Monday, September 19, 2011

Season 2 – Episode 3 – Act IV

             Terry hated it when he and Cerise fought.  It always got so intense.  Everything with them was always one extreme or the other.  Usually it was super awesome but whenever it was bad, it was crazy hella bad. 
            Andrew laughed his ass off when Cerise had walked out of Clyde’s the other night, spouting shit about PMS or whatever and when Terry had gotten up to follow her he loudly accused him of being pussy whipped and stuff.  Cerise did kind of have a point about Andrew being an asshole.  Had he always been such a dick or was Terry just noticing it now that he was more mature?  Because Terry was definitely more mature since he’d gotten together with Cerise.  He had intellectual conversations now and understood more stuff about life and stuff.  Cerise was so much smarter than him, as were all her stupid nerd friends but while he always got the impression that Jay and his goddamned afro and his cohorts were laughing at him behind his back, Cerise never made him feel dumb.  She was sweet and loving and fun and hot but shit, did she have a fucking temper! 
            He’d found her at the bus stop outside of Clyde’s and had taken her hand and led her to his car.  She’d gotten in without protest but gave him the silent treatment as he drove her home.  He didn’t know what to say anyway so they never resolved their fight.  Now he wondered if he should pick her up for school as usual or maybe call first to make sure they were still a couple or what.
            He got to her house a little earlier than usual in case she decided to take the bus to school.  He sat outside, peering in the windows, wondering if he should go ring the bell or what but a second later she came outside and stepped into his car. 
            “I wasn’t sure you’d show up,” she said.
            “I wasn’t sure I should show up,” he replied.  “Are you still pissed.”
            She sighed.  “I’m not pissed.  I’m disappointed.”
            He drove them to school and asked her to elaborate.
            “It just kind of makes me sad that you’re still like that, like how you were last night.  It was seriously like high school all over again.  You being all cool or whatever.  You say that I was ostracising myself by sitting down and reading but I mean, as soon as Andrew showed up you went to play pool with him.  What was I supposed to do, just stand there and watch?  How would that be fun for anyone?  Is that what you expect of a girlfriend?  To just like stand by and watch you hang out with other people, not even including me in the conversation?  And don’t say I do that to you, ‘cause when we hang out with the guys you’re always included.  I don’t ignore you.  I ask your opinion, plus like Karine is always there too so even if the guys start talking amongst themselves it’s not like you’re all alone.”
            “Ok well…”
            “I’m not done,” she said calmly.  “I know I sound like a mom from the ‘80s but I feel like Andrew is a bad influence on you.  I swear you’re different when he’s around.  Usually you’re fun and nice but whenever he’s around it’s like you’re trying to impress him and you do that by being loud and obnoxious and pervy and smoking!  Don’t think I forgot about the fucking smoking!”  Her voice was rising.
            He wanted to defend himself by pointing out that he hadn’t actually smoked a cigarette, he’d just stood there while Andrew smoked but in actuality he had taken a few drags off of Andrew’s cig.  Damn her for being right about that and damn her for being so freaking perfect all the time. Was she right about all of it?  Was it his fault for ignoring her or was it her fault for not including herself?  It was true that he’d basically ignored her when he saw Andrew.  His old friend was still fucking tons of chicks all the time and even though Terry was past that he knew that Andrew would think he’d gotten weak, letting himself be controlled by a girl.  Most guys were jealous of Terry but Andrew had never been.  Everyone agreed that Terry was cooler and hotter than Andrew and yet Andrew had always been able to score more chicks.  Terry always told himself it was because Andrew had low standards and Terry preferred quality over quantity but what if he was losing his edge?  He wasn’t even eighteen yet, and he’d already tied himself down to one girl.  Sure, she was awesome but… but he wasn’t sure what.
            They drove around the JAC parking lot for a while and then Terry finally found a spot.  They got out of the car but before Cerise started walking towards the school, Terry grabbed her and hugged her.  She hugged him back, but her body was stiff, she was still upset.
            “I’m sorry,” he said, releasing her and then taking her hands in his.  He looked into her eyes.  “I’m sorry I ignored you and I’m sorry I smoked.  I’m sorry I get pervy when I’m with Andrew.  I guess I just…” he shrugged, unsure of how to defend himself.  “I dunno, I’m sorry.”
            “I’m sorry too,” she smiled weakly.  “I shouldn’t have walked away when you started playing pool.  I guess I could’ve tried harder to be nice to Shit-head, I mean Andrew,” she snickered. 
            He smirked, rolling his eyes.  “Ok yeah, I know he’s kind of a jerk, but he’s still my friend.  I mean like Karl and Willy can be jerks too sometimes and you’re still friends with them.”
            She nodded, conceding the point.  “Does that mean we have to keep hanging out with Andrew?”  Her face took on a pained expression.
            “I don’t wanna stop being friends with him.  He may be a jerk sometimes but he’s always been a good friend to me.  I have fun with him.”
            “Ok but like, does that mean I have to hang out with him?”
            “I don’t wanna have to like, sneak around to see him.  God, that just sounds gay,” he chuckled.
            “I just feel so uncomfortable around him.  He’s so pervy.  I just like… my skin crawls when he’s around.”
            “So I’m supposed to just like hang out at Clyde’s without you?”
            “Well I mean, I sometimes hang out with the guys without you.  Like when we game.  You know that RPG thing?  I know that would be totally boring for you, so I don’t force you to sit there and endure it.”
