Melissa was just thinking about how seventh grade really sucks. And then it arrived in her mailbox. The validation she needed. An invitation to Amy’s party! Amy, of course, was the most popular girl in the seventh grade. Her boobs arrived on time and in precisely the right proportion. Her hair was the perfect level of blonde, not too platinum nor too mousey. Her legs long and shapely, her nails nicely shaded. Rumor had it that despite her parent’s obvious wealth, there were affairs and other shady dealings. Anyway, the invitation was pink and Melissa replied via email: “yes, can’t wait!”
On the night of the party, Melissa was thinking dreamily about Joey, hoping that the bottle would spin in his direction. His curly hair, the way he joked with his friends, the way he ran across the blacktop clutching a football. As all sat in a circle, the bottle spun. As it was a plastic bottle, the spinning action was limited. A frantic search for a glass bottle began, finally yielding an empty beer bottle, procured from the recycling bin while Amy’s parents were upstairs watching tv.
It was Melissa’s turn. Someone requested the lights be dimmed. Another complied with the request. Melissa leaned forward onto her hands. She spun the bottle. She leaned back onto her feet and tried to tuck her freshly curled hair behind her ear in a way that made her seem relaxed. She thought “Joey, Joey…” but the bottle had other ideas. The bottle said “William.”
William wasn’t so bad, certainly not as bad as Thomas, who wasn’t invited anyway. Melissa leaned forward again, took a two step crawl toward William. At the last moment, Melissa realized William was lunging toward her in the center of the large circle of seventh grade prying eyes. Too late to slow down, their teeth clanked together, then a swift groping of tongues, extremely sloppy but thank goodness not drippy. Melissa and William parted, sat down in their respective spots in the circle.
It was over, but really, it had just begun.