The Lonely Hearts Club
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I'd thought Nate was, but I was wrong.
I got up to call Tracy --misery needed her company -- when something caught my eye. I went over to my favorite Beatles poster and started to run my fingers across the lettering: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
I'd stared at that poster every day for the past seven years. I'd listened to that album, one of my favorites, hundreds of times. It was like it had always been a single long word to me, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band But now three words separated themselves, and I saw something completely new inside Lonely
And that's when it happened.
Something about those words.
Lonely. Hearts. Club.
In theory, it may have sounded depressing. But there wasn't anything depressing about the music.
No, this Lonely Hearts Club was the opposite of depress-ing. It was alive.
The answer had been in front of me all along. There was a way to stop getting cheated on, lied to, and used.
I would stop torturing myself by dating loser guys. I would enjoy the benefits of being single. I would, for once, focus on me. Junior year would be my year. It would be all about me, Penny Lane Bloom, sole member and founder of The Lonely Hearts Club.
"... you've got to be free ...'
BOYS WERE DEAD TO ME. The only question was: Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?
I knew the idea was genius. But it would've been nice if my best friend was able to stop looking at me like I was an escapee from a mental institution.
"Pen, you know I love you, but., ."
Here we go.
We were having an emergency meeting (complete with the cheese fries required to get over a breakup) at our local diner, less than an hour after my inspiration hit. Tracy took a sip of her milk shake, taking in my tirade about all the problems guys have caused me over the years. I hadn't even gotten to the part about the club yet and my decision to not date.
"I know you're upset, and you have every reason to be," Tracy said. "But not all guys are evil."
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, really? Should we go through your lists from the last two years?"
Tracy slumped down in her seat. Every year she made a list of guys she wanted to date. She would spend all summer weighing her options before putting the list together for the school year, with each guy ranked in order of preference based on a ratio of looks, popularity, and looks.
The list definitely caused more heartache than it was worth. Tracy still hadn't been on a date with any of the candidates. In fact, she'd never had a boyfriend. I couldn't figure out why. She was pretty, funny, smart, and one of the most loyal and dependable friends anyone could ask for. But, as if I needed another example of why boys sucked, none of the guys at McKinley seemed to feel she was girlfriend material.
Lucky her, I thought. But she wasn't seeing it that way.
"I don't know what you are talking about," she said.
"Right. So you're telling me you don't have a new list ready for inspection?"
Tracy moved her purse onto the seat next to her.
Of course she had a new list. We only had a few more days before the start of junior year.
"What to the evs," she huffed. "I guess I should just throw the list away since, according to you, all men are jerks."
I smiled. "Now we're getting somewhere. Lets burn it!"
Tracy groaned, "You've clearly lost your mind. Can you be serious for a second?"
"I am being serious,"
Now it was Tracy's turn to roll her eyes. "Come on -- not every single male on this planet is a horrible human being. What about your dad?"
"What about Thomas Grant?" I shot back.
Tracy's mouth dropped open.
Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. Thomas had been on last years list. She'd spent an entire semester flirting with him in Chemistry. Finally he'd asked her if she was free one weekend. Tracy had been thrilled . . . until he tested her an hour before they were supposed to meet and told her that something had "come up," Then he'd ignored her the rest of the year. No explanation, no apology nothing.
"And Kevin Parker?" I pressed.
Tracy glared at me. "Well, its not my fault that he doesn't know I exist."
There was always one name on the top of Tracy's list -- Kevin Parker, senior football player extraordinaire. Unfortunately Kevin had never acknowledged that Tracy was even alive. When I'd been dating Derek, I'd invite Kevin and his friends over to my house for the sole purpose of letting Kevin get to know Tracy. But he never paid any attention to her. One of the only reasons I put up with Derek for as long as I did was because Tracy needed her daily Kevin Parker fix.
Thinking about that list and how much it dictated Tracy's happiness made me want to rip it out of her purse and tear it apart. Because I knew -- one by one, she'd have to cross their names off and she'd end up in tears.
Tracy sighed, then collected herself. "This year is going to be different," she swore. "I don't know -- I've got a really good feeling about it." She took the list out and started wistfully looking at this years contenders.
Had I seriously believed that Tracy would understand my need to stop dating? All she thought about was going on dates.
I gave up . . . for the moment,
Tracy wasn't the only one who had a good feeling about this year.