasm and willingness to really get down. Ellen winked at me, and I smiled back. I looked around for Alice again, and she was by the bar with Blanche, looking smug. I wanted her here with me, dancing and going crazy like we used to. I ran over to her and grabbed her hands.
“Al, come on, come dance.” she gave Blanche a look, like ‘whatever’, and looked back at me.
“Kate, you guys look silly.”
“Well, whatever.” there it was again: indifference.
“When did you get mature, Alice?”
“Shut up, Kate. I just don’t want to dance.” Earlier she was dancing in our room, now she was acting like I was her little sister.
“Whatever, Alice.” I stormed back over to Melanie, and continued dancing, but I felt weird. Alice had never been ashamed of me before, never acted like I was some little loser she barely knew. Whatever, Alice, I thought, Whatever.
The rest of the night was a blur of passed sips from Marcus and increasingly bitter drunken thoughts about Alice. I saw Jess again, decked out for disco, and tried to have a good time. I really tried, but the exhaustion of the night before got to me somewhere after midnight.
“I’m going to go, Marcus.”
“Let me walk you back? I’m tired too.” He gave me his arm, and I giggled.
“So, you going to a GSA meeting?” he asked somewhere between the Student Center and the quad.
“Yeah. I’m going to their party too, I think. If I survive another hungover day like today.”
“Are you really that fucked up?” he questioned. I thought about it before responding.
“No, but Alice tripped me out tonight. She was acting all…I don’t know, holier than thou. Only, not holy, like more mature than thou.”
“What are you rambling about?”
“Ehh, I’ll explain tomorrow. Let’s just make it back in one piece.”
He deposited me by my door, giving me a quick peck on the cheek.
“Call me about tomorrow, I’ll go with you even if it means getting dudes numbers.”
“You ain’t that hot.”
“Trust me, I am.” He did his eyebrow thing again and I laughed. “Night, baby doll.” I stumbled up the stairs and into bed. I slept restlessly, waiting for Alice to come home. She never did. Who was this new College Alice and who the fuck did she think she was


She really did look better. Pretty, even. I wanted to start drinking then, a thirst in my stomach that begged to be quenched.
“Anyone want to drink with me?”
“Oh I will!” Melanie squealed. I was surprised, she didn’t seem like a drinker, but who could tell. I poured two shots of vodka out, from the bottle Marcus had bought us earlier. I grabbed the cranberry juice chaser with one hand and balanced the full shot in the other.
“One, two three.” I counted so Melanie and I could time the drink perfectly. I pulled back the shot, feeling the burn go down my throat easily. I passed Mel the chaser and swallowed my mouthful of juice. That was better, but I wanted more. I wanted to feel infinite, to feel like I was In College, really In IT. Marcus was mixing a drink for himself and Kate drank straight from the bottle. I wanted tonight to be one of those nights full of sloshed emotions and reckless make-outs. If I was drunk, I knew I would be more likely to talk to Marcus easily, not awkwardly. I needed another drink.
We made our way to the party a little later, with Melanie talking non-stop the whole way. I could tell she was drunk, not a practiced drunk like Kate or I, but a giddy drunk you only got when you first started drinking. She stepped wildly, making errors in footing and depth. We got our hands marked with X’s at the front door, to mean we were underage. The doorman looked at Melanie’s red face knowingly, and sighed as we passed. The party was happening, full of drunken dancing and crazy costumes. Ellen ran up to us, dressed as a Blondie type, all spike heels and sparkly sequins.
“You came! I’m dj-ing in a half hour! Watch my set!”
“Of course we came. Like our costumes?” Kate was trying to flirt, I could tell.
“Yeah I do. New York Dolls, right?”
“Yes, indeed.” I nodded emphatically.
“Want to dance?” Marcus asked Kate. I was taken aback. Why hadn’t he asked me to dance? Kate didn’t even like boys.

“Yeah, Alice, Mel, come on!” Kate twirled around, throwing her arms above her head.
We all headed to the dance floor, slipping through groups of wildly dancing girls and boys. Ellen grabbed my hands and started to get down. Kate was bopping around Marcus, and Melanie danced sort of by herself, oblivious. I kind of liked her, she was like a little puppy we could mold into a full blown freak like us.
“Hey Ellen! Guess what?” I yelled into her ear.
