Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roundabout.


Shelby is a whore.

Alright, that’s not exactly true. She’s got a great cumulative GPA, helped to reconstruct N’awlins after Katrina and loves kittens. Shelby is a sophomore and two years older than me. She’s French-Canadian and Nigerian, five foot nine and has green hypnotizing eyes. Still, all this doesn’t negate the fact that she’s a certified whore. What gives you a certification in whor-ism you ask? Ah, let’s see….

1) The drunken bout on a sixth floor balcony with Marcus from the football team.
2) Perhaps it was the midnight ruckus behind Burger King, whopper style.
3) In fact, it might’ve been the late night studying in the restricted section of club library.

Regardless of her extracurricular activities, Shelby still manages to have most of the institution’s male population fawn after her. The simpletons grovel at her feet; fingering her long brown locks as she walks by, approaching her with a free drink at the bar and cheating on their beloved girlfriends.

I’m Shelby’s roommate, Veronica Alvina Theodore III. Yes, my mother and grandmother have the exact same name. What makes it worse is everyone calls me Junior. From the moment they placed the ink on my birth certificate, I was destined to be a sidekick. I played second fiddle and follow the leader to shimmery girls all throughout junior high and high school. A nerd with a fashionista mother—I was always dressed to the tee, but lacked the social skills to survive amongst those at the top of the food chain. Thus my popularity was in limbo. Sure everyone knew me, but no one actually cared to get to know me.

Freshman year of college at Holland University was my chance to break free of my pseudonym’s shackles. I applied to the smallest college in the country, so that I could develop an entirely different persona. High school was a blur of trying to be someone I wasn’t, trying to fit in and desperate pursuits of third base. I didn’t want to remember it and I left it all behind.

Things were going well. I’d just joined the school’s newspaper, beamed at a progress report filled with A’s and B’s and I was taking home my roommate and Canadian college bestie for Thanksgiving. There was only one problem:

Here at Holland, I was Ronnie the journalist; a cute girl who worked at the smoothie shop where the athletes came post games. A great platform for spotting biceps and dimples. However, back home I was Junior; A Lemony Snicket, newspaper obsessed, almost-cool bore.

To make a long story short, Shelby uncovered everything. She made a mad dash through my bookshelves and deemed me a nerd, cracked jokes about me with my pretty and evil older cousins around the dinner table and even brought back the name Junior with her to school.

“It’s cute! Why are you so ashamed of it?” Shelby asked while trying on a winter dress for formal at the campus dress shop.

I poked my head into her dressing room and glared at her mirror, “Because I hate it! I like Ronnie better. Can we just stick with that please?”

Shelby looked around as if she was considering it, “Hmmmm no, I like Junior. Who knew families could pass down the matriarch’s full name? That’s awesome.”

I rolled my eyes and turned back into my own dressing room. The size 8 jeans I was trying to fit my size 10 thighs into, wasn’t working out. I sighed and threw them to the floor. Suddenly, Shelby walked into my dressing room, “Junior, how does this look?”

“I told you not to….” She looked fantastic, stunning even. She twirled around in the almost sheer skin-tight mauve gown and did her best pageant girl smile. “You look alright.”

“Just alright Junior? Ah, come on! Give a girl her props.” She hurried out to take off the dress and make her purchase.

Sigh. Shelby was never going to let this whole Junior thing go. I was glad she was the only one who knew. I wasn’t letting a dumb nickname and a slightly awkward demeanor ruin my four years of glory. I would ask Shelby to keep it a secret and we could leave this all behind us. After all, what are best friends for?
___________________________________________________________

Shelby is a tramp.

The Thanksgiving trip had lessened my model of a roommate’s respect for me. Shelby was on a rampage. She told every new group we hung out with that my nickname was Junior. She was suddenly asking me to fetch things for her and telling me to change things about my outfit, whenever she got the chance. Guys said they were automatically attracted to her take charge attitude. There was nothing take charge about Shelby. She was a subtle, mean and evil control freak. She was ruining my life:

1) When guys, cute guys, came over to study with me in our communal living room, she’d walk out for snacks in boy shorts and tank tops. She’d switch all the way to the snack cabinet and slowly bend over for Doritos she strategically placed on the bottom shelf. My partners—usually stuck in some frozen trance—would drool on the calculus assignments we’d have to present the next day. The same idiots would sometimes even have the audacity to ask me for Shelby’s phone number. The nerve.

