The Lonely Hearts Club
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Tracy put her hand over her mouth and tried to stifle her laughter. "Sorry! You're not going to believe what happened!
I moved my shoulder to make sure it was still in its socket.
"Paul is having a party at his house on Saturday and asked me to come!"
"Paul Levine?" I asked.
"Yes, can you believe it? He's number three on the list,
"Wow, Tracy, that's great!" I looked over at Diane, who gave me a little wink.
Tracy was absolutely glowing, "So you're going to come with me, right? It's going to be so much fun. His parents are away and he's a senior, so there will probably be a ton of seniors there, probably even Kevin. You're going to be there, right, Diane?"
Diane looked shocked that Tracy was including her. "Of course."
"See, Pen, you have to got Right, Diane?"
Diane laughed. "Come on, Penny.'"
Just a few hours ago Tracy was at Diane's throat. And now Tracy was using Diane to bully me into going to a party.
"Of course, I'll go with you!' I said. Ryan was looking at the three of us with a combined look of confusion and amusement.
I was a little nervous about attending a house party. Parkview was a pretty small town -- only ten thousand people, and my parents knew most of them. if I was ever caught at a party where the parents weren't at home, I knew I'd be in so much trouble. My mother was a small woman, but she carried the wrath of God in her. I didn't like to make her angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.
It was just one more thing I was going to have to be careful about.
"What are you wearing to the party?" I asked Tracy, as we sat down in the football stands for the next night's game.
"What's Diane wearing?"
Tracy had been on her best behavior with Diane since Paul's invitation. I hoped wasn't all an act,
"Maybe we'll get you a nice strait jacket to match your attitu-- Ow!"
Tracy's fingers dug into my right arm. "Shh!" she said as she tried to subtly motion in front of us.
"Nuumb seev," Tracy mumbled.
"What?" I was convinced this was it. Tracy had finally lost her mind.
"Nuuurnmmb seeevvv," Tracy moved her head forward somewhat violently.
"Are you having a seizure?" I asked.
She looked over at me and held up seven fingers.
Seven ? Seven what?
Clearly frustrated with me, she leaned in. "Steve is number seven on my list." She motioned to the row in front of us, where Steve Powell had sat down with some friends.
I rolled my eyes.
Tracy beamed. "This is the year the list is finally going to work. We have Paul tomorrow, and tonight. . ."
I was praying she was kidding. in the first few days of school, the list that consisted of eight guys at McKinley was already down to four. Mark Dowd was crossed off for talking to Kathy Enrich too much in Trig, Eric Boyd had cut his hair too short, W. J. Ross had gotten a job at Tracy's least favorite fast-food restaurant, and Chris Miller committed the ultimate sin, dating Amy Gunderson over the summer. At this point, there wasn't going to even he a list by Homecoming.
"Say something." Tracy kept poking me. I was going to have a serious bruise.
"Um, okay. Do you know what Ryan's dad looks like?" I began to scan the crowd-I saw Ryan's mom, stepdad, and stepsister in the crowd, waving 60 RYAN! signs. I recognized all the parents around them; nobody looked like an older version of Ryan.
Tracy groaned. "What? Who cares? Say something to Steve -- get his attention."
All of a sudden, she burst out in over-the-top laughter, complete with slapping her knee. As she doubled over, she moved her knee so it hit Steve's shoulder.
"Oh, I'm so sorry." Tracy leaned forward and put her hand where her knee had been.
Steve turned around and smiled. "Hey, Tracy, don't worry about it."
"So how are classes going so far?" Tracy began.
I looked on as Tracy worked her "magic" on Steve. I was impressed by the way it seemed so effortless, even though I knew it wasn't. Every once in a while, she'd touch his arm when she was making a point and she'd laugh at pretty much everything he said. I was so entertained by her and Steve that I wasn't even watching the game.
"Hey, so are you guys going to Paul's tomorrow night?" Steve asked.
Tracy smiled. "Of course. You?"
Steve nodded. "Hey, is Diane going to go with you guys? I see that you've been hanging out with her at lunch the last couple of days."
Tracy glared at Steve, bolted up in her seat, and headed toward the aisle.
Steve looked at me. "What's with her?"
I shrugged my shoulders as I got up to find her.
if I was keeping count correctly, there were now only three guys left on her list.
I was ALMOST AFRAID TO LET Tracy drive the next night to Pauls house, for fear we'd be pulled over for Driving While Under the influence of a Boy. She was looking in the rearview mirror so often to check her makeup that you would've thought she was driving backward, not forward.
When we finally pulled up outside Pauls house, there were already cars lining the entire left side of the street. We could hear music blaring from inside. I had a bad feeling about this.
"How do I look?" Tracy asked for the twelfth time. I looked out the window and saw a couple of sophomore girls wearing tight jeans and tiny pieces of fabric that I could only assume were supposed to be shirts. I glanced down at my long-sleeved top and tan cords, feeling more and more unsure about all of this by the minute.