Karine sat in the coffee shop, drinking a latte, hoping Christina would show up. Her call had been out of the blue but Christina had acted like it was no big deal and had agreed to meet her for coffee. But now she was 10 minutes late. Had she agreed to come just to get Karine to shut up? How long should she stay before leaving? Was half an hour enough? Too long?
“So what’s up?” asked Christina, sitting across from Karine.
“Oh hey, hi,” Karine smiled.
“What’s it been? Like a year?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“So what do you want?” asked Chrissy, taking the lid off her drink and blowing on it.
“Nothing. I dunno. I guess I just missed you.”
“Yeah?” She seemed skeptical, which was fair.
“Yeah, I mean, we used to be best friends. What happened to us?”
“We went to different schools.”
“Yeah but we can still be friends.”
“You disappeared, Karine.”
“Yeah,” Karine sighed. “Well I’m sorry.”
“Do you still hang out with Erica?”
“Yeah,” Christina shrugged. “I dunno why,” she chuckled. She’s the same as ever. But she has a boyfriend now so that keeps her pretty busy.”
“Wow, she actually managed to snag someone? Poor him.”
“Yeah, no shit. He’s a moron. And he’s fat.”
“Well so is she.”
“More than ever,” Christina snickered.
“So um,” Karine sipped her coffee. “What about the Asshole?”
“Who’s the asshole?”
“Andrew,” Karine forced out the name.
Christina sighed. “I don’t hang out with him anymore. I mean I still see him around sometimes but we’re in different crowds now.”
“Oh, well that’s good.”
“I hang out with different people now too,” said Karine.
“Your theatre crowd?”
“Yeah, I’ve seen the pics on Facebook. You also hang out with those nerds. Sarah Wong and Karl Weber and all those guys.”
“Yeah,” Karine nodded. “They’re really funny once you get to know them.”
Christina simply smiled and drank her coffee. Was it a condescending smile? Was she judging Karine for hanging out with those dorks? Or was Karine projecting?
“So… are you seeing anyone these days?”
“Nah. I mean I’ve hooked-up. Dated I guess. No one serious.”
“So not Andrew then.”
“Karine, don’t do this.”
“I just wanna make sure.”
“Make sure of what?”
“That you’re ok. That he hasn’t totally fucked you up.”
Christina snickered. “If I’m fucked-up it’s not his fault. I don’t even think about him anymore.”
“I wish I could be like you.”
“No you don’t.” Was there a touch of bitterness in that statement?
“I’m not seeing anyone right now either.”
“I’ve decided to be single for a while. See how that goes.”
“You mean see how long that goes.”
“What does that mean?” asked Karine in irritation.
“You always have to have a boyfriend.”
“No I don’t.”
“Me neither,” Chrissy smiled. Was it a smile of superiority?
“We don’t need guys.”
“So let’s make a pact. To just be single for a while. We’ll hang. Be friends like before but no guy crap. Just us.”
Christina regarded Karine and tilted her head to the side. She smiled. “Ok.
“So how’s the nose?” asked Karl.
Everyone snickered, like the joke hadn’t gotten old three million years ago. Seriously, it had been weeks and yet everyone kept asking about Jay’s nose. The black eyes were gone, the bandage was gone, everything was fine and yet everyone kept dwelling on it. Jay seriously had the worst friends in existence.
“It’s fine,” he said, trying not to show how annoyed he was with the constant ribbing.
“You sure,” asked Vani, poking at Jay’s face.
“Fuck off!” Jay yelled, swatting Vani’s hand away.
People in the crowded hallways looked at him but he didn’t care.
“Does it hurt?” asked Willy, hopping off the windowsill in Hochelaga to stand in front of Jay and poke at him. Although for Willy, hopping was more like strained grunting. Jay was about to mock him for that but then Willy’s grubby finger was in his face and he had to swat him away too.
“You’re such a bunch of fucking assholes!” Jay complained.
“Whoa! Calm down!” advised Karl.
“Someone’s losing motor control,” laughed Vani.
“I hate you guys so much!”
“Get it together, Jay, you’re embarrassing us,” said Karl.
“Yeah, all these Rando Calrissians are totally watching you,” nodded Vani.
“So stop fucking poking my nose then!”
“Jay, calm the fuck down!” yelled Willy. “You’re making a scene!”
“You’re making a scene, shut the fuck up!”
“Jay, seriously, keep it together!” insisted Karl.
“Oh my god, I hate you all!”
“Motor control!” the guys laughed, pushing Jay around. “Motor control!”
“That was pretty fun hanging out with Vicky the other day,” said Nick as he finished off his cigarette.
