They hadn’t spoken about the beer incident since it had happened. For a couple of days Stan had been a bit more grumbly than usual but then again it was hard to tell usual grumble from more than usual grumble. Shauna for her part was making more effort to turn this shitty little apartment into her home. If she could fight with Stan and not end up with bruises then this arrangement was definitely working out.
So it was with a brighter outlook and sunnier disposition than she’d probably ever shown before that Shauna took to decorating the apartment. She had no idea how to sew but she got some cheap fabric from Zellers and made new curtains for the bedroom. They were sort of half-assed but from far not too bad. Then she covered a disgustingly cum stained pillow with the same fabric, making the bedroom more matchy and thematic. The fabric was in pretty reds and oranges so it really brightened up the place. For the living room she put up some pictures of lightning she’d printed off the internet and then placed in cheapo frames, also from Zellers. Every week Stan gave her some cash so she could do groceries and she’d had to make this week’s money stretch so she could get all the cool stuff she wanted.
The place looked awesome and Shauna was nervous that Stan wouldn’t like it but when he came home from work he totally noticed and even complimented her efforts. He especially liked the lightning pics. It was totally awesome. Life was good.
“What should I get Terry for his birthday?”
Karine and Sarah both looked at Cerise and considered the question for a moment before agreeing that they had no idea. The girls sat out on the lawn along with tons of other students. It was a gorgeous day, probably one of the last of the year before autumn turned to winter.
“But you’ve known him longer than I have,” Cerise said to Karine. “What would you get him?”
“Bottle of Jack,” shrugged Karine.
“I’m not gonna give him alcohol.” Cerise sighed and rolled her eyes.
“Well then I don’t know,” said Karine rather snottily.
“I know what you can give him,” said Sarah slyly.
Cerise cocked an eyebrow.
“The gift that keeps on giving.”
“You know, yourself,” Sarah giggled.
“Yeah I know what you mean, Sarah,” Cerise sighed again. “But my life isn’t the plot of a movie made in the ‘80s and set in the ‘60s where a boy becoming a man learns about life and love from the older woman who lives on the wrong side of the tracks.”
“I totally saw that movie,” Karine exclaimed. “I think it had Corey Haim in it.”
“Eww, is that the dead Corey or the crazy Corey? Eww, either way eww,” said Sarah with a squished up nose.
“Anyway be serious,” insisted Cerise. “I seriously need to get him something. His birthday is this Thursday and I have shit all.”
“Well I dunno, what’s he into?”
“How can you not know what he’s into? You’re his girlfriend,” said Sarah, making an excellent point.
How could Cerise not know what to get her own boyfriend for his birthday? Was it possible she had no idea who Terry really was? Did that mean he wasn’t particularly layered or that she wasn’t particularly attentive? He would probably be able to think of something to get her; he’d always been good with gift giving. But Cerise sucked; she was the worst girlfriend in the history of forever.
“Whatever, there’s nothing to know. He digs hockey and getting drunk and having sex,” said Karine, perhaps confirming Cerise’s suspicion that Terry wasn’t the most complex person on the planet.
But was that fair? There was more to Terry than sex, drugs and skates and if Cerise couldn’t acknowledge that there was really something wrong with her, not him.
“Ok so since you’ve eliminated sex and alcohol I guess that leaves hockey,” said Sarah.
“I’m not gonna get him hockey shit, that’s lame, that’s like admitting that there’s nothing more to him than a dumb jock,” lamented Cerise.
“The only other thing he’s into is you,” said Karine pointedly.
“And since you’ve eliminated the gift that keeps on giving…” said Sarah with a giggle.
“I guess I’ll just get him clothes,” said Cerise.
“Totally!” enthused Sarah. “We should all go shopping for him! It’ll be so much fun!”
Karine agreed and next thing Cerise knew they’d booked a date to hit
and completely revamp Terry’s wardrobe. But she still wasn’t satisfied. Clothing didn’t seem intimate enough. Surely she should be able to come up with something personal, something only a girlfriend would get for a boyfriend. If only she was a proper girlfriend, and not a total poseur. Fairview
Was Cerise seriously still dating that overgrown Neanderthal? They were supposed to be gaming; it was pretty much understood that when the core group gathered in Jay’s basement it was to game, not to talk about Cerise and her stupid love life but here they were, settled into the mismatched sofas and surrounded by Willy’s foul aroma and all Cerise wanted to talk about was what to get her stupid boyfriend for his birthday. Like any of them cared about Terry Jerkikowsky’s birthday!
