One of The Boys
"So over the summer something changed.
I started reading Seventeen, and shaving my legs.
I studied lolita religiously...
I walked right into school
and caught you staring at me…"
Helga sat in the driver's seat of Olga's car, staring at the series of brick buildings she was supposed to be walking into. She released a sigh and contemplated making a run for it. The first day of school used to be easy for her: jeans, t-shirt, hoodie, cereal, bus, check schedule, classes, sign up for fall sports, lunch, more classes, bus, home. Olga's itinerary for her day, however was entirely different.
Instead of waking twenty minutes before her bus was set to arrive, Helga woke up at a staggeringly early four o'clock in the morning for her "beauty regimen". Olga stayed the night with her parents and Helga, to make sure that Helga would be perfectly prepared for her first days back at school, or as she titled it, "Her Grand Debut". Helga didn't know what she was debuting, aside from new clothes, slightly shorter and layered hair, and uncomfortable shoes. As for her personality, she saw little difference in it from the summer's beginning. She and Olga were on better terms; she found that when she gave Olga expressed limits, she was much more tolerable than if she was set loose into the world with only her own delusions and ideas to guide her. With a fixed plan, she was more organized and less maddening.
Helga pulled her white skirt down, doing little good in covering her legs, and opened the door.
'Here goes nothing...'
The first five words Helga received from her sister on day one of the morning of their "makeover outing", would have been fighting words had she not cooled her anger and mentally prepared herself for a day out with Olga:
"Is that what you're wearing?"
Helga blinked, perplexed, and looked at her outfit. The day was warm, so instead of her normal grey or navy hooded sweatshirt, she covered her Ray Lewis jersey and jeans with a black zip-up track jacket. A pair of black converses finished off her outfit, and although not ready for a cover shoot for Preteen Miss magazine, she thought she looked decent enough for the public.
"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" she asked.
"It's not appropriate for shopping." Olga said, cocking her head to the side like a Yorkshire Terrier. Olga, on the other hand, was clad in a bright yellow cardigan, grey camisole and white Capri pants.
"There's a uniform for shopping?" Helga scoffed, sarcastically.
"Not really, but, if you're going to try on clothes, it's going to be difficult if you have to take off those jeans and jacket every time you go into a fitting roo-"
"Trying on? I thought we were just going to go buy some clothes. Why do I have to try things on?" Helga asked, suddenly finding Olga's idea to be nothing short of entirely horrifying. Trying on dozens of clothes in a room the size and sanitation of a public bathroom, under harsh, bright lights. 'Thanks, but no thanks.' she thought.
"Helga, you can't just buy clothes. How will you know if they fit? Or if they accentuate your strengths? And what if they don't go with your normal color palette? And what if-"
"Okay, I get it. I'll try on a few things. Geesh, you're worse than some of those psycho magazines in there." Helga said, heading for the door. She hoped that the short trip to the mall would be void of any sisterly bonding that Olga liked to spring on her at any given time.
As soon as they entered the car, Olga went on a thirteen-minute monologue about how excited she was that Helga wanted to spend time with her, and how close this trip would make them and how she "promisepromisepromised" that Helga would have so much fun she'd be dying to go back to school to wow everyone. Helga, in contrast, leaned her forehead on the cool, glass window and watched the apartment complex turn into the freeway, wondering why she let Olga do this to her.
She had to admit, the idea had some potential. If all went well, or not abysmally, she might escape with a tip or two that could prove useful. Although Olga was wrong about her being 'happy' though alone, and usually caked in dirt and sweat, Helga wouldn't mind having a more diverse crowd of friends. Sure the guys were nice; they rarely judged, she could tease without offending them, and none of them were quite stupid enough to try and pick a fight with her.
At the same time, there were moments; after school, when she was alone, and wondered what it would be like to have some friends to call, to hang out. Or, after a game, when the guys on her team granted her pats on the back and high fives, she sometimes wondered how she'd be treated if she dressed and acted like the girls that hung around the bleachers, and paid little attention to the game.
