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Chapter 3
on your marks, get set, rrrip! ! "Oh my God, I can't breathe," Blair gasped dramatically. She hugged one of her stepbrother Aaron's barley-husk-filled bed pillows against her stomach. "I'm going to throw up." It wouldn't be the first time. "Calm down," Serena advised, arranging two little piles of white, cream, and manila envelopes on top of Aaron's eggplant-colored hemp bedspread. Her instincts in the park the other day about this little letter-opening party had been dead accurate. Blair was simply way too competitive to be civilized about the whole thing. "I'm going to die," Blair moaned, clutching her stomach. The two girls sat cross-legged on top of Aaron's bed in his bedroom, which was actually Blair's room from now until she went away to college. Her real bedroom was being made over into a nursery for Yale, her new baby half-sister, due to arrive in June. Aaron had moved in with her little brother, Tyler. Blair despised the room's ecofriendly decor and the persistent odor of stale soy hot dogs and herbal cigarettes. She was even thinking of petitioning for a suite at the Carlyle Hotel on Madison, at least until graduation. Talk about perfect setting for a post-getting-into-Yale rendezvous with Nate! But first things first: she had to get in. On the bed between the two girls were two piles of envelopes, stacked facedown so that the return addresses were hidden. There were seven in Blair's stack and five in Serena's, yet Serena's stack was taller. There was no question about it: Serena's envelopes were suspiciously fatter. "Okay. Ready?" Serena asked. She reached across the bed to give Blair's hand a little good-luck squeeze. "Wait!" Blair grabbed the bottle of Ketel One vodka she'd swiped from her stepfather's nightstand and opened it with her teeth. "The longer you drag it out, the more painful it's gonna be," Serena replied, beginning to lose patience. Blair took a swig, then closed her eyes and reached for the first envelope in her stack. "Fuck it. Okay. Let's do it." Rriipp! Dear Ms. Waldorf, The Office of Admissions is sorry to inform you that we have reviewed your application and cannot offer you a place at Harvard University next fall. Rriipp! Dear Ms. van der Wbodsen, The Office of Admissions has reviewed your application and is pleased to offer you a place at Harvard University. . . . Rriipp! Dear Ms. Waldorf, Thank you for your application. Princeton University had an outstanding pool of applicants this year. The admissions decision is always a difficult one. We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you a place in the class of... Rriipp! Dear Ms. van der Woodsen, Thank you for your outstanding application. Princeton University is pleased to offer you a place in the class of... Rriipp! Dear Ms. Waldorf, We regret to inform you that Brown University cannot. .. Rriipp! Dear Ms. van der Woodsen, Dear Ms. van der Woodsen, Rriipp! Dear Ms. Waldorf, We have reviewed your application and have decided not to offer you a place atWesleyan next fall. We wish you well. Rriipp! Dear Ms. van der Woodsen, The Office of Admissions at Wesleyan University is pleased to offer you a place… Rriipp! Dear Ms. Waldorf, Vassar College is a small school and can only accept a limited number of applicants. We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you a place at Vassar next fall. Rriipp! Dear Ms. van der Woodsen, Thank you for your application to Yale University. We are very pleased to invite you to join the class of... Rriipp! Dear Ms. Waldorf, Thank you for your application to Yale University. The Office of Admissions has added your name to a wait list. The office will inform you of your status on or before June 15. Rriipp! Dear Ms. Waldorf, We have reviewed your application and are very pleased to offer you a place at Georgetown University next fall. Blair tossed the last letter on top of the bedspread and seized the bottle of vodka. Wait-listed at Yale, and she only got into Georgetown? But that was her safety! No way had she thought she'd ever actually wind up there. Drink up and think again, honey-pie. She took a panicked gulp and then handed the bottle to Serena. "How'd you do?" she demanded. Serena could tell from the scary look on Blair's face that the news was not good. She didn't know what to say. "Urn, I got in ... um . . . basically . . . everywhere?" Blair stared disbelievingly at the sheaf of acceptance letters in Serena's hands. On top was a cream-colored letter marked with the distinctive blue Yale University letterhead. Her vision blurred. "Wait, you applied to Yale?" Serena nodded. "At the last minute I just decided, why not, you know?" "And you got in?" Serena nodded again. "Sorry." She reached for the remote and flicked on Aaron's TV. Then she flicked it off again. The