Vani strained Jay’s tolerance for the conversation even further by actually making some suggestions, all of which were ridiculous, though admittedly rather amusing. Cerise wasted no time in dismissing the idea of getting Jerk-boy a working tardis. Thankfully this allowed them to digress onto the topic of Dr. Who, a show Jay didn’t actually watch but one which he would gladly hear about over Terry and his terrible Territude.
The digression didn’t last long however, as Vani began making earnest suggestions, such as video games and DVDs but for whatever reason Cerise dismissed them all, probably because Jerkwad was too stupid to figure out how to use his opposable thumbs.
“These are good ideas, Vani, but try to think of something cheaper,” sighed Cerise. “I’m not exactly rolling in it.”
“Hmm,” Vani stroked his chin as he tended to do whenever anyone breathed. “Now I’m I’m picturing myself rolling in a pile of money surrounded by belly dancing chicks who are like, fanning me and stuff. I’ll be done in a bit. Talk amongst yourselves.”
“Get him something that has to do with an inside joke,” suggested Simone.
That was actually a really good idea. Cerise was ashamed that she hadn’t thought of it herself but then felt even worse when she couldn’t think of a single joke Terry and she shared.
“I don’t think we have any inside jokes,” Cerise admitted aloud as she emptied the dishwasher with her sisters.
“You don’t?” asked Simone disapprovingly. “How long have you guys been going out?”
“I know! It’s pathetic! I feel like I barely even know the guy. How can I be in a relationship with someone I know so… not well. Unwell?”
“You can’t say unwell in this context.”
“I know. How do I say it?”
“You know him so little?” suggested Simone. “You know so little about him. You have to change up the whole sentence.”
“Ok anyway, the point is I don’t know what to get him.”
“So break up with him then,” shrugged Julie, who totally wasn’t helping at all with the dishes.
“Gimme a break, you don’t have to break up with him,” snorted Simone. “I mean he’s hot,” she chuckled.
“Plus he has a car,” giggled Julie.
“You guys aren’t helping,” smiled Cerise, unable to completely hide her amusement.
“Get him a giant teddy bear!” squealed Julie.
“Next,” smirked Cerise.
“What? I’d like to get a big teddy bear,” Julie pouted.
“He’s a guy, Julie. Guys don’t like getting plushies.”
“Guys like whatever you tell them to like,” smirked Simone. “Ok, how ‘bout you make him something? That’s always like, from the heart and shit. Plus it’s easy on the wallet.”
Another good idea. It really seemed as though everyone on the planet was better at coming up with gift ideas than Cerise. Maybe it’s not that she didn’t know Terry very well, maybe it’s that she was just a complete and total moron.
“Ok, but what should I make?”
“God, do I have to come up with everything? What’s wrong with you?” chided Simone.
“This would be so much easier if we had more in common,” Cerise whined. “But I just don’t know. I’m totally at a loss.”
“Wow, you sure have complicated problems, Cerise.”
“Seriously,” agreed Julie. “Oh no, what do I get for my incredibly cute and sweet boyfriend? Gee, I guess nothing since I’m not the one actually going out with the most amazing guy ever to walk the Earth! “
Cerise rolled her eyes. “It’s not like he’s perfect.”
“Neither are you. Get over yourself. This is such a non-problem.”
They were right; it wasn’t really a problem at all. Was she just making excuses? Why was she making it so difficult for herself? Any other girl would be pleased as punch to be in this position. A couple of years ago she would have killed to have a boyfriend and now she had one and she couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for his birthday? He’d always been so generous in the past when it came to giving her gifts; why couldn’t she do the same? Simone was right to ask what was wrong with her. What was wrong with her?
Much to Jay’s surprise, when Cerise left, two people showed up soon after to replace her. Lee and Jojo. Jojo, who they’d kicked out of their little club so many years ago was now apparently back in. Why? And even though Jay liked this Lee guy, he wasn’t sure he’d earned the right to sit in his basement yet. Everything was so out of whack lately. They were always hanging out with new people and doing new things, which was cool, as long as those people were Karine and those things were Karine related but listening to Jojo attempt to game was more than he could handle. And was it his imagination or was Lee kind of making a mockery of the whole thing?
