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Authors: Kirsten Smith

Trinkets

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For Hope Leon, the Original Moe

Oh, shoplifters of the world

Unite and take over

Shoplifters of the world

Hand it over

Hand it over

Hand it over…

—The Smiths,“Shoplifters of the World Unite”

“Her low self-esteem is my good fortune.”

This Must Be the Place

The people who say Portland is a place

where hipster thirtysomethings go to retire

clearly have never been to Lake Oswego,

my new hometown,

the burb of all burbs,

a suburban utopia of Audi-driving Type As,

a place so white they call it “Lake No Negro,”

a place where dads go

when they don’t care that their kid

was happier living in Idaho;

a place for dads to go when

they’re hoping a constant downpour of rain

will wash away the past like it wasn’t even there

and all they can see is a new job

and a pretty new wife

and a place

to send your daughter to be educated properly

and ignored resoundingly.

 Old and New

Of the six months I’ve been here,

the first two were friendless

until I met Rachelle.

She needed a bestie and I neededsomebody.

I met her by joining Yearbook,

which is a shortcut to friendship

if you’re one of the new people.

I’m old enough to realize who everyone is

but so new that no one knows my name.

I’m new enough not to understand

why they call Ken Headley “SpoogeBob,”

but I’m old enough to have heard that

Mr. Hart had to leave school

because he made a pass at Martin Pierce

in the bio lab.

I’m new enough to be clueless about

what the Interplanetary Analysis Club actually does,

but I’m old enough to realize

if there’s any guy

any girl

would kill to be with,

it’s Brady Finch.

 Human Anatomy

Brady is by his locker

and as he’s reaching up to get something,

the wordsinewcomes to mind—

probably because we just learned it

in our human anatomy discussion in biology.

I’m going to tell Mr. Lopez

that if he wants people

to really appreciate human anatomy,

he should show a slide of Brady Finch’s forearm

while saying the wordsinew

and I bet every girl’s C-minus would

suddenly sprout into a B-plus.

Brady zips up his backpack

and slams his locker shut

and his sinew comes down

and curls around its rightful place in the world:

the shoulder of Tabitha Foster.

WHAT THE MIRROR SAYS

I wonder what the point of being quote-unquote popular is, since sometimes it’s a highly annoying thing to be. For instance, idiots and plebeians come up to you all the time and invade your space with their inane greetings, bids for attention, and pleas for friendship.

“Hey, Tabitha…. How’s it going?… Whassup?… Love your earrings….” Etc. Etc. Barf. Space invasions are draining.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course I like it that people know me and I have the perks of getting away with whatever I want, but most of the time I would appreciate an iota of privacy.

Right now is one of the few times I actually receive said iota—hanging out in the bathroom with my besties. Sure, they’re talking about ridiculous things, but at least whenthey’re looking in the mirror, they’re not paying attention to me.

“I did an hour and a half of cardio last night,” Kayla offers, pushing her long black hair out of her eyes. I feel like Asian girls are the luckiest when it comes to their hair. They barely have any on their bodies, and then they have these supershiny, hassle-free manes.

“I’m pretty sure Coke Zero makes you constipated,” Taryn says, clutching her stomach.

A minute later Kayla squints at a bubbly blonde exiting the bathroom. “Serena Bell’s on the Pill,” she prattles. “Obvs that’s why her boobs are so humongo.”

“Mine are just a God-given gift,” Taryn says, fluffing her cleavage out of her low-cut Juicy Couture top. It’s true; her C-cups are an asset, and she sure as shit uses them as one.

Fortunately, for once they aren’t barraging me with questions like “How’s Brady?” and “What are we doing tonight?” because they’re so busy reapplying their makeup and primping and making faces at themselves in the mirror.

I’m a secret connoisseur of Mirror Faces. Every girl’s is different. My mom’s is a smoky glance, eyes half shut, all sexy and mysterious. Kayla’s is puckering her lips like she’s making a kiss, sucking in her cheeks. Taryn’s is chin down, with a saucy little half smile, angled in a way so she looks ten pounds lighter. Too bad none of them can pull it off in real life. That’s what sucks about a Mirror Face; you make it because it’s how you want other people to see you, but you’re the only person who actually gets to.