'I'd get treated like trash.' she thought angrily, mad that her mind would so much as wander there. The girls that boys (or at least the boys she knew) were attracted to had so little to offer, in her opinion anyway. Hardly a one could quote Jane Eyre, let alone know who Charlotte Bronte was. Fewer could read back the last five Superbowl Champion's quarterbacks. And it was unlikely that too many could form a coherent sentence without copious use of the word "like". Helga was all for being a smart, educated, take-no-prisoners woman, she just wished she had a peer or two to share that with.
"Here we are!" Olga sang, pulling up to the crowded mall and quickly finding a parking spot.
"Oh, joy." Helga said, opening her door and following Olga. Instead of skipping ahead like she expected, Olga, stalled and immediately latched onto her sister's arm tightly.
"This is going to be the funnest day ever!"
"This is the worst day ever."
"Oh, it can't be that bad." Olga said from the other side of the door. "Come on out."
"No. I look like a fool. A fool." Helga said, tugging again on the bottom hem of her white hoodie. It was the only thing Olga let her leave on of her old wardrobe, which Olga now affectionately (not really) deemed "The Unmentionables". Under the hoodie, Helga wore a green sweater of soft cotton, and despite it being the only stitch of clothing that Olga let her pick out on her own, she knew that revealing it would be abandoning her freedom, and truly giving Olga the power over, if nothing else, her wardrobe for the week.
Helga nudged the door open with her toe, hoping to see an empty hallway. Maybe she could step out and run back in without Olga actually seein-
"Finally!" Olga sang, as she violently pulled the door open and revealed her sister to a seemingly endless row of perfectly pristine mirrors.
"Good gravy, Olga! Quit screaming!"
Olga ignored her and pulled her by the shoulders, placing her so close to a mirror that her breath was causing it to fog up.
"Look at you! Turn around…" Olga commanded, practically shaking from excitement, and drawing the attention of two store associates, clad in all black and wearing the same look of exhilaration as Olga. 'Though theirs', Helga thought, 'probably has something to do with the ridiculous price tag attached to the side of her pure, white skirt. "Look at that! You actually have a nice butt!"
"Hey!" Helga barked. "Rule #17: No talking about my butt. Under any circumstances. Ever. No."
"Are we on Rule #17 already?"
"Gotcha." Olga said, flashing her sister a corny thumbs up and wink. "But look at you! This totally-"
"This really accentuates your awesomely long legs."
"They're not that long." Helga said, tilting her head to one side. 'They're not bad, though.' She thought, allowing herself to be a little vain.
"With a good tan, they'll be-"
"Stop interrupting me, you're breaking up the story."
"Nevermind. Yes, a tan. You're so ghostly pale." Olga said. It wasn't until Helga looked at Olga's hand against hers and noticed that Olga sported a healthy, light brown tan.
"I'm not that pale." Helga said. She normally spent her summer playing sports, which, in addition to getting some sun, darkened her skin from skidding in grassy fields and wiping mud on any clean surface. "And I'm not getting sprayed with orange Kool-Aid just to get a tan."
"Of course not. Excuse me?" Olga said, alerting the attention of a nearby associate. "Where are your swimsuits?"
Helga's eyes widened, and followed Olga to the swimsuit section, wondering if she'd taken any hallucinogens before consenting to the shopping trip with Olga.
"Oh, this one is adorable!" Olga said, holding up a blue bikini.
"Why was it run through a paper shredder? Did it have secret government information written on it?"
"What about this?" Olga said, handing her a bright pink one-piece with a considerable amount of the stomach area missing.
"Perfect. Then my super pale belly will show and everyone who sees me will think it's the full moon, and then a werewolf will come and try to eat me." Helga said, flipping angrily through the rack of brightly colored bathing suits. When Olga didn't respond or offer another choice, Helga looked up, and found Olga replacing the one she'd pulled out and quietly move to another rack.
To someone that didn't know Olga, the tiny sniff would have gone unnoticed. But after hearing that (and knowing the uncontrollable sobs and mascara tears that could follow), Helga made her way over, and stood behind her sister for a moment. She wasn't trying to hurt Olga's feelings or seem unthankful. They just seemed to be working on different wavelengths.
