Early in the fall semester, Angela came back to the
dorm room to find Stephanie eating a celery stick and
sitting in the armchair which had been turned to face
the door. "Where have you been? Iíve been waiting
Angela suddenly had the urge to close the door and
run the other way. "Ummm...what do you mean? Iím
pretty sure we didnít have plans to do something
together." She dropped her bag on the floor and
tensed her legs, making it clear she was ready to do a
Ralph Macchio Whooping Crane kick to Stephanieís head
if the need arose.
Stephanie flinched and then overcompensated her
attempt to look comfortable by casually crossing her
legs and letting her spine droop along the back of the
chair. "Do you really think you scare me? Please.
Itís time we made up. I think we could be good for
each other, given the chance." She blinked a little
too often to be thoroughly convincing, but she was
standing her ground - or sitting her chair at least.
Angela shrugged and found the other chair, grabbing
her backpack and pulling out a prize Michaelangelo
biography she had snagged at the library book sale.
"Sorry we canít bond right now, but I have a date with
chapter eight." She opened the tome and found herself
acutely aware that Stephanie was still watching her,
and still drawing from her Tub of Endless Celery
Sticks. Crunch. Crunch. "Donít you need to put some
peanut butter on those things or something to give
them a bit of flavor?"
"What, and throw all the nutritional value out the
window?" Stephanie tried to fasten herself around the
potential conversation with both hands, certain that
this was a breakthrough in the progress of their
relationship. "You may look good now, but with the
food Iíve seen you eat, youíre going to be in pretty
bad shape in a few years. Donít you care about your
Angela smiled despite herself. "As far as I can
tell, my diet has done me nothing but good. You
should have seen what I looked like before. In my
mind I canít afford to skimp in the cupcakes and
french fries department. In fact, Iím thinking of
increasing my intake of crap to make sure I donít
slide back into my former self. Come on, letís go
split a nacho supreme and let bygones be bygones.
Iíll even buy you a chocolate milkshake if you promise
never to mention my health again."
Stephanie looked like she had been hit by the
Whataburger truck. "I donít understand you. Donít
you know that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind?
You seem to care about learning things. You canít
fool me into thinking youíre not intellectual. Donít
you understand that your brain is alive and that it
needs nourishment that is not deep-fried in fat or
rolled in powdered sugar?"
With a flourish of her hand, Angela took on a regal
tone. "You are quite passionate, Ms. Bowers. But you
do not persuade. You are a one-note symphony, and
frankly my dear I have already heard too many notes.
Now begone and leave me to my Michel Ange, a healthy
man if I ever saw one." After that (and a purely
unintentional snort), Angela propped back open her
book to page random and ever so slightly watched
Stephanie to see what she would do next.
Stephanie took a deep breath and started again. "I
have a confession to make." Angelaís ears pricked up
in not-so-mock interest. Was this going to be good?
Was this goody-goody finally going to get off her high
horse? The words suddenly flew out of Stephanieís
mouth into unbelieving ears: "I signed us up for the
tennis tournament, and theyíve already scheduled us in
a match against Julie Sparker and Beth Yonks. Itís in
"What? What do you mean?" Angela almost fell out of
her chair. "Are you completely insane? What ever
happened to mutual consent in team sports? Are you
trying to unilaterally reinstitute slavery with me as
the first victim?" That being said, Angela regained
her composure. "Whatever made you think I would want
to be your tennis partner? I thought I made it clear
to you that I donít want to do anything with you -- no
offense -- much less sweat with you in public and in
front of two other girls who are kicking our ass
because Iíve never played a serious game of tennis in
A bead of sweat broke out on Stephanieís forehead.
Her sweat probably had the flavor of celery juice,
thought Angela, pitying any poor fool in the
unfortunate (and, admittedly, unlikely) circumstance
of having to taste Stephanie Bowerís sweat. Stephanie
spoke, her last gasp: "I just thought you should get
outdoors a little. I know you spend all your time in
the library when youíre not here. I think you would
be good at sports if you gave it a try." In an
attempt to boost her courage she had been focusing her
attention on a hole in the wall, but glanced over at
Angela briefly before finishing. "It doesnít have to
be a competitive thing. We could do it just for fun,
you know, to meet other people. To maybe get to know
each other a little better?" Exhausted with this
final plea she hung her head and stuffed the final
celery stick into her mouth. It seemed to Angela that
with every crunch Stephanie curled deeper into some kind of virtual dwarf star
as she sat there, packing herself more and more
tightly, as though at any moment she could explode into a black hole that would suck Angela into the void.
"OK, you win." It was purely out of self-defense
that she said these words to the cowering,
self-effacing girl in the chair before her. Angela had
never been so afraid in her whole life.