This is possibly a topic worthy of the LOHS blog, but who has time to write for a school blog, and just because Ms. Hoberman gave me an A in Creative Writing last semester, it does not mean I should be wasting my time blogging. Blogging is for people who don’t have social lives. And besides, Ms. Hoberman gives everybody an A. Hence, my signing up for her Shakespeare class this semester. The best are the field trips, where you get to hang out with your friends under the guise of extra credit. This year we only get a nighttime trip to the Northwest Classical Theatre Company to see a play, but next year, when we’re seniors, we go to Ashland for the weekend for the Shakespeare Festival. As in, an entire weekend where you get to hook up with your boyfriend and get drunk with your friends, and your parents foot the bill for the whole thing because they think you’re “learning.”

As for Brady, I’ve never seen his Mirror Face. His Everyday Face is pretty gorgeous, though. He has dimples and thick blond hair that he wears a little shaggy in the most adorable way, and he has moments of being truly charming. He’s not a big believer in deep conversations, but what guy is? And really, what’s the point? It’s easier not to have deep conversations. You end up talking endlessly about your feelings, not his, and then exposing yourself too much until you finally arrive at a place of inevitable heartbreak and disappointment.

Kayla finishes putting on her opalescent pink Dior lip gloss complete with plumper. Her lips look blindingly sticky.

“Can we go?” I ask. Marcia Abrahams keeps lookingover at me, and I have a hunch she’s gathering the courage to come over and ask me what I’m wearing to Spring Fling. She always asks me what I’m wearing, like clockwork, eleven weeks before any dance or social event, and then somehow ends up wearing something almost identical. Imitation is supposed to be a compliment, but copycats are annoying and should be ignored whenever you see them plotting their space invasion.

That said, one advantage of being on a high rung of the Lakers social ladder is that you and your like-minded peers get to have your lockers right next to one another. I don’t know how it happens that way, but it seems like the primo real estate always belongs to A-listers.

Kayla and Taryn and I saunter up to our bank of lockers to find Brady and his boys already there. Brady’s flexing his biceps as he gets a vitamin supplement out of his locker. He’s very into “peak performance.”

Jason Baines asks him, “Where were you last night?”

“Yeah,” Noah Simos adds. “You never showed up at Ferber’s.”

“Didn’t your mom tell you?” Brady says. “She had me come over to your house so she could suck my dick.”

Have you ever noticed how boys love making jokes about sleeping with each other’s mothers? Either that or discussing how gay the other person is. If you have a penis, you apparently possess an endless supply of this type of unfunny comedy.

Noah punches him, and Brady laughs, slinging his arm around me. I smell his D&G cologne. It isn’t entirely unpleasant.I look up at him like,You are the most charming person I know, and your arm around my shoulder makes me happier than anything in the entire world.

“What time should I pick you up tonight?” he asks, kissing me.

“Like, nine?” I say. He may be kind of a D-bag, but he does have nice lips. And he’s six two, which is good, since I’m an inch or so taller than most of the girls in my grade. Sometimes people ask if I’ve ever modeled. My mom took me to get professionally photographed once, but I hated it. It was all hot lights and faking it, and it got boring fast. Although, in a weird way, I guess you could say that’s what I’m doing now, looking up at Brady and playing the part of Perfect Girlfriend. Either that or I’m giving him my very own Mirror Face.

FEBRUARY 19

I know I wasn’t directly responsible for Lindsay Manatore having to run track with one half sweatpants, one half short shorts, but I probably should have stopped Alex from cutting the leg off them with Janet’s pocketknife. But in a way I’m glad I didn’t, because it was funny. Anytime we crossed Lindsay’s path on the track, I would start to sing, “Who wears short shorts?”