            “But we already spend so little time together,” he said, trying not to sound too needy.  “You’re constantly at rehearsal and soon hockey is gonna start back up and we’ll never see each other if we insist on doing stuff like not together.”
            “Yeah,” she shrugged helplessly.
            “Is it ok if I invite Andrew out with us next week?” he asked.
            “Ugh, so soon again?”
            “Well it’s gonna be my birthday so…”
            “Oh, right,” she sighed and he tried not to be insulted that she’d apparently forgotten.  “Well then yeah, I guess.”
            “Ok but we can go to Cunningham’s and you can invite all your drama friends so for sure you won’t be bored if I hang out with Andrew for a bit.”
            She smiled and nodded.
            So we’re ok?” he asked sweetly.
            She nodded again and accepted his kiss.  As they walked to the school she mumbled that she hadn’t even mentioned all the girls he’d been scoping out at the bar.
            He couldn’t help but laugh.  “Hey, I’m allowed to look, aren’t I?”
            “You were doing more than looking!” she scoffed.  “I mean hell, if I hadn’t been there you probably would have hooked up with one of them right there in the bar!”
            “Are you jealous?” he grinned, suddenly feeling light and airy.
            “Nooooo,” she insisted.
            “Hah!  You’re totally jealous,” he laughed.
            She protested again and pouted so adorably he almost burst right there.  He didn’t even bother analysing why it made him feel so good to know she was jealous but he allowed himself to enjoy the moment and teased her a little bit before assuring her she was the only girl for him.  They stood on the steps of Penfield and kissed and Terry was glad he had such an amazingly cute girlfriend.  Screw Andrew and his stupid string of ugly ass ho-bags.  Cerise was way better than anything that loser was picking up.

            The boys hung out in their usual hallway laughing over the events of the previous day.  It was decided that the activist infiltration plan had gone spectacularly well and they congratulated themselves on planting a bonus infiltrator in the group without even realising they’d done so.  Perhaps it had been done with time travel or perhaps they’d mind-wiped the information from their brains so they’d think it was their first time meeting Lee and his trench coat of sabotage but surely such effective infiltration could only have been accomplished through their genius planning.  They agreed that Lee would be allowed to join their group and tried to devise a plan on how to integrate him without seeming like a bunch of school girls inviting a unicorn to a tea party.  Perhaps Lee and his righteous trench coat of righteousness wouldn’t even want to drink tea with them.
            Vani was of course the most vocal advocate of integration, proving himself once again to be the gayest little straight boy who ever lived by fully admitting to the boy crush.  Willy was unsurprisingly against integration, as he feared his new nickname would become Penis, a well-founded fear since they’d already began calling him this.  Karl was seemingly indifferent but cautiously hopeful that new blood would revitalize the group.  He’d noted that Lee had been wearing a t-shirt with a gaming reference on it so he could probably be trusted.  Jay hadn’t noticed the shirt and definitely didn’t think Lee could be trusted, but that was exactly why he was hilarious. 
            For some reason Jojo was present for this discussion and he seemed to think that Lee was an enormous jerk not to be associated with for any fathomable reason.
            “So it’s decided then,” smiled Jay.  “Lee is in, Jojo’s out.”
            They all laughed and walked off to nowhere in particular, leaving Jojo to think long and hard about what he’d done.

            “I’m sorry but I hate Lucie.”
            Karine looked up to see Laura tossing her script onto the table in the green room. 
            “I know, right?” Karine said.
            “She’s a fucking loser!  She’s so… I dunno, like she does nothing.”
            “She’s inert,” agreed Karine.
            They giggled together while the rest of the cast started piping in, each giving their opinion of which character they hated most and why this was the shittiest play ever and how much Hugh and Fred needed to choose a better script the following semester and how would they convince them and so on.
            “We should totally do a musical,” Laura said, bright-eyed.
            “Oh my god, totally!” agreed Karine.
            Everyone agreed enthusiastically and they all shouted out suggestions.  That Tom guy who was totally crushing on Cherry and her little raspberry said that while watching the 3D Alice of Wonderland he’d thought it would make a good musical.  Everyone got on board and they all started talking about who would get the Johnny Depp part and who would be Alice.
            “But is Alice even the best part or is it the white queen?” wondered Karine.  “’Cause like I’m not saying I’m the biggest Anne Hathaway fan but she totally stole that movie.”
            “But about Helena Bonham Carter?” asked Laura.  “She stole that movie.  She was totally hilarious!  Red queen all the way.”
            “I’ll be the white queen, you’ll be the red queen and…” Karine looked over at Cherry.  “Cerise can be Alice.”
            Everyone stared at Cerise.  Karine felt very proud of herself for being so generous to Cherry.  She was just a first-year after all. Laura said as much but Karine insisted that Cerise had the chops for it, since she’d won the drama award in high school.
            “Oh wow, she won a high school drama award?  Fuck, who hasn’t?”
            Everyone laughed along with Laura, including Karine, ‘cause seriously, a stupid high school drama award?  Whatever, it was so meaningless.  Now that they were in cegep they were doing real plays and Cerise would seriously need to step up her game if she wanted to play in the big leagues. 
            Laura and Karine began strategising how they’d convince Fred and Hugh to do Alice in Wonderland.  It would be so much fun to do a musical, they just had to make it happen!

