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.”
“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.
“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?”
“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.”
“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
gets hit with tsunamis we gather donations or whatever.” Japan
“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.