“Kate is interested in you.” I figured it couldn’t hurt.
“So am I!” She yelled back with a smile.
“So go get her.” I gave her a push in Kate’s direction, hoping for the best. I was also hoping Marcus would be left alone so I could dance with him. I knew I wasn’t the best dancer, but getting that close to him would give me a thrill. Kate was now dancing close with Ellen, their awkward hands on each other’s hips. I pulled Marcus over the bar to get him to get me a beer.
“So Kate and Ellen?” he raised an eyebrow.
“I think so.”
“Nice. Kate is so rad, she deserves to be liked.”
“Yeah, there’s a reason she’s my best friend, you know.”
“What’s the reason?”
“She lives close to me.” He laughed.
“I’m really glad we met you guys.” He paused, “Have you seen Blanche?”
“Hmm, she said she’d be here. She’s probably surgically attached to some guy’s mouth at this point.” He said, slightly bitter.
“She’s my ex. She cheated on me, oh, all the time.” He smiled slightly.
That was bad news. Blanche was perfect, delicate and adorable. Not a lanky freak like me. My stomach sank. Figured.
I went to go look for Blanche, leaving Marcus drinking alone. I was now miserable drunk, and I could feel the drunk tears coming. I found her waiting in line for the bathroom.
“Hey!” she kissed my cheek, on her tip toes to reach.
“What are you doing?” I asked. She leaned into me, and whispered.
“I have blow!” she looked triumphant.
“Really?” I was intrigued.
“Want some?”
I thought about it for a minute. It seemed a little extreme to start doing hard drugs so soon into school, but I figured if she did it, so could I.
We went into a stall together, and she used the shelf over the toilet paper dispenser to measure out two sparkly lines of white powder with a credit card. I was mesmerized by her exact motions, how she seemed to have a purpose.
“You go first.” I pulled my hair back and mimicked the motions I had used when doing the lines of adderal. I sniffed, and immediately was taken aback by the jolt I felt in my whole body. My limbs started tingling and I felt alive. Alive and sober and perfect.


We took the bus over the the Salvation Army to get provisions for the party. Marcus came with us, a fact Alice was extremely pleased about.
“So you’re being Bowie? That fucking rocks, Alice.”
“What are you being?”
“I don’t know, maybe Richard Hell from Television.”
“Oh, cool.” I responded. I loved Television. “But you should be some sort of bad-ass punk guy. Like early punk, brit-punk.”
“Ohhh, word. I can just wear my regular clothes.” We all looked at his patched jeans, leather jacket and combat boots.
“Hmm…That’ll cut down on costs.”
“No I got it!” Alice exclaimed as we exited the bus. “Let’s be the New York Dolls!”
“Oh my god, yes.” I agreed.
“I am so down.” Marcus added.
We all sifted through the racks of clothes, holding up anything pleather, leopard or shiny. I felt so at ease with these two. I really hoped Alice would start dating him, so I could hang out with him all the time. he pulled me aside by the platform shoes, and looked at me in the eyes.
“I picked up a flyer for you.” he pulled out the GSA flyer. “And I think the boy behind the booth flirted with me. But I’ll go with you tomorrow if you want.” I felt a surge of appreciation and gratitude for him. I pulled him into a hug, and said thanks.
“Alice is coming too. So there’s a straight girl for you.”
“I’m kind of getting a friend vibe from her, honestly.”
“Oh.” I wouldn’t tell her that. I just knew if he got to know her, he’d like her.
We left the store with myriad scarves, vests and pleather pants. I knew we would look awesome. As we arrived back at campus, Marcus turned to go to his dorm.
“Want to come over to put makeup on later, Marcus?” Alice asked. I could tell she just wanted to see him again.
“Yeah, I’ll come over in an hour or so after I get dinner.”
“Yeah, sounds good.” I hugged him good bye, again smelling the leather of his jacket and his shampoo. I had such genuine liking for him, I didn’t even mind the physical contact with a boy. He hugged Alice too, a fact she would probably gloat about over dinner. I pulled out my cell.
“Ok, I’m calling Ellen.” My hands shook slightly. I pressed the call button and breathed deep.
“Hey, Katie.” I didn’t even mind that dreaded nickname when she said it in her adorable baby voice.