way Blair was glaring at her with her teeth bared was making her nervous. Blair kept on glaring. Back in first grade she'd accidentally chopped off a foot-long swath of Serena's long golden hair with a steak knife. All these years she'd felt sort of guilty about it—until now. Now she wished she'd cut Serena's entire blond fucking head off. She snatched up the bottle and took another angry swig of vodka. What did Serena have that she didn't? She was in the top of her class at Constance and took every AP course they offered. She'd aced the SAT. She did charity work. She ran the French club. She was a ranked tennis player. Her entire high-school career—practically her whole life—she'd been working toward getting into Yale. Her father had gone there. His father had gone there. Her great-uncle had donated two buildings and a playing field. Serena had been kicked out of boarding school that fall. She took no APs at all, did hardly any extracurriculars, was purported to have mediocre grades and even lower SAT scores than Nate. Serena's dad had gone to Princeton and Brown, two of Yale's biggest competitors. Still, Yale had accepted Serena and stuck Blair on their fucking wait list! Was there something Serena knew that she didn't even after twelve two-hour sessions with Ms. Glos, the uptight, wig-wearing Constance Billard School senior guidance counselor, and one hundred and fourteen weeks of SAT prep?? grades and even lower SAT scores than Nate. Serena's dad had gone to Princeton and Brown, two of Yale's biggest competitors. Still, Yale had accepted Serena and stuck Blair on their fucking wait list! Was there something Serena knew that she didn't even after twelve two-hour sessions with Ms. Glos, the uptight, wig-wearing Constance Billard School senior guidance counselor, and one hundred and fourteen weeks of SAT prep?? Blair scooted off the bed, scattering her pile of rejection letters. So Serena got into Yale, but she didn't even really want to go there? "What the fuck?!" she cried, sloshing vodka all over the natural-sea-grass mat beneath her feet. Serena collected her letters and held them behind her back. "What about the other schools? You must have-All of a sudden Blair's stepbrother, Aaron Rose, poked his smug, dreadlocked Rasta, into-Harvard-early-admission head into the room. "I thought I heard shouting." He squinted at the letters in Serena's hand. "Accepted at Harvard!" He walked into the room and held his hand up to give her a high five. "Nice!" He grinned over at Blair. "Wuzzabout you, sis?" Blair wasn't sure whether to kill them both or kill herself. "I'm not your sister," she spat back. She slammed the half-empty vodka bottle down on the top of Aaron's organically grown beechwood dresser, nearly breaking the glass bottle. "But since you're both obviously so interested, I got fucking wait-listed at Yale. The only place that accepted me is Georgetown. Fucking stupid-ass Georgetown." Serena and Aaron stared at her for a moment, their eyes wide with a mixture of disbelief and fear of the Mighty Wrath of Blair. "That's not so bad," Serena murmured finally. She didn't know much about Georgetown, but she'd met some cute boys who went there, and it might be kind of cool to live in the same city as the president. "I'm sure Yale is just playing hard to get. And if you don't wind up getting in, at least you have backup." It was easy for Serena to talk about backup when her backup schools were Harvard and Brown. Blair stuffed her feet back into her new dove gray Eugenia Kim flats and snatched her black DKNY zip-up cardigan off the bed. "Come on, Blair, don't be such sore loser. New Haven's a dump anyway. You'd probably hate it there." Aaron hooked his guitar-playing-callused thumbs into the pockets of his army green cargo pants. "At least they have a Prada in DC." Of course the only thing Blair had heard him say was the word loser. "Fuck off," she hissed to both of them as she stomped out the door on her way over to Nate's house. Chances were Nate had only been accepted at some lame stoner school like Hobart or UNH. At least he could sympathize. He'd probably even have sympathy sex. Not that she was even close to being in the mood. n's news is too good to share No one else was even home, but out of sheer habit, Nate stuffed a rolled-up navy blue Ralph Lauren bath towel into the space between the hardwood floor and his closed bedroom door before sitting down on his green-and-black-plaid bedspread and lighting up. He took a big hit and then reached for the first envelope in the short stack on his bedside table. He tore it open. Congratulations, Mr. Archibald, Brown University is pleased to offer you . . . Score! Nate dropped the letter on the bed, took another hit, and then tore open the second envelope. Dear Mr. Archibald, The Office of Admissions has reviewed your application