            There were a couple of options for bussing back to Beaconsfield from St-Anne’s but the boys usually chose the 211 because it came often and was a pretty direct route as long as one didn’t mind hopping over the overpass at good old BHS.  Now that they were in cegep they were way beyond all that high school crap and could scoff at any high schoolers they might encounter along the way, which was halfway fun and halfway evocative of flashbacks to ‘Nam.  In any case it was standard procedure to finish off the day by gathering at the 211 stop outside of JAC and this is where Jay, Vani and Karl had the opportunity to see something none of them ever thought they’d see.
            Willy approached the bust stop accompanied by a girl.  Like made of flesh and blood and everything.  And it was pretty certain that she was walking with him because they were engaged in conversation, unless she was on the phone or something and he was just talking to himself while stalking her.  But no, they were definitely together because he was, whoa, crazy, what?!?! He had just pulled a pack of cigarettes (???) out of his cargo pocket and handed one to her, stuck one in his own mouth and then lit both with a lighter he produced from the same pocket.  What the hell?!?!  Since when did Willy smoke?  Jay exchanged shocked glances with Vani and Karl so he knew they were equally surprised by the sight and he wasn’t last to know about this insane development. 
            “What the fuck!?” exclaimed Vani, “Mega Twilight Zone action.”
            “Since when does Willy smoke?  And since when does he hang out with girls or other human beings?” Jay asked in bewilderment, knowing he wouldn’t get an answer but needing to ask all the same just to confirm that he was in fact seeing what was plainly before him. 
            “I suppose we can deduce from this observation that he is attempting to reach a certain level of cool heretofore unattained,” shrugged Karl.
            “And this is how he’s doing it?” laughed Jay.  “What a fucking wacktard.”
            “Seriously, what a fucking cock-sucker!” spat Vani, appearing more angry than amused.
            There were about a dozen other people in line at the bus stop, several of whom were girls and they all looked at Vani after this outburst.  Then they looked at Willy, who now stood at the end of the line with the girl, smoking his stupid cigarette of not-at-all-cool. 
            “No shit,” agreed Karl.  “He’s waving it all over the place like it’s a fucking light sabre.”
            “Look at the chick desperately trying to dodge it,” snarked Jay.  “She’s going all matrix trying not to get hit over the head with all his cock waving.”
            A few people in line stifled laughter as Jay did his best Neo impression.
            “Aww, seriously,” laughed Vani.  “Check her out, she’s got jizz all over her now.  Disgusting!”
            “Indeed,” agreed Karl.  “Look at her.  Look at the pain in her eyes.  She can’t fucking stand him and he has no idea.”
            “It’s pathetic how he keeps on talking to her,” said Jay.
            “She so obviously wants to get away,” nodded Vani.
            “He’s such a reject.”
            They went on like this until the girl finally walked away, back towards the school.  Willy stamped out his cigarette and joined the boys, angrily informing them that he could hear everything they’d just said.
            “Yeah, we know,” smiled Karl.  “That’s why we held back.”
Several chuckles escaped from randoms in the line-up and Willy burned red.  What a fucking loser.  They couldn’t have met Lee and his righteous trench coat at a better time ‘cause they might just have to replace Willy once and for all.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Season 2 – Episode 3 – Act III

            At first they thought about going undercover in skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts and whatnot but that would have required purchasing clothes and actually shopping for those clothes, which could have been accomplished at Villages des Valleurs but laziness took hold of all of them so they just showed up in their regular gear of whatever crap their mom usually bought them at Zellers.  The plan was elaborately laid out and involved code names and stuff but Jay knew they wouldn’t actually follow through with any of the cloak and dagger stuff.  In the end they just followed Jojo to his next activist club meeting.
            It was just a classroom, not even a lounge or anything and the assembled group was much smaller than Jay had anticipated and not nearly as hipster as he’d hoped.  He could tell by Vani’s sad expression, Karl’s eyebrow raise and Willy’s burp that they too were let down.  Other than Cavity there were just three other people in the room.  One was a tall guy with some bad facial hair, so he qualified as hipster even though his clothes were deceptively preppy.  Another was a white girl with dreadlocks and the third was an angry looking dude in a trench coat.  Hey, they should have all come in trench coats, that would have been hilar. 
            Cavity waved them over and they sat down.  They went around the room introducing themselves and then the facial hair guy said that they’d been discussing deforestation.
            “That’s where they cut down trees, right?” asked Vani earnestly.
            “Who cares about trees?!” snapped the trench coat guy, whose name Jay had already forgotten.  “Trees are everywhere!  Didn’t you see Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!?  Plants can’t be trusted!”
            Jay and the guys all laughed, even Jojo, but facial hair guy was annoyed and sighed heavily while shooting eye daggers at trench coat guy like he’d long ago grown tired of trench coat guy’s antics.  Trench coat guy was potentially awesome. 

            Cerise hated going to Clyde’s. It reminded her of that first disastrous date she’d had with Terry where he’d played pool with his stupid friends and ignored her all night while she’d been forced to listen to Christina Penna drunkenly complain about her life.  Her reticence to enter the establishment once more was immediately justified when Andrew fucking Lester accosted them pretty much as soon as they entered the door.  Terry seemed pleased as punch to see his old douchbag buddy and sure enough, before Cerise knew it, Terry and Douchey McDoucherson were playing a round.  Cerise almost considered taking up drinking just so she could suppress her rage.

              “How many of us actually went to that protest?” asked the girl who wasn’t Cavity.