"I have an idea." Helga offered. When Olga turned around, Olga's nose was already pink. "How about…you pick one out for me, and I'll pick one out for you, and we can go to the beach sometime."
Olga sniffed again and smiled. "That sounds like fun…what's your color palate?"
Helga curled her lip in confusion. "uh….ROY G. BIV?"
Olga snorted in her laughter and Helga knew the bad mood was already gone. Olga was like that, she could be sad one minute, but it didn't take much for her mood to skyrocket back up. "No, silly. What colors look best on you?"
"…I don't know. Just pick whatever you want."
"You trust me that much?" Olga said.
'Great job, Helga. You took her from sad cry to happy cry.' "Sure…" Helga said, pasting on
A wide smile for her eccentric sister. 'How badly can she screw up?'
"So, who did I do?" Olga squealed, sitting up.
"It's…modest." Helga said, trying to find something nice about he barely-there garment she was currently wearing in front of far too many people. She actually didn't mind the print either. It was dark blue gingham, and despite being a two piece bathing suit, she didn't feel like she was naked. The top went straight across her chest, not dipping low like most of the swimsuits on the beach, but did so with an unnecessary piece of frill on the top and bottom seam of her bikini top. The same frill was longer and girlier, circling around her hips making her look like she was wearing a skirted bottom, which she liked. It seemed like every other girl on the beach was competing to see how much of their butts they could show. "And the color is nice. Thanks Olga."
"I love mine! I've never worn orange, but this is so pretty! You should be a stylist, Baby Sister!" she said, enveloping her in a hug almost immediately. Olga did look amazing. The bathing suit was a simple style bikini, with no embellishment except a gold hoop on one hip and a matching dark orange sarong that came with the suit. The burnt orange only made Olga look like a suntanned goddess, and Helga felt her self-esteem momentarily shrink.
"I'm glad you like it." Helga said. She was trying to say something 'nice' to Olga at least once a day, and the more she did it, the easier it became. Every now and then she'd say two or three nice things and Olga would get teary eyed, and she'd want to hit her again. Most of the time, resisted the urge.
"So, how's Arnold?"
Helga jerked her head to her sister, who already laid herself back down on her pink flowered beach towel.
"He's…well." Helga responded, feeling herself blush a little. 'Why is she bringing him up now?'
"Do you guys talk?"
"Ugh…sure. We play baseball and stuff." Helga said. This was not a complete fabrication. She and Arnold had many exchanges during sports. Usually it was in the form of smack-talk or yelling football plays wit ridiculous names across a field, but Olga didn't exactly ask what kind of communication they had.
"Sports doesn't involve talking unless you're shouting 'touchdown' or something. I mean real talking. Like having a conversation." Olga said. Helga started wondering if she was rubbing of on Olga a little. Her snark was improving as of late.
"Sure. He's got a lot of friends, so it's not like we call up each other and gab about our nail polish or anything." Helga said.
"Does he have a girlfriend?" Olga asked, smiling.
"I don't know, maybe. What's with the questions? Are considering a career as a cougar? Because we're 17, and that's very, very illegal." Helga retorted.
"So, you do still like him…" Olga said, pushing her sunglasses up, and grinning.
Helga was sure of it. She was rubbing off on Olga. "What? No, I don't…I didn't…leave me alone!" Helga said, turning over on her towel and shifting sand onto her back. Stupid Olga. Stupid towel. Stupid sand.
"Oh don't be that way. I was just being nosy." Olga said, patting her arm and giggling behind her. "Here, lets do something fun. Wanna go swimming."
Helga imagined herself emerging from the water, looking like a blonde, wet rat, alongside Olga, who would probably materialize like Venus herself, riding an oyster shell will clouds of sea foam lifting her to the shore. "No thanks." she replied, looking across the beach, at a group of ten or so guys trying to erect a volleyball net. "Hey look." she said, pointing and forgetting Olga's earlier teasing.
"Let's go play volleyball." Helga suggested, standing up and swiping sand off her legs.
"Uh…we don't know those guys…" Olga said, standing up as well, but sounding nervous.
