Auspiciously favorable start to the school day.
I expected my lo-cal mango-and-passionfruit smoothie to inspire Daddy to replay his not-ready-for-radio rant. You know, on proper breakfasts for a growing teenage girl? Instead he resisted his usual parental impulse to lecture. Today he limited himself to a mere raised eyebrow.
I returned the familial favor by keeping my culinary comments behind my M.A.C.-lined lips. Tolerance for each other's food choices was the rule of the day. I decided to allow him to enjoy his artery-clogging plateful of scrambled eggs and bacon in high-cal peace.
Daddy -- also known as Mel Horowitz -- is a viciously righteous attorney. All of Beverly Hills' most prominent clients have him programmed into speed dial. In the courtroom he is all "I object" and "The party of the first part," but on the homefront he is basically clueless. It's up to me to keep his fashion sense up and his cholesterol level down. Which is practically a full-time job.
I don't mind. It's the least I can do. After all, Daddy has provided me with the best of the best of everything. He heads the top ten when it comes to understanding. I fully supported Tara Lipinski's abdication of Olympia for quality time with familia.
The good karma didn't quit at the casa door. All green lights on the way to school allowed me to be distinctly on deadline for first bell, despite my late departure time. I had never noticed before that the universal go signal was the exact sparkling hue of my favorite Guess! model's eyes. Then I practically kvelled when the pop quiz in sci-fience turned out to be on precisely the same pages I'd accidentally committed to memory the nit always allow the test answer to speak for itself. For De it is a mere jumping-off point on the general topics at hand. Usually these become full-scale leaps into the deep end. Instead of taking their cue from the ancient wise guy Socrates, observing some form of controlled back-and-forth, De and her long-standing squeeze, Murray, sound off chaotically. They remind me of the panelists on the McLaughlin Group or defendants on Judge Judy, only much better dressed. We've never gotten through our quiz quotient without a serious altercation. Despite the high score on my personal positive vibe meter, I knew today would be no different.
I had no idea how different it would actually turn out to be.
I sat at our usual reserved patio table. I covered my shiny shantung silk Versace capris with the thoughtfully Puck-provided cloth napkin. I pulled the Mademoiselle I'd bought on the way to school out of my Coach slingback. Nibbling the goat cheese and sun-dried tomato pizza, I gave a small thank-you for the fact that goat cheese is so one of the lowest fat of the cheeses. Then I flipped open the mag.
There's just something about cracking open a spanking new magazine that majorly fills me with a classic sense of well-being. Maybe the perfume strips on practically every other page have unacknowledged aromatherapy benefits. Whatever. But I really suspect that the all-natural mood lift comes not from chemically enhanced paper, but from the vision of endless possibilities the magazine offers. It's the same heady rush you feel when about to hit the search button after entering a particularly awesome secret subject.
My golden-haired head simply swims with potential good -- and bad -- news about to be revealed. What new and improved version of Hair Streaks have they invented with just my coloring and credit card in mind? Are the perfect Manolo Blahniks to go with that chronic but painfully difficult-to-coordinate ensemble from Dolce & Gabbana lurking deep within this month's covers? What fierce fashion photo shoot can we deconstruct to pass the more boring times in phys ed? Like, what exactly were they thinking last month when the nightwear layout was shot in supremely realistic darkness? Hello, how can we order styles if we can't see them?
And more! Has supermodel A- noticeably edged supermodel A+ from her seemingly unshakable position at the top of the model food chain (which bears no resemblance to the food group pyramid)? Has Vivienne Westwood so unfairly influenced so many of the young London designers that it seems all of the British fashion community have truly lost their collective minds? Have we finally, permanently, hopefully seen the end of grunge? Or has some new equally misguided trend accidentally trickled Its way up from some pimply angst-ridden gultar-wielding adolescent's garage and onto the most momentary pages of W?
You see? So much in a mere few pages.
I'm doing a Dawson here: waxing idealistically and philosophically about all that these magazines have to offer, minus the picturesque creek babbling beside me. Not that I was view-deprived, now that I was surrounded by the sartorially splendid scenery of my Crew.