            “I went,” said facial hair guy all smugly.
            Trench coat guy scoffed audibly.  “That was like, years ago!  We were all in high school, sucking our thumbs!  How were we supposed to even know about that protest?”
            “Well I went,” said other girl.
            “You don’t shave your legs, do you?” asked trench coat guy.
            Willy snickered and both Cavity and other girl looked appalled.
            “Anyway…” other girl sighed heavily.  “I’m just saying that most people here have never even been to a protest!  We don’t even know what we’re doing.  We have to get organized.”
            “If you wanna get organized you have to first of all, weed out the weak.”  Trench coat guy said with authority.  “So first we have to get rid of all the girls.”
            “What?” asked Cavity as Jay and the guys tried to keep straight faces. 
            “Uh excuse me, girls aren’t weak,” other girl sneered.
            “You know the expression ‘you’ve got balls’?  Well you don’t have any.  Ok so then you have to stop being a bunch of whiney do-nothings.  If you wanna get organized you have to model yourselves after a group that was efficient.  Like the nazis for instance.”
            This remark was met with silence.  Trench coat guy was so obviously trolling that Jay couldn’t believe the genuine activists were falling for it. 
            “Are you like, a fascist or something?” asked facial hair guy.
            “So what?  There’s something wrong with being a fascist now?  I thought you guys didn’t discriminate!”
            “What is wrong with you?” asked other girl.
            “Oh sure, it’s all fun and games when we’re saving the Africans crawling with AIDS but as soon as I mention skinheads you get all antsy.  You’re just a bunch of hypocrites!”
            “You’re not even making sense,” said Cavity with a bemused smirk, as though she was starting to catch on to what was going on.
            “Aren’t I?  Aren’t I?  Or am I making so much sense that you can’t even handle it?”
            Finally facial hair guy and other girl had had enough and they suggested he leave, an idea which was met with protest.  Trench coat claimed they had no authority over him and facial hair actually kicked his chair back and rolled up his sleeves like he was Chuck Norris or something.  It was so incredibly awesome that Jay was actually grateful for Jojo and his stupid film geekitude ‘cause he was recording the whole thing.
            “Where’s your love of peace now you hypocrites?” screeched trench coat as facial hair physically pushed him out of the room.  “You think you’re God or something?  Well ask God how many shots of bourbon he had before he cut me open!”
            All the boys cracked up so crazily that they soon got kicked out of the room as well.  But it was totally worth it.  Who would have thought so many people would infiltrate an activist group in one day?

            “So you’re still with Cherry?” asked Andrew with an amused smirk.
            “Her name’s Cerise,” said Terry, trying not to display his annoyance.  Why couldn’t Andrew just be chill?  No wonder they hadn’t hung out all summer.  Maybe he was really just as bad as Erica and Terry had never been able to see it because… because Andrew was a guy or something and Terry was just as much of an asshole or something.
            “So she’s not a cherry anymore?” Andrew snickered.
            “Just take your shot, man,” Terry said evenly.
            Andrew was sort of kicking Terry’s ass at this game.  It was kind of embarrassing.  But maybe that’s just ‘cause Terry had better things to do now than play pool all the time, what with having a girlfriend and everything.  A couple of chicks walked by and Andrew referred to them as fresh meat.  They were pretty cute and Terry watched them go and then realized he didn’t even know where Cerise was.  He looked around, trying not to be frantic about it and saw her sprawled out in a chair, reading her script for that play she was doing.  She must be bored to tears.
            Terry absentmindedly laughed at Andrew’s joke about hooking up with those chicks in like, five seconds and replied that it would only take him two.  Which was probably true, those chicks were totally checking him out.  Maybe having a girlfriend wasn’t so great after all.  Terry had to admit to himself that he missed the days of being able to hook up with random chicks whenever he wanted.  When was the last time he’d gotten laid?  But it was better with Cerise because she gave him blowjobs all the time, like almost every day, which was way better than occasionally getting laid by some chick he didn’t even like.  But he wouldn’t mind having a girlfriend who liked doing the stuff he liked doing.  Was she seriously reading a book in a bar?  How lame was that?  Why couldn’t she be more like Karine, more of a party girl?  Of course, her idiosyncrasies were exactly what he liked about Cerise but still, would it kill her to pick up a pool cue and join him?  He sure as hell spent enough time hanging out with her nerd friends talking about Star Trek and whatever the fuck. 

            “That was hilarious!” chortled Vani as they stumbled out of the activist club room.
            “No shit, did you see that girl’s face?” laughed Willy.  “She was going totally spasmodic!”
            “They’re such hypocrites,” sniffed trench coat.  “What a bunch of pinkos.  They’re all for democracy but as soon as someone steps out of line they become total commies.”
            “Yeah, where’s McArthur when you need him, eh?” smiled Jay.
            The trench coat guy nodded in agreement and Vani asked him what his name was.  He first evaded the question, blabbering about them wanting to turn him into the thought police or whatever but finally he said his name was Lee and they all reintroduced themselves.  It was pretty priceless when they got to Willy.
            “Your name’s penis?”
            “William,” Willy scowled.
            Willy could do nothing but sigh as the others cackled with glee.
            “What a retarded name, Penis.”  Lee shook his head in bemusement.