“Ok so I swoop in with my oozie and I’m like, I said I’d be back and I shoot the asshole, point shot to the head!” He rolled a twenty-sider and got a sixteen. “Yeah! Eat that mother-fucker! Snakes on a plane, bitch!”
This whole monologue was said in a variety of accents and inflections like Lee was completely incapable of saying anything without turning it into a reference or a quote. It was funny but also kind of obnoxious after a while.
Everyone else seemed to be eating this shit up with a gilded spoon, which was also sort of annoying. Jay just about lost his cool when he tried to come in next but Karl denied him, saying he was depleted and needed to meld with Cerise.
“So NPC her then!” he shouted.
“Whoa, settle down there bucco,” Vani advised sagely.
“You have to meld with a cherry?” asked Lee.
Jay sighed. “She’s a girl we game with. Her name is Cerise. She plays a Coalition pilot.”
“I didn’t know Cerise gamed with you guys,” said Jojo in awe.
“You game with a girl?” asked Lee. “How progressive of you.”
“Yeah, she’s pretty hot,” remarked Willy. “She’s been indirectly responsible for the death of one of my characters but I didn’t mind, ‘cause it’s like being killed by Milla Jovovich or something.”
Everyone ignored that inane comment as best they good and Lee suggested they get Cerise over there pronto.
“She’s busy,” sighed Jay. “Prob’ly hanging out with her stupid boyfriend tonight.”
“You have a girl in your group and she’s dating some other loser?” asked Lee. “You guys are all virgins, aren’t you?”
“Karl’s not!” announced Vani. “And his girlfriend’s Asian, so I think that counts double.”
“Japanese?” asked Lee while Karl raised an eyebrow so high he nearly suffered a stroke.
“Chinese,” said Vani.
“Oh yeah, just double then,” nodded Lee.
Karl was about to blow a gasket, you could tell by his narrowed eyes. Jay was kind of hoping he would freak out so Lee would finally shut up but a second later he was back on the game, saying how he was going into the conference and hiding under the table ‘cause when the president would come in he would tickle his feet and when he was distracted by his own laughter that was when Lee would strike.
Jay couldn’t help but chuckle a little ‘cause Lee’s delivery on that was pretty good.
“But first I put on my sock puppet. And when he least expects it… I’ll whip it out! Hello! I am Ziggy, and I have come to torture you with pop-rock from the ‘90s! Hahahaha!” Lee turned his hand into a beak. “Silence all, do not interrupt me while I sing! Mmm bop, doowee doowa doo bop! Someone download Hansen! And that band with the retarded name, who that that song there!”
“Hootie and the Blowfish?” suggested Vani.
“Yes! Make it happen!”
Before Jay even knew what had happened they were all dancing to “Only Wanna Be With You” and it was kind of, sort of pretty awesome.
There was nothing left for it except to go to the source.
“What kinda stuff are you into?” Cerise asked Terry.
He stared at her blankly and then his eyes drifted back to the TV. They were sitting in the den, watching a recording of Fringe and she’d paused it to ask the question. Cerise had already seen the episode but she liked watching the show with Terry because he got so into it and always asked so many questions about the dimension hopping and everything.
“What do you mean?” he finally asked.
“What are your interests? I mean besides hockey and going to bars.”
“I dunno… what?”
“Well is that all you’re into? Just partying?”
“Listen, if you don’t wanna go to
Clyde’s anymore that’s fine,” he sighed.
“No, it’s not that. I’m just trying to figure out what kinda stuff you like because… oh Christ, I might as well say it. I don’t know what to get you for your birthday.”
He smiled and his body relaxed. Cerise hadn’t even realized that he’d been holding himself so rigidly until he eased up. “You don’t have to get me anything,” he assured her.
“Of course I do!”
“Well I dunno, anything’s fine,” he shrugged.
“You’re no help,” she sighed.
They kept watching the show and when it was over they debated who was cooler, Olivia or Fauxlivia and agreed that they both kind of cared about the alternate universe more than the real one, even though the characters were more evil in the alterverse. Then out of the blue, Terry changed the subject back to the one that had been preoccupying Cerise’s mind for the past week. “So speaking of birthdays, remember how last year you didn’t even tell me it was your birthday and I had to hear it from Jay and his stupid afro of stupidity?”