Beside me, running a white-tipped nail along the slick pages, was De, my t.b. for life, choicely outfitted in an orange CK chiffon slip dress whose citrus sheen highlighted her magnificently mocha skin. The strappy matching Joan and David san dals were trés trippy, and the sleek orange Prada patent handbag made me think of sorbet. Yummy. Good thing it was time for lunch.
De's boo, Murray, and his best pal, Sean, were as per usual their own matched set: Hilfiger, Nautica, backward baseball caps, and wide ones ruled for these two. Sure, sometimes Murray and Sean could be Dumb and Dumber, and occasionally Dazed and Confused. But like Matt Damon's Good Will Hunting, their inner selves are sometimes disguised by their outers. Not that they are closet geniuses or anything. Not even. But for high school boys generally sense-challenged by their hormonal problems, Sean and Murray rate in the ninety-ninth percentile. Like that famous poem: you can't judge a book by its cover. And you couldn't find truer blues as buds. Except for De and me, who for these last ten years have been practically twins of the Siamese variety. Well, if you could have one natural blond twin who celebrates Hanukkah and the other twin a raving mocha beauty who provides nonfat, lo-cal offerings at her family's yearly Kwanzaa fest.
"Ish and a half," De commented.
I glanced over to see what fashion don't had caused the thumbs down reaction from De.
"Why do actors feel they have to go all scraggly to prove they're serious?" I wrinkled my pert nose at the up-and-comer in the torn sweater and unwashed hair. "It's like a reverse makeover."
"I know." De crunched on her petite carrot. "Every glam actress has to do at least one abused wife or woman in prison movie just to show how good she looks without makeup."
"As if!" I said. "Everyone knows that the natural look requires clouds of cosmetics. But then it's all Academy Award nomination guarantee d."
"It works in reverse for our generation of stars," Amber said as she sat down. Amber Marins is one of those friends whose presence in my life I continually question. She rounds out my inner circle in the same way that for every cloud there's a silver lining. Only in this case Amber's the cloud.
"What do you mean?" Sean asked. He snagged some of Murray's fries.
"What are Renee Zellweger and Gretchen Mol known for in their movies?" Amber said.
"For coming out of nowhere?" Sean suggested.
"Fresh and honest," Amber stated. "That's what all the reviewers gush. So what do they do? They dress them up like studio system glamour queens and plunk them down on fashion covers. It's like old stars dress down. Young stars dress up."
Sometimes Amber can be right. I suppose that's why we keep her around. Just for those surprising moments of insight in between the back-stabbing, scene-stealing, and fashion-sense-offending. All of which are her usual modus oper-obnoxious.
"So what are the tests this month?" I asked De, wanting to get to the activity at hand. Lunch would soon be over, and I'd hate to have to tally our totals in class and then have to e-mail them via pager to everyone.
"Let's see." De scanned the covers of several of the magazines. The quiz titles are usually listed right on the front, as they constitute an important selling point.
"Oooh. How about this one?" De's hazel eyes glittered, and I noticed she cast a somewhat wicked glance Murray's way. She must have found a quiz that was singularly appropriate to the current state of their relationship.
Several schoolmates also noticed the look and moved in closer. They wanted ringside seats, making the not-surprising assumption that this was going to be a doozy. De and Murray have a famously dramatic relationship.
Murray, on the other hand, was oblivious in the way of all high school boys to the potential annihilation at hand. He pushed his hat up and tipped back in his chair. "Fire away. What's the test? I'll ace it flat."
A slow smile spread across De's face. I was in the right lane. There was a major speed bump ahead for Murray. How could he not notice the landmines right in front of him? I mean, they're there every month. And every month he gets all cranky claiming he'd been set up by the gender bias inherent in said magazines.
Sometimes I want to say, "Well, duh! Walk right into it, why don't you, Murray?" But some advice is simply wasted on certain people. He'd be all, "Yo, Cher, you're so right on about that. Why do I do it?" Then the next month's tests will roll around and he'll be back to multiple choicing himself into a big fight with De.
