A glass of crazy, p.26
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       A Glass of Crazy, p.26

           Tina Laningham
 
I sat in my seat, stewing, while Rafa stared at the top of his desk. Kids whispered to one another, but this time it wasn't me they were snickering at; it was Rafa. My anger shifted from Rafa to the other kids because I knew how it felt to be publicly humiliated, to feel lower than a worm.

  Mr. Oliver paced through the aisles, bouncing a tea bag in a cup. Some kids searched for their journals while others stood in line at the pencil sharpener. I was thinking about how nobody really cared when girls had sex with each other, but for boys it was different. Mr. Oliver must have been reading my mind because after everyone got settled, he said, "Today I want us to think about two words: double standard. Raise your hand if you know what this means."

  I really didn't feel like joining in on this public discussion. Rafa was, after all, my ex-boyfriend, which somehow made me feel humiliated all over again. At the beginning of the year, I told myself that if this ever happened, I would stand up for Rafa. But I didn't know Rafa and I would end up falling in love and even so, I never in a million years thought he would ever cheat on me. As I sat in silence, waiting to get out of this annoying class, someone finally raised their hand and said, "I think double standard means?um, like you have bi standards."

  The whole class burst out laughing. I turned to Rafa, who still sat like a statue without even a teensy flinch. I knew that stoic look because that was me on the first day of school. The notes, the gossip, the mean pranks, all the things that plagued me in the first semester flooded my mind, but the worst betrayal of all had been Megan's. In my darkest hour, Rafa had been the one person in the world who was on my side.

  I scooched my desk over and bumped it up against Rafa's. Then gently, I reached for his hand and held it through the rest of the class period. Rafa never moved and Mr. Oliver left me alone since I had found a more important use for my hand than writing. When class was over, Rafa stood up and that's when I saw the purple bruise around his eye. Without a word, he walked out the door. Rafa was in safe mode.

  After school, Megan was the last person I wanted to hang out with. The events of the day stirred my anger toward her all over again. Oh bloody hell; she was coming right toward me. I took a deep breath and smiled for one reason and one reason only. Megan still had access to alcohol.

  "Want to come over?" Megan asked.

  "I absolutely do," I replied. That was easy.

  When I called Mom, she seemed happy that Megan and I had rekindled our friendship, even though her own friendship with Mrs. Applegate was pretty much over. As we walked down the sidewalk, Megan said, "Poor Rafa-and you. Ohmygod."

  "It's not like I didn't know he was gay," I said.

  "You knew?"

  I put on my most nonchalant face. "I figured it out at the beginning of the year. He's the one who didn't know."

  "Why didn't you tell me?"

  Sometimes Megan needed time for her mind to catch up with the words that came out of her mouth.

  "Nevermind," she said. "Hey, I'm really sorry about all that stuff at the beginning of the year."

  "You owe me," I said with a smirk.

  Megan took off the necklace her father had given to her for Christmas and stuffed it in her pocket, but Mrs. Applegate wasn't even home when we walked into the foyer. My eyes went straight to the well stocked liquor cabinet in the parlor.

  "Come on, let's go to my room." Megan pulled my sleeve and trudged upstairs.

  I followed her, trying to figure out if Mrs. Applegate would notice that a whole bottle of vodka was missing.

  Megan turned on the song that we used to sing together about being bad and not caring about anything. We immediately started singing at the top of our lungs and at the end of the song, we both fell back on the bed, laughing.

  "Let's drink some vodka and orange juice," I said, like it was a random thought.

  Megan's eyes got wide and then a smile crept over her face.

  Scrambling downstairs, we giggled all the way to the liquor cabinet. Megan picked up a half empty bottle of vodka and lifted it high like she'd won a trophy. I had my eye on the full bottle that stood right behind it. While casing the rest of Mrs. Applegate's supply, I told Megan about my method of refilling the bottle with water so her mom wouldn't notice we'd had some.