“Yeah,” Cerise chuckled.
“Yeah, I remember that too,” he mused.
“What’s your point?”
“I’m not the only one who screws up in this relationship.”
“I already said I was sorry about that!”
“I’m just saying.”
“And I’ve already agreed to go to
Clyde’s for your birthday. You’re the one who said we could go to Cunningham’s so don’t try to lay a guilt trip on me.”
“I was just saying,” he shrugged, ever so pleased with himself.
What was his point? Cerise already knew she wasn’t perfect. Plenty of the crap that had gone wrong between them was her fault, probably more than Terry even realized but what was he getting at? Was he trying to make her feel even worse than she already did?
“Well you know what I’m saying?” she huffed in irritation. “We don’t really know anything about each other. Not really, nothing really real.”
“And who’s fault is that?” he snarked without missing a beat.
“What does that mean?”
“You never tell me stuff, Cerise. You’re the most secretive person ever! You know everything about me, like all my stupid family crap and childhood crap like how I hate my dad and how it was so weird when Vicky came along and then Brittany and stuff. But you never volunteer information. Like you never told me Jay was your next-door neighbour; I just had to figure that out, like I come to pick you up and then you’re coming out of his garage…”
“When did I ever come out of his garage?”
“Halloween last year.”
Cerise blinked in disbelief. They hadn’t even been a couple at that point. Why did it matter that Jay was her neighbour?
“Or how about that stalker chick? Porta-potty chick. I know there’s more to that whole thing than you’re telling me.”
Again, Cerise could only blink in confusion. What was he talking about? They sat in silence for a moment as Cerise considered how to respond.
“I guess, yeah, I dunno. I guess I’m guarded. I dunno,” she finally shrugged, feeling defeated.
It seemed as though everything lately was adding up to one thing. The real problem was Cerise herself. The whole time she’d been trying to think of something to get for Terry she was actually thinking that there was nothing to get him because he didn’t have enough substance to him. He was just a jock. Deep down she still thought of him as that good-looking player who could never be real boyfriend material simply because he had other options. Was that it? Was she afraid to admit they had things in common, that they did share inside jokes because that would mean she was truly invested in this relationship? And if she was truly invested, if she really genuinely cared about him then that meant he’d be able to hurt her. It meant he’d be able to do what Jay had done when he’d rejected her: make her feel like shit. It was an amazing epiphany to realize that her supposedly stupid, jock boyfriend was right. She was secretive, she was holding back. To some degree she was holding him at arm’s length, presumably to protect herself. Well, it was a theory anyway.
“When I was six-years-old I put rubber gloves on my feet and pretended I was a duck and I ran around chasing my sister ‘cause she was the girl duck and I was the boy duck and I fell and hit my jaw against a picnic table and I knocked out a tooth.”
Terry laughed. “See? This is the kinda shit I wanna know about! So what else can you tell me?”
“Now I have an irrational fear of picnic tables.”
They spent the rest of the night making out and every so often when something random would occur to one of them they’d blurt it out and then laugh their asses off. He stayed a lot later than normal so eventually their laughing turned into muffled giggles and finally she walked him out to his car.
“You know it’s not true that I’m guarded with you. I share more with you than I ever have with anyone else. Like my body,” she said shyly.
“And I appreciate it,” he smiled.
“You’re the only one I really talk to.”
“Yeah, you tell me more than Jay?”
“Jay? What the hell does he have to do with anything. Of course I tell you more than Jay. Fuck, it’s not like I ran over to his house to announce I’d gone on the pill!”
“Ok yeah, I just wanted to make sure your b-day really is in May.”
“God, you just don’t get over shit, do you?” she teased, only half annoyed.
“You’re the one who dwells…”
“Like you keep bringing up the sex stuff. It’s like, I get it. I mean, I’m not trying to pressure you so stop pressuring me into not pressuring you!”
Ouch. That had stung. Cerise nodded and stepped back, stuffing her hands into her pockets. She hadn’t put on her jacket to walk him outside and there was a chill in the air.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” she apologized sincerely, reaching out to take her hand.