“Hey, we just got our costumes, what are you up to?”
“Setting up for the party. So you guys are coming?” She sounded excited, and I was too.
“Yes, we are indeed. Wait til you see us.”
“I bet you’ll look hot.” I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at it like it was a foreign object. Was I being flirted with?
“You’ll just have to wait and see.”
“Uhm, ok, I’m going to go, but I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye, see you soon.”
“Dude,” I turned to Alice, “I think she hit on me.”
“Yeahhhhh girl. Go on with your hot self.” Alice feigned a ghetto accent.
“Don’t do that.”
“Shut the fuck up.” She shoved my shoulder, harder than necessary. I slapped her butt in response, and we started a fake tussle. I got her in a headlock, and people near us started staring.
“Uncle, uncle!” she called out.
“I win!” I triumphantly announced to a terrified girl next to us. She scurried away and Alice and I broke into laughter.
“We are such fucking freaks to these people.” Alice was doubled over in laughter.
“Or to everyone.” I pointed out.
“Let’s go get dressed up!” I was excited about the promise of the evening.
“Oh man, we should get dressed and then go get dinner.”
“Ha, perfect.” I grabbed Alice’s hand and pulled her toward the dorms.
We spread out all our purchases on my bed, picking and choosing outfits from the tangle of clothing. I selected red leather pants, a tight shiny black best and a bunch of scares to put around my neck. Alice had tapered leopard pants and a metallic purple top. As we were dancing around, there was a knock on our door. I flung it open, mid-shimmy. A shocked Melanie faced me.
“Uhm, are you guys going to dinner?” she said slowly.
“Hell yes we are!” Alice yelled.
“Okay. Want to come with?” she looked hesitant.
I threw on my new platform boots and we headed out. She looked horrified to be sitting with us. We all chewed on some really terrible chicken dish in silence.
“Why are you, you know, dressed like that?” she looked around, noticing all the stares our way.
“Costume party.” I said with my mouth full. She stared at me blankly.
“We’re the New York Dolls.” Alice offered.
“The what?”
Inwardly, I sighed. She was so clueless. We all finished up, tossing our half-eaten food away.
“Kate!” I turned when I heard my name called out. A girl I had met last night, Jess, rushed up to us.
“Too funny! I take it you’re going to the party?” she laughed at us.
“Yes indeed.” Alice said, fake serious.
“Who’s this?” she nodded to Melanie.
“Uhm, our floor mate, Melanie.”
“What’s up?” she looked at Melanie.
“Oh, nothing. I like your tattoos.” Jess had a whole sleeve of tattoos up and down her arm.
“Thanks, they hurt like a bitch. Are you coming to the party?”
“Ummm, I don’t know. Can I come?” she looked at us with wide eyes.
“Yeah sure.” Alice answered, hesitant.
“We have extra costumes, Mel.” I added.
“Oh my gosh, thanks!” she was back to her normal self it seemed.
“Ok, let’s go get you ready.”
We met up with Marcus back at the dorm and did the obligatory Melanie introductions. I was kind of disappointed to have her trailing around behind us, but she seemed to really like us for some reason.
“You should cut you hair.” Alice was playing with it, holding parts up and pinning them in a crazy style.
“Really?” Melanie said breathlessly.
“Yeah, bangs and stuff. I could do it if you want.”
“Ok!” she was so excited about everything.
“I’m getting the scissors, you better be serious.” She warned.
“Do it!”
Alice measured carefully, and cut blunt bangs right across Melanie’s small face. the change was immediate. She looked prettier, and edgy.
“Wow.” Marcus said, looking up at her. “You look dope.”
“You really do.” I added.
“Ohmigosh, thank you Alice!”
“Any time.”


As I waited in line to get French fries, I looked at the radio station party flyer more closely. It was a theme party, and the theme was Seventies Glam. I sighed. My friends had experimented with themed events in high school, and I never particularly liked them. Superheroes, Hobos, and anything that let girls dress slutty. I knew Kate and I would need to go to a thrift store later, and I wondered if Blanche and Ellen would want to come. I really liked them, and I wanted to hang out with them as much as possible to cement our new friendship.
“Are you ready yet?” Kate was holding her tray with one hand, other hand on hip, waiting impatiently for me to come sit down. I could understand why. My head felt like there were a hundred little men with pickaxes in there. I picked up a cheeseburger to go with my fries and swiped my meal card.
