Authors: Debra Garfinkle
“What’s wrong with popular people?” Shay asks.
“Nothing. And we’re plenty popular, anyway,” I lie. To impress Shay, I wave in the direction of the popular kids. They’ll never notice me, anyway.
Oops. Mr. Popular himself, Rick The Dick, glares at me. He stands up and swaggers toward us.
Is waving at someone out of your popularity league grounds for getting beat up? I look around for a weapon, or better yet, a lunch monitor.
The Dick stops at our table. He smiles.
Maybe Shay’s my ticket to popularity. Being seen with a beautiful girl like her has to raise a guy’s social standing. I return The Dick’s smile.
He leans his face right into Shay’s. “You, foxy lady, must be new. Because if I ever saw you before, I’d totally remember.”
She gives him a smile approximately seventy-five percent bigger than the one she gave us.
“Let me show you around.” He puts his oafish hand on her arm.
She doesn’t move his hand away. She does move her hand off my thigh.
“Tell me, are you a strong swimmer?” The Dick asks her.
“I can swim. Why?”
“In case I need rescuing. I’m drowning in your eyes.”
Shay’s smile grows even bigger.
I summon up a half ounce of courage and point out, in a tone that’s hopefully reasonable enough not to earn a punch from The Dick, “Shay, I thought you wanted us to help you at lunchtime today.”
“Tomorrow, ’kay?” she says before going off with The Dick. For a tour of the school, and God knows what else.
Only two things are infinite—the universe and human stupidity.
Rick’s at least six
feet tall, with thick blond hair, intense blue eyes, and a build like a bank vault. The way he touches my arm, so sure, so manly, makes up for his half- unbuttoned shirt displaying a mass of c orn-c olored chest hairs.
Gawd, I must have been staring.
He d oesn’t wait for an answer. He undoes another button on his shirt like a male stripper. I try hard not to shout
As we walk through the cafeteria, a lot of people say hi to him. He gives all of them s hout-o uts in return, not just the jockish guys and pretty girls, but a fat boy and a pimply girl too. Is that a 70’s thing or a Rick thing? Whatever it is, it’s nice.
“So what’s a gorgeous chick like you doing here?” he asks me.
I give him my shrug that shows off my chest.
We pass by the bungalows. T wenty-e ight years later, our school still has them. Then we walk through the vacant baseball field. I d on’t see Professional Tour Guide as Rick’s future career, given that he h asn’t said a word about the school since we started the “tour.” Not that I expected one.
He stops at the bleachers, takes my hand, and leads me to a top row seat.
I smile at him. “Hey.”
He stares into my eyes. “Where have you been hiding all this time?”
I look away. “Just, um, Reseda.”
“Why did you transfer to our school?”
“To find a cute guy like you.”
He laughs. “No, really. Why?”
What is he, a private eye? To shut him up, I put my hands on his cheeks and move my face close to his. He has a toughg uy jaw, short, golden stubble, and rugged but unblemished skin.
“What school were you at before?”
I kiss him, hard, and he stops asking questions.
Shay Saunders is
(1) gorgeous, (2) sexy, and (3) a whiner. She’s sitting next to me on the school bus, rolling her eyes and/or sighing and/or muttering “I hate this” every time there’s a stop. “I can’t believe you don’t have your own car,” she says. “How are you going to get any girls?”
“As if that’s all that’s stopping me.”
“I wouldn’t be so shallow as to choose a boyfriend based on his mode of transportation,” Evie says from across the aisle.
Since when is Evie interested in boyfriends? The only guys she’s ever seemed excited about are Jonas Salk and J. D. Salinger.
Shay turns toward Evie. “You’re in L.A., where cars are king and people are shallow.”
“You’re a good example of that,” Evie says. “Blowing us off the minute a foxy guy comes by.”
Evie thinks The Dick is foxy? I thought she was too busy calculating people’s IQs to notice what they looked like.
“Shay, if you want our help, try treating us with respect,” Evie tells her.
“And maybe you can find a way to help us too,” I add.
“I got it.” Shay snaps her fingers. Her nails are painted gray-blue. Very strange. Maybe weird nails are in style in the future. “We’ll do, like,
” she says. “Not that extreme though. More like a
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
kind of thing.”