She shook him away. “You can have it one way or the other, Terry. Either you want me to talk to you about what I’m thinking or you want me to censor myself so I can spare you from my retardation. God, no wonder I don’t tell people shit.”
“Augh! Everything was going so well! And now I’ve fucked up and you hate me again!”
She couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s ok. I know you didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. And I get what you’re saying about, like, the sex thing. It’s true, you’re not some predator, you’ve always been like, you know, respectful of my boundaries or whatever and I appreciate that. I guess I just have my own hang-ups so I get all like antsy or whatever and like…”
“No like, don’t even,” he mercifully interrupted. “I’m being an ass. I understand it’s all new for you. Sometimes I get insensitive ‘cause I’ve had like, more experience or whatever. So I guess I get impatient sometimes, and that’s just an asshole move. Just fucking put me in my place when I do that, which you do! That’s what’s so great about you, you always defend yourself, you never let me get away with anything. Sometimes I don’t even think, but you always do. You’re always thinking. I can see it. You bite your lip when you think, it’s fucking adorable but I can always tell when you’re off thinking and that’s why I want you to tell me stuff. I wanna know what you’re thinking ‘cause I know it’s important. Like with Fauxlivia. I’d totally forgotten about those people she killed, like that deaf guy, but you remember that shit. I’d totally be on team alterverse if it wasn’t for you.”
Her response was a smile and a kiss.
Oh gross. That’s what Jay got for actually exiting his house. Usually he just stayed in the basement when the guys left but for whatever reason today he trampled upstairs with them and watched them leave. He was greeted with the sight of Cerise sucking face with Terry Trebishitsky while they leaned on his douchemobile.
“Hey, there’s Cerise, you guys,” noted Jojo.
“Yeah, she lives next door,” said Vani.
“So she was next door this whole time and she couldn’t come over for ten minutes to give you some symbiont power or whatever the hell?” scoffed Lee.
“I told you, she’s with her boyfriend!”
“Yeah, yeah looks like she made the right choice.” For once Lee didn’t have anything witty to say. Jay would have been grateful for that if he didn’t owe it to Terry Trebidouchesky and his douchey doucheness.
The douche finally got into his douchemobile and drove away and Cerise noticed the guys standing around like a bunch of losers. She came over and joined them. Vani introduced her to Lee and much to everyone’s surprise he had absolutely nothing to say.
They talked for a bit about what had gone on in the game and Karl prattled on about how he had NPCed Cerise. She didn’t seem to care. Jojo offered Lee a lift home and they took off. So weird to see Jojo driving. He may have been the same age as the rest of them but he was still Lilliputian in size so it was kind of hilarious seeing him behind a wheel. He probably sat on a telephone book or something.
Karl got into his car with Vani taking the passenger side. As usual, they drove off before Willy could get in and he ran behind the car as they repeatedly stopped and started down the road. Totally hilar.
“So who’s that Lee guy?” Cerise asked when Willy finally managed to get in the car.
“Just Vani’s latest crush,” shrugged Jay.
Cerise chuckled appreciatively. “Does that mean he’s moving on from his Terry obsession?”
Jay rolled his eyes aggressively. “I certainly fucking hope so.”
“But you’re not bitter or anything,” Cerise laughed.
“Whatever,” said Jay. He wasn’t bitter. Like there was anything to be bitter about. Terry was just a stupid stupid-head and there was no reason to even think about him ‘cause he was so nothing and just stupid and stuff so whatever.
“Ok,” said Cerise with a shrug and then she turned on her heel and walked back to her house.
Cerise turned around and looked at Jay. “What?”
He had no idea why he’d called out to her.
“You uh, you have to keep gaming ‘cause uh, when Karl NPCs you he makes you way meaner than you actually are. He like totally denies me the symbiont and stuff.”
“I’m doing my best, Jay. I’m just really busy these days.”
“Yeah well maybe if you spent less time sucking face with fucking Terry Trebi… then you know, you’d have time to not suck.”
Cerise simply stared at Jay. Her face was expressionless and Jay had no idea what she was thinking. Was she pissed? Indifferent? She totally didn’t care at all, did she? No one did. Jay was just totally, completely alone in everything; he really couldn’t count on anyone at all.
“See you later,” she finally said and went back to her house.