Boys have no mental retention at all. Except for rap lyrics and sports scores.
"Okay," De declared. "This month's quiz is 'Diva or Doormat: Who Is Really in Charge of Your Relationship?'"
Sean started laughing. "I think we know the a, b, and none of the aboves on that one."
Murray glared at him. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Amber rolled her eyes. "Hello, Murray. De says, 'Jump' and you say, 'Out which window?' I mean, we all know it. Don't you?"
I was astonished. Once again Amber spoke the truth. Though she could have found a more tactful way to put it. But then, Amber doesn't do tactful.
"We'll just see about that." Murray sat up way straight. He flipped up the collar on his Hilfiger. But since it was one hundred percent cotton knit, the tips flopped back down again. "Hit me with question number one."
The crowd moved in closer. I noticed the girls lined up around De's side of the table. The boys positioned themselves behind Murray and Sean.
De laid the magazine flat on the table and pressed down on it so that it would stay open to the right page. She tossed back her multiple braids. "Here goes," she declared. "'Your significant other appears unannounced at your doorstep Saturday night, assuming you have an unspoken date. You a) drop everything, feeling all warm inside, thrilled that he feels your relationship has progressed this far, b) tell him it's very nice to see him, but, sorry, you have other plans and he should have asked you sooner, or c) ask him if he broke his dialing digit then slam the door in his face.'"
De looked up expectantly at Murray.
"That's easy," he scoffed. "The girl should be all happy. It shows he thinks of her as his steady. That's what you girls want, right? To hurry along into couple status?"
Sean nodded. "Good one, Murray." He looked relieved. Sean had the mistaken idea that Murray had actually answered correctly.
De snorted -- but in the most feminine, attractive way. "Not even!" she exclaimed. "What Betty wants to be taken so fully for granted that the Baldwin she is allowing to escort her thinks that all she does all day is wait around for him to decide to show up?"
"Snaps to that," I agreed.
I noticed several female heads around us nodding. The boys, on the other hand, were all shaking their heads no. With all the multidirectional head-bobbing, I was getting a little queasy. Obviously we had stumbled onto a major point of departure between the sexes.
"Get over," Murray challenged. "Guys like their freedom , but the girls are always asking, 'Are you my boyfriend?' Well, woman, what does 'boyfriend' mean if not an assumed date on a Saturday night?"
De rose from her seat. She took a power position at the head of the table. "First off," she said, "don't call me woman. Second off, if you and I are any kind of example I'd say the situation was way reversed. Hello, who is always beeping whom to keep track of that other person's every whereabouts?"
Murray's dark skin darkened further as he blushed. "Whoa, whoa, let's not be bringing the personal into this merely hypothetical discussion."
"Oh, but it is the hypothetical that leads to the pathetical," De countered. "And you are so pathetically wrong on this."
"I'd say, missy, you are the one who ticked off the wrong answer," a female voice in the crowd piped up.
I couldn't see who the speaker was, but she had definitely bought more than a few Southern vowels. Every word she uttered was stretched more ways than a Lycra tube dress.
The crowd gasped at the stranger's audacity to interject into a De-and-Murray debate. Several people stepped aside to allow the interloper through. Good thing, because with that big hair, she certainly needed ample maneuvering room.
De looked the girl up and down. "And who might you be?"
"Judging from the sides taken during this debate, I might be the only woman in this school who knows the proper way to treat a man," Scarlett O'Hara's overdressed descendant replied.
She flashed a high-wattage smile at Murray. She batted her eyes under her way obvious false lashes. "I am Gigi Rabinowitz. I have just transferred from the gracious city of Atlanta, Georgia." She extended a hand in a limp little way as if she expected Mu rray to kiss it.
Eww. He did. Such a bad move on Murray's part.
"Ooooh," the crowd ooohed. They watched to see De's reaction.
De spun on her heel and stormed away in a cloud of CK One. Big surprise.
Copyright © 1999 by Paramount Pictures