and would like to invite you to join Boston University's class of... The Office of Admissions has reviewed your application and would like to invite you to join Boston University's class of... He sucked on the joint and then balanced it on the edge of his bedside table. Next envelope. Hampshire College had a strong and interesting pool of applicants this year. Yours stood out. Mr. Archibald, we are pleased to offer you a place at Hampshire next fall. Triple score! Last envelope—he'd only been able to deal with applying to four schools. Thank you for your application. Yale University's office of admissions is pleased to offer you a place in the class of... Quadruple fucking score!!! Nate couldn't wait to tell Blair. They could go to Yale together, live in the married people's housing just like she used to dream about. They could even get a dog, maybe. A Great Dane. Nate examined the other paperwork stuffed inside the envelopes. Along with the acceptance letters from Brown and Yale were extra letters from the schools' lacrosse coaches, promising him a starting place on the team. "Holy shit," Nate breathed, reading the letters. They didn't just want him. They wanted him bad. Join the club. He reached for his cell phone and was about to speed-dial Blair's private line when the phone rang in his hand. The name blair appeared on the phone's little screen. "Hey. I was about to call you," Nate chuckled. "How'd it go?" "Buzz me in." Blair replied in a clipped tone. "I'm like two doors away from your house." Uh-oh. Nate licked his fingers and pinched the burning end of the joint until it went out. Then he squirted a little Hermes Eau d'Orange Verte cologne into the air to freshen up the room. Not that he was trying to completely hide the fact that he'd been smoking weed; he just didn't want to gross Blair out with the smell. The doorbell rang and he buzzed her in. "I'm in my room," he said into the high-tech video-intercom system. "Come on up." On the bed were his four acceptance letters. He gathered them up, eager to present Blair with the awesome news: they were both going to Yale! This particular strain of pot always made him horny. Maybe Blair would finally be ready to have sex, and they could celebrate properly, with their clothes off. Or maybe not. Nate's house was even nicer than Blair's—after all, it was a whole house with a garden and everything, and since he was an only child, Nate even had his own floor. But the stairs always annoyed Blair. Couldn't his parents just install an escalator? "I'm dying," Blair wailed as soon as she reached the top step. She staggered into Nate's room and flopped facedown on the bed. Then she rolled over and stared up at the clear blue sky through the skylight in the ceiling. "At least, I wish I were dead." The odds were pretty high that Blair wouldn't be considering death if she'd gotten into Yale. Nate slid his acceptance letters onto his desk and sat down next to her. Gingerly, he brushed his thumb against her flawlessly smooth cheek. Thank you, La Mer skin cream. "What's going on?" he asked gently. "That stupid bitch Serena got into Yale and every other fucking school she applied to, and I only got into fucking Georgetown. Yale wait-listed me, and I got rejected everywhere else." Blair rolled over and pressed her face into Nate's leg. Today was the day she was supposed to have lost her virginity, but now it was obvious: she was too big a loser to ever have sex. "Oh, Nate. What are we going to do?" Nate didn't know what to say. One thing was certain. He wasn't about to tell Blair that he'd gotten into Yale, too. She might smother him with a pillow or something. "I know a hunch of guys who got wait-listed at schools last year. Most of them wound up getting in," he offered. gotten into Yale, too. She might smother him with a pillow or something. "I know a hunch of guys who got wait-listed at schools last year. Most of them wound up getting in," he offered. "Oh." Typical Blair. Her idea of a shitty school was any school other than Yale. "Yale knows that almost everyone they accept is going to go, so their wait list probably has, like, two people on it, and those two people are totally never going to get in." She sighed dramatically. "Fuck!"Then she sat up and flicked a piece of lint off her Seven jeans. "So what about you? Where'd you get in?" Nate knew it was wrong to withhold information from his girlfriend—the girl he loved—but he couldn't bear to break her heart. Or make her so mad she wouldn't want to fool around? "Um," he yawned, like this was the most boring conversation ever. "Hampshire. BU. Brown. That's about it." So he forgot to mention Yale. That wasn't the same as lying, was it? Um, yes? Blair stared icily at the bare hardwood floor, twirling her ruby ring around and around on her finger so fast it made Nate dizzy. He