2) When guys would ask us—us meaning BOTH—if we were coming to an event, she’d always find a way to speak for me. “Oh Junior? She’s got article deadlines!” “Isn’t ComicCon in town?” “Beer Pong isn’t your thing hun! Remember when you threw up all over Zach Devlin? What a night!” Trick. The truth is, she’d rather spend time with a guy alone. We always carpooled.  Bringing a friend along would guarantee her no solo time at the end of the events.

3) I was even dumb enough to believe she was giving me good advice on meeting a nice guy. Shelby told me Jared was too dumb for me. Jared graduated top of the class three years later, Shelby did him graduation night. She told me Mike was a frat boy and no self-respecting girl dated a frat boy. Shelby joined a sorority two months later, she had her first Greek relationship with Mike.

I was sick of Shelby. Her evils were so sneaky, I couldn’t even complain about them without her having a perfectly logical excuse for her behavior. It usually ended with, “I was just trying to help, gosh.”

A few semesters later, Shelby and I were still friends. Why? I have no idea. We’d moved out from the same apartment and had separate majors, but still she managed to stay close by at all times. Perhaps, deep down, she really liked me. Yeah right.

After sophomore homecoming game, Shelby came to the smoothie shop. I was supposed to have the night off to attend, but my manager was a jerk. The only solace I was going to have was greeting the players as they came to replenish their energy later that evening.

Shelby sat at the table closest to the counter wearing a mini-skirt and belly shirt in 50 degree weather, “Hey girl! What time do the players start coming in?

“9 o’ clock. Scouting again I see?”

She laughed and then looked at the clock, it was 8:53pm, “Something like that. Joseph Terry is a new transfer quarterback with NFL scouts looking at him. He doesn’t know his future wife is right here on campus. I’m gonna wait for him to notice.”

I snickered and started to wipe off the counter, “Whatever.”

The boys came pouring in, on time, with their duffle bags thrown over their defined shoulders. I rushed to my cashier station as a cascade of brown formed to place their orders with the other employees. There was a silent melancholy that spread across their faces, I could tell they’d lost.

As I was giving a next-time smile to my seventh customer, Joseph Terry cruised in. Shelby was right, he was gorgeous. He wore a ribbed tank with gym shorts, his butterscotch seeming to spout from every crevice. Joseph had only been on the team for a month and had every girl on campus paying attention. He walked up to another player and did one of those weird manly hug and gimme-a-pound things and put his order in. Shelby moved from her post to accompany me at my cashier station. She stood next to me looking entirely too eager.

“Everything on lock bestie?” She said as she brushed down her mini skirt and fumbled with her hair.
I glared at her, “You look fine.”

Every player leaving the counter asked for her name or number. She refused politely. I look at Joseph to see if he’s noticed her yet. Sure enough, still waiting on his drink, Joseph was grinning our way like a Cheshire cat. Ugh, what an idiot.

Shelby took notice of this and cleared her throat as Joseph came to my cashier station. He handed me his money still wearing his stupid grin. He even had the nerve to fumble with his change. Shelby talked on and on while this was happening, about nothing, pretending she hadn’t noticed him. He slightly tripped on the way out, almost dropping his grape smoothie. I hated him.

Shelby even had the finest of the fine feeling like they couldn’t talk to her. If a guy like Joseph could feel inadequate around her, she was bound to crush me.
_______________________________________________________________

Shelby is a slut.

It was football season and Joseph Terry was almost never in town. Shelby decided she’d need a steady boyfriend for the winter and started to date an imbecile named Derrick. He was a senior that had a serious alcohol problem, but Shelby ignored it because he owned an Audi and he was a trust fund baby.
On their first date, Shelby begged me to go with her the entire day.

“Come on! I don’t know him like that and he kind of scares me a little bit. I need you.”

I stopped in my tracks even thought I was 4 minutes late for Media Ethics 101 already, “If he makes you uncomfortable, you shouldn’t be going out with him. Period.”

“If something happened to me, wouldn’t you feel bad that you didn’t come? Pleeeaaassseeeee Junior, just this once.”