            Terry and Andrew the asshole joined Cerise at her table and she put away her script so she’d at least appear to be paying attention to their inane conversation.  It was pretty insane how Terry’s IQ seemed to drop by several points whenever Andrew was around.  They talked about the most boring stuff in the world, like sports and beer and stuff.  Andrew was talking about how he was going to Marianopolis with Erica and Christina and something about how Terry should start hanging out with them again because they both gave good head.  It was enough to make Cerise sick.
            Finally when Andrew stumbled off to go to the washroom, Cerise angrily informed Terry was she was experiencing serious flashbacks to Halloween. 
            “What do you mean?” he asked, proving himself to be so oblivious that Cerise’s rage went into overdrive.
            “Hello?!  Fucking Halloween last year!  This exact bar, that exact fucking tool you’ve been playing pool with in the exact same, totally ignoring me way!”
            “Ok, you’re pissed,” he frowned.
            “Damn fucking straight I’m pissed!  I didn’t come here so you could hang out with Andrew fucking Lester and like, completely ignore me all night.  And don’t think I didn’t notice when you went outside to ostensibly get some air.  I know you smoked a cigarette, you fucking reek of it!”
            Terry flushed a little and looked guilty but then squared his jaw in petulance.  “You’re the one who hasn’t said anything all night.  You just walked away when Andrew showed up.  What am I supposed to do, totally ignore my friend?  You just sat down and started reading your book, making it pretty fucking clear you don’t wanna be here.  You agreed to come here so like, you know, I figured we’d actually hang out, you know how I hang out with your fucking friends all the fucking time!  Why can’t you ever return the fucking favour!?”
            “Because you become totally different when you’re with that jackhole.  You become just as much of an asshole as him!”
            “You don’t even fucking know him!  And if you don’t like him then maybe you don’t like me!”
            “You’re right, Terry,” Cerise sighed, her limbs trembling.  It made her sick to her stomach whenever she and Terry fought.  “I don’t like you when you’re being like this.  That’s why I was so afraid to come here tonight.  I knew you’d be like this.”
            He chuckled bitterly.  “You’re just like accusing me of doing exactly what you’re doing.  You’re being you know, the way I don’t like.  The bitchy Cerise.  Everytime I try to just chill and have fun you freak out.  Like if I can’t always be exactly how you want me to be then you don’t want me at all.”
            Damn him for making a valid point.  Cerise said nothing and sat there pouting as Andrew drunkenly walked back to the table and yammered on about some hot chicks and their hot pussies and other offensive bullshit that Cerise couldn’t believe her so-called boyfriend could tolerate. 
            “I’m sorry, Terry, I can’t do this,” she said, getting up and walking away.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Season 2 – Episode 3 – Act II

            Even though she’d wanted her mother’s help in setting the appointment, Cerise mustered the courage to go to the doctor’s alone.  She gave her medicare card to the receptionist and waited her turn for what seemed an eternity.  Dr. Gerlach didn’t see patients on Fridays so Cerise had to make the appointment for Tuesday, which meant skipping a class, or maybe even two depending on how long she’d have to wait.
            At least an hour after arriving a nurse called her name and took her blood pressure and her height and weight.  Then she was sent to wait for the doctor in a little room with a desk, two chairs and one of those bed thingies covered in paper.  She wondered if she should take off her clothes and lie down or just sit in a chair or what.  She decided to sit and wait.
            Dr. Gerlach always seemed a little bit distracted and today was no different.  She walked in and said Cerise’s name like it was a question, reading her file rather than looking at her patient.  In spite of this, Cerise liked Dr. Gerlach, because even though she was kind of old, she wasn’t like gross grandma old, so her hands weren’t creepy, unlike those of the dermatologist she’d seen a few years back.  That doctor had been nice enough but his hands were so wrinkly and rough and yucky that it had completely traumatised Cerise to the point where her eczema had apparently been scared off her body.  Or it could have been the cortisone, one or the other.
            “So how are you feeling?”
            “Fine,” Cerise stammered, wondering if she should bring up the birth control issue.  When her mother made the appointment, she’d indicated what it was for so Cerise figured it was written in Dr. Gerlach’s file. 
            “How are your sisters?” asked Dr. Gerlach, her eyes scanning the file.
             “Does Julie still smoke?”
            “Julie smokes?” Cerise asked in surprise.  She’d never smelled it on her.  Even though she was grossed out she was impressed that Julie had managed to hide it so well and also sort of relieved she’d had the good sense to admit it to her doctor.
            “Well she shouldn’t.  You don’t smoke, do you?”  Dr. Gerlach eyed her with concern.
            “No, I don’t.”
            “So I see you’re here for a pap test.”
            “Uh yeah.”
            “You want to go on the pill.”
            “You’ve become sexually active?”
            “Umm, sort of,” Cerise shrugged.  “I haven’t um, gone all the way?” her intonation lilted upwards, as though she wasn’t sure.
            Dr. Gerlach nodded and told Cerise to get undressed and put on the little paper robe thingy while she stepped out for a moment.  Cerise did as instructed and it felt like a million years later that the doctor came back.  She told Cerise to lie down and then did a breast exam, kindly explaining what she was doing as she did it.  Her hands were kind of cold but not annoyingly so.  Then she felt Cerise’s abdomen and then she had Cerise scoot down and put her feet in the stirrups; she’d left her socks on so that wasn’t too cold either.
            “Alright, I’m going to swab the inside of your vagina with this,” explained Dr. Gerlach, holding up a long white stick. 
