Cerise sat on the couch in the den, still in her party outfit, which admittedly wasn’t much of an outfit for a party. She was basically dressed the way she always dressed, which was about as far away from sexy as anyone could get. Maybe that’s why Jay broke up with her. Guys wanted girls like Karine: hot, sexy girls. Not girls like Cerise: boring and ugly.
She walked up to her room and got into her pajamas. Now was as good a time as any to finally watch Angel on Netflix.
This was by all accounts a successful party. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Tom had brought his acoustic guitar and he and the Parisses Squares guys were singing, providing entertainment for everyone in the living room. In the den people were playing video games. Outside people were smoking up. Upstairs Janice was getting busy with random guy #4 billion. And yet Karine couldn’t stop thinking about Cerise and her apparent break-up with Jay. If she’d broken up with him did it mean she was considering getting back together with Terry? Such a thing had to be prevented at all costs. And the only way to figure out what was going on was to get it directly from the horse’s mouth. She considered going over to Jay, who sat morosely in a corner of the living room but Jay could barely be counted on to remember his name, let alone give an accurate account of what had transpired between him and Cerise.
“I’m gonna go see Cerise,” Karine announced to Nick and Terry. “She’s probably at home all alone being all sad and shit.”
“Yeah, she shouldn’t be alone on New Year’s Eve,” agreed Nick.
“I’ll bring her a wine cooler. Maybe she’ll wanna get drunk.”
“She doesn’t drink,” said Terry neutrally.
“Maybe she’ll wanna start.”
“She never turned to drinking any of the times she and I broke up,” he said with a touch of bitterness.
“Ok, no wine cooler. Can I borrow your car?”
Terry nodded and handed over his keys.
“Make sure no one trashes my house, especially not that disgusting Porta-potty girl.”
“I just think you should come to one meeting,” said Leanne, still trying to convince Shauna that she was gay and in love with Cerise and like totally doomed to go to hell and shit. “No one has to know about it, Shauna. It’s called the Queer Collective and it’s like, a totally supportive environment. Everyone is super nice. And you don’t even have to say your name. I mean, it’s totally anonymous and no one even knows about it who isn’t like actively in it. Like seriously, you might be surprised to know there’s people at this party who go, who like, you wouldn’t ever guess it.”
“But, my parents…” Shauna protested.
“There’s no way your parents would find out. I mean it’s like a sanctioned school club but it doesn’t go on like, your records or anything. They’d only know if you told them. And you know, sometimes parents can surprise you. Maybe they wouldn’t even react that badly.”
Shauna shook her head and fought back tears. If her parents knew they would definitely kill her.
“Hey, hey, it’s ok,” said Leanne reassuringly. “No one has to know. I just think it would be really good to come to just one meeting. Just one. You don’t even have to say anything. Just sit there and listen.”
“Why, though, why?” asked Terry in wonder. “Why would he break up with her? It doesn’t even make sense.”
Nick followed him into the kitchen and they raided the fridge for beer and the cupboard for chips. “Maybe she broke up with him ‘cause she’s still into you.”
“You think?” asked Terry, trying not to sound hopeful.
“Maybe. Or maybe he wasn’t into her that way.”
“How could he not be?”
“Well, it may shock you to hear this, Terry but not every guy in the world goes crazy over Cerise.”
Terry frowned in annoyance. “I know that!”
“I’m just saying.”
“What, you don’t think she’s cute?”
“She’s plenty cute, but whatever. She’s not the fucking end all.”
“You’re the one always telling me I should get back with her!” He guzzled his beer and stuffed a handful of chips in his mouth.
“Yeah, because you love her! But I don’t! And neither do most of the people in the world!”
“Tons of people like her!”
Nick chuckled. “I’m not saying you’re weird for liking her, Terry. I’m just saying that not everyone agrees with you. Yeah, lots of guys like her. Like that Tom guy she went out with, or um, I dunno, her stalker. But most guys just think, hey, she’s cute. And hey, there’s another cute girl, and there’s another one. And maybe Jay is just one of those people. ‘Cause it always seemed to me he was more into her as just a friend.”