“What?” Evie and I both ask.
“I’ll give you makeovers.”
“I don’t want a makeover,” Evie says. “I’m fine with my low social status. I don’t need to talk to ditzy cheerleaders and brutes like Rick The Dick. Actually, I enjoy just being around Tyler and having intelligent conversations.”
I raise my hand. “Actually, I would like to talk to ditzy cheerleaders.”
“Good. Here’s your first lesson. Don’t ever raise your hand. Not even in class. And never say
. It reeks geekspeak,” she says. “So you’re in?”
“No way, José,” Evie says.
“Tyler, please let me do you over,” Shay purrs.
When a beautiful girl sits next to you and begs to “do you over,” with her soft voice and pouty lips and long-lashed eyes, there’s only one response. I nod my head up and down and say, “Do me over!”
“Just make sure you help me with the time-travel stuff,” Shay adds.
“I’ve already been working on it. This morning in physics class I came up with an idea. We could experiment with it today.”
“Great!” Evie exclaims. “Science experiments are right up my alley. I’ll get off the bus with you and lend a hand.”
“Great,” I say without enthusiasm.
We all walk to my house, tell Mom we’re working on a physics class project, and retreat to the garage. I take out the Christmas lights and wind a long string of them around Shay’s arm.
“This can’t possibly work,” Evie says.
I sure hope not. There’s no way I want to return Shay to the future. “Evie, you know time travel has to reach the speed of light.”
“The speed of
the speed of light, is measured in a vacuum, not by how fast a string of Christmas bulbs lights up. Jeez, Tyler, that’s just basic physics.”
Physics, shmysics. I’m touching a gorgeous girl. Okay, so I’d rather be kissing her than stringing lights around her, but, still.
“Hurry up!” Shay says.
Oops. I’ve lingered on her arm. And I think I’m grinning. It’s Christmas in September. “Do you want me to be fast or accurate?”
Darn. I was aiming for slow and sensual. I finish wrapping her arms, but pause once I get to her chest, her soft, generous chest.
“Want me to take a turn?” Evie asks.
“No!” I wind the lights down Shay’s body. Was there ever a more perfect behind? I doubt it.
“Are you almost finished?” Shay asks.
I get to say something I’ve only ever dreamed of: “Spread your legs.”
And she does, and I’m wrapping the string of Christmas lights all over the world’s second most shapely legs, the first being Lynda Carter’s from
. Shay’s legs are a very close second place.
“Let’s try it already. I have a birthday party to plan back home.”
“Here goes nothing.” Evie plugs in the lights.
“Ow!” Shay screams. “You’re burning me! Turn that off!”
Evie pulls the plug out of the wall and says, “I told you it wouldn’t work.”
“Look what you did!” Shay holds up her arm. I peer at it, but the only damage I see is a few singed arm hairs. “You maimed me!” Shay says. “Take these stupid lights off me.”
“I’m sorry.” I pounce on her leg.
“Gawd. Get away.” She gives me a small kick as if I’m a dog in heat. “I’ll do it myself.” She twists and turns to unwind the string of bulbs from her body. Then she tosses the lights back in their box. “I can’t believe you burned my arm.”
“I singed it, at most. But I apologize. I didn’t know what would happen.”
“You didn’t really expect Shay to travel in time, though,” Evie says. Sometimes I wish she weren’t so darn smart. She opens the garage door.
“Where are you going?” I ask her.
She walks outside without answering or even turning her head.
“Good-bye, Evie,” I say, but I’m not sure she can still hear me.
“I can’t believe I’m
still stuck here,” Shay says as we stand in the garage.
“Stuck here with you.”
“Maybe you should give me that makeover you mentioned.”
“You want me to help you now, after you burned my arm?”
“Singed a few arm hairs, you mean. I didn’t know that would happen. Shay, please help me be less geeky. This is my last year of high school, my last chance to get invited to the cool parties and stuff, and you may be my last hope.” I cock my head and stare at her wide-eyed in an attempt to look especially pitiful. “Please? And afterward, I’ll ask my parents to let you stay here.”
