So? Im not best friends with Miranda, but Id rather hang with her than Roxanne. "Jess, I need your help. Bring Miranda. "
"I dont want to talk about Mitch in front of her, Amy. "
"Okay, so heres my advice on the boyfriend front. Give Mitch some space and let him come after you. Ignore him for a bit. He thrives on challenges, Jess, and maybe youre too accessible. "
"But nothing. Listen to me. I know what Im talking about. I dated him, too. Remember?"
"Yeah, I remember. "
"So, are you coming over now or what?"
"Ill come. Just remember to be nice to Miranda. Shes sensitive. "
"Im always nice," I say, then hang up.
I wrap myself in a robe and wait for Jess and Miranda. Ten minutes later the doorman rings me to get my approval to let my friends up. When I open the door, Miranda is standing behind Jess, looking down at the ground. Miranda is wearing black stretch pants and a huge red sweater that hangs to her knees, as if shes trying to hide her body.
"Hi, Miranda," I say.
She manages a small "Hi," and follows Jess into the condo.
Leading them to my room, I open the door and Mutt, who was locked inside, goes right for poor Mirandas crotch.
"Leave her alone," I say to Mutt, who sniffs loudly then walks out of the room.
I open my closet doors. "Okay, what should I wear?"
I admit Ive been blessed with a mom who came up with the Everyones a star at Starbucks campaign. Dont knock it. My entire wardrobe was probably paid with jingles and slogans my mom created. The Dont Baby Me slogan for Precious Baby Finger Foods was a big hit along with the jingle If you know someone who needs someone, call 1-800-Therapy.
"Are those real Jimmy Choo shoes?" Miranda asks, wide-eyed.
My mom brought them back for me from a fashion show in New York last year. "Yeah. Want to try them on?"
Miranda takes a step back. "Oh, no. Im so heavy Id probably break the heel. "
"Dont be ridiculous," I say, then grab the shoes and hand them to her. Theyre slingback and will practically fit anyone. "Just dont let my dog lick them. "
Miranda hesitates, then slowly reaches out and takes them from my outstretched hand.
I look over at Jess when Miranda sits on the edge of my bed to take her gym shoes off and put the Jimmy Choos on. Shes rummaging through my closet, taking stuff out and laying it over her arm. "Ill give you choices. "
"Thanks, Mommy," I say sarcastically.
Jessica rolls her eyes as she lays out the outfit I wore on my last date with Avi. I know it sounds lame, but its sacred. The memories of that night are attached to that skirt and top. Im absolutely not wearing it. "Nope. Next. "
She holds out a ripped jeans/tight sweater combination. "Nope. Too alternative. "
A knock at the door interrupts us. "Amy, its me. " My dad.
When I tell him to come in, he surveys the clothes strewn around the room and Miranda trying to balance in the Choos. "You girls putting on a fashion show? Ill give you money if youll make Amy clean her room. "
"Dad, dont be a dork," I tell him, pushing him out of the room before he embarrasses me more. "Im going to the youth group meeting tonight. Remember?"
"I remember. But I thought you said it started at four. "
"It does. "
He checks his watch. "Its five to. You better hurry. "
When hes gone, I see the third outfit Jess has picked for me. Dark blue jeans and a simple pink long-sleeve tee with a gold O at the top. While Im shimmying into the jeans, Miranda stumbles in the Choos over to my nightstand and picks up the picture of Avi. "Is he your boyfriend?"
Jess bites her bottom lip, probably to keep herself from blurting out, "Hes her non-boyfriend. "
I hesitate before saying, "Kind of. "
Miranda looks from the picture of Avi to me. "Hes a hottie. "
A little part of my heart flips over. Turning around, I finish dressing and say, "Im ready. Lets go," because I dont want to talk about him. I havent even written him back and I dont call him at home because I dont want to act like stalker-girlfriend. Im confused. I hate feeling like this.
When we arrive at the youth group meeting at the synagogue, Im surprised at the amount of kids here. There must be at least forty kids hanging around the social hall. Some kids I recognize from school, but most Ive never seen in my life.
A dark, curly-haired guy with a kippah on his head whos probably in his thirties tries to quiet everyone down.
"Hes Rabbi Doug, the new assistant rabbi," Jess tells me.
Miranda stays close to Jesss side as we find a vacant place on the floor to sit. It takes a while for everyone else to shut up, but finally all eyes are on Rabbi Doug.
"Is everybody ready to build a sukkah for our play?"
Ask me a year ago and I couldnt tell you what a sukkah was. Now I know its a small structure where you invite family and friends to eat the "harvest meal. " Normally Jews build a sukkah sometime near October for the holiday of Sukkot, but the youth group is putting on a play for the Hebrew school students about the holidays and the sukkah is being built tonight.
Rabbi Doug proceeds to have us count off so were in different groups. Im in a group with a bunch of kids I dont know. This guy who assigns himself the leader of our group has us meet in the hallway.
A girl with curly black hair and bushy eyebrows is in my group, along with a couple of other girls and a bunch of guys. I sit next to Bushy Brow and give her a small smile.
"Im Nikki. With an z," she says.
