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Queen Geeks in Love - Chapter 1: The Big Date – Part I (or the Drag Queen Medusa)

 I’m staring into the glass-smooth surface of my best friend’s swimming pool. It is June, the most wonderful month of the year, the month in which school stops and summer begins. June, pool, best friend, swimming pool. How could anyone possibly have a problem?

    And yet, I do. And the problem can be summed up in one other word: boyfriend.

    Let’s examine the word “boyfriend.”  What are its major components? “Boy”—an immature, underdeveloped youth of the male persuasion—and “friend”, a word used to describe a companion, somebody with whom you share mutual affection and trust. Can those two things truly blend together?

    Unfortunately, I am starting to find out. But let me start at the beginning: I am a self-described geek, I live with my dad (a Star Trek geek and scientist) and I was totally happy to keep to myself, play with my robot, and date any cute boy who thought he could talk me into sin. Most of them figured out that I was better at talking than they were, so the sin didn’t happen, which was very frustrating for them and led to some hot rumors about me being a lesbian. This was mostly because I started to hang out with Becca Gallagher, a new girl who spikes her hair and tweaks the nipples of any guy who gives her grief. But the lesbian thing is not true, as my current boyfriend, Fletcher, will tell you. And there’s that word again.

       In our freshman year, Becca came to Green Pines High school, home of the Puking Panthers football team.  I suspected that Becca was unique the minute I saw the huge dragon tattoo that covers the outside of her entire left calf, and I wasn’t wrong about that; we started the Queen Geek Social Club because she wanted to “find others of our kind.” Why? Because Becca has a thing for global domination, and she thought that if we started a club, we’d be able to amass enough girl bodies to storm the White House and effect great social change—okay, really, it was all about Twinkies. We collected Twinkies to send to super skinny super models, this got us on television, and from there we sort of took over the school dance, which went from being a lame event with papier mache palm trees to an unforgettable night of piracy, plunder, and one of those kisses that is simply etched in your memory. The kiss belonged to me, and to Fletcher, the aforementioned boyfriend.

     I should clarify that the boyfriend thing didn’t happen right away. Our relationship actually started with me beating him about the head and shoulders with a pillow. I know that sounds kind of mean, but actually, in context, it makes lots of sense. I had met a Norwegian guy at a bowling alley, dropped a ball on his foot, thought he liked me, but then, when we went on a date, he brought a girl. Fletcher happened to be in the car with all of us; he was just one of those casualties of war they’re always talking about. I don’t think the pillow thing inflicted any permanent damage, although he does twitch when we sit on the sofa.

     My trauma involving the word “boyfriend” begins June 12, the day after senior graduation, the official start of my official sophomore year. Becca and I  are at Becca’s mansion (and I’m not kidding about that), lounging around her pool as the late afternoon Southern California sun peeks out from behind a cloud. It’s really too cold to be swimming, but it’s the principle of the thing. It’s summer. We’ve gotta swim, even if we look like we’re wearing goose pimple bikinis.

     “If you want my opinion—” Becca starts.

     “I don’t.”

     She ignores me as if her heavy-duty sunglasses block sound as well as light. “If you want my opinion, I think you’re afraid.”

    I rub suntan lotion on my pasty legs even though I feel like I should be looking for a parka.   “Afraid of what?”

     She takes off the sunglasses, sits up in her lounge chair, and fixes me with an “oh, please” stare. Her short-cropped, bleached hair stands up in lots of individual spikes, and the tips are currently dyed royal blue, one of our school colors. “Afraid of actually being with someone who might be right for you.”

     “That doesn’t even make sense,” I mutter, trying to distract myself by vigorously rubbing lotion between my toes. Has anyone ever had sunburned toes?

    “No?” She stretches and squints sideways at me. “Here’s what I think. You like being a loner. You don’t want some perfect guy messing that up.”

     “Perfect!” I snort. “He’s about as far from perfect as—well—as anyone.” I don’t know how anyone can be expected to defend bad dating choices while wearing a bikini in sub-Arctic weather. Instead of listening, I decide to count the number of tiles on the bottom of her pool.

     Becca knocks on my head with a toy shark grabber stick. “Hello! Are you paying any attention?”

     “Sure I am.” That’s a lie. I’m desperately trying not to pay attention, actually. Why would I do this to my best friend? Because I don’t want to have this conversation.

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