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Chapter 4
n has something to confes s True West was one of those places that felt brand-new every night, but it was also so classic, it might have been around forever. The walls were covered in mirrors with the drinks menus and specials scrawled all over them in waxy orange crayon. White leather horseshoe-shaped banquettes were scattered haphazardly around the dining room, and on each table a faux deerskin served as a tablecloth. Waiters dressed in denim Dries van Noten tunics and turquoise snakeskin cowboy boots wielded cocktails on vintage orange cafeteria trays. Weird Japanese country music drifted through the air, and behind the bar stood a wall of orange-tinted windows looking out over the Hudson River. Except for her battered black combat boots, Vanessa was barely recognizable in a black stretch faux-leather miniskirt and fluttery red-and-black zebra-print shirt. Thanks to the nice transvestite at the Bloomingdale's SoHo MAC counter, her lips were painted red, and her eyebrows had been plucked for the first time ever. She stationed herself on a stool at the far end of the bar and propped her camera upon her shoulder. The party had a giddy, first-day-of-school vibe. Girls in matching BU T-shirts squealed and threw their arms around one another. Boys in Brown sweatshirts gave each other high five. Vanessa observed them silently, waiting for one of them 10 approach her and volunteer for an interview. "I think I have something to say," announced an extraordinarily handsome boy wearing khakis and a plain white button-down shirt. He set his Tanqueray gin and tonic on the bar and took a seat on the stool next to Vanessa. "Do you want me to tell you my name and what school I go to and all that?" he asked. Vanessa trained the camera on his bloodshot but still glittering green eyes. "Not unless you want to," she replied. "Just tell me a little bit about how the getting-in process has been for you." Nate took a sip of his drink and looked out the orange-tinted windows. Across the river, planes circled over Newark Airport. "The funny thing is, I wasn't really stressed out until now," he admitted. He pulled a Marlboro Light out of a pack someone had left behind and rolled it back and forth on top of the bar. "And the stupid thing is, I shouldn't be stressed out. I should be celebrating." He glanced at the camera and then looked away selfconsciously. Behind him the banquettes were filling up, and suddenly the music was so loud, he could barely hear himself think. "I don't know why I didn't tell her I applied," he mumbled. "Who?" Vanessa coaxed. "Where? "My girlfriend," Nate explained. "See, she really wants to go to Yale. Like, it's the most important thing in her life. I wound up applying there because they have a new lacrosse coach who brought them up from a shitty division-two team to the leading division-one team in less than a year. Anyway, today I found out that I got in and she only got wait-listed. I never even told her I applied, and I guess I'm kind of scared 10 tell her I got in. I mean, we only just got back together. And if I tell her, she'll break up with me again." He waited for Vanessa to respond. When she didn't, he reached for his drink. "The coaches from Yale and Brown are coming down this weekend to watch me play. Blair's going down to DC to look at Georgetown, so luckily I won't have to lie to her about where the coaches are from and all that." Nate splayed his elbows and let his chin fall into his hands. Kind of sucks to be a liar, doesn't it? All of a sudden the familiar scent of a certain patchouli essential-oil mixture filled his nostrils. "We did it, Natie!" Serena breathed as she threw her arms around Nate's neck. Her pale blond hair was piled into a messy knot on top of her head and she was wearing a filmy white-and-gold-fringed poncho shirt over white jeans. Very Las Vegas showgirl meets The OC. Nate kissed her cheek and tried to look as psyched as he should have. "Oops." Serena grimaced, immediately catching on. "Did Blair break up with you again?" "Not yet." Nate was about to explain the whole thing, but then Blair stepped off the elevator at the opposite end of the enormous restaurant, glaring angrily at Serena's back as she approached. "Not yet." Nate was about to explain the whole thing, but then Blair stepped off the elevator at the opposite end of the enormous restaurant, glaring angrily at Serena's back as she approached. "I heard Blair wrote this really dumb screenplay instead of an essay for her Yale application. Ms. Glos told her to change it, but she sent it anyway, and that's why she didn't get in," Nicki Button told her friend Rain Hoffstetter. Rain and Nicki were going to Vassar together next year, and they couldn't slop looking at each other and squealing. "I heard Blair wrote Serena's Yale essay for her. That's why she's so pissed off. She got Serena in, but she only got waitlisted," Isabel Coates told her best friend, Kati Farkas. Kati and Isabel had both gotten into Georgetown and Rollins, but Isabel had gotten into Princeton and she was already wearing her Princeton T-shirt. The idea of splitting up was so heartbreaking, they couldn't stop holding hands. "Well I heard Serena got a 1560 on her SAT. She pretends to be