“It really is like a ghost town,” said Vani.
There were still plenty of kids in the cafeteria but besides the boys, only the Glue Sniffers, Jonah Cupryk and a few other rejects were in Sec 5.
“I know, it’s wicked. They should do these grad trips more often,” agreed Willy.
“Time for a roll-off, men,” announced Karl, bringing out his bag of dice.
“Oooh, we’re doing it old school?” said Jay.
“Who’s gonna see? Everyone’s gone.”
“Wait,” said Vani. “Before we put our geekitude on full display, I have a motion to table.”
“Do tell,” said Karl, placing his dice bag down.
Vani looked around suspiciously. “To The Wall.”
They did the run and congregated at The Wall. Vani remained standing while the others sat down and he paced back and forth with one hand on his chin and the other behind his back.
“Aye,” the boys responded.
“You may have noticed a certain lack of supervision today. Several of our teachers are away, and almost all of our classmates are as well. In all of our classes so far we’ve been told to retire to the library for study.”
“You speak the truth,” nodded Jay.
“I propose we take advantage of the situation and begin partaking in certain adolescent rituals that we have heretofore ignored.”
“Go on…” said Karl suspiciously.
“Ritual number one!” his voice boomed through the hall. “Skipping.”
“Like with rope?” smirked Jay.
“Very funny, Jay Jonah Jameson! But alas, while I would gladly partake of a little double dutch, I am referring of course to skipping class.”
Karl sighed heavily. “Why would we do that? There’s no one here. We’re already doing whatever we want. What would be the point of doing it somewhere else?”
“Because my dear colleague and trusted friend, we are going to partake of another classic coming of age ceremony that cannot be undertaken within these walls. I speak of ritual number two: Drinking!”
“Yeah!” agreed Willy while pumping his fist in the air.
Karl and Jay were less enthusiastic.
“Listen you guys, seriously,” said Vani as he sat down with them. “This is our chance to start acting cool. I mean, we’re not as lame as we used to be you know. We could do cool stuff. We should skip and go to the cabane and do cool stuff, or you know, less lame stuff.”
The cabane was Karl’s mother’s log cabin up in Val-Morin. They’d congregated there before for male bonding rituals, although always under the admittedly indifferent eye of Karl’s mother. Jay agreed it might be fun to hang out there without parental supervision.
Willy agreed as well. “Yeah, that could be totally cool. We could get beer and totally drink and stuff.”
“We have to game,” insisted Karl.
“Of course we’ll game,” nodded Vani. “But we’ll game while drunk. Or buzzed. Or whatever. It’ll be so cool!” he squealed excitedly.
“How exactly is that cool?” wondered Karl.
“It just is! We have to start acting at least semi-normal. I mean listen, we’re not as lame as we were in Sec 1.”
“How do you figure?” asked Jay.
“Look at the facts. A, we got rid of Jojo Cupryk. B, Jay’s well on his way to having a French pepper moustache…”
Jay self-consciously touched his upper lip and frowned. He wasn’t looking like a pepper. Was he?
Vani went on. “C, I think I’m almost 5’ 6” and most important, D, we hang out with girls now. And I mean, that’s pretty crazy. Last year we would have freaked out if a girl even talked to us.”
“You mean you would have freaked out,” said Karl. “And you still do freak out.”
“We don’t even hang out with girls,” said Jay. “We just hang out with Cerise. And she doesn’t even count.”
“How does she not count?” asked Willy.
“’Cause she doesn’t think we’re losers. A girl is someone who by definition rejects us and everything we stand for. Anyone who would accept us could never be a girl for that reason. Not a real girl anyway.”
“So she’s a fake girl?”
“By that definition Sarah Wong’s a girl though. ‘Cause she totally rejects us. And we’ve totally hung out with her this year,” said Vani.
“Good point,” nodded Karl.
“But you know, even a fake girl is better than no girl at all,” mused Willy.
“Exactly!” agreed Vani triumphantly. “Willy actually gets what I’m saying. Which is disturbing to say the least. But nonetheless, my point remains. Our cool factor is increasing! I think we’re almost cool enough to start integrating the word ‘dude’ into our vocabulary!”
“Kill me if I ever get that cool,” said Karl sardonically.
“Ok dudes, Vani’s right. We need to get drunk,” smiled Willy.
“How shocking that Willy is so eager to blast himself into oblivion,” smirked Karl.
“Seriously,” Vani went on. “This is our chance to start being normal. I mean, you know, not normal normal but fake normal.”
“I could be fake normal,” said Willy.
“You already are fake normal,” Jay pointed out.
“Yeah, why do you think we don’t like you?” asked Karl.
“But wait, doesn’t being fake normal just make us poseurs?” asked Jay.
“See?” smiled Vani. “Poseurs is the kind of word a cool person might use.”
“This is insaniac,” sighed Karl. “You guys suck enough at the game without being drunk while doing it.”
“Don’t you at least wanna know what all the cool people are experiencing?”
“No! Our whole credo is rejecting normal and cool stuff. What, are you saying you wanna go hang out with Terry Trebichavsky and Erica Mackey now?”
“No, I wanna be Terry Trebichavsky!”
They all looked at Vani in shock and horror.
“What?” demanded Jay. “That asshole? He’s the biggest loser ever!”
“No, we’re the biggest losers ever. Terry Trebichavsky is cool. And right now, Cerise is on a ski trip with him. Cerise hangs out with cool people, hence she is cool. Hence she’s a bit more real in her girlness than you think, Jay. Hence, if we wanna hang on to any possible shred of coolness we get by being around her we’d better start being a little less nerdy and a little more… fake.”