lay down next to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Georgetown is a good school." Blair's body was rigid. "But it's so far away from Brown," she complained. Nate shrugged and began to massage the spot between her shoulder blades. "Maybe I'll go to BU. I bet there's a shuttle from Boston to DC." Tears welled in Blair's eyes and she kicked at the mattress with her heels. "But I don't want to go to Georgetown. I hate Georgetown!" Nate pulled her head to his chest and kissed her neck. He and Blair hadn't been on his bed together like this in months, and he was getting seriously horny. "Have you even been down there to check it out?" As a matter of fact, Blair hadn't visited any school other than Yale. "No," she admitted. Nate ran his tongue over her earlobe. The peachy smell of her shampoo was giving him the munchies. "I've met a lot of cool girls from Georgetown. You should go down there. Maybe you'll even like it better than Yale," he said, his voice muffled as he nuzzled her neck. "Right," Blair responded bitterly. She was vaguely aware that Nate was coming on to her, but she was so upset, all she could feel was his spit on her ear. Nate fell back on the bed and pulled her on top of him. His eyes were closed and his lips were pressed together in a stoned, happy, turned-on smile. "Mmm," he moaned, enjoying the weight of her on top of him. "I just wish I'd gotten into Yale," Blair whispered. Then she could whip off her clothes and they could finally do it, just as she'd always imagined. She tucked her head into the crook of Nate's chin and breathed in his nice smoky scent. All she needed right now was a good cuddle. Sex would just have to wait. Nate opened his eyes and sighed heavily. Coitus Interruptus, Part XX, produced especially for him by Blair Waldorf. Not that he actually deserved sex. "Just promise me you'll check out Georgetown," he said, trying to sound like a good supportive boyfriend and not a lying son of a bitch. Blair hugged him tight. Her life was a miserable pit of hell, and her best friend was a deceitful bitch, but at least she had Nate—adorable, caring, straightforward Nate. And he was right. Visiting Georgetown couldn't hurt. At this point she'd do anything. "Okay. I promise," she agreed. Nate tucked his hand inside the waistband of her jeans but she grabbed it and pulled it out again. Well, almost anything. and the winner is… "He's here!" Dan heard his kid sister, Jenny, whisper as he closed the front door of the apartment. "Hurry!" He dropped his keys on the rickety old table in the front hall and kicked off his Pumas. "Hello?" he called, padding into the kitchen, where the family usually converged. As usual, Marx, the Humphreys' enormous black cat, lay sprawled on the cracked yellow Formica kitchen table, his head resting on an orange dish towel. Dan's half-empty coffee cup was right where he'd left it that morning, near Marx's little,, pink nose. The kitchen lights were on, and a half-eaten Dannon fat-free blueberry yogurt—Jenny's favorite—sat on the yellow countertop. Dan tugged on Marx's furry black ears. The usual pile of mail was suspiciously missing from the table, and Jenny was nowhere in sight. "Yo. Anyone home?" he called. "In here," Jenny's voice rang out from the adjacent dining room. Dan pushed open the swinging door to the dining room. Side by side at the scratched Pennsylvania Dutch farm table sat Jenny and their dad, Rufus. Rufus was wearing a heather gray Mets T-shirt, and his wild and wiry gray beard was badly in need of combing. Jenny was wearing an expensive-looking silk tiger-print halter top, and her nails were painted bright red. In the empty place across from them sat a stack of envelopes, an unopened box of Entenmann's chocolate donuts, and a white paper cup of deli coffee. "Have a seat, son. We've been waiting for you," Rufus explained with an anxious smile. "We even got your favorite donuts. Today's the big day!" Dan blinked. For the past seventeen years his father had complained about the cost of raising and educating two ungrateful teenagers, and constantly threatened to move to a country where medicine and education were publicly funded. Yet he sent Dan and Jenny to two of the most expensive and competitive single-sex private schools in Manhattan, taped their stellar report cards to the fridge, and was constantly quizzing them on poetry and Latin. He seemed even more freaked out about Dan's college acceptance letters than Dan was. "Did you guys already open my mail?" Dan demanded. "No. But we will if you don't hurry up and sit down," Jenny told him. She tapped the stack of envelopes with a shiny red fingernail. "I put Brown on top." "Gee, thanks," Dan grumbled as he sat down. As if the whole process wasn't nerve-racking enough. He hadn't anticipated opening his mail in front of an audience. Rufus