"Aren't you trying to make me social? Come on, we can at least ask." Helga said, shocking herself and pulling her sister along. She'd been stagnate too long on the beach anyway, and when something she could actually do reared its head, she was all too happy to try it out.
"Helga, I…" Olga said, stopping and looking at her sand covered toes. Her wide brimmed hat covered her face from view. "I never learned to play volleyball."
"Seriously?" Helga asked. Olga was actually without skill concerning something as easy as bumping a ball over a net? "It's easy. You just keep the ball of the sand. That's pretty much the only rule." Olga smiled and continued following her. Helga was excited enough to sprint, but wasn't sure if her current garment would support her through that much jostling. 'Not that there's much to support', she said to herself.
"Hey!" she shouted. When the guys saw them approaching, some stopped, some laughed, and only two walked to meet them. One of them was holding the volleyball under his arm. Helga motioned Olga to catch up.
"Hello there, can we help you?" one asked. He smiled when Olga walked up, and Helga discreetly rolled her eyes. He looked exactly like the kind of guys Olga would date; tall, well-built, chiseled face with an ego to match, and hoped that Olga wasn't blushing stupidly behind her. If Helga new anything, acting like a complete girlish blob wouldn't get them anywhere once the net was up.
"Are you guys playing volleyball?" Helga asked, getting to the point.
"Yeah." said the brunette guy behind Mr. American Gladiator. He was slightly shorter with tousled hair and a friendly smile. Helga tried to smile, but it came out as s nervous laugh. 'Olga's supposed to be the nervous giggler, not you!' she told herself. "We're just getting the net up."
"Do either of you ladies play?" the other man asked. In her mind, Helga named him Mr. Creep. Everything he said was just…creepy. Like a roach. Maybe she should call him Roach. Roach the Creep.
"I actually…um…" Olga began saying behind her, before Helga cut her off.
"My sister is kind of new, but I can play. We're actually gonna practice while you guys get the net set up, okay?" Helga snatched the ball from under his arm, before he could answer and moved a few yards away to practice. Olga followed and doubled her steps to walk alongside Helga, kicking up sand.
"Wow. I could never do that." Olga stated, bewildered.
"That! You were so confident! Where's that Helga when we go shopping?"
"It's sports, Olga. I don't have to worry about how I look, or my color palate. Enough shop talk, I'm going to show you how to play volleyball." Helga said, backing up and turning the ball over in her hands a few times. "I'm going to toss it to you, and you just hit it back, okay?" Once Olga nodded, Helga softly tossed her the ball. Olga spread her fingers out and batted at the ball. When she hit it, it went straight down to the sand.
"Ow! That hurts my fingers! Is it supposed to hurt?" Olga asked holding one hand in the other.
"No, but you're holding your hands wrong. Here, do this." she said, dropping the ball and showing Olga how to hold one hand in the other and hit the ball where her thumbs were joined. Tossing her the ball, she smiled when Olga bumped the ball straight up in the air and caught it.
"I did it!" she said, happily.
"See? It's not hard. Now, when you do that, and the ball goes straight up, try to move out of the way. One of your teammates will come up and spike it. Don't try to do any fancy stuff, just hit straight up and move."
Olga smiled, still holding the ball. "You're so smart." Olga said quietly. Helga shrugged, and took the ball from her sister.
"Are you guys ready?" Helga turned and saw Friendly Smile, as she called him. She was hoping to show Olga one other move, but walked over to where the guys were picking out teams. "We decided, to keep it fair, each team gets one girl."
Helga rolled her eyes again. They didn't actually expect either of them to be any good, just serve as eye candy for the game. If one team had both of them, they'd probably cry foul for having two disadvantaged players. 'We'll show them.' she thought.
As the picking began, she and Olga were picked first, then each of the guys. Roach the Creep picked Olga, and she noticed that when she took her sarong off, every other guy on the team made sure to watch her like a hawk. Helga felt a surge of protectiveness wash over her, wanting briefly to practice her Liam Neeson tactics on each one of them. A perky brunette, petite and orange-tanned walked over to Olga and offered to hold her sarong for her while she played. She and Olga exchanged some funny joke or something and then she left. Olga could literally make friends anywhere, half-naked and two minutes worth of volleyball education. The protective Helga was briefly overtaken by Slightly Jealous Helga.
