Rule 3 Never choose a best friend you actually like

Rule 3
Never choose a best friend you actually like

I stopped in the girls’ room to try to bush out my hair before my first class.

I loved the girls’ room. I always found comfort in the way sounds echoed off the tiled walls. There was peace here, except, of course, when two girls were fighting over some guy who was usually not the least bit interested in either one of them. Or when somebody with a tin ear broke out in song, thinking the acoustics of the room would make their voice sound human. When I was a freshman, I spent hours in the girls’ room. It was my getaway from the classes I hated and routinely cut, which was pretty much all of them. I think I was going through some kind of phase. I was rebelling or something. Finally Assistant Principle Art Whit, whom everybody called Whitless, threatened to call my parents in for a meeting if I didn’t stop cutting classes. So that was pretty much that. The last thing I wanted was sympathy from the school’s administrative tight-ass. I could see him looking down his long thin nose at me, and saying, “I met with your parents, and, damn, is there anything I can do for you? I never realized… no wonder you hide in the bathroom all the time….” Really, I’d have to slit my wrists on the spot.

I stood by the sinks and bushed my hair. The bush kept getting caught in the tangles. Something fell out, and I freaked. It looked like a corn bug. It dropped in the sink and scuttled down the drain.

Just then, Trixie Allen walked into the bathroom. Trixie was sort of chubby, sort of blah, and sort of my best friend. I figured you should never pick a best friend you actually like. Then if you break up, you really don’t lose much. The flaw in my reasoning, though, is that until you break up you really don’t have very much. And that was Trixie—not very much.

She stood next to me and checked herself out in the mirror. I was surprised she even bothered. She had a hopelessly round face and dull brown eyes. Her hair was her best feature, and for that she had to pay big bucks to have styled and dyed reddish-brown, sometimes with a blue or green streak.

Her real name was Virginia, which she totally hated. She said it sounded as though she had been named after a state. Who knew why she thought Trixie was any better? To me, Trixie sounded like the name of an 83-year-old prostitute.

After checking herself out, she looked over at me in the mirror.

“Hey, what’s with you?” she asked. “You look a little green.”

“My parents drove me to school,” I said.

“No!” she gasped. “And you let them?”

I shrugged. “They insisted.”

“Don’t they know what they do to us?” she wondered.

She always talked as though her parents were as bad as mine. It wasn’t even close. In the defective-parent contest I couldn’t be beat.

Actually Trixie’s parents always seemed pretty normal to me. They bought Trixie a car for her sixteenth birthday, and not any twenty-year-old beater that smelled of chicken feathers, either. They bought her a new Camaro. I couldn’t even remember what I got for my sixteenth birthday. I was probably better off not remembering. Dad was not logical when it came to gifts. Last Christmas he installed a padded toilet seat in our bathroom. That was his gift to the family—no kidding. To him that was a big deal. Give the gift that keeps giving, or in this case keeps cushioning everybody’s butt. Merry Christmas! Ho, ho, ho!

“I can’t believe my parents,” Trixie said, rolling her eyes.

“Do tell,” I said, as though I could actually stop her.

“It’s, like, they want to be my buddies, you know? You ever have that problem?”

“Heaven forbid,” I said.

“My mom asked if she could go with to that end-of-summer bon fire. She was serious, too. Can you imagine your mom and you, together, at a bon fire?”

I tried. The only thing I knew for sure was that somebody would have ended up with a nice knit stocking cap. Everything else was a blur of knitting needles and burning wood.

“Nope,” I said.

“Yeah, me either.”

“Your parents aren’t so bad, Trix.”

“Please.”

“Really.”

“You have no idea,” she said. “But, you know, I don’t take anything from those people.”

“You go, girl.”

“Yeah.”

“No, I mean really, go,” I said, pointing at the door. “Get. Shoo-shoo-shoo.”

Her dull face seemed offended.

“Well, if you’re going to be that way…” She turned away. Before she walked out, she said, “You act like that, you ain’t going to have any friends.”

“Things are looking up all the time,” I said to myself.

I finished brushing my hair. It was as good as it was going to get. I paused and shut my eyes and enjoyed the last bit of silence that bathroom had to offer.

“Hey, I forgot to ask you…”

I ground my teeth, and opened my eyes. Trixie was poking her head back through the door.

“Didn’t I tell you shoo?”

“Are you signing up to work on the haunted house?” she persisted.

I failed to see why your friends always seem to be obsessed with what you’re going to do.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said irritably. “Now get! I need my quiet time.”

She left—again. I leaned back against the sink, and shut my eyes. Then, before I could feel any kind of tranquility, the class bell sounded loudly. I sighed, and grabbed my brush and books, and headed for my first class.

I just couldn’t seem to find the least bit of peace in my life. That was the entire problem. If I only had enough peace, everything would be just fine.

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