“Yup, let’s find a seat.”
“Can we sit alone? I need time to just talk to you.” Kate asked me.
“About?” I pulled out a seat at an empty table.
“I don’t know, the gay thing.” she said quietly.
“I meant to tell you, I forgot last night, obviously.” I started and stopped, wondering if she’d be pissed I told. “I told the girls you were gay by accident.” before she could yell I went on, “And Ellen likes girls.” she paused, her mouth still open.
“Really? She’s gay?”
“She said heteroflexible.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“From what I could tell it means she’s kind of gay, not totally gay.”
“Great, more label I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’m gay gay.”
“I think you are too. You’ve never liked boys, not even movie stars.”
“This is true.” she nodded, chewing her sandwich. I thought back to her coming out letter, how it all made sense once I thought about it. She never showed interest in any of the boys who had crushes on her, but I had always thought she was just a bitch.
“So did Marcus say anything about me?” I asked, as nonchalant as I could manage.
“Yeah, kind of. He thinks you’re dope.”
“Well, I am. We are.”
“I know. I don’t see why he wouldn’t like you. You turned into a bona fide hottie over the summer.”
“Aww, Kate, thanks.”
“I mean that in a non-gay way.”
“I know. So are you gonna kiss Ellen?” I put my burger down, intent on finding out the answer.
“You so want to.”
“So for the party tonight, it’s 1970s themed, want to go to Salvation Army and get some clothes for it?”
“Oh, what are we gonna be?”
“I was thinking I’d be David Bowie. You should be….” I thought about it a minute. “I don’t know, Janis Joplin.”
“That’s sixties.” She pointed out.
“But you look like her.”
“What? Ugly and boozey?”
“Well no, just messy.” I laughed.
“Fine, I’ll be a mess for the party, that’s a good costume.”
“That’s not a costume, that’s our life.”
“Ready to go?”


Alice and I stumbled home at some ungodly hour. I crawled into bed sloppily, thinking over the nights events. Everything was pretty weird, with boys falling for me, and me falling on the ground a bit. I laid in bed with the spins while I thought over Marcus’ words about the GSA. I decided to drag Alice to the club fair the next morning.
“When did you get interested in clubs? You hate organized anything and you have authority issues.” Alice grumbled. I had woken her up earlier than she would have liked, and we both had raging hangovers.
“Just one club. The…” I stopped, “Gay Straight Alliance.”
“Really?” she turned to me and stopped walking.
“Yes, really. Marcus told me about it.”
“Hmm. Can I join?”
“I don’t think its invitation only, Alice.” I smirked at her.
“It’s too early for sarcasm.” She put on a pair of sunglasses to hide her bloodshot eyes, and gulped some Gatorade we had picked up.
“Hey! Over here! Alice and Kate!” I turned when I heard our names called, and then groaned. It was our neighbor Melanie. She charged over, clutching a handful of brightly colored flyers.
“What clubs are you joining? I’m thinking the Young Democrats and an a capella group. I love to sing!”
“Of course you do.” Alice said under her breath.
“I knocked on your door last night to see if you wanted to watch a movie with us in the common room, but you were out.” She pouted. “Where’d you go?” before I could answer a snide remark, I heard someone else call Alice’s name. We turned and Blanche was striding toward us with a roll of masking tape and some posters.
“What’s up guys?” she gave Melanie a wary look.
“Just…join’ some clubs. I’m thinking a capella.” Alice laughed.
“Oh god, nothing is more lame than a capella.” Melanie looked crestfallen. We walked away without saying good bye and I turned around to see her standing behind us, looking like a lost puppy. I felt a twinge of remorse but instead turned to Blanche.
“What’re those for?” I nodded to her posters.
“Literary Journal. I’m the poetry editor.”
“Cool. I’m…just looking.” Alice looked at me sidelong, wondering why I didn’t say my real reason. I could read her so easily.
“Yeah, we figured we’d, you know, join some stuff.” Alice filled in for me.
“Like what?”
“Shit, I don’t know. The radio station sounds cool.”
“Oh they have the best parties.” Blanche enthused. “And Ellen will put in a good word for you. They’re pretty exclusive, But you’ll get an in because you know her.”