She stuck it inside Cerise, and it didn’t hurt exactly but it didn’t feel good either.  Cerise knew she should relax but it was so weird she just couldn’t and she even had to remind herself to breathe. 
            Dr. Gerlach put the stick into a little container and set it aside.  “Now I’m going to feel your cervix,” she said, pushing a latexed hand up inside Cerise.  “Ok, looks good!” Dr. Gerlach announced, ripping off the gloves and tossing them into the bin provided.
            As she started writing stuff in the file, she asked Cerise about her period, if it was regular and so on.  She assured Cerise that her short cycle was completely normal and assured her that the pill would give her a regular, twenty-eight day cycle.
            “You have a boyfriend?” she asked, looking up from the file.
            “Uh, yeah.”
            “He a nice guy?”
            “Yeah,” Cerise nodded.
            “How old is he?”
            “My age, like a year older, well, more like seven months.”
            “Do you know if he’s had other sexual partners?”
            “Uh yeah, he has.”
            “I’m going to recommend you get vaccinated against hepatitis B.  Anyone who is sexually active should be vaccinated for it.  Also you’re still young enough that an HPV vaccination is in order.”
            “Oh um, ok,” nodded Cerise.
            “You need to get three shots for the hep B. You can make an appointment with the nurse,” she said, scrawling things on a prescription pad.  “Ok, that’s for that,” she said, distractedly handing Cerise the paper.  “And this is the pill,” she scrawled out another prescription and handed it to Cerise.  “You know how the pill works?”
            Cerise nodded.
            “You take it every day at the same time more or less.  I’m going to give you this one to start off with,” she opened a drawer and fished out a little square packet, then opened it and pulled out a sheet, unfolding it into a massive map.  “These are the instructions and warnings and all that, side and effects and everything.”
            Cerise looked at the daunting instruction manual and blinked as Dr. Gerlach refolded it and tucked it away, giving Cerise the packet of pills.  “Now it becomes effective after about ten days but I highly recommend you use an additional method of birth control for the first month, just in case.  Condoms are a good idea for that and you should also be using condoms all the time for protection against sexually transmitted infections.”
            Dr. Gerlach stared at Cerise, as though daring her to disagree.  Cerise nodded obediently.  A moment later Cerise was ushered out to the hall where the nurse made her an appointment for her first hep B shot and charged her ten dollars for the pap test and then she was out on the street, catching her breath and catching a bus back to school. 

            Terry gave Cerise a big kiss when she joined him at his locker in Penfield.  Making sure no one was looking, she reached into her bag and pulled out a little box, named tri-something or other.
            “It’s the pill.  I have to wait to get my next period and then I start taking it on the next Sunday.”
            “Ok,” Terry nodded dumbly, trying not to show how excited he was that they were that much closer to doing the deed.
            “It doesn’t mean I’m ready,” she warned.  “It just means we’re prepared in case something happens.”
            “Ok,” he smiled.
            There was a moment of awkwardness while they smiled at each other and then she thanked him for coming to Cunningham’s the other night. 
            “Yeah, it was fun,” he replied.
            “I’ll tell Tom you enjoyed yourself.”
            “Well I don’t know if the band had anything to do with it.  But it was cool to hang out with you in a place where it was loud enough to drown out the guys.”
            Cerise laughed and Terry grinned, always half-way relieved when she actually got his jokes.
            “It was fun to go to a bar again,” he went on.  “It’s been ages.  I guess I missed it.  I mean, it’s not that I don’t like the stuff we usually do but I mean, that was the first time I went to a bar since like, last year.”
            “Oh, yeah,” she nodded.
            “It’s cool to just kick back and have a beer sometimes, you know?”
            “That Peter guy was pretty cool.  I’ve played against his brother before.  That Janice girl is kind of intense.”
            “Yeah, seriously.”
            “Hey, we should go to Clyde’s this weekend.”
            “Oh, yeah, I guess.”
            “You don’t want to?”  He didn’t bother hiding his disappointment.
            “No, it’s fine.”
            “We’ll invite everyone, it’ll be fun.”
            She agreed to go but he could tell she didn’t really want to.  Yet rather than rant about how Clyde’s was no different than Cunningham’s and how she was being a hypocrite to expect him to go to her friends’ bars instead of his, he just accepted her reluctant acceptance of his proposal.  It was about time he started getting what he wanted in this relationship. 

            “So how much do you think Jojo is paying that chick to go out with him?”
            Karl, Willy and Vani all laughed at Jay’s totally hilarious joke, even though it wasn’t really a joke at all.  It was seriously a mystery best left to Sherlock Holmes how a complete loser like Jonah Cupryk could land such a cute chick or any chick at all.
            It had become custom for the boys to amalgamate in the hallway between Hersberg and Hochelaga whenever they didn’t have class or weren’t expected at the Munch Box in Casgrain.  Jay knew that he should probably spend more time in the library or wherever the hell people went to study ‘cause so far nothing he’d submitted in any of his classes had come back with a grade higher than C but still, this Jojo outrage had to be dealt with.  Karl agreed that it was indeed crazycakes for Jojo to rise above his lowly station so impressively.
            “Maybe we’ve all passed through a portal and now we’re in an alternate dimension where losers get girlfriends,” suggested Vani.
            “That would explain why Karl has one,” nodded Willy.
            “But wouldn’t explain why you don’t,” mused Karl.