“But doesn’t he realize how great he could have it? If she would look at me the way she looks at him…” he trailed off.
“Terry! Fucking hell! You are so retarded! She does look at you that way! She loves you! She only got with him out of fucking rebound.”
“You say all this shit like it’s fact but what the hell do you know?”
“I guess I don’t know. But fuck, sometimes you just have your head so far up your ass.”
“Whatever,” shrugged Terry.
“Like you’re so fucking smart,” said Nick with uncharacteristic anger. “It’s not like you have everything figured out. There’s a lot of shit you don’t know.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“Nothing. I guess I’m just bored of always talking about the same shit.”
“You mean you’re bored of talking about me and Cerise. Well fuck, Nick, maybe we could talk about you sometimes if you had anything to fucking say! But you never tell me shit about yourself. You have a fucking play by play of every waking moment of my life but you never offer anything about yourself and whenever I ask questions you just ignore them.”
“Gimme a break.”
The kitchen was nearly empty but there were a couple girls standing near the sink and they got quiet as they listened to the argument. Terry was embarrassed but not enough to stop arguing. “It’s true! You never talk about your family except to say your dad’s a dick. Well, welcome to the fucking club. You’ll let me know when any more detail develops in that storyline. And you never talk about any chicks. Have you ever even had a girlfriend since that one chick in high school? Fucked if I know, you’ve sure as hell never mentioned anything. You act like you’re fucking afraid of women; you’re like one of the guys in the virgin club. You know there’s an opening now, should I hook you up?”
“Ok, you wanna know about my life?” growled Nick. “Yes, I’ve had a fucking girlfriend. That one chick in high school. Chloe. And I really liked her a lot but not like, not as a girlfriend, as a friend. And I had sex with her and never liked it. So I had to break up with her. And I did. And it really fucking hurt her when I did it. But I had to do it ‘cause I couldn’t keep lying her to. And it was a lie because, well fuck, Terry, because I’m gay. Ok!? I’m fucking gay. So there!”
Everyone was out so when the doorbell rang Cerise knew she had to get it but she chose to ignore it because who would come over at 11 at night on New Year’s Eve? Her phone buzzed and a text from Karine revealed that she was outside freezing her ass off. Cerise got up off the couch and went to the front door.
“You ok?” asked Karine.
“Shouldn’t you be at your party?” asked Cerise, stepping aside so Karine could come inside.
“Yeah and you should be there too!”
“Sorry. Guess I don’t feel like it.”
“Yeah, I heard what happened.”
“I guess everyone knows, eh?” Cerise sighed, going back to the den and collapsing on the couch.
“Are you… kidding?” asked Terry. It wouldn’t be completely unheard of for a guy to say something outrageous just to get a rise out of another guy. But Nick seemed sincere. Had he seriously just said he was gay? The girls standing by the sink were listening with rapt attention, while simultaneously tring to be as inconspicuous as possible.
Nick sighed heavily. “I’ve always known I was gay but being with Chloe just made it like, undeniable I guess. And now we’re not friends anymore. And that really sucks. And my dad’s a dick because I know he wouldn’t be able to handle it. And actually, my mom’s even worse. She’s insanely religious. Catholic. I mean she observes Lent for fuck’s sake. Ever wonder where I am on Sundays? Fucking church, dude! Fucking church!”
Terry blinked. “You go to church?”
“Ok, so you’re kidding, right? I mean, now’s the part where you go psyche! And you make fun of me for falling for it, right?”
“No, Terry. Now’s the part where you freak out and go, no way my hockey buddy’s a fag and you pound my face in.”
“Gimme a break, Nick. You think I’m homophobic?”
“You saying you’re not?”
“Why would you think I am?”
“Well you don’t seem to be taking it very well.”
“I’m just surprised is all. I didn’t see it coming. But I mean, I’m not like a fucking gay-basher and shit.” He was offended that Nick would think he’d care and tried hard not to show that he kind of did care.
“You make gay jokes in the locker room,” Nick scoffed.