“Uh, want to go find the booth, Kate?”
“Yeah. Blanche, we’ll see you later?”
“Oh definitely. Let’s chill tonight.” She smiled her broad grin. “Call me, girlies.”
“What was that about?” Alice turned to me, hands on her hips, after Blanche left.
“I don’t want to be the gay girl!” I explained.
“That makes sense. But you have to tell her. it’s part of you now.”
“I hate when you’re right, it gives you a big head. And with a melon already that size, bigger is not better.”
“You’re a little asshole. I really am going to go to the radio station. Want to meet back here in a few?”
“Yeah sure.” I watched her go, her long legs pale in her shorts, the same ones from last night. She was in one of her brother’s t-shirts too, and a slice of freckled stomach peeked under the hem. I saw a few boys look her way, and I smiled. This would be good for Alice, having her own thing. I was a little nervous to be by myself so soon, but I knew we both needed a little space. I wandered through the rows til I found a big rainbow flag swaying in the breeze.
“Found it.” I said to myself. I walked up to the booth, where a very styled boy and a hippie girl were sitting.
“Uh, Hi.” I stammered.
“Hi there! Want a flyer? We’re having a mixer tomorrow night at the student center.” I was taken aback by this boy’s enthusiasm. Between Alice and I, I wasn’t used to it.
“Yeah, that’d be great.” I looked at the flyer. “GSA!” it proclaimed in big letters.
“Lesbian, Gay, Straight, Transgendered, Queer ALL ARE WELCOME!”
“I had no idea there were so many labels out there.” I remarked.
“You’ll learn a lot at our meetings then!” The boy replied, still super friendly.
“We meet every Wednesday night in the Sex and Gender department, room 206.” The girl smiled at me. I wondered if she was flirting. I shook off the thought quickly. I was so girl crazy these days. I thanked them and walked back over to meet Alice, shoving my flyer in my back pocket. I thought about asking Marcus to come with me tomorrow night.
“The radio station is awesome.” Alice grinned at me. “Ellen said she’d vouch for my coolness to them. They have a party tonight, wanna go?”
“Yeah, maybe. Will you go to the GSA party tomorrow with me?”
“Man, I’ll be partied out.” Alice fake sighed.
“Yeah, we don’t; want that to happen.”
“It’s hard being so popular.”
“We never experienced this before. Having friends and plans.”
“Hey we had some friends. Remember all of Stacy Cartwright’s parties?”
“No, I don’t remember them, that’s how I know they were good.”
“Point is, we’re not total losers, and you know it.” She gestured at me with a pointed finger.
“Ha, you sound like you’re trying to convince yourself there.” I grabbed her finger and shook her hand a little.
“Let’s get lunch, I want something greasy. Freshman fifteen be damned.” Alice pinched the non-existent flab on her stomach.


After Kate and my performance, I went to go grab a beer to quench my thirst. I saw Kate and Ellen dance, and I smiled inwardly. Maybe Kate would get her wish, and get some actual lesbian experience. I would tell her about Ellen’s sexual revelation later on, and let her do what she would with that news.
“Nice dancing.” A voice said over my shoulder. I turned and saw Marcus smirking at me.
“Why thank you.” I chugged some beer.
“Whoa, slow down there.” His eyes opened in surprise at my quick drinking.
“I’m a college freshman; I’m supposed to binge, right?”
“True, I’m really just impressed.”
“Want to race a shotgun against me?”
“You two are wild; Kate already got me high, now you’re getting me drunk.”
“So that’s a no? Pussy.”
“I didn’t say that. Hand me one.”
I counted to three, then we both punctured the can with a key and I started to drink the flood of alcohol that gushed out. I opened the back of my throat, letting it flow down and when I finished, I threw the can down in triumph. Marcus was still drinking, beer spilling over his chin and dribbling it onto his shirt. He finished after a few seconds and gasped for breathe.
“Where did you learn to do that?” he looked at me, impressed.
“My basement. Kate and I race all the time.”
“Aha, you’re a cheater. I never practice.”
“You’re just bitter.” I smiled at him, feeling the drunkenness in my limbs, heavy and thick.
“Want to go have a cigarette?”
“God, yes.”