“Hence we should become alcoholics?” asked Karl.
“Yes!” concluded Vani.
“I like it,” nodded Willy.
“Oh, Willy likes it so it must be a good idea,” said Jay while rolling his eyes.
“At least alcoholics have twelve step programs they can join. All we have is some dice and a Risk board,” sulked Vani.
“Were you not there when we initiated project SOIF? We’re anti-joiner,” said Karl.
“Well I’m game,” smiled Willy.
“Willy, you’re already on crack. How many drug dependencies do you need?”
“Just one more.”
“You know,” said Jay. “She’s not really on the trip with him.”
“Whatever, you all suck. Let’s get to the roll-off,” said Vani.
“And he wants to be cool,” chuckled Karl as he dumped out his dice.
It wasn’t difficult for Cerise to predict that she’d end up rooming with Shauna. Every other girl on the trip had a room assignment and she and Shauna were the only ones left. Their room held two bunk beds and Cerise made sure to wait for Shauna to choose a bed first. Shauna placed her bags on the bottom bunk of the left bed so Cerise put hers on the top bunk of the right bed. They ignored each other as they dropped off their bags and went to join the rest of their class in the lodge cafeteria.
Mr. Taffenberg was enthusiastically reporting the schedule for the séjour, which would involve skiing/snowboarding in the day and karaoke at night. All the students groaned but Taffy teased that it was a great opportunity to practice for their Canadian Idol auditions.
On the last day of their trip, there would be a talent show. Everyone was to split up into small groups and come up with some sort of act or skit; news which elicited more pained groans.
“Is it mandatory?” asked Erica.
Taffy seemed deflated. “No, but it’s encouraged.”
“Of course it’s mandatory!” boomed Rosenbaum.
“But this is supposed to be fun,” whined Erica.
“It will be fun! Aren’t we having fun?” Rosenbaum threatened.
As they began serving lunch, everyone started to break off into groups. Cerise avoided Shauna’s panicked and pleading gaze. It was one thing to room with her, but to be in a group with her? Obviously she’d have no one else to join up with and Cerise very nearly took pity on her but her sense of self-preservation won out and she joined the Green Girls at their table.
“We totally have to do a skit about the environment,” said Mel.
“Totally,” agreed Steph.
“Hey, that could be cool,” smiled Cerise. “Can I join up with you guys?”
“Of course!” smiled Sarah. “Oh my god Cerise, you’re not bunking with Porta-potty girl are you?”
“She’s your stalker!”
“Well I wouldn’t go that far.”
“You shouldn’t encourage her.”
“I know, totally,” agreed Mel and Steph.
“Well maybe I could bunk with you guys.”
“I dunno if we can fit you in,” said Sarah sadly. “Marla’s joining us so we’re full.”
“God, do we hafta room with Marla?” asked Steph.
“She’s totally gonna like sneak in a guy and fuck him all night,” agreed Mel.
“Would you guys shut up? Marla is totally nice, ok? You know all that shit about her isn’t true,” said Sarah in irritation.
Mel and Steph giggled and were shushed by Sarah as Marla came to join them at the table. They spent the rest of the lunch hour discussing snowboarding and Cerise tried to pay attention, hoping to pick up some pointers. Unfortunately her mind wandered and when they wound up outside Cerise had no choice but to end up on the bunny hill with the other losers in the class. One of whom was naturally Shauna.
They both struggled down the hill and fell several times. This stupid trip sucked royally.
“This sucks,” whined Shauna as she joined Cerise at the bottom of the hill.
“No it doesn’t, it’s fun,” said Cerise, shuffling over to the T-bar for another painful attempt.
Terry loved feeling the wind in his face as he sped down the mountain. The snow was great today, really powdery. Well, not that powdery, a little icier than would be ideal but still pretty sweet. Andrew and Steven had sped off together in a race but Terry liked to snowboard alone. It was the perfect opportunity to just be. To not have to think about anything. He could just glide and just be.
He reached the bottom and shuffled over to the chair lift. Karine joined him in line and they got on a chair together.
“You know your girlfriend is bunking with Porta-potty chick,” said Karine nonchalantly as she dug a hand into her front coat pocket and took out some chapstick. She applied it and passed it over to Terry, who put some on as well.
“She’s not my girlfriend. Yet. And what?” He handed back the chapstick.
“She’s totally rooming with a chemical toilet. She might catch a disease or something. You sure you wanna hook up with her?”
“I thought you were gonna chill on Cerise.”
“This is me being chill, Terry. What I’m saying is you’ve gotta get her away from the stank muffin. I mean, I can only be so charitable.”
“How is she rooming with her? She hates her. Don’t you remember when she bitched her out at your party?”
“Yes, we all remember, blah, blah, blah, it was so awesome, get over it. I’m just saying. You know, I think I’m getting a good idea for our skit.”
“For the talent show thing.”
“Are you serious? We’re not doing a skit.”
“Yes we are! It’ll be fun!”
Terry smirked at Karine and she rolled her eyes.
“Ok, it’s lame. But still. Do you think you could ever, for once in your life, like not shit all over everything?”
Terry grinned. “But it’s so fun to piss you off.”
They got off the lift and raced down the hill. One cool thing about Karine was that he could be real with her so even when he was with her, it was kind of like being alone.