"Are you two twins?" Helga hardly noticed that Friendly Smile was on her team and talking to her.
"No, she's my older sister." Helga said, her voice cracking. Did the air get dryer all of a sudden? What was wrong with her?
"I wouldn't have guessed. You guys look just alike. I'm Richard by the way. Don't call me 'Rich'. I hate it."
Helga found herself laughing, half out of his bluntness, and half that someone thought she and Olga looked alike. Sometimes she found it odd that she and her blindingly beautiful sister came from the same family tree.
"Nice to meet you Richard, Not Rich. I'm Helga. My sister is Olga."
"Wow. I thought all 'Olgas' and 'Helgas' were old and ugly with hairy moles." he joked.
"We are, actually. Once a year, our moles recede and we're fit to be seen in the daylight."
"I think I could learn to like moles."
Helga smiled, again, willing her face to stay as pale as possible. 'Crimeny, its getting warm out here…' she thought.
"You guys ready over there?" Roach said from across the net. Helga sneered at him and got into place. Helga was out to win, but she kept one eye on Olga at all times, discreetly giving her tips across the net. One the few occasions that they were both front and center at the net, she'd try to help Olga out when she could. After one extremely long set, Helga's team got the point because Olga tried to hit the ball over the net, and missed. She saw the look on her face, and wanted to tell her she at least tried, but not before an eruption of girlish laughter came from the sidelines. Helga looked and saw the same girl that was chumming it up with Olga a few minutes before, laughing at her.
"Hey." she said, her face against the net. "Don't worry about those bimbos. They're just jealous that they're not as good at volleyball as you." Helga joked.
"No, they're not." Olga said, blushing.
"I mean it. Roach the Creep has been staring at you the whole game. If he doesn't stop, I'm gonna pluck his eyes out." Helga threatened.
"Roach the Creep?", Olga asked, looking back. "Oh, Sam? Yeah, he's a real creep. I'm staying away from him."
The game ended not long after that. Helga's team won, after a few solid sets of showing the other team that the wasn't just there to giggle and flirt. Roach the Creep/Sam invited the two of them to a barbeque that night, but Olga declined, thanking them for the game. The sun was barely setting, but Olga didn't want to get stuck in traffic, and thought they should leave early and grab dinner on the way home. The girls retreated to their towels, and packed up. Helga zipped a light grey hoodie over her bathing suit and picked up their things to leave.
Walking off the beach grounds and toward the parking lot, Helga and Olga turned at the sound of their names. Helga smiled, without actually meaning to, when Richard not Rich approached, holding Olga's dark orange sarong in his hand. 'Of course,' she thought. 'The nice, cute guy tracks us down…to find Olga.' She shrugged her shoulders.
"You…forgot this." he said, thrusting his hand out to Helga, but not making eye contact with her.
"Thank you." Olga said, not looking at him either. Helga felt the strange urge to look back and forth between them both. Helga took the sarong for her sister, and smiled awkwardly.
"Yeah, thanks." she added.
"If you guys are coming back, we'd love to play again. The guys didn't think you could actually play. I mean, you did…play…but most girls don't. They'd rather just watch. Or tan." he said.
"We'll be here all summer. Won't we, Helga?"
"Yes…we will." Helga responded. 'How creepy do we sound right now? He's gonna think we're psychos!'
"Cool. I guess I'll see you around, Helga." he said, before turning and leaving.
While Olga and Helga loaded the trunk, Helga noticed her sister was still staring. And smiling. And it was creeping her out.
"I'm just thinking." Olga said, placing a hand on her hip. "Maybe I was wrong."
"That's the understatement of the century, Olga." Helga quipped. "But, what in particular are you wrong about?"
"You. You don't need to do anything differently." Olga replied.
"What are you talking about?"
"Hello? Were you paying attention just now?"
"Yes, he likes you!" Olga said, as if stating the obvious.