reached across the table for the box of donuts and tore it open. "Go on," he urged, before stuffing a donut into his mouth. His fingers trembling, Dan carefully opened the envelope from Brown and unfolded the sheets of paper inside. "Oh my God, you're so in!" Jenny squealed. "What'd they say? What'd they say?" Rufus demanded, his bushy gray eyebrows twitching excitedly. "I got in," Dan told them quietly. He handed his father the letter. "Of course you did!" Rufus gloated. He grabbed last night's nearly empty bottle of Chianti from off the table, uncorked it with his teeth, and took a swig. "Go on, open the next one!" The second letter was from New York University—NYU— where Vanessa had been accepted early admission. "I bet you're in," Jenny anticipated annoyingly. "Shhhh!" her father hissed at her. Dan tore open the letter. He looked up at their expectant faces and announced evenly, "In." "Whoo-hoo!" Rufus cheered, slapping his chest like a proud gorilla. "Atta boy!" Jenny reached for the next envelope. "Can I open this one?" Dan rolled his eyes. Did he have any choice? "Sure." "Colby College," Jenny read. "Where's that?" "Maine, you ignoramus," their father answered. "Will you open it please?" Jenny giggled and slid her finger under the flap of the envelope. This was fun, like being a presenter at the Oscars or something. "And the Oscar goes to ... Dan! You're in!" presenter at the Oscars or something. "And the Oscar goes to ... Dan! You're in!" Jenny reached for the next envelope and tore it open without even asking for permission first. "Columbia University. Oops. They rejected you." "Bastards," Rufus growled. Dan shrugged again. Columbia had a prestigious and demanding creative writing program, and it was so close to home he wouldn't have needed to live in a dorm. But considering the claustrophobic situation he found himself in right now, living at home for the next four years seemed kind of unappealing. The last envelope was from Evergreen College in Washington State, so far away it had a sort of romantic appeal. He slid the envelope across the table to Rufus and picked up his complimentary cup of coffee. "Open it, Dad." "Evergreen!" Rufus bellowed. "Abandoning us for the Pacific Northwest! Do you have any idea how much it rains out there?" "Dad," Jenny whined. "All right, all right." Rufus tore open the envelope, ripping the letter in the process. He squinted at the mangled sheet of paper. "In!" He grabbed another donut, shoved it in his mouth, and then pushed the box toward Dan. "Four out of five—not too shabby!" "Let's eat out to celebrate!" Jenny cried, clapping her hands. "There's this new restaurant on Orchard Street that is supposed to be really cool. All the models go there." Rufus grimaced at Dan. "Before you arrived, your sister announced that she is going to be a supermodel. Apparently by the end of the month I'll be riding around in my jet buying racehorses and boats with all the millions she's going to make." He pointed a chocolatey finger at Jenny. "You'll cover Dan's college tuition, too, right?" Jenny rolled her eyes. "Dad." Rufus squinted at her. "Where'd you get that shirt, anyway?" His forehead grew red and shiny, the way it did when he was excited. "If you don't stop misusing my credit card, I'm sending you to boarding school. You hear?" Jenny rolled her eyes again. "You may not have to send me. I'll be happy to go." Dan cleared his throat noisily and stood up. "That's enough, kids. There's a party later on tonight, but before I go, you can take me out for Chinese. At my place on Columbus." "Bor-ing," Jenny moaned. "You got it," Rufus agreed, winking at him. "By the way, I vote for NYU. That way you can live at home, I can help you study, and in return you can hook me up with some of your brainy female English professors." Dan felt like he'd stepped into a corny Disney movie about horny stay-at-home dads. He grabbed a donut out of the box, scooped up the pile of letters, and headed into his room. A blank notebook lay on the unmade bed, waiting for him to pick it up and fill it with somber, tortured verse. But Dan was too happy to write. He'd gotten into four out of the five schools he'd applied to! He couldn't wait to share the good news. The problem was, with whom? as long as he's happy, she's happy "What if he's home all alone slashing his wrists or something?" Vanessa fretted out loud. She glared at her twenty-two-year-old sister Ruby's leather-clad ass. Ruby was leaning in her bedroom doorway, talking on the landline and her cell phone at the same time, organizing her band's upcoming tour. "Iceland!" Ruby shouted. "We're number five on the indie charts in freaking Reykjavik!" "Big freaking whoop," Vanessa growled, checking her e-mail for the sixtieth time, even though no one ever e-mailed her. She had convinced herself that Dan had been