One of The Boys
I saw a spider
I didn't scream
Cause I can belch the alpahbet
just double dawg dare me
And I chose guitar over ballet
and I'd tape these suckers down
cause they just get in my way.
The way you look at me
is kind of like a little sister.
you high five your goodbyes
and it leaves me nothing but blisters.
"One of the Boys"
At age nine, she could effectively belch the alphabet on a single gulp from a can of Yahoo soda.
At age thirteen, she made her middle school's fast pitch baseball team. The boy's team.
At age fifteen, she thoroughly reminded Harold that despite their recent hiatus, Old Betsy and the Five Avengers were still very open for business.
Helga didn't bother to wipe her knees or calves of the dust that currently coated them. Smiling at the puffs of dust that resulted from enthusiastic high-fives from her teammates, she took a seat on the grass of Gerald Field, and surveyed the field. Her last homerun earned her team two more points, but they were still down by three. Helga rubbed a sore muscle on her arm, as she felt someone take a seat next to her.
"Sup." Helga grunted, the afternoon heat making the back of her neck warm and sticky.
"How we doin'?" Stinky asked, taking in a long drag of warm air. Helga's growth spurt in high school, the same one that shot her four inches above any other girl in her class, still left her barely grazing Stinky Peterson's shoulder. At the moment, his height provided her face with a thin shadow that she was half thankful for.
"Down by three. Sid stole third two innings ago, and we're still paying for it. What a joke." she replied, dragging her arm under her nose and leaving a reddish-brown trail of sand on her face.
"We'll have the rest of the summer to pay them back."
Helga blew out a puff of air and rolled her eyes. Stupid Bob. Stupid Miriam. Shipping her off like she was some kind of Christmas fruitcake. Her summer was going to be entirely wasted. She was supposed to be at the house, cleaned up and ready to leave as soon as school was over, but figured that if her parents were willing to take her summer away, she could at least use the afternoon of the last day of school for herself. The fact that Arnold, chiseled and glistening agreed to play as well, was yet another incentive.
She was irrational, emotional and impractical, but Helga was not naïve. She knew better than to assume that Arnold, President of the Yearbook Club, Varsity Lacrosse Captain and Member of the National Honor Society would have time to keep track of every friend he ever had from their days at Urban Tots. Everyone's lives went in different directions; some moved away, most stayed, few even remembered their old friends or teacher's names. She told herself that when she was granted with a "Hi" or "What's new?" from Arnold, it was all that she could expect. They were never exceptionally close, and instead of her old taunts and jeers for his attention, she reluctantly accepted her fate as a forgotten portion of his life and left him alone.
"Yeah. The whole summer."
Helga arrived home, roughly an hour and a half later, caked in dirt, hoping her parents forgot about their plans for her, and attempted to make her way to her room.
No such luck.
"You were supposed to be here hours ago!"
Helga dragged herself into the living room, and contemplated the migraine to come. This could all be solved had Bob left her alone, and let her spend the summer being normal, as opposed to being tortured.
"I got caught up." she said, knowing any excuse she made would fall on deaf ears. She could have claimed to have started a band with a purple-haired lemur as the drummer, and it wouldn't have mattered at this point.
"Well, go upstairs and get your bags. Your sister is going to be here in any minute." he said, from the couch.
"What? What happened to the bus?" Helga asked, jerking her hands from her pockets and motioning to stand in front of the TV that hypnotized her father, but stopped knowing it would only make matters worse. Helga thought an hour long drive to Olga's apartment would mentally prepare her, but having to drive there with her was going to be a nightmare. "Never mind." she said, stomping up the stairs to retrieve her lone suitcase.
"Great." she growled. "My whole summer…"
"Aren't we having fun, baby sister?" Olga squealed, in the doorway of her room for the summer. Olga furnished the room with every pink item she could find from every furniture store that she could find, and for the first week, Helga was ready to take a black paint can to the entire place. Pink curtains, pink blankets and pillowcases, pink and white ceiling fan and a pink poster in the corner of the wall, covered in pictures on kittens.
"So much fun." Helga replied, baring enough teeth so that Olga could mistake it for a smile.