  "Please," Megan said, "she'll think she drank it. My mom gets annihilated like every night."

  With a glint in my eye and pep in my step, I followed Megan to the kitchen. While she filled two glasses with ice, I grabbed the orange juice and vodka and led the way back to her room.

  She set the glasses on the nightstand and I filled them half full of vodka. Megan poured orange juice on top and we sprawled out on our stomachs across the bed. I took a big gulp and closed my eyes. The liquid went down sending feelings of warmth through my entire body. Like a fire breathing dragon, alcohol fumes burned out my nostrils. My inner dragon was hungry and I needed to feed her. I touched the glass to my lips and swallowed more fire.

  Megan was making a sour face when I opened my eyes. "Clearly you're a vodka virgin." I grinned. "Try it again."

  Megan finally got used to the taste and it didn't take long to finish off the bottle since it was only half full. I may have had more.

  "So what was with you and the triple Ps?" I asked.

  "I dunno." Megan furrowed her brow.

  "You're name doesn't even begin with a P." I nudged her. "That should have been your first clue."

  "At least my boyfriend's not gay," she said.

  "You have a boyfriend?"

  Megan reached for her pad and touched the friendworld icon. "I'm just saying, if I did have a boyfriend, he wouldn't be gay."

  Someone had posted photos of newly spray painted lockers on friendworld. The one next to the science lab definitely belonged to Rafa and in huge letters they had written: FAG. There were no context clues to identify the locker in the second photo, but since they'd written FAG HAG on it, I knew the locker was mine.

  "Oh," said Megan. "That is so wrong!"

  My halfhearted smile must have told Megan what I was thinking.

  "That wasn't me," she said. "The triple Ps took that photo and painted Ghetto Girl on your locker."

  "Yeah, but you were on their side."

  "Well, yeah but now I'm on your side."

  "Alright," I said. "Prove it."

  Megan stared at me, waiting.

  "Help me stand up for Rafa."

  She looked me square in the eye and said, "Done."

  I didn't exactly have a plan, but whatever we were going to do, it needed to be magnificent. "Let's have a rally," I said, "a massive school rally."

  "A stop gay discrimination rally," Megan said.

  "No, turn it around."

  "You mean don't stop gay discrimination?" Megan looked perplexed. "Why would we do that?"

  "No, no," I said. "Instead of anti-discrimination, we'll be pro-love."

  Megan's face lit up. "We'll have it on Valentine's Day!"

  "Holy crap, that's perfect," I said, "but it's not enough."

  "Huh?"

  I peered sideways at Megan. "I'm gonna need that other bottle of vodka so I can think about it."

  Downstairs, the door slammed.

  Megan rolled her eyes. "Mom."

  I tossed the empty vodka bottle in the trash and flung my backpack over my shoulder.

  "That vodka bottle," Megan stuttered. "My mom, she'll see it."

  I retrieved the bottle from the trash and zipped it in my backpack. "I'll smuggle it out," I said with a grin.

  Mrs. Applegate pretty much hated everyone in my family, which was fine because it was mutual. While Megan distracted her in the kitchen, I sneaked out the front door, and on the way out, I stuffed the full bottle of vodka in my backpack, too. All the way home, I beamed like a hunter who had sacked her prey. A day that had started off horribly was ending quite nicely.

  Back in the safety of my room, I sat on the bed and tilted the vodka bottle up against my lips. The sweet fire burned going down and left an afterglow of pure inner
peace that made me feel whole. I don't know whether it washed away my stress or just made me not give a crap, but either way, I could focus on being a productive, living, breathing human again. I took another swig. If Megan and I were going to pull off a gay rights rally at Marconi High School, it had to be big.

  The one thing Megan did exceedingly well: public relations. Never make an enemy of a person like that. I really wanted to forgive her completely for what she had done to me at school. And half of my heart did forgive her because I truly understood how she felt when her father just packed up and left. But the other half, no. The old saying, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" made perfect sense.