rejected from every school he'd applied to and was at that very moment standing on top of the George Washington Bridge, writing his postscript before he jumped. Even if he had gotten in somewhere, he was probably having some sort of existential apocalyptic moment and was right now wading naked into the Hudson River near the boat basin to cleanse himself of all the creativity-draining negative karma before he could write again. one ever e-mailed her. She had convinced herself that Dan had been rejected from every school he'd applied to and was at that very moment standing on top of the George Washington Bridge, writing his postscript before he jumped. Even if he had gotten in somewhere, he was probably having some sort of existential apocalyptic moment and was right now wading naked into the Hudson River near the boat basin to cleanse himself of all the creativity-draining negative karma before he could write again. She'd thought about calling him under the pretense of another interview for her documentary, but that was so obvious, just thinking about it made her break out into a rash. She'd also thought of calling Dan's little sister, Jenny, under the pretense of asking her to do an interview on what it was like to have a sibling in the throes of getting into college. Then Jenny would blurt to Dan that Vanessa had called and asked about him, and then maybe Dan would call or e-mail her. But come on, how sixth grade could you get? Ruby was still parked in her doorway, talking on the phone. This was the problem with Ruby sleeping in the living room and Vanessa having the only bedroom: Ruby treated Vanessa's bedroom like her living room. "Hold on. Call-waiting," Ruby told the person on the other end of the line. She plugged her nose and put on a fake operator's voice. "All systems are busy at this time— " She paused. "Oh, hello, Daniel. Would you mind calling back? I'm on an important call with my band. We're taking over the universe." Vanessa lunged for the phone and wrenched it out of Ruby's hand. "Hello?" she said tremulously. "Dan? Are you . . . are you okay?" "Yup," Dan replied, sounding happier than she'd ever heard him sound. "I got in everywhere except Columbia." "Wow!" Vanessa responded, absorbing the information. "But you want to go to Brown, right? I mean, you're not even really considering NYU or those other schools?" "I don't know," Dan answered. "I have to think it over." They were both silent for a moment. They'd discussed the obvious, but there was so much more to discuss, it was kind of overwhelming. "Well, anyway, congratulations," Vanessa managed to utter, suddenly feeling incredibly sad. Dan was going to Brown in Providence, Rhode Island, where he'd probably meet some long-haired, skinny girl from Vermont who made pottery and played guitar and knitted him sweaters, while she stayed in New York and went to NYU and continued to live with her freak of a sister. Ruby grabbed the phone out of her hand. "Hey Dan, guess what? I'm going on tour for like eight months with SugarDaddy. We're leaving next week. Why don't you move in here? You and my sister can have, like, your own little love pad!" Vanessa glared at her. Leave it to Ruby to completely mess things up in the most tactless, embarrassing way possible. Ruby handed back the phone and Vanessa held it a few inches away from her ear. What the fuck was she supposed to say now? Dan wasn't opposed to the idea of living parent-free in a cool neighborhood like Williamsburg, and living with Vanessa might actually be kind of great. She could make her films, he could write. It would be like Yaddo—one of those retreats for writers and artists that his dad had gone to back in the old days. Maybe they'd even wind up getting back together and having lots of sex all the time, just like all those artists and writers were rumored to have done back in the seventies. Still, everything was happening kind of fast. His cleared his throat. "I'll have to talk to my dad about it. We're going out for Chinese tonight to celebrate. How 'bout we meet at that party on West Street afterwards?" Vanessa was hardly the partying type, but she supposed Dan had a reason to want to celebrate. "Sounds good," she agreed. "And I'll talk to my dad about the moving-in thing. I think it could be kind of cool," Dan told her, sounding rather cool himself. sounding rather cool himself. "Cool" she enthused, even though it had always been one of her least favorite words. She clicked off and handed the phone back to her sister, who was still jabbering on her cell phone. "Can I borrow some stuff from your closet?" Vanessa whispered. Ruby cocked an eyebrow at her and nodded silently. Looks like this is going to be some party. like she was actually in the mood to celebrate? Blair stepped off the elevator and stood staring at the homemade banner taped to the