so flaky and dumb, but it's all a big act. That's how she can go out so much and never study. She doesn't have to," Kati stated jealously. "What are you guys talking about?" Blair demanded when she reached the spot where Serena and Nate were seated at the bar. She'd only just arrived, but she hated the party already. She hated how many kids were wearing their stupid college T-shirts, she hated the queer Japanese country music blaring out of the stupid orange Bose speakers hanging over the bar, and she hated that Serena was talking to Nate in that intimate hands-all-over-over-him way she used whenever she talked to guys. "Nothing!" Serena and Nate answered in unison. Serena spun around on her bar stool. "Are you still mad at me?" Blair crossed her arms over her chest. "How come you're not wearing a Yale T-shirt? Oh, that's right. You got in, but you're probably not going," she added sarcastically. Serena shrugged. "I don't know. I'm visiting a bunch of places this weekend. Hopefully that will help me decide." Nate's armpits grew suddenly damp. He slid off his bar stool, put his hands on Blair's shoulders, and kissed her on 11 ic forehead. "You look pretty," he said in an effort to distract her from the subject of Yale. "Thanks," Blair said even though she knew for a fact that she looked like a preppy, uptight bitch who never had any fun. She wasn't even wearing any earrings, for Christ's sake! Farther down the bar a group of girls in matching hunter green Dartmouth T-shirts shouted out some stupid Dartmouth song before doing a line of vodka shots. "Ten minutes and then I'm leaving," Blair told Nate bluntly. "It's a school night, anyway." As if that had ever kept her from partying before. Nate kissed her temple. He was anxious to get her away from Serena before Serena innocently blurted out the news that he'd gotten into Yale, too. "Want to go check out the sunset or something?" he suggested lamely. "Whatever," Blair replied, keeping her arms stubbornly crossed over her chest. "Never mind me." Serena swung her bar stool around until she was facing Vanessa. "Okay, babe, I'm ready for my close-up." Vanessa didn't need to adjust a thing. She'd been filming the whole time. she's lost that lovin' feelin' "So I guess I should be happy," Serena declared. Vanessa tracked the camera slowly across Serena's flawless face and then panned down, looking for some physical defect or odd personality quirk to zoom in on. She couldn't find one. Then Serena stuck her thumbnail in her mouth and began to gnaw on it. Aha! She pulled her thumb away and frowned. "I am happy," she insisted, as though trying to convince herself. "I got into every school I applied to. They didn't even care about me not getting asked back to boarding school this year. It's just . . ." Her voice trailed off when she saw a boy and a girl, both dressed in Middlebury T-shirts, making out near the elevators. She sighed. "I just wish I had someone to celebrate with." herself. "I got into every school I applied to. They didn't even care about me not getting asked back to boarding school this year. It's just . . ." Her voice trailed off when she saw a boy and a girl, both dressed in Middlebury T-shirts, making out near the elevators. She sighed. "I just wish I had someone to celebrate with." "I used to dance on tables," Serena confessed, sounding like some wistful, washed-up, middle-aged cabaret singer. "Now look at me." Of course about ninety-nine percent of the room's male constituency was looking at her while they tried to come up with a pickup line good enough to get her to dance with them. In addition to the boys, a short, curly-haired, large-chested freshman girl was sizing Serena up as she considered how to approach her. Jenny and Dan had only just arrived, leaving their emotional father waxing nostalgic in the family's favorite Upper West Side Chinese restaurant over a carafe of sweet white wine. They stood in front of the elevator doors, surveying the room. "I warned you it would be obnoxious," Dan told his little sister. Normally Dan hated parties, and this particular scene should have annoyed the hell out of him, but he was feeling completely pleased with himself, and the party was the perfect setting for his mood. But Jenny only had eyes for Serena. "Don't worry, I can handle it," she replied. Hiking up her tiger-print halter top, she pushed her way across the crowded room, making a beeline for the bar. "If I deferred," Serena rambled on, "I could do some more modeling. And maybe some acting, too." Jenny leaned against the bar as she waited for a chance to ask Serena for advice on how to break into modeling. Her whole body shook with anticipation, and she felt silly for being so nervous. Dan only followed Jenny because he was worried she would order some sort of poisonous mixed drink and would need to be taken home before Vanessa even arrived. Then he noticed that Vanessa was already very much there, her camera propped up on her shoulder as she interviewed Serena for her film. Her lips were painted dark red, a silver snake was clipped to her ear, and a slinky black skirt clung to her thighs. Her red-and-black tank top was sort of slipping over her bare shoulders, exposing her apple-white skin in a way Dan had never seen it exposed before. At least, not