"He came all the way out here to give you my sarong! He wasn't even talking to me. And he said, 'See you around, Helga.'"
"Does that mean something in boy-speak?"
"It doesn't mean 'See you around, Helga and Olga', or 'See you around, two blonde girls, neither of whom I want to maybe see again or date'. It means he likes you. And you didn't it without a mini skirt, or high heels or anything. We may have to rethink your future shopping excursions."
"Second understatement of the century. You're on a roll, Olga."
"So are you, Baby Sister…" she said, as Helga handed her her sarong. A folded piece of paper fell in between them. "What's that?" she asked Helga, picking it up before Helga could tell her that she didn't know. Helga grew even more confused when her sister gasped at her.
"What? What is it?"
"Still think he doesn't like you?" Olga said, turning the paper over and showing Helga. In sideways handwriting, it said:
Richard (not Rich)
"I'm…I don't…" Helga began.
"You're turning very red, Baby Sister. I daresay…you're blushing."
"Shutup…" Helga said, rounding the car and smiling.
After that, the summer passed on much smoother. Olga ran the excursions to the mall less like an eccentric dictator and more like an overly concerned older sister (contrary to popular belief, they are NOT the same thing). Helga learned how to give her input without directly insulting Olga and her tastes. Unfortunately some of the things Olga bought her prior to their understanding were still apart of her wardrobe, one of which was the "White Skirt of Doom" as Helga called it, the same one she was wearing now. She figured she would wear it once, on the first day, when no classes really required her to participate heavily and donate it to Goodwill after that.
The school parking lot, was littered with other students, but none that she knew well enough to be truly impressed by her change in looks. Slamming the door of the car, she made her way through the throngs of friends, hugging each other after a long summer, cliques separating and looking for their own in the crowds, and a few teachers and supervisors.
To her left a group of skateboarders were using their limited space to practice tricks. She was entirely blindsided when a wayward skateboard rolled at her feet, and in an effort to move backwards, she fell onto the person walking behind her.
"Excuse me! Watch OUT!" The voice behind her said loudly, getting the attention of everyone around her.
"Sorry!" Helga said, just as loudly, getting to her feet and turning around to confront the person she bumped into.
Rhonda was still scowling, but straightened up slightly when she, not so discreetly, gave Helga the once over. "Here it comes…' she thought.
"Nice skirt. Watch where you're going next time." Rhonda said, leaving her.
Helga waited for the crowd to dissipate before moving on. 'Great, Rhonda thinks I have a nice skirt. This is exactly how I imagined this going.'
If who liked whatever she was wearing was a factor in her day, Helga was very glad to have packed a pair of jeans and sweatshirt in her backpack before leaving the house.
Hello Friends! Can I even call you friends anymore? I've been gone so long, we're more like acquaintances. Boo. That's my fault. Sorry. I really am. 2012 was a crazy year. Let me break it down for you:
January: Nothing really happened.
February: I got Engaged! Whoot!
March-July: Wedding planning, helping my best friend plan her wedding, angry family members, angry Future family members, angry friends who think they're more than friends, fiance's grandmother dying (see my fic "Look Up")
August: I got married! Whoot! Honeymoon in the Bahamas!
September: Back to reality…not so great
October-November: learning how to be a wife, cooking, cleaning, moving, et cetera
December- New Job!
So yeah…here we are…2013. I;m going to see how this works. Maybe be one of those old, fanfic writers who only updates once a year. But they're usually wickedly awesome. I'll work on that too.
Bad news, however for The Compromise…I'm totally uninspired. I haven't been in a high school for almost 7 years, and trying to write it as I remember it is like writing historical fiction. Its mentally taxing. I'll try not to give up, though. I hope you liked this fic, though. It's kind of fun and simple.
Also, Richard is my husband. He doesn't play volleyball. He's a huge nerd. I mean, a bigger nerd than me. He doesn't write fan fiction, but he loves comic books and superheroes and Lord of the Rings and Lost and BattleStar Galactica. He actually got me to love BSG. And he also got me all the seasons of Hey Arnold on DVD. So yeah…nerdlove.
I love you! Bye!