I’d agreed to hell. On the first date Derrick brought a fellow circus act they called Custard. We hung in the Audi on the beach boardwalk lot and took shots of some dark liquor I couldn’t pronounce. I actually took sips, there was no way I was doing anything sweet with a guy named after desert. I decided I needed fresh air after an hour of Custard and Derrick’s banter about cow tipping and farm hoes. They were from some dump town in Wisconsin, that was their fun.

I came back from my walk to find Shelby running down the other side of the boardwalk with nothing but a bra and a skirt on in the freezing cold. Derrick and imbecile were chasing her in their boxers. I didn’t stick around to find out what happened next. I took a cab home.

Soon Derrick wanted to try romance. He told Shelby he was going to take her to an open mic. She was afraid they were getting too serious and decided that if I came on their outing, he would get the message.
Fraid’ not.

Derrick glared at me from the rearview mirror all the way of the backseat drive to the jazz spot where they held Spoken Word Wednesdays. He saw me as the tag-a-long and his key to NOT getting any tonight. I stared out of the window the rest of the time.

We found seats in the front and ordered some appetizers to pass the time. Derrick eventually stopped glaring and began to loosen up. The scene was cool—a live band to play between performers, covers of Raheem Devaughn by melodic voices and angry poetry for mother’s who were never there. I was having a great time. Shelby and I bobbed our heads to the interludes and grasped our Appletini’s in laughter. It was almost as if the last three years hadn’t happened.
_______________________________________________________________
Shelby is a floozy.

When they said “Junior come to the microphone, you’re next on the list.” I was expecting some little brown guy to come up to the stage and perform. After the third announcement, I’d realized they were speaking to me. Shelby signed me up, without me knowing.

She yelled as I walked to the stage, “You’re always writing stuff girl! Show them what you got!”

This girl who called herself my best friend didn’t even know I was a journalist. She didn’t even know they difference between a sonnet and an article. Maybe she was just trying to help me and here I was doubting her again. Then again, this could be another way of embarrassing me.

As soon as I got to the stage, I saw Joseph Terry in the back of the room alone. He was facing the stage and wearing that dumb ass grin again. Shelby, turned around to face him, was likely wearing one too. I hated the both of them.

I’d had enough. It was time for Shelby and the school to hear about who she really was.
I spoke into the mic with my best poet voice and mimicking gesture hands:

I don’t pity occupational hazards for jezebels// there are risks when you lay on backs// then fret when streets call your name// skin reflecting graffiti walls// how many have left their tag?// is insecurity written there?// your deeds are no secret// you are no longer a whisper// I’m here to scream you loud//
I am sick of you calling me un-pretty behind my back// sure you feel I have no tact// materialism and fashion I may slack//
but there’s one thing I’m confident in//this poem, right here// and the walls that talk// I’ll tell them, you said, “What’s good?”

The crowd burst into applause. Even Shelby and Derrick were on their feet. Maybe I’d gotten through to her. I rushed off stage, thanked everyone who’d congratulated me and sat amongst my sort-of companions once again.

Shelby immediately grabbed my hand with a smile, “Oh my God! I knew you wrote and stuff, but I didn’t know you were that good.”

Sigh. She didn’t even know the poem was about her.
________________________________________________________________
I’m over Shelby.

I’d decided I was going to let the next two years pass by, keeping my head in the books. In the real world, I wouldn’t have to deal with her. The least I could do was put up with her for now.

Derrick decided Shelby wasn’t paying enough attention to him and dropped her like a bad habit. She didn’t even notice.

Since I’d given in to Shelby’s antics I’d agreed to meet her everyday after our 11am course, for lunch. We were both taking double doses of required Physical Education electives in the same building and food was the only thing we could agree on after strenuous activity. Leaving the locker room, Shelby started to walk the long way to the lunch hall.

“What a way to give me more activity woman.” I groaned.

“The long way gives us a glimpse of the sports gym and...”

“Yeah, yeah. Joseph Terry might be in there.”

“Good girl! Now let’s go.”

I rolled my eyes and reluctantly trudged behind her. Turning the sweatiest and stinky corner of the entire Phys Ed. building, we bumped into Joseph. Surprise.