in public. Without even pausing to think, he pushed his way through the dancing throng, walked up behind Vanessa, and kissed her neck. Her pale cheeks flushed pink and she whirled around on her bar stool, nearly dropping her beloved camera in the process. "It's not like I have to go to college now— ' Serena stopped in midsentence, staring as Vanessa and Dan groped each other like horny, sex-starved beasts. Cut! Jenny decided to make her move. She bumped her shoulder up against Serena's hip, hoping to give the appearance of running into her by accident. "Hey. So, congratulations and everything," she blurted out awkwardly. "That's a really cool shirt." If Serena had been Blair or some other senior girl, she might have brushed Jenny off with a terse "Thank you" while wondering what this annoying freshman brat was even doing at a senior post-getting-into-college party. But Serena never brushed anyone off. It was one of the things that made her so irresistible, or so intimidating, depending on who you were and how badly you wanted her. Besides, Jenny just happened to be in the ninth-grade peer group Serena co-led with Blair, so it wasn't as if they were total strangers. Jenny had a new haircut, with thick straight bangs and a curly bob that fell just to her chin. Her hair was dark and her brown eyes were big and round. The severe cut suited her. "I love your hair!" Serena slid off her bar stool so Jenny wouldn't be the only one standing. "You look like that model in all the new Prada ads." look like that model in all the new Prada ads." The bartender came over and Serena ordered two glasses of champagne. "You don't mind drinking with me, do you?" she asked Jenny. Jenny was flabbergasted. Mind? It was an absolute honor. She ran her finger over the damp rim of her champagne flute. "So, have you been doing any more modeling?" she asked. "I really liked that perfume thing you did." Serena winced and took a gulp of champagne. Two months ago, the designer Les Best had asked her to star in the advertising campaign for his new perfume, and he'd even wound up naming the perfume Serena's Tears. In the ad Serena stood crying on a wooden footbridge in Central Park, wearing a yellow sundress in the dead of winter. Contrary to popular belief, the tears on her cheeks were entirely real. The ad had been shot the very moment Blair's dreadlocked vegan stepbrother, Aaron Rose, had decided to break up with her; the very moment the tears began to fall. "Actually, I think I might try acting next," she replied. Jenny nodded eagerly. "I just love how you look so real in that ad. Like, of course you look amazing, but not, like, air-brushed or made up or anything." Serena giggled. "Oh my God, I was wearing so much makeup—you know that gross beige stuff they smear all over your face? And they totally airbrushed out my goosebumps. I was freezing my butt off!" The lights over the bar went out for a second and everybody screamed. Then they came on again. Jenny remained composed, eager to give the impression that she attended out-of-control parties like this all the time. "Honestly," Serena declared, relieved to take a break from ruminating over her uncertain future. "Anyone can model. As long as you have the right look for the shoot." "I guess," Jenny replied doubtfully. It was easy for Serena to say that anyone could model when she was endowed with giraffe-like legs, a gorgeous face, amazing dark blue eyes, and long, luxurious, natural blond hair. "But how do you know if you have the right look?" "You go to something called a go-see," Serena explained. She polished off her champagne and pulled a pack of Gauloises cigarettes from her gold lame Dior clutch. Within seconds the bartender zipped over to refill her glass and light her cigarette. You know what they say: Beauty = Convenience. "Listen, if you're interested, I can ask around and hook you up with some people I know," Serena offered. Jenny stared up at her with huge brown eyes, unsure if she had misunderstood. It was so exactly what she'd wanted Serena to say, it was almost too good to be true. "You mean to model? Me?" Just then Serena was distracted by a moan from behind her. "Um, you guys," she called over her shoulder to Vanessa and Dan. "There are suites and stuff downstairs, you know." "I always thought I was way too short," Jenny insisted, worried that Serena was losing her train of thought. "No way. You'll be great," Serena assured her. "I'm going to call some people, and then I'll e-mail you. Okay?" "Really?" Jenny cried giddily. She couldn't believe this was happening. She was going to be a model! She set her champagne flute down on the bar. But now there was so much work to do. Manicure, pedicure, eyebrow shaping, mustache waxing, maybe even those henna highlights she'd always wanted. "Aren't you going to finish it?" Serena asked, pointing at Jenny's glass. Jenny shook her head, suddenly feeling completely unprepared. "I have to go home and get ready," she faltered. Then she stood on tiptoe and kissed Serena on the cheek. "Thank you. Thank you so, so much!" Serena smiled down at the younger girl benevolently. So her best friend was mad at her and she wasn't in love? At least she could take pleasure in helping Jenny out. wasn't in love? At least she could take pleasure in helping