Terry had stopped buying cigarettes but he always bummed one off Nick. It was probably a pretty dickish thing to do but they’d said they’d quit! And how could he if Nick kept smoking? “Yeah, she’s always been pretty cool.”
“So who knew Cerise was such a squealer,” Nick snickered.
“Shut the fuck up,” said Terry, heaving open the door to the school.
“You gonna punch me in the nose?”
They walked to Nick’s locker and threw in their jackets. Lately Terry had been using Nick’s locker as his own. It was more convenient this way.
“So was it just me or did you find that Vicky was flirting with you a little?” asked Nick as they grabbed their books for Humanities.
“What? Gimme a break. She was just drunk.”
“Yeah, still though. She’s a good-looking woman.”
“I thought you were into dicks, not chicks.”
“I can still recognize hotness in a woman.”
“Yeah, she’s definitely hot,” Terry conceded.
“And that shit she was saying about you making girls scream and her being jealous…”
“Nick, don’t go there,” groaned Terry.
“I’m just saying,” Nick snickered.
“It’s gross. She’s my step-mom.”
“Not anymore. So you’re saying you never even thought about it?”
“Well sure, when I was a horny little 14-year-old.” Terry chuckled. “I used to watch her go swimming. Fuck I was so perverted.”
“Gross, Terry!” Nick exclaimed in mock shock. “She’s the mother of your sister! That’s disgusting!”
“Fuck you,” Terry laughed as he pushed his friend into a nearby locker.
They walked on and passed by Jason Harris and his giant afro, which had become even more gigantic than usual. He sat on one of those gigantic windowsills in Hochelaga with the guys, probably because no other windowsill would be large enough to accommodate the gargantuaness of his hair. Terry almost slowed his pace and considered finding another route to his class but then realized that would be ridiculous. He couldn’t let Jay know how regretful he was about the nose incident, could he?
As he approached Jay and his giant fright wig he thought about stopping and apologizing but instead he just lunged and scoffed when Jay winced.
“You’re such a bully,” said Nick as they walked on.
He could hear the guys making chicken noises to Jay and accusing him of losing motor control.
It was a new rule that you couldn’t eat in the green room so the girls had to come up with somewhere new to eat lunch every day. They’d scoured the school, testing out various stairways and windowsills but eventually they ended up back at the Munch Box. Funnily enough, they hadn’t even considered the cafeteria, but Cerise didn’t mind. It was good to have things back to normal.
Cerise, Cassie, Karine and Janice sat down to BLTs and poutines when Sarah joined them with a homemade salad. She was so healthy. “So have you guys started applying to Universities?” she asked.
“We’re supposed to be applying already?” asked Cassie.
“Hello! The deadline is March! And it’s like February!”
“God, you’re always so together, aren’t you?” asked Janice bitterly. “Don’t you ever get sick of being perfect?”
“Where have you applied?” asked Cerise.
“Everywhere,” said Sarah. “I mean I’ll probably go to McGill but I’ve applied lots of places just in case.”
“In case you don’t get in?” laughed Karine. “Who would get in if not you?”
“Well Paris didn’t get into Harvard,” shrugged Sarah.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” asked Janice, though Cerise understood the reference, which probably meant she watched way too much TV.
“Sorry, I’ve been watching the Gilmore Girls on MuchMoreMusic. I really hate Lorelai. Like a lot. Is she supposed to be charming? ‘Cause she’s actually just insane. I like Lane though. Do you guys think I’m an Asian stereotype?”
They all blinked at Sarah. “I think the current Asian girl stereotype is to be obsessed with wealth and designer brands and stuff. So you’re good,” smiled Cerise.
“Ok. ‘Cause sometimes I feel like I need to diversify my interests.”
“What are you talking about, you have a billion interests,” said Karine.
“Do I? ‘Cause even though I did a lot of stuff in high school I wasn’t really that into any of it. I’m only really into science. Everywhere I applied, I applied in Applied Physics. Oh my god, you guys, that pun was completely unintentional. Or I guess it wasn’t a pun so much as a word being repeated but you see what I’m saying.”
“And why is it a bad thing that you’re into physics?” asked Cerise.
“It’s not bad. It’s good. But I used to play volleyball and run the newspaper and do theatre. I miss that stuff. Or do I? ‘Cause I think I only miss it in the sense of thinking I should miss it and not in the sense of actually missing it.”
“Well you certainly have been watching Gilmore Girls,” snickered Karine. “You’re talking a mile a minute and not making a lick of sense.”
“Wait so, what schools am I supposed to apply to?” asked Cassie in a panic. “In what programs?”
“Oh my god, Cassie, haven’t you even started thinking about it yet?” asked Sarah. “You obviously have to apply to McGill and Concordia but you should also apply out of province, like U of T and Queens.”
