It's all in the name
Lila. I mean, listen to her name. Lila. Really! Just what was in Football Head's mind when he dared to thought romantically of someone with such a name? Lila. Little Miss Perfect. And why not? The girl got it all! She got the looks, the intelligence, the elegance, the charm, the sweetness, and most of all, she got him! God sometimes needs help to even out those qualities, huh? Yeah, I know, I know.
Ah… but of course. She doesn't return his feelings. Oh no. He doesn't have that "ever so special thing" she's looking for. What the heck is going through that girl's mind! And then she goes and falls for the guy's cousin, who, I must add, is as dull as the lint he collects. Seriously, what's wrong with her! Are those braids too tight or something! Ok, I'm calming down… calming… down.
Oh, but you haven't heard the worst. Yes, it does get worst. Much worst. The wrong cousin fell for me! Yeah, just laugh at me, but it's true! This Arnie guy just asks to talk to me privately and confesses his undying love for me just because! Is it me or my life is fate's idea of a joke? Because, really! The worst thing is that he wasn't even jealous!
No, I don't think he was just hiding his feelings! Well, yeah, he did grit his teeth, but just a little. Probably because he was upset his cousin dumped Lila. Welcome to Helga Pataki's life, the amazing love rectangle! So I love Arnold, Arnold likes Lila, Lila loves Arnie, and Arnie loves me. What a wonderful life! Ok, ok, I know! What happened next? I'll tell ya! These last months he's been bombarding me with correspondence! Well, to say the truth, I was quite surprised when I received the first one.
No! You crazy? Arnold is and will always be the only boy in my heart. Besides, only Lila falls for a guy like that. Now that I made that clear, may I continue without you suggesting I'm falling for Farm Boy again? Ok, then. As I was saying, I was surprised when that letter came. And not because I'm falling for the guy, I was genuinely surprised he could actually write. If you can call that writing. Yeah, I actually brought some. Ready for a laugh?
I love you. I like your hair. It's blonde.
No, I certainly don't think it's sweet… or flattering. It's just… argh! He called me Helgy! No one calls Helga G. Pataki a pet name! Except for Football Head, but that's a completely different thing. Many letters came after that one, each one worst that the last. In one he sort of proposed to me. That was the most frightening single thing I've ever read. Or that's what I thought until I read the next. He was coming here! The next day! I didn't know what to do! The worst thing was that he was staying for a week and was going to go to our school! Oh, what was I to do?
How could I realize then that he was going to make one of the most wonderful moments of my life possible? What was that? Oh, you'll just have to wait and see. Or listen. Whatever. The thing is, he was coming to town, and in the letter he had kind of asked me in a date. The little twerp. So I decided I'd be avoiding him the next week. Oh, don't come to me with the whole "you avoid your problems" crap. So what if I do? And I'm not afraid of confrontation! I mean, for goodness' sake, I'm Helga G. Pataki, the school bully; confrontation comes to me in daily bases! Anyway, the thing is, the creep arrived and…
"He's here! Arnie!" Lila squeaked as she ran to the classroom door. Arnold glared at his cousin as Lila and he shared a hug. Though Lila did all the hugging, Arnie just stood there. Helga sank in her desk, hoping the boy didn't notice her. Too late, he was staring at her with that dull expression of his. "Oh, Arnie! I missed you ever so much! I sent you a letter; I guess it never arrived because I never received a reply."
"Uh…" Arnie said, as he freed himself from Lila's embrace. He walked towards Helga as he took a little package from his pocket. "Plain gum. My favorite." Helga took the little package and stuck it in her pocket, muttering something like 'should have known' to herself. She suddenly felt Arnold's gaze on her. Time to pull out the jealousy card. Though it hadn't work as wanted before, might as well give it a try.
"How's it goin', Farm Boy," She said, glancing at Arnold. Arnie smiled—he's capable of showing human emotion? That's new!—and sat in the desk right next to her, winking at her. She shuddered, what mess had she gotten herself into now?
"Good," He finally answered. What an answer worthy of him. She was about to yell something nasty at him, but Miss Perfect's face, twisted in a mix of jealousy and anger, two feelings Helga never expected from her, changed her mind.