Alex befriended me in the first place because she thinks I’m funny. That, and she assumed because I dress the way I do, I belonged in their social circle. I told her, “Oh no, I just have a terrible fashion sense.” Next thing I know, I was introduced by Alex to her friends as her hilarious, sarcastic new friend Moe. That was at the beginning of freshman year, and that’s the person I’ve stayed ever since. Beforethat, I was just kind of friends with losers, but I’ve got to say being with the tough kids or the “burnouts” or whatever you’d call them has its perks because no one effs with you. The problem is people mostly just avoid you because they assume you’re dangerous or you’ll beat the crap out of them or something, so you don’t really have the chance to mingle a whole lot.

The only person who sees something close to the real me is Noah. He probably would not admit that in HIS journal. But he’s a popular kid, and those kids don’t even keep journals. Their lives revolve around status updates, and by status I mean STATUS. He hangs out with people like Tabitha Foster and Brady Finch and Jason Baines. Noah only talks to me after school when we’re alone, then he leaves before my aunt gets back from work. Or I leave before his mom gets home.

Yesterday I waved at him when I saw him walking into his house with his parents. He didn’t wave back. I heard his mom say, “Who’s that?” His response: “I don’t know.” Hey, asshole, if you’re going to pretend not to know me, that’s fine, but I live next door to you. Couldn’t you just say, “I think she lives next door to us”? I don’t need him to proclaim undying love for me or tell the world that we make out and sometimes do even more than that, but at least admit I’m a person you’re familiar with. Douche.

GOOD BODY IMAGE

“Please tell me it’s not gonna rain later.” Kayla points, looking at the gray sky as we walk up the perfectly manicured walkway to Taryn’s front door.

“Sorry. It’s gonna rain later,” I say. It’s Portland. It rains 155 days a year.

Kayla rings the bell, which echoes out some cathedral-on-crack-style chimes. The house is a gaudy white McMansion perched right on the water in Lake Oswego. Not my taste, but in our neighborhood new money reigns supreme, and this is the perfect example of what it buys you. Taryn’s parents have oodles of fresh cash, courtesy of her dad’s sweet upper-management job at Nike and her mom’s at Wieden+Kennedy.

“I’ll drive,” Taryn offers, tossing her curly blond hair as she swings open the front door.

“I want to find somethinghot,” Kayla says, fingering her belly-button ring, which is proudly on display thanks to a strategically rolled-up sweatshirt, designed to show off her lean, flat stomach.

Kayla has a gym in her house, and she wears a red rubber “core bracelet” on her wrist to remind her to suck in her stomach. Her personal hero is Tracy Anderson, Gwyneth Paltrow’s trainer. I’m pretty sure she owns Tracy’s entire workout wardrobe, down to the shoes. If her mom would let her, she’d probably dye her hair blond to match Tracy’s, but fortunately she realized that “blond Asian” is not the greatest look. Thanks, Bai Ling.

We climb into Taryn’s red Mini, a present from her parents for the incredible accomplishment of turning sixteen. Kayla crawls into the backseat.

“Don’t you already have a closet full of hot?” I nudge her.

“Too much is never enough,” she singsongs.

Our Friday afternoon shopping excursions are a ritual. I used to love them, but then about a year ago, it started to seem like spending my dad’s cash was just another form of taking his hush money; if he didn’t have so much of it, my mom probably would have divorced him a long time ago. Every time I buy something with a fifty-dollar bill he’s given me, I’m going into greater debt with the enemy. But if it weren’t for the enemy, I wouldn’t have gotten Tiffany diamond-stud earrings for Christmas last year, so there you go.

We peel into the Washington Square parking lot, and Taryn does one of her typical “I need two spaces instead ofone” parking jobs. She nearly plows the Mini into a guy in a wheelchair.

“Jesus!” I yell.

“Just because he’s handicapped doesn’t mean you need to put him out of his misery,” Kayla adds.

