Chapter 15: After class

in which we introduce Matthias, the Eternal Rival... OK, perhaps not exactly...

"Earth to Anne-Linn! Earth to Anne-Linn!"


"This is your wakeup call..."

"Ingrid, I am right here, and I am awake!"

"I tried to talk to you about the Friday party, but you were totally spaced out."

"Three-day party?"

"Oh my Golden Retriever! You are still out there! Daydreaming about that dark, tall, handsome stranger?"

Anne-Linn was suddenly very much present and accounted for. Her eyes widening and shifting from a lazy sea green to blazing turquoise as she brought her face close to Ingrid's, she hissed: "And who told you about that? Marianne?"

"Huh? What? Anne-Linn, I was just kidding! You know, 'dark, tall...' Oh!" Ingrid finally realized what she was seeing. "Sweet Hannah and the dog! There really is a dark, tall, handsome stranger?!"

Anne-Linn's cheeks were heating nicely. "Actually he is not so tall... it is just that he is so slender... or slim... and..."

"Anne-Linn! Don't space out again! You really got a boyfriend?!"

"Shh! Not so loud!"

"What? Anne-Linn has got a boyfriend?" "Boyfriend?" "Who?" "Anne-Linn? Boyfriend?" "Anyone we know?"

Anne-Linn looked around at the dozen or so curious faces who suddenly, magically, surrounded them. Holy Molly on a roller coaster, these people must have ears like a dog's!

"He is dark, short and handsome..." explained Ingrid.

"He is not short! He is slim, as in not fat. And he is not my boyfriend."

"Is it someone we know?" "Someone at our school?"

"It's just some guy I met at work. And he is not my boyfriend!"

"At work? How romantic! I hope he's not married..."

"He's definitely not married. And it's not like we're going out or anything."

"You sure he's not married? Some guys take off their wedding rings when they go to work. My second cousin, once removed, had a friend who..."

"He's not married, OK? He's like 20, and besides I've seen where he lives. He's definitely not married, not that it matters, because..."

"Oh my dog, you've already gone home with him?? That's, like, so..." "Did you meet his parents?" "Did you kiss goodnight at the front door?" "Did you kiss his parents?" "Matthias, go back to your desk! This is girl talk."

"No, we have not kissed!" Anne-Linn rolled her eyes. "What's wrong with you people? This is not some silly romance novel, where knights in shining armor rescue..." stupid girls who get stuck in bathroom windows? "rescue... damsels... in..." bathroom windows. Damsels in bathroom windows.

"Distress. The word you're looking for is 'distress'."

"Right! The stress. It's all because of the stress!"

"See? You spaced out again! Right after the word 'rescue'."

Don't think of it... don't think... don't think...

"Wow, your cheeks sure look good in pink!" "I'm so envious! I have to use a lot of rouge to get that color!" "Did he really rescue you?"

"I am red with anger, that's what! Because Ingrid had to shout 'boyfriend!!' at the top of her lungs!"

"I had to shout because you were lost in space!"

"This is so unfair! Why does Anne-Linn get a boyfriend, when she doesn't want one, while I get nothing?" "Matthias, I just don't think the boys find you very sexy. Go back to your desk now." "How about a girlfriend, then?" "I know girls don't find you sexy. Go away already."

"Well, boys don't find me sexy either. So let's cut out this stupid discussion, OK?" Anne-Linn looked around for moral support. Of course, in this classroom that was about as fruitful as looking for polar bears in Sahara.

"Can we get back to the rescue now?" "Yeah, that sounds interesting!"

"It's nothing to talk about, OK? I don't have a boyfriend, that's just a silly misunderstanding."

"What's his name?" "Where does he work?" "Where does he live?" "Did you really meet his parents?" "If you don't have a boyfriend, will you date me instead?" "Shut up, Matthias, you have so little brains!"

"Fine! If that's what it takes! Matthias, I'll let you date me for an evening!"

"You will? Really? Seriously?"

"Just for one evening, to show that I don't have a boyfriend, OK?"

"But Matthias is below average in everything. Even P.E.!"

"What a cruel and hurtful thing to say!"

"But it is true!"

"That's why it is so cruel and hurtful to say it."

"So you think I'm below average too?"

"Well, you are. But that doesn't mean you can't take me to the movies."

"Can we kiss?"

"On the first date? Of course not!"

"Can we go see 'Busty Pilot Ninjas from Heck'?"

"That does not sound like a very girlfriendly movie."

"But it goes on Friday! And then at least I would get to see something busty!"

Right, I keep forgetting that we are BOTH below average in some way...

"Friday? But then you can't come to my club's open house on Friday night!"

"Helene, I don't think he is interested in your club."

"I have forgotten what club she was in."

"We're gonna have open house and let everybody sample! We're going to do the thing bunnies do, all night!"

"Woo hoo! I'll be there!"

"Really? I thought you were going on a date with Anne-Linn?"

"Uh, I can do that another night..."

"It's now or never, Matthias."

"Which do you choose, Matthias? One movie without even a kiss, or free samples, the best we can do, from every girl in our club?"

"Sorry, Anne-Linn, but that's not even a contest. I'm sure you understand that I choose the club."

"I understand perfectly."

"Woo hoo! Here I come! Helene, you are not going to regret this!"

"So you promise to come to our club?"

"Are you kidding? I promise to join your club!"

"That's great! Welcome to the vegetarian club, Matthias!"

"Huh? Vegetarian??"

"We're gonna eat carrots, salads and cabbage all night, just like bunnies! What did you think bunnies did all night?"

"But I... I had forgotten..."

Anne-Linn got to her feet, walked over to Helene and gave her a good hug. "Thank you for the save" she whispered in her ear.

Helene grinned. "Anything for a damsel in distress" she whispered back.

"Woo hoo! Hot girl on girl action! Do it again!"

"Shut up, Matthias, you have so little brains!"