"Now, I have a quick little errand to run, but I'll be back in about an hour, okay?" she said, raising her voice to a pitch so high, Helga was surprised her left ear wasn't bleeding. She nodded until Olga left the room, and allowed herself to fall back on the fluffy pink bed under her. She'd only been there for a week, but the experience was proving itself torturous. Olga was smothering, dragging Helga to lunch with her equally vapid and annoying friends, taking her shopping to places using the letter "z" to make things plural, and insisted on watching Lifetime Original movies for hours on end. She figured there had to be something she could get out of this summer.
After another moment of self-pity, Helga decided to rummage through Olga's things, starting with her frighteningly pink room. Maybe if she found some incriminating evidence, she could use it as blackmail against her sister and convince her to leave (or, if nothing else, let her sleep in the living room). Under the bed was entirely clear, as was the closet, but the small nightstand next to her bed was stacked with shiny teen magazines. Helga curled her lip at the publications and tossed them over her shoulder, looking for something more interesting. She found only more magazines, dating back to the past summer, and emptied the drawer of them.
Abandoning the room, Helga searched the rest of the flat for something, even if not incriminating, but more interesting to look at. She tried the television, but hurled the remote at the adjacent couch when Court TV, COPS and the Game show Network were all blocked on Olga's TV. Retreating back to her horrid room, Helga pushed the shiny periodicals off her bed, and lay back down.
Chuckling to herself, Helga reached for the closest magazine, and laughed at the cover. A brunette haired girl held a lock of hair in one hand, and the cover articles read that the contents promised, "Bouncier hair", "the best summer fashions" and "no more zits".
"What a load of crap…" she said, opening to a random page and effectively entertaining herself. "Listen to this…" she said a loud to no one at all. "'Mixed prints and faded jeans are quietly cool-but bold bangles turn up the volume!' Really? Some pieces of metal on my wrists are supposed to make my outfit better? Who reads this trash?"
Helga continued flipping through the pages until she came to what was supposed to be some kind of advice article. Helga began reading it as a joke, but started reading aloud, as she told herself, to fill the silence of the tiny apartment.
"Our outer appearance says a lot about how we feel on the inside, but more importantly, it has the power to change our feelings. When you hide in your clothes, it's like telling the world, 'Don't care about me, because I don't either.' But putting in effort to look your best has the reverse effect- it can actually make you feel more confident, because the positive feedback you get can be a powerful reminder that you are worth the attention. Giving yourself a makeover isn't vain; it shows the world that you care about you."
Helga rested the magazine down, but snorted at the thought. Whoever heard of clothes and makeup making you feel better. Not for Helga Pataki. She managed to wear, more or less, the same clothes year after year, and no one gave her any trouble. Girls knew better than to mess with her and guys respected her. She didn't need flowy dresses or bouncy, shiny hair to prove that.
Retreating from her perch atop the bed, Helga went down the hall to the bathroom. Though it was not pink, it was a shockingly bright shade of blue, which reminded Helga of a popular glass-cleaning solution. As she passed by the mirror, she raised an eyebrow at her reflection. Her hair was in disarray, her limp, dirty blonde locks falling out of her low ponytail. Her skin was mostly clear, aside from a few pimples and some very faint freckles across her round nose. Parting her lips she inspected her teeth; all straight from the braces she had to endure for most of her middle school career. She busied herself with contorting her face for a few minutes, before stepping back.
Under the navy blue hooded sweatshirt, and faded jeans, she tried to imagine her body in something more form-fitting. She knew her arms were muscular, from the sports she engaged in, and the rest of her body was equally toned. She was told, many times that she was thin for her height, but she paid little attention to that. Overall, she was proportionate, and refused to pay much attention to the clothes she threw on.
Staring into the sink, she thought about what a change would do to her. She tried it once; in the fourth grade. She locked herself in her family bathroom for hours with little more than a magazine, and Miriam's old makeup, and emerged looking like a crazed ex-basketball player, minus the wedding gown. But, something had to have motivated her to try it. Was it the teasing from the guys? Being left out? Or maybe, she expected something amazing to happen….maybe she expected Arnold to see her, and stop in his tracks, sweep her into his arms and declare passionate love to her.