“Whatever. He’d thank me for it if he knew Macy’s doesn’t carry Miu Miu,” Taryn sniffs. She is one of those girls who live for any razzle-dazzle chance at fashionistadom and the possibility of possessing couture. Not that the Washington Square Mall is crawling with couture, but you’d be surprised at how many kids in our grade have dads with Learjets and moms who still trot out furs for parent-teacher meetings. If anyone can sniff out the couture in a mall, Taryn can. She once used the bio lab tables as an impromptu fashion runway when Mr. Lopez left the room for one of his infamous fifteen-minute bathroom breaks.

Kayla starts gravitationally beelining toward Forever 21, the home of all her slut-wear. “Let’s go to Forever Twenty-One,” she says.

“We’re going to Bebe,” Taryn says firmly. Spring Fling is almost three months away, but she’s hell-bent on nabbing the perfect dress early.

“Why do you want to go to Forever Twenty-One? They print Bible verses on the bottoms of their shopping bags.” I roll my eyes.

“They do not!” Kayla gasps.

“See for yourself,” I say with a shrug.

“I’m going to Nordie’s.” I know neither of them will want to go there, since it’s “too nineties.”

“Meet back at Yopop for fro-yo afterward?” Taryn says, and I nod.

Kayla points at the Forever 21 window. “Ooh—glitter tube top!”

“Watch out,” I say. “Total sinner wear. You might need some redemption.”

Kayla sticks out her tongue, and I can’t help but laugh. She may be a bit of a ludicrous idiot, but she’s at least somewhat trustworthy. When I drunkenly told her about my dad having an affair last year, she never mentioned it again. And in exchange, I never talk about all the slutty things she’s done with half the guys she’s done them with. Last year in Family and Consumer Science (formerly known as Home Ec), Mrs. Sykes talked about a study where girls who had good body image were more likely to abstain from sex, and girls with bad body image were more likely to be slutty. How weird is it that if you like your body, you don’t let anyone see it, and if youdon’tlike your body, you want to show it to everyone? And why wouldn’t Kayla love her body, since there isn’t an ounce of fat on it?

“See you in forty-five minutes,” Tayrn says. As they head off, I breathe a sigh of relief because I can finally do what I came here to do.

FEBRUARY 24

Marc and I played Rage after school. Beached Whales were exploding left and right when he started giving me shit because I hang out with dirtbags and a guy who doesn’t even acknowledge me in public. I told him I don’t need his overprotective brother speech. It’s not like his friends are a ton better, since all they do is blaze up and ride bikes. He argued with me for a while and said that pot and bikes are different from actually doing bad things like tagging buildings or being mean to people or constantly partying and whatever else we do. I said it’s none of his business what we do, and besides, who else am I supposed to hang out with? So he let it drop and said he’s just looking out for me, and then he killed a shit ton of Gingers and Fattys. I was pissed until I realized that’s just what brothers do. They try to protect you from the bad guys, even in a video game.

CHARMED

Even if you have enough money to do what you want, it’s still fun trying to get something for free. In my case, something from the Nordie’s jewelry case.

“Can I see that one?” I ask, pointing to a Maya Brenner bracelet with chunky gold chains and a little coin with small stones of turquoise and coral. The other day I saw Alexa Chung wearing it on a blog, and I vowed to get one of my own.

The despondent saleslady unlocks the case. She has frizzy brown hair and looks like all the gloomy weather has soaked straight through to her soul. Either that or she’s been sprayed with a little too much Eau de Homeless on her walk to work. That could bum out anybody.

“Oh, and the earrings,” I say once she plunks the charmbracelet on the velvet pad on the counter. She turns to get them.

“No, not those.” I point. “The pearl ones. And that silver bracelet with the big chain links? And can I see the rose gold hoops? Thanks so much.” As the saleswoman sets out one thing after another, I smile sweetly. “Do you mind getting out that skull pendant necklace too? Sorry.”

“Which one?” She’s starting to get confused.

“It’s so hard to make up my mind here,” I say, holding up the rose gold hoops. “By the way, I love your blouse. It looks amazing on you.”

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