“I make 9/11 jokes too but that didn’t stop me from dating an American one time at summer camp.”
“You went to summer camp?”
“I was thirteen. Actually, I lost my virginity there.”
“You lost your virginity to an American?”
“No, a different chick.”
“See? I never knew that. There’s shit about your life I don’t know.”
“And apparently a whole fuck-load of shit about you I don’t know!”
“Yeah well,” Nick shrugged and they both chuckled.
“How come you didn’t tell me sooner?”
“I didn’t wanna like, you know, have you freak out and shit. I didn’t wanna ruin our friendship,” he said shyly, picking at the lable on his beer bottle.
“Yeah but would you really wanna be friends with someone who would give a shit about you being gay?”
“Well it’s not that simple.”
“I guess,” nodded Terry, not wanting to admit he completely understood. He was determined to be supportive, determined not to care that Nick was gay but still, he almost felt as though he’d just lost something. Could they still talk about girls? No wonder Nick had never wanted to get laid at clubs. Terry had lost his wingman and it only occurred to him now how much he’d valued having one.
“He didn’t even tell me why!” Cerise ranted. “He just came in and started crying and he’s like, I can’t go out with you anymore and then he runs off and I’m just like sitting here. I didn’t even have time to process it. I didn’t even get to say anything! He just ran off!”
“Are you fucking serious?” asked Karine, stunned that even Jay could be that lame. “What a flaming sack of putrefied shit!”
Cerise shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe he had a good reason.”
“And maybe he’s a complete fucking loser! I mean what a fuckign coward! He’s a piece of shit asshole! Forget about him!”
“I can’t, I love him!”
Karine stopped and stared at Cerise. “Seriously?’
“Well, maybe not,” she shrugged. “But it hurts. I still want him. Even though he just shit all over me I still want him.”
“What about Terry.”
“I love him too. And both of them hate me.”
“Do you think I should tell the guys?” asked Nick as he puffed on a cigarette.
They’d gone outside to get away from the eavesdropping kitchen girls and were rewarding Nick’s revelation with cigarettes even though they both agreed their New Year’s resolution would be to quit.
“What, Vani and them? Yeah, who gives a shit?”
“No, moron, the guys on the team. Townsend and Robson and shit.”
“Oh.” Terry paused. “Well I wouldn’t.”
“So you agree they’re all probably a bunch of queer-bashers?”
“Yeah, it’s a possibility. I mean, some of them could be cool. But I dunno. A lot of them are way dumb. Like even before all the concussions. So don’t take the chance. I mean we’ve only got one more season on that team anyway.”
“Yeah, that’s what I figured.”
“Tell everyone else though fuck. I mean, the people here. They won’t care. Hell, Vani will freak. He’ll think you’re trying to steal me away from him.”
“Yeah, what’s up with that kid? You sure he’s not gay?”
“Nah, he’s just scared of girls.”
“But like, I can’t just tell some people and not all. Word spreads.”
“Yeah, I hear ya,” nodded Terry. Poor Nick.
Suddenly the voices inside got louder and yelled out an excited refrain of “Happy New Year.”
“Fuck, we missed it,” said Nick, looking at his phone to confirm the time.
“Yeah,” shrugged Terry.
“Oh well, happy New Year I guess.”
“You don’t expect me to kiss you now, do you?” Terry snickered.
“Go fuck yourself, Trebichavsky!”
“I expect you’d wanna watch.”
Nick narrowed his eyes and then they both burst into laughter.
“Well, happy New Year,” Leanne said to Shauna.
Practically everyone in the room was kissing someone and if they weren’t kissing they were at least hugging and laughing. Cerise’s friend with the afro was passed out on a couch and his friends were drawing dicks on his face but other than that everyone was happy. A lot happier than Shauna anyway. She’d never be happy. Everything in her life would always suck.
“Want me to kiss you?” asked Leanne with a smirk.
“Shut up,” grumbled Shauna.
“It’s 2013,” said Karine, looking at her phone.
“Great,” replied Cerise.
“Happy New Year!” Karine tried to sound exuberant.
“I hate everything.”