Oh, no. Flashbacks of my stepfather, Marc with a c, slam into my consciousness. "Im Amy. With a y" I say back.
"Where do you go to school?"
"Chicago Academy. Where do you go?"
At the mention of Chicago Academy, Nikki blinks twice. What is it with people lately? I swear youd think Chicago Academy was synonymous with School For Brats. "Mather," she replies.
"Thats cool. "
Nikki isnt über-friendly after I told her I go to Chicago Academy, like shes suddenly wary of me.
Luckily, a cool guy wearing a black hooded sweatshirt sits on the other side of me and starts talking. "Whats up? Im Wes. "
"Im Amy. "
"Ive never seen you here before," Wes says while checking me out. Hes so obvious about it, a guy like that deserves to be played with.
"Im a youth group virgin," I say.
Instead of being shocked, the guy laughs. "Cool. You might not want to hang with me. Im so not a virgin I might scare you off"
"I go to Chicago Academy," I tell him. "I might scare you off. "
Instead of being intimidated, Wes leans forward. "Ooh, one of those rich kids. Is it true your parents host teenage parties with booze and pot?"
"Absolutely," I lie. "What else would we do with all that excess money?"
He laughs and gives me a big, cocky smile. "I like you, Amy. "
Rabbi Doug gives us our assignment. "You guys are in charge of hanging the fruit in the sukkah. The baskets, hooks, and string are in the back room. Be creative, people. "
I follow the rest of the kids to the back room. Wes and I are instant friends, I find out he goes to Mather High, too, and sings in a band called Lickity Split. Nikki is starting to warm up to me, or maybe she likes Wes so shes acting all nicey-nice.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" Wes asks me while were attempting to string bananas together.
I look over to Jessicas group, working with nails and wood to put up the sukkah structure. "Sort of. "
"What do you mean by sort of?" Nikki chimes in.
Is it really any of these peoples business? "I have a boyfriend, but hes in Israel. "
Wes plunges a needle and thread into the skin of the banana. "As in he lives there?"
"How can he be your boyfriend when hes, like, a million miles away?"
I stop the banana threading. Its like everyone else is
putting into words whats been on my mind lately. Its pissing me off. Ever since I talked to my Israeli cousin yesterday, Ive been rethinking my relationship with Avi. Obviously Im not his first priority. Why should he be mine?
Without answering Wes, I wander away from the youth group and stare out at the view of Lake Michigan. The backyard of the synagogue faces the lake, on prime real estate property. Im sure my stepfather would love to get his hands on this piece of land. I envision myself on the sandy beach below.
An image of Nathan pops into my head, interrupting my thoughts of Avi. Why, I have no clue. Its just. . . well, Nathan kind of reminds me of Avi. Not his looks, by any means. Avi is drop-dead-oh-my-God gorgeous, the Abercrombie model come to life. Nathan is the opposite. He looks as awkward as he acts and doesnt even care that hes a loner. Avi has a bunch of loyal friends.
Avi and I fell for each other after hating each other for the better part of the summer. In the beginning, we fought every time we came within two feet of each other. When he kissed me, it was as explosive as the fighting and more incredible than any kiss Id ever had.
Im sure kissing Nathan would be nothing like kissing
I put my hands on either side of my head and squeeze my eyes shut. How can I think about kissing Nathan? Eww.
Okay, Ill admit he has unique green eyes. They have little specks of brown and gold in them, and when he looks at me I find myself searching for those specks. A guy like that shouldnt have such cool eyes.
"Hey, Amy, you okay?"
Its Jessica. I dont feel like talking right now, even to my best friend. Im kind of fine being depressed all by myself. "Im fine. "
"You think the youth group is weak sauce, dont you? Im sorry I made you--"
"Its not weak sauce. "
"Then why are you all mopey?" My best friend rolls her eyes at me, if you can believe it. "Seriously, Amy, youre gonna have to get over Avi. Youve been acting like a total recluse lately and its getting on everyones nerves, especially mine. Cant you move on? I guarantee Avis not moping around, making his friends and everyone else around him miserable. "
I stand here wide-eyed, not believing for a second Jessica just bitched me out. Shes never done this before. Weve always supported each other through guys and zits and parents and school. "I guess its too much to ask for my best friend to support me when I need it the most," I say.
"You know what, Amy? I was thinking the same thing," she says, then stomps back to the sukkah- building activity.
What the hell was that all about? Im too confused to think right now. All I want to do is go home. Whats worse is that Im at the mercy of Jessica because she drove me here.
Stomping back to my group, I plop myself down next to Wes from Lickity Split again.
"Amy, you just sat on a banana," Wes informs me, then bursts out laughing. Nikki and the rest of my group follow. All eyes are watching to see what Im going to do next.
I could cry--that wouldnt take too much effort. In fact, I can feel a waterfall forming behind my eyelids.
Closing my eyes, my brain focuses on the wet, gushy mush soaking the jeans I spent over a half hour picking out. And on Jessicas tirade. And on my moms pregnancy. And on Avi and Nathan and my dads date disaster. And Mutts insatiable addiction to sniffing everyones crotch.