So? I'm not best friends with Miranda, but I'd rather hang with her than Roxanne. "Jess, I need your help. Bring Miranda."
"I don't want to talk about Mitch in front of her, Amy."
"Okay, so here's 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 you're too accessible."
"But nothing. Listen to me. I know what I'm talking about. I dated him, too. Remember?"
"Yeah, I remember."
"So, are you coming over now or what?"
"I'll come. Just remember to be nice to Miranda. She's sensitive."
"I'm 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 she's 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 Miranda's 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 I've been blessed with a mom who came up with the Everyone's a star at Starbucks campaign. Don't knock it. My entire wardrobe was probably paid with jingles and slogans my mom created. The Don't 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. I'm so heavy I'd probably break the heel."
"Don't be ridiculous," I say, then grab the shoes and hand them to her. They're slingback and will practically fit anyone. "Just don't 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. She's rummaging through my closet, taking stuff out and laying it over her arm. "I'll 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 it's sacred. The memories of that night are attached to that skirt and top. I'm 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, it's 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? I'll give you money if you'll make Amy clean her room."
"Dad, don't be a dork," I tell him, pushing him out of the room before he embarrasses me more. "I'm going to the youth group meeting tonight. Remember?"
"I remember. But I thought you said it started at four."
He checks his watch. "It's five to. You better hurry."
When he's 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 I'm 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, "He's her non-boyfriend."
I hesitate before saying, "Kind of."
Miranda looks from the picture of Avi to me. "He's a hottie."
A little part of my heart flips over. Turning around, I finish dressing and say, "I'm ready. Let's go," because I don't want to talk about him. I haven't even written him back and I don't call him at home because I don't want to act like stalker-girlfriend. I'm confused. I hate feeling like this.
When we arrive at the youth group meeting at the synagogue, I'm 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 I've never seen in my life.
A dark, curly-haired guy with a kippah on his head who's probably in his thirties tries to quiet everyone down.
"He's Rabbi Doug, the new assistant rabbi," Jess tells me.
Miranda stays close to Jess's 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 couldn't tell you what a sukkah was. Now I know it's 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 we're in different groups. I'm in a group with a bunch of kids I don't 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.
"I'm Nikki. With an z," she says.
Oh, no. Flashbacks of my stepfather, Marc with a c, slam into my consciousness. "I'm 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 you'd think Chicago Academy was synonymous with School For Brats. "Mather," she replies.
Nikki isn't über-friendly after I told her I go to Chicago Academy, like she's suddenly wary of me.
Luckily, a cool guy wearing a black hooded sweatshirt sits on the other side of me and starts talking. "What's up? I'm Wes."
"I've never seen you here before," Wes says while checking me out. He's so obvious about it, a guy like that deserves to be played with.
"I'm a youth group virgin," I say.
Instead of being shocked, the guy laughs. "Cool. You might not want to hang with me. I'm 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 she's acting all nicey-nice.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" Wes asks me while we're attempting to string bananas together.
I look over to Jessica's 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 people's business? "I have a boyfriend, but he's 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 he's, like, a million miles away?"
I stop the banana threading. It's like everyone else is putting into words what's been on my mind lately. It's pissing me off. Ever since I talked to my Israeli cousin yesterday, I've been rethinking my relationship with Avi. Obviously I'm 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. I'm 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. It's 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 doesn't even care that he's 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 I'd ever had.
I'm 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, I'll 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 shouldn't have such cool eyes.
"Hey, Amy, you okay?"
It's Jessica. I don't feel like talking right now, even to my best friend. I'm kind of fine being depressed all by myself. "I'm fine."
"You think the youth group is weak sauce, don't you? I'm sorry I made you--"
"It's not weak sauce."
"Then why are you all mopey?" My best friend rolls her eyes at me, if you can believe it. "Seriously, Amy, you're gonna have to get over Avi. You've been acting like a total recluse lately and it's getting on everyone's nerves, especially mine. Can't you move on? I guarantee Avi's 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. She's never done this before. We've always supported each other through guys and zits and parents and school. "I guess it's 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? I'm too confused to think right now. All I want to do is go home. What's worse is that I'm 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 I'm going to do next.
I could cry--that wouldn't 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 Jessica's tirade. And on my mom's pregnancy. And on Avi and Nathan and my dad's date disaster. And Mutt's insatiable addiction to sniffing everyone's crotch.