As we walked downstairs, I unbuttoned one more button on my shirt, just in case he was looking. I pulled out my pack from my back pocket, fingering the plastic casing nervously. I put a cigarette to my lips and lit it with a match. Marcus it his own with a Zippo lighter and I nearly swooned. He was like a Mohawked James Dean in a leather jacket, with brooding eyes and full lips.
“So you and Kate are like, what, best friends?”
“Ha, yeah, duh.”
“Nothing more?” He raised his eyebrows.
“Ah, she told you. She is gay, I am straight. Nothing more to say on the topic.”
“Sorry if that was out of line.”
“Nah, just kind of funny. She wouldn’t be my type anyways.” I deadpanned.
“Ohh, ouch.” He laughed softly.
“I’m kidding.” I smiled a little, as I exhaled. I felt so cool right now, talking to this sexy upperclassmen on my first night on a college campus. Who knew college would be so easy, I thought to myself. Kate and I seemed to have everything on lock already. We were golden.


I was now decently fucked up, with the addition of THC into my inebriated system. Marcus and I had gone for a walk around the quad, smoking a joint while we strolled. He ended up being a pretty cool guy. He was into photography, mostly black and white. I told him somewhere around the second loop I was gay, and all he said was, “All the good ones are.” I laughed at that, and shoved him a bit.
“Where do those good ones hide, then?” I asked him.
He told me about the Gay Straight Alliance on campus, a group of queer and queer-friendly students. I thought about it for a minute.
“Where do they meet?” I was hesitant, shy for once.
“Uhm, I don’t know, you can check them out at the club fair tomorrow. I’ll go to a meeting with you if you want. I’m queer-friendly. Everyone thinks I’m gay anyways.” He laughed as he exhaled smoke.
“Alice doesn’t, I can tell.”
“Oh really?” he raised an eyebrow.
“She’s cooler than me anyways.” I took the joint he passed.\
“No offense, but I doubt that.” He looked over at me.
“Trust me.”
“Okay…” he trailed off. “So what are your hobbies, Kate? Any secret knitting fetishes?”
“Skateboarding badly, smoking pot with Alice, and being sassy.”
“Oh God, where on earth did you come from?” He was laughing at me, but nice laughter.
“Want to head back?” I poked him in the side. I felt at ease with him even though I barely knew him. Maybe it was the pot and booze, maybe it wasn’t.
“Yeah let’s go.” We walked back through the grass, tossing out at roach.
“What do you take pictures of? Like, severed doll heads and artsy stuff like that?”
“Ha no, thank god. Mostly portraits. I’d love to do yours if you’ll let me.”
“I don’t photograph well. I like to think I’m unphotogenic, but I think I’m really just ugly and no one told me.”
“I bet you photograph great.” He did those eyes at me again, warm and gooey looking.
“Stop flattering me, straight boy.” I rolled my eyes.
“Fine, I was hoping you might just be bisexual or something.” He sighed and shrugged.
“Nope, I plan on majoring in dyke studies, sorry.”
“Can you say that?” he looked suprised
“Dyke.” He whispered it, looking around at the group we were approaching.
“I can, you can’t.”
“Gotcha.” He nodded, thinking it over.
I followed Marcus up the stairs, waiting to see if the party picked up. When I walked in I saw Alice dancing with a bunch of girls and I laughed.
“What?” Marcus turned to me.
“Alice doesn’t dance.” I was still chuckling.
“Looks like she does.” He nodded over to her.
“Not very well!” I ran over to the group and started shaking my booty around, mimicking the dances I saw on the music video channel. Blanche started laughing, covering her face as she giggled.
“Woo!” I yelled. I was starting to draw an audience. Alice was dancing with me, flailing her long arms over her head. I attempted to break-dance then, rolling around on the floor aimlessly. People were clapping and catcalling us. I stood up and grabbed Al’s hands, and started spinning her, recalling our days in ballroom dancing class, where we had to dance together because no boys asked us. I took the lead part, and we did some really horrific swingdance moves.
“Can I cut in?” Ellen yelled into my ear. My stomach thrilled at the thought of holding her hands.
“Surely, my lady.” I spun Alice away, and pulled Ellen into a dip. We tangoed around, and I crashed into a bookcase, stumbling.
“You’re fucked up!” she crowed.