  Okay, that was settled. Megan would be in charge of public relations.

  Now for my part-the leader. We needed a celebrity, someone really famous. I swallowed more vodka. God I was brilliant. But who could I get? When Dad was here, famous people paraded in and out of our lives, like?like?oh bloody hell, I can't even think of a comparison right now. But they came to promote Dad's causes. Dad was a frigging celebrity magnet. I picked up the phone and called Dad.

  "Hey baby cakes," Dad said as if no time had passed since the last time we talked, which I couldn't even remember when that was.

  "I need your help," I said and then realized I probably should have said "hello" first. Oh well.

  "Sure baby," he said with his usual confidence. "Whatcha need?"

  "I need a celebrity."

  Silence.

  "Are you there?" I asked.

  "I'm listening," he said. "Go ahead."

  I'm not sure what I said next-something about how my boyfriend got caught having backstage boy sex and how Megan had proven her knowledge and expertise in the field of public relations at my expense, and how I was going to take these two negatives and make a positive by organizing the biggest gay rights rally the state of Texas has ever seen. "And that's why I need a celebrity," I said.

  After a brief pause, Dad said, "I'll see what I can do."

  And then he said something about how he loves me. And then he hung up.

  I'll see what I can do??? I needed to know definitely, not I'll see what I can do. I mean, God! I took another swig. I never could count on Dad.

  With music playing, I scrolled through friendworld, but it was boring, so I sent Megan a text.

  Abby: getting a celebrity for the rally

  Megan: who?

  My head melted into the pillow and closed my eyes.

  Since the pounding in my head the next morning was less than usual, I poured some vodka into a water bottle and stuffed it in my backpack. I knew Megan would interrogate me endlessly, wanting to know the identity of the celebrity, but I was still in shock over the fact that I had even called Dad in the first place. Part of me said, "what were you thinking, you idiot!" and the other part said, "glad you finally got some balls, girl!" I decided to listen to person number two.

  I was right about Megan hounding me all day for a celebrity name. And Rafa became even more hostile after I told him about the rally. I'd said I was doing it anyway-for all gay people. "Everything's not about you!" I'd shouted. Good thing I'd brought the vodka.

  As Valentine's Day drew near, the whole celebrity thing really started stressing me out. Either Dad was in or he was out. Late one night-after I drank a six-pack of courage that I'd talked some man into buying for me on the way home from school-I called Dad.

  "Hey baby cakes," he said. "How's my favorite girl?"

  He forgot. That's just friggin' great.

  "You were supposed to get me a celebrity," I said. "Remember?"

  "I did. I told you, I got Phillip Gentry."

  "Phillip Gentry, like the Houston Pistols Phillip Gentry?" My voice cracked.

  "Yeah, baby. I told you last week,"

  Okay, Dad must have been drunk and thought he'd called me because I would have remembered that.

  "You don't remember talking to me about it?"

  "Oh, yeah, I remember now." Dad was totally tripping.

  "You have the time and place yet?" Dad asked.

  "Valentine's Day," I said, "at Marconi High School."

  "I know that, sugar. What time? Where are y'all havin' the rally?"

  I hadn't thought of that.

  "I told you I need to know ASAP." Dad sounded impatient. "He has a busy schedule."

  "Okay, um, after school," I said. "Three-thirty on the front steps of the school."

  "Gotcha," Dad said. "He'll be there. I'll make the call now." And poof he was gone.

  I had to give Dad some credit. He may be an irresponsible alcoholic who forgot to call me, but at least he came through with his promise. I sent Megan a text.

  Abby: I got a celebrity

  Megan: Who???

  Abby: Phillip Gentry

  Megan: The basketball star???

  Abby: Yup

  Megan: Omg omg omg

  I tossed the phone aside-a slam dunk. I polished off the inch of beer that remained in the last bottle and got under the covers. Damn I was good.

  - 27 -

 
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