            “But I mean that chick, what’s her name?  Cassie or something?  She’s like totally cute even though she’s way short,” said Jay in confusion.  Seriously, how come other people kept getting girlfriends while he was still alone?  He wasn’t nearly as pathetic as Jojo!
            “I know!  She’s shorter than me!  And apparently she likes total dorks so I should really start planning my strategy on how to win her away from Jojo,” said Vani, stroking his chin.  “I’m gonna need to consult with Terry on this one.
            “I bet Jojo’s paying her,” grumbled Jay.
            “You imply she’s a prostitute,” said Karl.  “So while your intent is to insult Jojo you’re actually just insulting her and she seemed nice, it somewhat delusional.”
            “Ok, thanks Gloria Steinem,” snarked Willy, displaying such a remarkable knowledge of feminist icons that they all stared at him for a moment, dumbstruck, before Vani shook his head and went on.
            “You know it’s possible that Jojo isn’t as much of a loser as we think,” suggested Vani.
            Karl emitted a low, extended, deliberately fake laugh, which went on for a full ten seconds before he stopped and blinked at Vani.  “Oh, you were being serious.  Go on.”
            “Maybe he’s a sex machine.”
            Jay mimed dry heaves while Willy mimed vomiting into his hand and then made squishy sound effects as he tucked the phantom barf into his pants’ pocket.  Even though it was Willy’s joke it was pretty hilar and they all snickered before Vani asked what that chick’s name was.
            “I’m pretty sure it’s Cassie,” said Jay.
            “No, it’s not Cassie, but you’re on the right track,” stated Karl.  “It’s more like… Carrr…. Car seat… Calamity… Cavity?”
            “Cassie!” said Jay triumphantly.
            “Right!” nodded Vani.  “It’s Cavity!”
            “Well, she was pretty sweet,” smarmed Willy.
            “Hey you guys!”
            “Jesus fucking shit!  Where the hell did you come from?” shouted Willy.
            Jojo had seriously just materialised out of nowhere and was now standing among them as though he’d been there the whole time.  Jay didn’t care if Jojo got his feelings hurt but it was still kind of awkward to realize he might have overheard their conversation about him.  This kid obviously did have magical powers which were being used for hypnotizing chicks and transporting.
            “Dude, speak of the devil, eh?” laughed Vani.  “Jojo, we were just talking about you.”
            “Really you guys?  What about me?”
            “We were wondering how you hooked up with a chick like Cavity.”
            Leave it to Vani to simply not care what anyone thought.  Honest to a fault even if he ended up looking like a fool. 
            “Cassie?  I dunno.  I met her here.  We’ve been going out for like, two weeks.  She’s pretty awesome, eh?”
            “She’s totally cute,” agreed Vani.  “So like, did you roofie her or something?”
            “What do you mean?” asked Jojo dumbly.
            “Nevermind.  Tell us all about your romantic meeting under the stars.”
            “Oh well she’s into like activist stuff so I met her at this activist group they have here.”
            “You’re in an activist group?” asked Karl with disdain.
            “Yeah, you know for like protesting globalization or whatever.  Or supporting stuff, like when Japan gets hit with tsunamis we gather donations or whatever.”
            “I see,” said Karl with a straight-face, presumably thinking Jojo wasn’t even worth the trouble of arguing with.
            “Yeah so I’m making a documentary about them, the activist group, you know like Trekkies?  The documentary?  You guys saw that, right?  So my movie’s showing how they’re all really dedicated to their cause, like maybe too dedicated, ‘cause like they don’t even have a specific cause right now.”
            “So then it’s actually half-way mocking them?” asked Karl, allowing his usual shield of disdain to drop a little. 
            “Yeah,” nodded Jojo.  “Well I mean it’s not to be mean, it’s not to make fun of them, it’s just to show how you know, they have this vision but nothing to focus the vision on.  How like having the vision is more important to them than the focus.  Or I mean, how like being dedicated to a cause is more important than an actual valid cause.”
            “So it’s an expose on hipsters then,” said Karl, his disdain dropping completely. “Like showcasing how they’re all pretentious, middle-class, privileged neo-hippies living off misplaced idealism and comically large eyeglasses without lenses.”
            “Pretty much,” nodded Jojo.
            It actually sounded pretty cool and Vani actually said as much, but thank god for Willy, always the voice of reason as he made his opinion known with a loud farp, a fart and a burp expertly timed to be emitted simultaneously. 
            “Yeah so that’s how I met Cassie.  I kinda feel bad making fun of them ‘cause Cassie’s genuinely into helping people and like causes and stuff, so I’m trying to tow the line between mockery and affection, you know, like in Trekkies.”
            “Fuck affection, mock the shit out of those fuckers,” instructed Karl.
            “So what you’re saying is that to get a girlfriend I should join this little group and pretend to be an activist,” said Vani.
            “Well I mean, I’m not pretending… I participate for real whenever they do actual stuff,” shrugged Jojo. 
            “Understood,” nodded Vani.  “Operation Infiltrate Activist Group will now commence.”
            “You can’t just activate a mission without directives,” said Karl.  “Operation IAG must be done correctly or not at all.”
            “Awesome!” smiled Jay.  “I’ll go undercover in skinny jeans and a half-assed attempt at facial hair and infiltrate the scene, man.  It shouldn’t even be that hard to blend in.  I mean I like whales, and baby seals.  And clubbing baby seals.  And feasting on the goo inside their heads.  That’s what they do at these things, right?”