“Yes, yes I am.” I got my balance, and dipped her again. People were still watching us. I was holding her close, and I wanted to kiss her so badly. I wished it was as easy to attract girls as it was to attract Marcus. I let Ellen go, and excused myself to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet, the small room spinning around me. Why did I love the straight girls? And was I ready to join a Gay Straight Alliance? Seriously, I thought to myself, who knew college would get so complicated so quickly?
Blanche and Ellen had a suite with two other girls, and Blanche had steered me into their double off the main room. Ellen put on some Electro that had bleeps and boops going crazy under some synth. We sat on their beds, me feeling awkward next to their petite frames. I tucked my legs under me nervously.
"You are so pretty Alice." Blanche remarked, "I love your hair too."
"Thanks, but like, you guys are so cool looking. I'm just…"
"Oh my god, you look like a model, are you kidding? I'd kill for those legs." Ellen punctuated her words with her fluid hand gestures.
"Yeah, no pants ever fit, it's greattttt…" I drawled.
"We're still jealous!" Blanche smiled. They were so friendly.
"You want to do some lines of adderal?" Ellen tapped her fingers, directing the comment toward Blanche.
"Yeah, definitely. Alice?"
"Uhm, sure." I had never done that, but damned if I was going to seem like a prude little frosh.
"I wish we had coke." Ellen groaned as she crushed a few pills up on a notebook.
"God, I know. Ever done blow, Al?" Blanche used my nickname and I flushed with pride.
"Nah, hard to come back in West Bumfuck, Massachusetts." I smiled.
"She is so funny." Ellen said to Blanche. Blanche was eyeing the lines, but nodded. Finished, Ellen rolled up a twenty and inhaled. I watched her motions so I could mimic them when it was my turn. After Blanche, I held my hair back and inhaled the line of crushed blue pill. It shot up my nose with a jolt, the aftertaste of the coating running down the back of my throat.
“Ah,” Ellen sighed, tilting her head back, and pinching her nose.
“So do you have, like, “Blanche sniffed delicately, “A boyfriend?”
“Nah, I did but he’s at Evergreen State in Oregon.”
“Aw. Was he hot?” Ellen giggled
“Ellen! Look at her, of course he was.” Blanche shook her head.
I sniffed, pulling pill debris up my nose and down my throat again. The taste shocked me a second time and I could feel my nerves buzzing already. I felt like I needed to run around a block a few times to get rid of the excess energy. I wasn’t sure I liked it, but at least I tried. I told myself, this is what college was, trying new things. Of course, I thought that would be learning Italian, not doing drugs, but the same principal applied, I guess.
“What about Kate?” Blanche continued.
“Uhhh…” I stalled. “Kate is… gay. She’s a lesbian.” As soon as I said it, I regretted spilling her secret.
“Oh, cool. I’m heteroflexible.” Ellen responded.
“Hetereo-what now?” I was bewildered by her term
“I’m mostly straight, but I like people, not genders. You know?”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” I felt like I was a geeky twelve year old now. I made a note to look it up online to see if it was a real word.
“Let’s go dance, Alice!” Blanche tugged on my arm.
“Oh, no I don’t dance.” My arms and legs were prone to knocking into things, and dancing seemed like it would only endanger people and objects around. “You do now!” Blanche pulled me up off the bed, shimmying toward the door

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I followed Alice over, and I could tell she was nervous from how quickly she was walking. I was glad to have her next to me though. That was the real reason I went with her to college, pure protection. Once I came out, I felt like my skin was peeled back, and I was exposed. Alice made me comfortable, gave me a shield. I was trying to be more outgoing, though, but I knew we would still be tight like always. Honestly, she was almost entertaining enough to not need other people, but my therapist told me to remember to branch out. So I was trying.
“Hey Blanche.” Alice said loudly, over the noise. She was wearing some sort of ridiculous outfit that I could tell Alice was admiring.
“Hey! Hey guys! Oh, come here, meet everyone!” she promptly introduced me to a number of people I knew I wouldn’t remember. First, they all kind of looked the same to me, shaggy hair and cigarettes, and second, I was horrible with names.
“So you’re the dope freshman.” This girl said in a deadpan.
“You know it.” I threw up my gang sign.
“Kate I told you not to do that in public. I apologize for my thug friend here; she doesn’t know how to act in polite company.” Alice explained. Everyone laughed appreciatively.