It was her turn, you see. After almost a year of me wanting desperately to be in her shoes, she finally felt the same! The roles had finally changed! And I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip. No way. The rest of the day followed normally, except for Farm Boy's occasional compliment. You know, things such "You look nice today" or "You have pretty eyes" and mushy stuff like that. And I have to say it, I felt kind of flattered. Though I knew of Farm Boy's affections, it was still nice to hear that someone cared. And don't get weird theories of this. Anyway, as the day continued, I found Arnold staring at her again with that dreamy look I've always desired to be directed at me. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And I was desperate.
It was lunch time, and all the kids sat in the Cafeteria, eating and talking. Helga and Phoebe sat at one table at the corner, not aware that they were being carefully watched. Phoebe took out her lunch box and opened it, finding a tray of Sushi. She cheerfully started eating while Helga watched miserably inside her paper bag.
"What's the problem, Helga?" Phoebe asked worriedly. Through the past months, she had noticed how Helga was loosing weight alarmingly. "Did your mom forget to pack you lunch again? Because if so, I can share my Sushi." She smiled at Helga sympathetically. Suddenly, Arnie appeared with a big lunch box and sat next to Helga.
"Your collection of lint, eh, Farm Boy?" Helga asked him smirking. He shook his head and opened the lunch box, revealing two deliciously looking meals, complete with steaks, mashed potatoes, and a salad. Helga blinked at him. Arnie snorted and gave her one of the trays.
"A date," He said, and then glanced at Phoebe, who flushed a little but caught the signal and walked away. She headed to Gerald's table, leaving a really ungrateful Helga behind.
Helga just smiled and started eating; avoiding Farm Boy's annoying staring.
"Gerald, may I sit here?" Phoebe asked politely, smiling as Gerald gave her a thumbs-up.
"Did you and Helga have a fight, Phoebe?" Arnold asked, and glanced at Helga's table. The sight caught him by surprise. How dare him to play with her hair! Arnold—
Yes, I allowed him to do that. But you'll see, it was worth having those sticky hands going through my hair. Yuck, let's just move on.
Arnold clenched his fist as he continued watching. "Oh, no, Arnold, not at all," Phoebe answered between giggles. "You see, Arnie and her just wanted some time alone and I felt like a third wheel, they being on a date and all." Everyone at the table stared wide-eyed at Phoebe. Except from Lila, who had ran away sobbing uncontrollably.
"What!" Arnold asked loudly, all the heads turned to him. He mumbled an apologize and lowered his tone of voice. "You, you're not serious, are you?" Phoebe just giggled some more and smiled knowingly.
"Well, I can't say I didn't see it coming! They've been pen pals for months now. And Arnie's such a nice guy—"
"Come on, he's as dull as dirt."
"And always saying such beautiful things of her."
"Well, I—" He what?
"You what, Arnold?" Phoebe asked him grinning.
"I… it's none of my business," He answered, glancing at their table again.
"Exactly," Phoebe said, returning to her meal.
Phoebe told me all this, if that's what you're wondering. Oh, my beloved, jealous of a boy whose showing affection towards me! He's nice, and funny, and so much more, I know! Everyone knows! But he struggled for me! For me! Ok, so he didn't, at least not yet. What was going on in our table? Oh, not much, Farm Boy reading out loud the mashed potatoes ingredients—yeah, he brought them—and saying how 'shinny my hair looks today' and how 'my eyes sparkle with the sunlight'. I mean, seriously, how corny can he get? Next day was pretty much the same, except for the fact that Miss Perfect had been excused from school. Serves her right, crying over a lost love. Again, I had lunch with Farm Boy. He asked me to visit him at the boarding house that evening, I, of course, agreed. After all, this was the perfect chance to rub our date on Football Head's face. It all started when I arrived…
Helga stood outside Sunset Arms and rang the door bell. She was wearing boot-cut jeans and a pink t-shirt. She had let her hair down, but conserved the bow Arnold liked so much in her pocket. She looked anxiously at the door as it opened. There, in front of her, stood the boy of her dreams, clearly shocked by her new look.
"Helga, you look…" He trailed off. She smiled pleased, but quickly scowled at him.
"Move it, Football Head! I'm not getting any younger here!" She said, pushing him. He was still staring at her in disbelief. "Where's Farm Boy, anyway?"
