It’s Friday night and she is going out. Of course she is going out. She always goes out. She doesn’t have a date, though. She never has dates. She has plans to meet a group of people. A group of men.
She’s one of the only girls who is a constant. Most of the other girls disappear. She’s not sure why she is always invited. She isn’t little and cute like they are. She isn’t perky. She isn’t blonde. She doesn’t chatter like they do. She doesn’t wear stylish clothes. She isn’t sociable. She makes some of them uncomfortable. She still gets invited, or rather is expected. She has dinner with them almost every night. If she doesn’t go for more than a day or two, someone calls to make sure she is OK. A lot of times, she’s one of the only girls there. They must like her for some reason, right?
She never lets one of them come to her house and get her. She doesn’t like to have people pick her up, because then she can’t get away if she wants to. She doesn’t ever want to be stuck.
She is getting dressed to go out. There is a pile of clean clothes a foot high covering her bed, and the floor of her room is littered with shoes and dirty clothes. She is wearing a blue polka dot tube dress with a red sweatshirt over it, and a wide black belt on her hips. Red tights, and black high heels. Her hair is still wet from the shower.
During the week, it doesn’t matter what she wears. Everyone is in jeans. Normal clothes. They just hang out at the house on the golf course. The house is great. It was used in a movie once. Marble floors, big fancy kitchen, a bar. But it’s still relaxed and cozy. Everyone hangs out there. Most of them are family. Someone cooks. Someone makes drinks. No one minds if she sits at the bar and chats, or if she studies. Sometimes she just sits on the floor and watches soccer with one of the guys, or even falls asleep on the cushions on the floor. She’ll wake up covered with a blanket. Sometimes she’ll crawl in bed with one of the guys, for company more than anything.
On the weekends, though, it’s a party. They’ll all be in suits. She has to be festive.
She is not happy with the way she looks. She never is. Nothing ever looks right on her. She always looks too weird or too fat or too boring. This is the fourth outfit she has had on. She does not feel like changing again. She doesn’t feel like going out. She doesn’t feel like staying home alone. She doesn’t know what she feels like. She doesn’t feel like anything.
At the last minute, she cuts the neckband out of the sweatshirt so she doesn’t feel like she’s choking. She cuts it too low, and it falls off of her shoulders, so she puts in a row of safety pins on one side so it stays on. She crinkles her nose at it in the mirror, then shrugs. Punk, it is. She takes off the normal black high heels, and puts on torn fishnets over the red tights and high top tennis shoes over the fishnets. She puts duct tape over the tears in the fishnets so they don’t tear even more.
Then she takes those off the high tops and puts on a pair of gold shoes with bows on the toes. Then she puts the tennis shoes back on. At least her feet won’t hurt.
She looks in the mirror.
She looks like Cyndi Lauper ate Madonna.
She feels fat. She feels ugly.
Hair. She hates dealing with her hair. It’s always messy, but never in a good way. It falls in her eyes, it escapes from a pony tail, it won’t stay pinned up, it won’t hold a curl. If it’s permed, it’s too poofy. If it isn’t permed it’s too straight. There is nothing to do with hair like this. It’s too fine. At least it’s soft. She blows it dry and pins it up on top of her head in a messy knot, hoping it looks like it’s messy on purpose instead of because she doesn’t know what to do with it.
Make up is fine. She always liked makeup. It’s easy. She doesn’t put much on. At least she has good skin. Eyeliner. Lipgloss. Done. She likes her face. Her eyes aren’t too bad. People have always told her she has beautiful eyes. Men tell her she is beautiful, but she doesn’t believe them. Mostly they just want to fuck her. Why should she believe them?
As she gets ready, she gets a call from one of the guys, telling her where everyone will be that night. They always ask if she’s going to come and have dinner first or just meet them there. She decides to stop by Joe’s on her way to the party so she tells him she’ll meet them. The party is usually in one of the ballrooms at the Hilton, but might be at the house on the golf course, or the one on the hill, or the one on Fox Hollow. Sometimes it varies.
Joe is her friend’s Dad. Kind of a second father, since she spends so much time over there. She stops by a lot, especially if her Mom is out of town or at work. Joe always seems happy to see her, and although she gets a lot of compliments about the way she looks or how well she does at school, she never feels like people like her. She always knows he does.
When her dad says “is that what you’re going to wear?” it’s in a voice that makes her feel like he thinks she’s ugly. When Joe says the same thing, he smiles and adds “no one else thinks of wearing things like you do, you nut” and she feels charmingly eccentric instead of like an ugly freak.
She makes sure she has some change in case she needs to make a phone call. Grabs her purse. Then takes her lip gloss and driver’s license out and sticks them in the pocket of her sweat shirt and leaves her purse on the bed. She hates keeping track of her purse.
She doesn’t bother to bring much money. Enough for one drink in case she decides to leave the party and stop somewhere by herself on the way home. None of the guys would ever let her pay for anything, but at the parties there’s always an open bar anyway. If she does stop at a bar, by the time she finishes her first drink, someone will have bought her another if she wants one. If she plays the game and makes eye contact. A lot of the time she doesn’t drink at all. Just watches everybody. Watches the game of people circling each other.
She drives down the hill to Joe’s without calling. She knows she is welcome. Walks in without knocking like she always does. He gives her a hug and a beer, steps back and says “what did that sweatshirt ever do to you??” shakes his head, and tells her she looks like she came out of a magazine. They drink a beer at the kitchen table and talk for a while. He always seems to be interested in how she thinks, what she says. She gets up to leave, thanks him for the beer. BEER in all caps.
Then she drives to wherever the party is. …