front door of the penthouse. "YAY, blair! we're so proud of you!" it read. She pushed open the door. Mookie, Aaron's exuberant brown-and-white boxer, waggled over and shoved his wet nose between her legs. "Fuck off," Blair growled. For a brief moment she wondered if a miracle had occurred. Maybe her France-living gay dad or some other benevolent fairy had put in a call to Yale and they'd decided to accept her right away. It was unlikely, but— "Serena told us what happened!" her pregnant mother crowed, swaying hugely in the foyer. "Wait list, shmait list. I can't imagine why you got so upset, darling. Yale has just as good as accepted you!" Blair peeled off her cardigan and threw it on the antique chaise in the corner. Mookie threatened to sniff her crotch again and she kicked him away. "It's not that simple, Mom." Pregnancy had made Eleanor's highlighted blond hair grow superfast, and it hung down to her shoulders in what Blair thought was a pathetic attempt to look like she was of appropriate childbearing age. Eleanor clapped her bejeweled hands together. "Well, my little sourpuss, we're having a special family celebration for you anyway. Everyone's waiting in the dining room!" A family celebration. Oh, goody. The table was laid with Eleanor's finest crystal and silver, and she'd ordered in from Blue Ribbon Sushi, Blair's favorite. Cyrus and Aaron were already merry with champagne. Even twelve-year-old Tyler looked a little drunk. "And you thought you'd wind up at Norwalk Community College," Aaron said as he poured champagne into Blair's empty glass. "We all knew you could do better." Cyrus winked at her with one of his bulbous, bloodshot, muddy blue fish eyes. "Yale rejected me flat when I applied. It's about time I made them sorry. If you'd like me to give them a kick in the pants about your application, I'd sure enjoy doing it." Blair grimaced. As if she wanted Yale to know she and Cyrus were even remotely related?! "I'm not going to college," Tyler announced, sipping his champagne like a pro. "I'm going to DJ in clubs all over Europe. And then I'm going to open a casino." "We'll see about that." Eleanor forked a six-inch-long California roll onto her plate and giggled. "Baby's hungry again." Blair had a feeling her mother wouldn't look like she was twenty months pregnant instead of only seven if she'd stop eating so much. She downed her entire glass of champagne and reached for an untouched box of sushi. First she was going to stuff her face with eel roll and pour enough champagne down her throat to make her puke her guts out. Then she was going to meet Nate at that stupid party on West Street, but only for ten minutes, because watching everyone celebrate when she had nothing to celebrate was going to make her puke even more. And then she was going to fall asleep watching Breakfast at Tiffany's, her all-time-favorite movie, starring her all-time-favorite star. Audrey Hepburn hadn't even gone to college, but she'd still had a charmed life. Her mother picked up her log of sushi and bit into it like a hot dog. She and Cyrus had known each other for less than a year and had only been married since November, but Eleanor seemed to have picked up his eating habits. She put the remaining sushi down and dabbed her lips with a white linen napkin. napkin. Blair looked up from her eel. It appeared her mother was addressing her. Oh, boy. "You know it's been a while, so my doctor thought it might be good for me to take a childbirth class, to refresh my memory. I signed up for the intensive one. It meets four afternoons for two hours. The thing is, Cyrus is working on his new project out in the Hamptons, and he's rather squeamish about these kinds of things anyway. Do you think you could come with me, darling? I have to have a partner, and it's only a couple of hours after school." Blair coughed the rest of the eel into her napkin and lunged for her champagne. Childbirth class ? What the fuck? "I thought Aaron was the one who wanted to be a doctor," she complained. "Why can't he go?" "You always take such good care of your mother," Cyrus told her. "I have band practice," Aaron said. As if he'd ever planned on volunteering. "Me too," Tyler put in quickly. And it wasn't as though Eleanor could ask any of her middle-aged socialite friends to go with her. Their children were all college-age, or nearly. To them, Eleanor's pregnancy was a tremendous, horrifying embarrassment. "Fine. I'll go," Blair agreed sullenly. She pushed her plate away and stood up. The thought of talking to them any longer made her want to puke already. Besides, everyone seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed to be celebrating, anyway. "May I be excused?" she asked. "I have to get ready to go out." Her mother reached over and snaked an arm around her. "Of course, darling." She gave Blair's