"Uh… what?" Arnold asked still dumbfounded. Suddenly remembering the reason of her visit, a sour taste filled his mouth. "Arnie. I'll go look for him." And without another word, he wondered upstairs.
"Oh… he noticed!" Helga mumbled to herself as she waited for the boys to come.
A couple of minutes later, the cousins came downstairs, Arnold following Arnie from behind, watching him furiously. "Helgy," Arnie snorted. "You look good."
"Helgy?" Arnold raised an eyebrow. He was ignored.
"Oh, Farm Boy, you make me blush!" Helga forced herself to say between faked giggles. The two dense cousins, of course, believed every second of her act. "So what are we gonna do?"
"Reading ingredients," Snort. "I got this Fortune Cookie from a Chinese restaurant downtown. I've only read Fortune Cookies' ingredients 46 times. I've counted."
Arnold made a face but Helga smiled. "Sounds like fun," She said.
Not fun at all. It was the single most boring thing I've ever done. The things I do for Football Head… The only good thing about it all is that he kept passing by, watching us intently while doing so. It was working! Finally, after many years of stalking and thinking endlessly about the boy, he was (kind of) stalking me! He was thinking about me! I wondered what did I do to deserve such a blessing, and then it happened.
Arnie and Helga sat in the dining room, Arnie reading for only he knows—he'd counted—how many times the Dijon mustard ingredients while Helga stared blankly at the ceiling. Arnie glanced at her and snorted.
"You look good," He said again startling her. She blinked a couple of times and mustered up a smile.
"You too," She lied, looking around the room. There he was, spying from the upper part of the staircase. Oh, she had him right where he wanted. Kind of.
But then Arnie said the unexpected. "I love you, Helga." Always Mr. Timing. She turned to him, a shocked look in her face. He was starting to lean against her. She found herself absolutely frozen. Oh, boy. Code red! Code red! Please somebody save me! Please!
I've never been so scared in my whole damn life. I mean, really, I hadn't even said anything to lead him on to a possible kiss. I hadn't even said anything about his 'I love you'! I was going to say something like 'Thank you' or give the Lila thing a try, 'You're ever so kind' or 'I am flattered, so thank you, but no thank you". But no, Farm Boy couldn't wait for my answer; he had just to go and try to kiss me. Ok! I'll tell you what happened! Just calm down!
Arnie was just about to place his lips on Helga, when…
"STOP!" Arnold yelled from the top of the staircase. Both Arnie and Helga turned to him, deeply confused. He was blushing like mad and stammering something about the living room and Grandpa. But Helga didn't stay too long, and saw this sudden outburst from her beloved as a chance to escape. And so she did.
He fought for me! Well, I'm not really sure, but he certainly didn't want us to kiss! If that isn't jealousy, then what else could it be? Wha… what? You… you agree with me? Really? Oh, thank you so much! I knew it! I knew that stupid Football Head would come to his senses one of these days! And that's one of the most magical moments I've ever lived. Blushing, telling us not to kiss? He saved me! He saved me from Farm Boy! And I am 'ever so thankful' for that. But of course, we all went back to old habits next morning. Though the week was not over, Farm Boy 'mysteriously' disappeared and didn't come back to school the next day. He left me a note in my locker though, saying he'd always love me no matter what, no matter when, no matter who. What a lame-o. I went back to having lunch with Phoebe, who now is kind enough to bring double lunch to school to share with me. And Football Head? Oh… well. It was wonderful while it lasted.
He went back to his Lila staring. I wonder, if a boy was to kiss little Miss. Perfect, would he stop him? I like to think he wouldn't. I like to think it's a privilege he only has for me. Sometimes I don't know why Lila annoys me so much. Some part of it is jealousy, I know. But the other, I can't keep myself from wondering if she really is who she seems to be. Why does she toy with my Football Head so much? I mean, she leads him on and suddenly 'Oh, Arnold, I like you, not like you like you'. Yeah, maybe you're right; maybe she's only a sweet, innocent girl that means no harm.
But still, Doc, I tell you. It's all in the name. Lila. I mean, what kind of name is that!
Author's Note: Liked it? Loved it? Hated it? Want to poke it with a stick? Then leave me a review, and I'll be 'ever so grateful'! Really! If you have any suggestion, please leave it. Much love from this HA! fan!
- Silver Side, aka S.S.