Jenny out. "Man, is she hot. How come she doesn't have a boyfriend?" one of them murmured. "Why don't you ask her?" his friend responded. "Why don't you?" said the third guy. But they were either too stupid, too chicken, or too humbled by Serena's beauty and supposed intelligence even to come close. Serena picked up the remains of Jenny's champagne and poured it into her glass. It's no fun being beautiful when even losers won't talk to you. they just wanna take their clothes off "I can't believe this is happening," Vanessa breathed for the thirtieth time that night. She and Dan hadn't stopped kissing since he'd walked up to her in the bar and kissed her neck, and now they were tearing each other's clothes off in one of the Pier Hotel suites downstairs. She wanted to tell him how much she'd missed him and how stupid it was that they'd stopped talking. And even though sex in a hotel suite this close to graduation was tacky and cliched, it felt like the best way. The rooms in the Pier had round windows looking out onto the Hudson, wrought-iron anchors hanging from the walls, and sea green carpeting. The complimentary soap, shampoo, and body lotion in the bathroom were all seaweed-based, and the bed linens were a light, oceanic blue. Brushed-steel ceiling fans spun round and round from the ceilings, cooling off what was turning out to be a very hot night. Dan yanked his belt out of his jeans and sent it snaking across the room. He was drunk with happiness and horny as hell. Bounding onto the bed, he jumped up and down on it a few times. "Whoo!" he shouted. "Whoo-hoo!" Vanessa grabbed him around the knees and he fell down on top of her, grappling with her shirt and yanking it off over her head. "Dude! I survived!" some drunken doofus shouted. Next door, a bunch of guys in Bowdoin and Bates T-shirts were playing stupid drinking games while they watched the Nets game on TV. "If we lived together, we could do this every day," Dan realized out loud as he watched Vanessa unhook her black lace bra. Vanessa tossed the bra on the floor and crossed her arms over her bare chest. "Did you ask your dad?" "Yup," Dan replied happily. "He said okay. But if my grades slip and if I don't have dinner with him and Jenny at least twice a week, I have to move back home." He pulled Vanessa's arms away and dove headfirst into her chest. Vanessa hugged his shaggy head and closed her eyes. She'd only drunk a Coke that night, but the bed was still spinning. She and Dan were in love again. They were moving in together. They might even go to NYU together. It was almost too perfect to believe. And how often does anything ever stay that perfect? 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! Love how half the senior class is absent from school today. I also wanted to point out something you may have missed during last night's debauchery. Someone—actually a known-him-since-kindergarten friend of ours—was conspicuously absent from last night's proceedings. Here's why. The dude who got in NOWHERE He's always been so cocky about everything, no one had the slightest doubt he'd get in wherever he wanted to go. It never occurred to any of us that his cockiness might offend his teachers so much that they refused to give him recommendations; that his over-the-top I'm-a-male-runway-model style of dressing and suggestions that his family buy the school he decided to attend outright might turn interviewers off; that he was too cocky or too lazy or both to take the SAT more than once; or that he'd send with his applications a videotape of himself overacting in an interschool musical that he didn't even star in, instead of an application essay. And so he was rejected. Not four or five times, but nine. Nine rejections. Ouch! Even the worst scumbag deserves some sympathy for that. But I'm sure he'll find a way to wheedle his way in somewhere. He always does. Your e-mail Dear GG, I'm an administrator at a prestigious East Coast university and i'm traveling to New York this weekend to meet a prospective student. Our university wants him to attend next fall, so it's mandatory that I make a good impression. I hope you don't mind my asking, but what do you value most in a school? More important, what should I wear this weekend? —adminchik Dear adminchik, I did enough college interviewing not to want to take your questions seriously if I don't have to. What are the fries like in your school's dining halls? If you ask me, that's pretty important. As for what to wear while you're wooing this highly desirable applicant? Orange is the new black. —GG Sightings N escorting B home from True West, while the rest of us were only just getting the party started. S dancing by herself at the aforementioned party—although I'm pretty sure that group of guys behind her wanted to think they were dancing with her. J loading up on nail polish, hair-removal kits, and henna at the twenty-four-hour Duane Reade on Broadway. V and D stumbling out of the Pier Hotel this morning, just in time for school. C, with his monkey, drinking alone on the terrace of his Sutton Place apartment. We might even feel sorry for him if he weren't so impossible to feel sorry for. Oops, that's the bell. More later! You know you love me, gossip girl

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