waist a squeeze. "You're my best friend." Ew? Blair wriggled free and escaped to her so-called bedroom. At least Georgetown was further away than Yale—it had that going for it. And it wouldn't hurt to call the number on the acceptance letter and make arrangements for a visit. If only she'd applied to the University of Australia. She peeled off her jeans and T-shirt and made a halfhearted effort to dress for the party, putting on a tighter, darker pair of jeans and a black sleeveless shirt. Her arms looked pale and slack, and she pinched them angrily. "Hey sis," Aaron called from outside her door. "Can I come in?" Blair rolled her eyes at her reflection in her bedroom mirror. "It's not like I can stop you," she replied miserably. Aaron opened the door, wearing his Harvard T-shirt like the asshole he was. It was kind of a tradition to wear an article of clothing from the school you wanted to go to right after finding out that you'd gotten in, but Aaron had found out months ago. "I thought we could head down to the party together." "Fine," Blair sighed. "I'm almost ready." She picked up a stick of Chanel eyeliner and drew a dark gray line beneath each of her eyes. Then she smeared on some MAC Ice lip gloss and ran her fingers through her hair. There. Done. "Aren't you going to wear your Yale T-shirt?" Aaron asked, watching as she searched under the bed for an appropriate pair of shoes. "I won't tell anyone about the wait list." "Gee, thanks," Blair retorted as she shoved her feet into a pair of boring black Coach loafers. She yanked the bedroom door open all the way and stomped down the hall, not even caring that her tight jeans made her bulky cotton underwear bunch and ride right up her butt. So much for the days of dressing for success! topics previous next post a question reply Disclaimer: All the real names of places, people, and events have been altered or abbreviated to protect the innocent. Namely, me. HEY, PEOPLE! How to get off the wait list and into the college of your choice Stage a hunger strike in front of the admissions office. Take the SATs again, cheat, and get a perfect score. Learn to play "Yankee Doodle" on the violin and serenade the admissions office until they beg you to enroll, if only you'll stop playing. Buy more shoes than Imelda Marcos, get in the Guinness Book of World Records, write a tell-all memoir, and win the Pulitzer Prize for literature. Use your platinum Amex to buy the dean of admissions that new BMW convertible all your guy friends want for graduation. Your e-mail Dear GG, I met this boy a while ago at a party in NYC. He totally convinced me he was going to Georgetown next year and would be captain of our lax team. He was going to keep his sailboat somewhere nearby and we were going to sail down to Florida together for spring break. I never heard from him again, and now I don't think he even applied. —brokenhrt Dear brokenhrt, Guess he must have found another port to dock his ship in. I'm so sorry. —GG Dear GG, I heard that dumb blond Constance girl got in everywhere because she slept with all her interviewers. —beast Dear beast, I don't know if we're even talking about the same blond Constance girl. But maybe she's a lot smarter than everyone thinks. —GG Dear GG, Just so you and everyone else knows, I work in the admissions office at the Dorna B. Rae College for Women in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and we are still accepting applications. Come and check us out! —camil Dear camil, Sounds tempting. I'll def. make sure B knows about this, and anyone else who's really desperate. —GG Sightings N and his buds celebrating their acceptances on the roof terrace of his town house. Passersby were getting high on the secondhand smoke. That old girlfriend of N's from Greenwich—you remember, the crazy, drug-addicted heiress?—at a convent in Sweden, "reforming." J having a free makeup consultation at the Clinique counter in Bloomingdale's SoHo. It's important to know your pore size and what type of exfoliator to use before you become a famous supermodel. V, also in Bloomingdale's SoHo, getting made over by a glamorous transvestite at the MAC counter. Hot date tonight? S at an ATM withdrawing a hot-pink alligator Birkin bag full of cash. Paying off the admissions offices at all the schools she got into? Making a contribution to charity? Buying herself an "I got in!" gift at one of those exclusive meatpacking district boutiques that only take cash? D with his dad in a Broadway liquor store, buying a magnum of Dom. That's one proud papa. And B returning a get-lucky outfit in Barneys' lingerie department. Guess she decided it was bad luck. I believe I have a little college acceptance celebrating to do myself. See you at the party tonight! You know you love me, gossip girl

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