            “Pretty much,” giggled Jojo.  Since when was he actually capable of getting their jokes?
            “We should start our own club.  The anti-activist club.  And we could like, protest protestation,” suggested Karl.
            “Karl, focus!” insisted Vani, shaking his compatriot’s arm.  “You have to plan the IAG op strategy!”
            Karl nodded and took out a notebook, and began drawing a map, asking Jojo for the coordinates of the activist group headquarters.

            Cerise and Cassie sat in the wings, waiting for their cue.  They’d be taking turns rehearsing their scene.  Cerise supposed she should be excited for this opportunity to do some actual rehearsing but she couldn’t muster any enthusiasm; it was just such a lame part.  Cassie was up first and she bounded on stage and was immediately told to be less enthusiastic.  She was supposed to walk, not run.  She said her line and was told to yell it because Jenny was supposed to be talking to the main dude over the sound of a storm or something.  So lame.
            As Cassie screeched out their line, Tom sidled up to Cerise.  “Did you have a good time on Friday?”
            “Yeah, it was cool,” she whispered.
            “We suck don’t we?”
             “Who?  Us?  You mean ‘cause of our shit parts?”
            “No, I meant my band.  Parisses Squares.”
            “Oh!  Sorry, no.  You don’t suck.  The lyrics are fucking hilarious.”
            Cassie came back to the wings and shot Cerise an eye roll and then waited for her cue again.  She walked back on stage, holding an imaginary hat as though she was being buffeted by the wind.
            “No need to mime, Jenny,” quipped Hugh.
            “I thought there was a storm,” Cassie protested.
            “We’ll have a wind machine, so you can just react to that,” said Fred.
            “Um, ok,” said Cassie, turning to look at the wings and scrunching up her face so hilariously that Cerise had to bite her lip not to laugh.
            “Thanks, I mean about the lyrics,” whispered Tom.  “I write them.”
            “Yeah,” he smiled.  “I mean not that they’re any good but yeah…”
            “It actually got me thinking of other stuff you could reference.”
            “Yeah?  Do you write?”
            “Well nothing real,” she shrugged.
            “A fucking limerick would be more real than what I write.”
            Cerise giggled into her hand.
            “Maybe we should collaborate sometime,” he suggested.
            “Yeah, maybe,” she smiled.  “Oh shit, it’s my turn!”
            Cassie walked up to them and sighed heavily and switched seats with Cerise, who walked on stage and was told to walk more quickly.
            It was pretty late by the time rehearsal finally let out but Cerise didn’t even need to call Terry for a lift because Cassie drove both her and Tom home.  They spent the drive making fun of the wind machine, which had turned out to be a small fan that was so pathetic its wind didn’t even make it onstage from its place in the wings.  It would have seriously been more effective for the stage hands to blow at them.
            Once home, she checked her email and saw that Jay wanted her to come over.  She considered ignoring him since she wasn’t really in the mood to game but decided it wouldn’t hurt to make a cursory appearance.  When she descended into his basement, she saw that he was alone, staring at the TV.
            “What’s wrong?” she asked, sitting next to him.
            “Nothing.  What do you mean?”
            “You’re sitting here all depresso-vision and watching Cake Boss, which you know I hate.  How come you’re not gaming?”
            “Ehh, Karl is devising a strategy for infiltrating the JAC activist group, which I guess can only be done on his home PC.”
            “Stands to reason,” Cerise nodded.  “Can we at least change the channel?” she asked after finding herself unable to contain her irritation in the face of an ethnic stereotype making crappy cakes when the infinitely superiour Ace of Cakes had been cancelled.
            “Whatever,” Jay mumbled.
            “Seriously, why so serious?” she asked, flipping through channels. 
            “I dunno, it just sucks how like, everyone is like doing stuff and I’m not.”
            “Care to elaborate?”
            “Everyone’s in groups, or in plays or infiltrating groups or plays or like, getting As on their labs and their essays and everything I do is shit.”
            “And this is only dawning on you now?” she asked, trying not to laugh. 
            “Shut up,” he grumbled.
            She settled on Sanctuary even though she was completely behind in the series and had no idea what was going on.  It had never been her favourite show and when her social life had started to actually exist she’d had to sacrifice her loyalty to those programs which were more paranormal than sci-fi. 
            “And how the fuck does Jonah Cupryk get a girlfriend?!” Jay suddenly exclaimed, his arms flying up into the air. 
            “Maybe he was like, nice to her instead of like, not being nice…” Cerise trailed off.  She’d wanted to complete the sentence with ‘instead of saying he’d take her to prom and then ditching her for another girl’, but decided not to go there.
            “I don’t even fucking get it.”  Jay’s arms flopped back down to his sides.
            “You always were rather ignorant,” Cerise said with more kindness than she thought he deserved, but then she felt sorry for Jay, seeing how much her words had crushed him.  “You need a plug-in?” she asked.
            He smiled and agreed that he could use a boost and pulled his imaginary cord from his neck, plugging it into Cerise’s imaginary outlet.  After a few minutes, Cerise attempted to stretch out on the couch but Jay pretended that he was being dragged along with her, exclaiming with panic that the cord didn’t stretch that far.  She giggled and allowed him to position her as he wished.  They watched Sanctuary and Cerise resolved to maybe give this show another chance, ‘cause even though Amanda Tapping’s British accent was kind of annoying, she was still Amanda Tapping and Cerise owed her that much.