"Helga, I'm home!" she heard Olga say from the other side of the door. Helga shook the delusions from her head, for the moment, and abandoned the bathroom.
"What'd you do while I was gone?" Olga asked, fluttering around the kitchen and living room like a bird on crack.
"Not much…hey, I found some…magazines in my nightstand-"
"Did you like them?" Olga asked, holding her palms together as if praying to the gods of cheap blonde highlights, and grinning foolishly. "I was thinking we could have a fun little makeover day!"
"Uh, I kind of don't read those kinds of magazines, Olga. And I don't think I want a makeover, or anything. That's not really my style." Helga said, jamming her hands into the pocket of her sweatshirt and shrugging.
"I know, I just thought…., oh, baby sister." she said, lunging forward and enveloping Helga in an awkward and unwanted hug. "I just want you to be happy."
'Happy? I'm happy.' Helga thought, wiggling out of the hug. "Don't sweat it, Olga." she said, finally breaking free. "I'm happy."
"Oh really?" Olga said, putting her hands on her thin hips.
"Yeah, really." Helga shot back.
"How was your Junior Prom?"
"I didn't go."
"Did your boyfriend think it was stupid?"
"I didn't have one."
"You have one now?"
"I don't need one."
"Oh, Helga!" Olga said, her voice squeaking again. Helga always knew when Olga was getting frustrated; her voice would get so high, only canines could hear it. "You're missing my point!"
"What point? That I need a boyfriend, and frilly pink prom dress and the IQ of a houseplant to be happy?" Helga shouted back.
Olga took a deep breath, and gripped her sister's shoulders. "Look, Helga. You're really special. Amazing even. But if you don't care about yourself, you can't expect anyone else to."
Helga curled her lip again, and averted her gaze from her sister's. 'In retrospect,' she asked herself, 'what could it hurt?' Olga would get to have the life-sized doll she always had in Helga, and she might find some information of value. But Olga had the tendency to run wild with ideas, and was sure to go overboard if not reigned in.
"Two conditions…" she began, holding her index finger up to stress her point.
"Anything." Olga breathed, already excited at the prospect of spending time with her sister.
"We're doing this by my rules. If I say no, its no, got it?"
"And second…I'm getting all that pink out of my room. Tonight."
A/N: Hi all! Man, I missed this. Writing, I mean. Let me explain a thing or two.
1) I've been a really crappy updater, but you knew that, right? I know, I know…The Compromise. I'm at the height of the drama! I gotta gear up for it….for five more months. I'm kidding. I'm getting together with my people, and we're working on it. All in good time. Just be patient.
2) I wrote this story in my head a long time ago. See, when I started writing fan fiction back in 2003 (Oh gracious, I've been writing fan fiction for 8 years. I'm like some ancient, old, relic. There are kids writing fan fiction who've only seen Hey Arnold on Youtube or at 4 in the morning, because when they were kids, it wasn't airing anymore…I feel old. Someone fetch me some prune juice and Centrum Silver), there was what I call a "plotline trend". It basically means everyone and their mom was writing the same story. And the trend was: Helga moves away/leaves for the summer/goes off somewhere, and returns to school smokin' hot and wearing things you can only find at Fredrick's of Hollywood and on the sale rack at Hot Topic. I'm serious; it was…horrible. She was all sleazy, and she had like, gigantic basoomas, and all the boys wanted to do the horizontal tango with her. And, I was like, "What is this crap? That's not Helga!"
So, I thought up this story, and have been waiting to start it for a while. I think this'll springboard me back into regular updation. And I'm liking it so far. Don't be thrown off too much by this first part. This first chapter is…ehh, but it's gonna get good. Thanks for reading!
P.S. Oh, and the fic is based off of an early, mostly unknown song called "one of The Boys", by Katy Perry, who on any given day bugs the crap out of me (if I have to hear 'California Girls' ever again for the remainder of my life, heads will roll…), but this song is kind of nice. You want some quality tunes, you better crank up that Dragonette. They rawk.