“I’m gonna go to Bishops,” said Janice.
“Oh my god, that’s a total party school,” said Sarah and then after a beat. “You’ll fit right in.”
Janice nodded happily, perhaps not realizing that was meant to be a slight. Or perhaps not caring.
“I applied to a few places, but I wanna stay at home so I’ll probably go to Concordia. They have a good Theatre department,” said Karine.
“You’re gonna go on in theatre?” asked Cerise.
“Yeah,” nodded Karine. “I mean, assuming I get in. It’s pretty competitive. You have to do like, a million auditions. But if I don’t get into the performance discipline I can still do theatre from like a theoretical discipline. And then I could reapply the next year for the performance section.”
“So you’re going all the way with this theatre bullshit, eh?” asked Janice.
“Is that ok with you?” Karine asked in annoyance.
Janice put up her hands defensively. “Yeah, if anyone’s up for it, it’s you, it’s just, I mean, not a lot of job prospects in acting is all.”
“Seriously?” Karine laughed. “You’re one to talk about being practical? What program are you applying to?”
“Social work,” said Janice with a straight face.
They all stared at her, waiting for the punch line.
“Seriously?” asked Cassie.
“Yeah, what? Like I couldn’t help people?”
“It’s a really stressful field,” said Sarah.
“Fuck you bitches, I’m great with people. What program are you gonna do?” Janice sniped. “Super judgy-judgementalism?”
“I already said I’m doing Physics.”
“Physics, eh?” said Karl, standing over their table. “I woulda figured you for pre-Med.”
“’Cause I’m Asian?” Sarah sighed.
“‘Cause you’re an overachiever and all overachievers wanna be doctors.”
“But doctors have to like, touch sick people. Gross.”
Both Karl and Sarah chuckled and he sat next to her. “I actually considered Physics as well but I think I’m gonna do Chemistry with a minor in Computer Science.”
Vani and Willy announced they’d be doing Engineering and Commerce respectively while Jay hovered around in the background, not sitting, maybe because there were no chairs left, maybe because he was scared and eating a sandwich poking out of a brown bag. He was avoiding eye contact and Cerise decided to keep staring at him until he looked at her. He never did. Finally Sarah asked him what program he was going into and he said he hadn’t decided yet.
“Well you’d better hurry!” she advised. “The deadline is March 1st , you guys. If you haven’t applied you need to get your shit together like right the fuck now!”
“Well I don’t know what I wanna do!” Jay practically yelled.
“God, motor control, seriously,” said Vani in a mixture of irritation and amusement.
“Seriously, Jay, get your shit together!” advised Karl.
They all mocked Jay for a while as he tried to ignore him as best he could. Cerise actually felt sorry for him. They were all being so mean.
“I haven’t applied anywhere either,” Cerise finally admitted.
“Oh my god, Cerise, seriously?” asked Sarah, appalled.
“We can do it this weekend,” said Karine. “It takes like two seconds, you do it all online.”
“But I don’t know what I wanna do,” shrugged Cerise.
“You could do Theatre with me,” suggested Karine.
“Social work,” smirked Janice.
“You could do Science, although it’s a little late since you’ve been doing Arts here. Still, it’s an option,” said Karl.
“Stick to Arts,” advised Sarah. “Do Art History, or Education.”
“It might be cool to do Education,” said Jay. “Or even something crazy like Philosophy or Religious Studies. But my parents want me to do a science.”
“Well duh!” scolded Karl. “Don’t waste your life away on something retardo-vision like religion! I mean are you serious? You’re an atheist!”
“It could still be interesting!” Jay insisted.
Cerise looked up at him. “If you don’t wanna do a science then don’t. Even if your parents want you to.”
“Yeah, but they’re only gonna pay for it if I do what they want.”
“Then why are we even debating this?” asked Karl. “You’re gonna do Biology and we all know it?”
“How do we know this?” asked Jay.
“You have to do a science ‘cause fuck knows you’re not gonna pay for school yourself. And Biology is the softest of the sciences. And it’s the only class you didn’t constantly complain about last year. Well, you complained, but less than with Physics and Chemistry.”
“Biology isn’t the softest science,” countered Sarah. “There’s like Anthropology and stuff.”
“I don’t think Social Sciences count,” said Karl condescendingly.
“Yeah well, fair enough,” admitted Sarah.
“Ok, this is boring,” announced Janice. “Let’s talk about something else!”
“Like what?” asked Sarah.
“Like Jay’s nose. Does it still hurt?” She stood up and reached out to touch Jay but he swatted her hand away rather violently and all the guys laughed uproariously.
“Motor control!” Vani cackled.