“Like I have anywhere else to go.” She sighs. “Fine, I’ll give you a makeover.”
“Tyler Gray, reporting for duty, ma’am.” I cleverly salute her.
“The military thing? Very uncool.” She opens the door connecting the garage to the house and walks in. I drop my hand and follow her.
She leads me to the downstairs bathroom, in front of the mirror, and stands behind me with her silky hands on my cheeks. She has the sweetest scent, like roses sprinkled with cinnamon. I’m loving this makeover already.
“Tyler,” Shay says. “Find me some tweezers for your unibrow and an ice cube to numb you. And a scarf or something we can tie over your mouth to muzzle your screams.”
“Screams?” I squeak.
She laughs, evilly. “After what you just did to my arm, it’s payback time.”
“On second thought, maybe I don’t need a makeover.”
“Take it like a man.”
After I give her the instruments of torture, she brings the sharp tweezers dangerously close to my corneas and pulls out one of my eyebrow hairs.
Her response is to pluck off another hair by its extremely sensitive root.
“Shay, it hurts! Stop! I beg you.”
“Quit whimpering.” She keeps the tweezers in play. “There’s a whole hair forest growing between your eyes.”
“I’m sorry about singeing your—ow!—arm. Truce! You’re torturing me!”
She waves the tweezers in front of my face. “Keep your eyes closed, shut up, and hold still, if you know what’s good for you.”
So I do. I grit my teeth too. I think I hear Shay laughing behind me. It’s all an excruciatingly agonizing blur.
Finally, she says, “Not bad. The redness and swelling shouldn’t last long.”
“Redness and swelling?”
“Open your eyes and look in the mirror,” Shay orders.
Whoa. She was right about the brow tweeze making a difference. It’s almost worth the horrific pain. My eyes look bigger and brighter. Which I don’t admit, because a guy’s not supposed to care about that stuff.
“Do you have a Dustbuster for your old unibrow hairs?” Shay asks me.
I stare at her.
“I’ll get a broom.”
“Fine. I’m exhausted.”
exhausted?” I raise my skimpy brows. “I just had practically half my face torn off.”
“Well, I just suffered fourth-degree arm burns,” Shay says. “I’m going to sit on that glider in the backyard.”
“No! Just clean up in here and then go ask your mother to let me stay. And keep those damn Christmas lights away from me.” She exits the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
I stare at myself again in the mirror. I must admit I look kind of cute.
After I rid the bathroom of plucked brow hairs, I use the upstairs phone to call Evie.
She’s cranky. “What was that all about in your garage? Tyler, you know Christmas lights aren’t going to send anyone into the future.”
I smile. “That was all about wrapping a string of lights around a pair of long, shapely legs.”
“Shay’s more than just a pair of legs, Tyler.”
“I know you’re above thinking about stuff like that, Evie, but—”
“How do you know what I’m above thinking about?”
“Whoa. Mellow out, Evie.”
“You’re so preoccupied with—”
“Hey, listen. I’m going to talk to my mom now about letting Shay live with us. I’ll try to have her call you. So wait by the phone, okay? And get ready to disguise your voice and act like a terrible parent.”
“Now?” Evie sounds even crankier.
“I promise to give you twenty dollars if it works. I was saving for upgraded computer parts, but that’s all right.”
“I can’t believe I’m helping you get together with a girl.”
“Yeah, you’re a good friend. Thanks a lot.” I hang up the phone and look for Mom.
She’s in the kitchen as usual. While she makes cookies, I sit at the table giving myself a pep talk.
You can pull this off, Tyler. It’s just a little lie. Shay is counting on you.
Finally, I say, “My friend Shay is in really bad shape. Could she stay with us for a while? Temporarily, of course.”
Mom looks up from the mixing bowl. “I feel bad for her, but I’m not her mother.”
“Her mother isn’t acting like one.” I point to the kitchen phone. “Call her and ask.”
“She’ll just be here for a little while, until things get straightened out. She can live with her aunt as soon as she returns from France.”
“Mom, she hardly has any food.”
“She’s welcome to stay for dinner tonight.”
“She’s so lonely living by herself. Please, Mom. Call her parents. Can I dial the number for you?”