“Oh my god, where did you find them?” the same girl asked.
“They just fell into our laps, pretty much. I told you I found the best ones.” Blanche looked smug. She put an arm around me and steered us inside.
“See, it’s important to meet your friends early in freshman year, upperclassmen who can introduce you to the right people and so forth. Otherwise you get stuck with all confused freshman. I didn’t meet Marcus until halfway through the year, and I spent the first half stuck at a capella concerts with my lame roomie. Then I met Marcus and all these people and started having actual fun. You guys are starting off right.” I felt pride surge in my chest. Al and I had spent three years of high school alone til we met our cool artsy friends, so I knew what she meant. We wouldn’t have to wait this time, we had already found them.
“Hey!” Ellen ran over and grabbed my arm. She was so fucking cute. I was still hung up on straight girls, because I had no real lesbian experience. My only girlfriend from high school was this preppy girl named Taylor who hid our relationship then dumped me for a boy. She got scared about being gay, I guess. Whatever, it still stung. But Ellen, she was something. Big pouty lips and bigger wide eyes. She was smaller than me, and thinner, which is how I liked my girls.
“I’m so glad you came. What can I get you?”
“Uh, what are you drinking?”
“Red Stripe, it’s so good.” She pulled me over and handed me one. Alice was talking to Marcus, who was a few inches shorter than her, and I could tell from how she was slumping that he thought he was cute. She was trying to be shorter. Her red hair looked pretty cool, I had to admit. She looked like Claire Danes from My So Called Life. It was easy for Al to look great though. She was tall and model thin, which was only not intimidating because of how she held herself. If she were elegant it’d be a different story, but she wore her lankiness awkwardly, making her look more endearing, less hate-able. I turned back to Ellen, attempting to make non-weird conversation.
“So who are all these people?”
“Well, that group is Marcus’ art friends, and the ones by the records are my friends from the radio station. I have a radio show. It’s on at twelve to two Thursday night, but still.” She looked proud of herself.
“What do you play?”
“Live sets. That’s my thing. I have live recordings of band sets, or campus bands come in and do one.”
“Oh that’s cool. I have a David Bowie live album if you want to borrow it.” I was glad I had something to offer her.
“Yeah definitely. I love Bowie.” She excused herself to go talk to some friends, so I sat back and surveyed the scene. I gulped some beer down, glad to be drinking so I could look busy. I was oddly comfortable just observing parties until I was drunk enough to talk to random people. In high school I was known to be the one pulling stupid shit all night, pranks and the like, starting impromptu water balloon fights and smashing bottles. Everyone called me Hurricane Kate after one such incident. I thought that would be a good super-villain name, incidentally. I got the reckless feeling in my stomach after one beer where I knew I needed another to keep it going. I chugged a can I got from some guy, and started to feel like my old self. Alice kept going on about College Us, but I wanted to go back to who I was in high school: celebrated prankster and Alice’s partner in crime. I was comfortable with that. But I decided to talk to Marcus, since Alice had left him alone. He seemed nice enough, and I could plant some seeds about Al.
“Sup, dude?” I greeted him.
“You are so strange, Kate.” He half-smiled at me, his eyes warm.
“That’s what they tell me. 'They' being my parents.” I was drunk now, and I could feel my words coming out heavy and awkward. He laughed though, so I continued.
"Everyone spends so much time telling me how weird I am, but I don’t believe them." He nodded, still smiling. I wondered why he was looking at me like that.
"That's a good thing, Kate. I think you're pretty rad."
"Me too. Alice and I are awesome." There we go, I thought to myself, plant the seed of Alice.
"Yeah, she seems cool. You're just…fun, I think."
"Yeah we are. I want to smoke. Want to smoke?" I was talking fast, I could tell. He was looking at me like I looked at pot roast: hungry. I didn’t want to overstep our new friendship-type thing and tell him I was gay, in case he just looked at everyone like that.
"Nah I just had a cigarette." he shrugged.
"I mean pot, buddy." I pulled out a dime bag. I knew I was kind of wasting our stash, smoking him up, since we didn’t have a dealer yet, but I betted we would soon enough.
"Oh word, yeah." I looked around for Alice, and didn’t see her. Oh well, I thought. I followed Marcus outside to roll a joint.