He was at the other end of the hallway and Shelby had started her famous switch while I was trying not to fall asleep before I got to to my delectable tuna sandwich. Joseph was wearing his stupid grin. It seemed as though it grew wider and wider the closer we got. We walked past one another without saying a word and continued on to the cafeteria.

When we got outside I hit Shelby in her arm, “What’s the point of all the extra if you’re never going to speak to him.”

She rubbed her hurt shoulder and laughed, “One day you’ll learn. It’s all a part of my game. He’ll come to me.”
________________________________________________________________

Joseph Terry never spoke to Shelby. In fact, we rarely saw him after that day. When we did, he seemed to be in a rush still wearing his big dumb Chiclet-tooth grin. Stupid.

Shelby found other pursuits and successfully hunted them down. She’d come to the conclusion that Joseph was either mentally retarded or gay. I went with both.
________________________________________________________________

Two years after graduation Shelby and I were still friends. She moved in with her boyfriend and stayed local and I headed back home to New Jersey where I was working at a small publication. We still spoke every now and then to reminisce my torture that she calls “The Good Ol’ College Days.” Right.

We finally planned a trip back down to our stomping grounds for homecoming. We spent an entire weekend greeting memories—ones we (she) wasn’t entirely proud of—and going to alumni parties galore. Shelby and I were at our last party, sitting at the bar, when a big familiar grin appeared from the darkness of the dance floor. It was stupid ass Joseph. Grinning.

“Heyyyyyy Mr. NFL Player Joseph Terry! How are you?” Shelby slurred and crooned.

I waved a small wave and went back to nursing my Vodka. I nudged Shelby with my elbow, in the process, to remind her that she had a boyfriend.

After a few exchanged words, my back turned to them, I heard Shelby mumble, “I’m gonna head to the little girl’s room. I’ll be back.” Psssshhh, still playing hard to get.

Joseph took a seat next to me, “How are you Veronica? “

Gasp. He knew my name. “I’m alright. Enjoying alumni weekend as much as possible.” I noticed a ring on his finger. Good for him.

“Married huh?”

“Yeah, two kids too. That’s funny.”

I laughed in drunken confusion, “What’s funny about that?”

He smiled, “I always pictured myself marrying you.”

I almost dropped my Vodka, “What? Ha! You’ve got jokes sir.”

He took my slipping drink from my hand and confirmed his statement, “I’ve always had a crush on you. I used to get real nervous around you. You’d have me grinning like a fool. But you were always so mean looking. I thought you hated me.”

Just then Shelby came back with her hair swooped in a different direction and placed her hand on Joseph’s shoulder. “What are youuuu guys talking about?”

Joseph smiled his stupid smile. I sat in shock. The world around us buzzed. Shelby seized the opportunity to seductively pull Joseph to the dance floor.

Shelby is still a whore.

(pic via here)

6 comments:

stephanie said...

i kinda knew it would end like that, with him wanting her i mean, but it was still a very good story. kudos

Toi said...

loved this! i actually love most of your short stories and am def. looking forward to your book!!

*one thing.. in the 'I'm over Shelby' section..you wrote Jason Terry instead of Joseph!*

Happy Thanksgiving

riva. said...

Thanks guys!

@Stephanie I was trying to mask that before I got to the end, but I failed lol.

@Toi I caught that before, but it was my b-day and I skipped my second round of edits! But, I'm on it now lol. Thanks, I just finished the first book and I'm knocking these drafts down. I really love this short story and I might make this into a sequel book. High School, College, and real life. Maybe. We'll see.

-Riv

Janine Simon said...

what do you read for inspiration?

I be liking your fiction and stuff lol
But you know i think you could stand to
dabble in some non-fic... nah mean?

what gucci den?

riva. said...

Janine,

Lol. You're a fool.

I read everything. Fiction, non fiction & historical texts. I even read YA fiction, b/c I plan on writing it one day.

Most of my short stories are memoir though. This one is not.

What kind of non-fic would you like to see?

-Riva

Janine Simon said...

Hmmmmmmm if you were in the mood to write the non fiction i guess that would dictate you know what type you would write and whatever that is is what i would love to see.

ps i email you bout some otha artistic thingy ma jig