You shave your legs twice, lest you should miss a spot. You flatten every kink out of your wavy hair with a straightening iron. You step into your navy-blue hip-huggers and undo the snaps up to the knee so they look like chaps. On top, of course, you pull on your new peasant blouse. The white, transparent top layer drapes over the built in tank-top underneath. You lift your arms to test the length, and your stomach peeks out. You remove your plain, silver belly-ring and replace it with a barbell with a turquoise gem. You drop the gem but your roommate, Rachel, recovers it from behind her desk. She lacquers your freshman face and when you look in the mirror, you decide you look like a junior, or at least a sophomore. You strap on your only pair of heels, the silver, t-strap pair from senior prom. You sling Rachel’s red purse over your shoulder and you are ready to go.
Each bedroom at Delta Epsilon has a Polaroid of its inhabitant tacked to the door. Once upstairs at the party, you and Rachel walk down a long hall in search of Max’s picture. You turn a corner, and there he is staring back at you, a yellow thumbtack puncturing his perfect forehead. You enter the room, and immediately locate the full-length, three-dimensional counterpart of the face on the door. Max is slouched against the makeshift bar, filling a big, red cup. You have not seen him since that first, magical kiss the night before break. He is the only person you have ever seen come back from winter break with a tan. You try, albeit not very hard, not to stare.
When Max was formed, at least six other future-humans were neglected and sent out into the world “as is.” You are sure of it; there must be a price for that degree of perfection. The painstakingly chiseled jaw, the flawless olive complexion, the turquoise (yes, turquoise) eyes. Since it would be criminal to obscure that face with hair, Max has a simple buzz-cut. You recall running your hand against the grain that night before break, each strand gently pricking your hand. Yes, he is the one. He is the one you paint your nails for just in case he calls. He is the one and tonight is the night. Max takes a sip of his drink, and, apparently satisfied with the ratio of Popov to Tropicana, leaves the room.
You and Rachel wedge into the only space left on the pea-green, cushionless couch and take in your surroundings: on the wall opposite you is the requisite Salvador Dali print. Beside the dripping clocks and contorted bodies, a Brooke Burke calendar is taped up with duct tape. It is stuck on November.
Someone hands you and Rachel two red cups full of “jungle juice.” It tastes like nail polish remover and Tang.
At eleven thirty, the people with fake IDs leave and head down to the bars. Still on the couch in the rapidly emptying room, you wonder whether your plan was somehow flawed. You were to dress seductively and park yourself in Max’s bedroom. But now, having enacted your plan in full, you still have not exchanged a single word with him. Rachel says she is ready to leave, but you beg her to stay just a little bit longer.
As she deliberates, however, it happens: Max drops sloppily onto the couch beside you with a drawling, “Hey girls.” Rachel takes the opportunity for a quick escape. She closes the door behind her, leaving you and Max alone together, floating in the pea-green possibility of the cushionless couch.
At last, the two of you get to talk. Or rather, Max gets to chance to talk. You infer, based on his various pontifications, that he is a staunch Republican and an Economics major. He leads you over to a pile of Econ books, which are on his bedside table, which he insists will interest you, which you never find out. He’s not about what you’re about, yet he’s about to… you pause. He does not. It’s over before you’re sure it has begun.
Afterwards, you lie beside him and relish in the fantasy of retrospection. You project yourself into tomorrow and think, “Ah to be lying beside Max again.” You nod off to such musings, already strangely nostalgic for the moment you are in.
You sleep for what feels like an instant, and are awakened by the first ray of light that pours through the space left by the missing burgundy blind. Anxious to set out on your first walk of shame, you scoop your crumpled garments off the floor, each a testament to your spontaneity and maturity. On your way out of the room, you catch your reflection in the mirror and grin at the carelessly stringy hair. The daintily smeared mascara. You could not have done it any better with a smudge-brush. Your reflection beams back at you. You turn the corner, strut down the stairs, and step into the light of day.
- onlulu posted this