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Chapter 5
see j bounc e Jenny had always been lauded for her excellent calligraphy and detailed, accurate copies of the major works of classic artists. The handy thing about being artistic and a good copier was that she could forge notes, like this morning's note from her dad about a supposed "allergist appointment" downtown. She sniffled grotesquely as she handed it to her math teacher, Ms. Hinckle. In the back of the room, Elise tucked her straw-thick blond hair behind her ears and pretended not to eavesdrop. "Next time, try to schedule your appointments after school," Ms. Hinckle instructed, dropping the note on her desk. She waved Jenny away. "Now shoo." "Thanks," Jenny responded sheepishly. Ms. Hinckle was old and treated all of the girls like her grandchildren, baking them oatmeal cookies and making them Christmas cards and caramel apples. Jenny felt kind of bad taking advantage of the kindly teacher, but her career was at stake. This was important! The go-see Serena had e-mailed her about was in a photographer's studio on West Sixteenth Street. A bunch of tall skinny girls with pouty lips and blond hair were smoking cigarettes on the sidewalk downstairs. Models, Jenny thought, trying not to feel intimidated. She rang the buzzer for the third-floor studio and was buzzed into a dark space that looked like some sort of loading dock with a corrugated-steel-lined freight elevator. Jenny stepped onto the elevator and pressed 3, trying not to feel as terrified as she actually did. "Hello?" A tall, pointy-chinned woman wearing a white patent leather beret, black leather short shorts, and white knee-high suede boots greeted Jenny as she stepped off the elevator. "Are you lost?" Jenny realized she probably should have changed out of her Constance uniform, but it was too late now. "I'm here for the go-see?" She still wasn't even sure what a go-see was exactly, but it certainly sounded cool. "Oh." The woman looked her up and down. "May I see your book?" Jenny glanced down at her book bag. "My book?" The woman gave her the once-over again, and pointed to an empty chair between two bored-looking blond models. "Sit down. I'll call you when he's ready." Then she stepped behind a white screen where Jenny could see a camera flash flashing and the shadows of bodies moving around the room. Suddenly a cacophony of hysterical laughter bounced off the studio's pounded tin ceilings, giving Jenny the shivers. She glanced at the girl next to her. The girl was chewing gum, her eyelids drooping heavily like she'd been up all night. Jenny looked away and tried to make her eyelids droop in the same cool, affected way, but her eyeballs kept rolling back in her head. More Night of the Living Dead than cool, bored model. The woman in the beret came out from behind the screen. "You." She pointed at Jenny. Jenny blushed and glanced apologetically at the other girls who'd gotten there before her. Then she followed the woman behind the screen. The screened-off part of the studio had brick walls painted white and a wood floor. In the center of the room was an antique-looking red velvet chaise lounge, and around the chaise lounge spotlights on tripods and silver reflective screens were set up. "Take off your sweater and lie down," a stocky man with a blond goatee ordered, already squinting at her through a huge Polaroid camera. Her heart pounding, Jenny put down her bag and folded her cardigan on top of it. Then she sat down on the edge of the red velvet chaise lounge, ashamed of how pale and knobbly her bare knees looked in the harsh light. "Lie down?" "On your back," the photographer directed, kneeling in front of her only a few feet away. Lie on her back? She couldn't possibly, not in the only moderately supportive cotton bra she was wearing. What if that horrible thing happened with her boobs, where each enormous breast oozed over her ribcage and into her armpits, causing her to look completely deformed? She scooted back on the chaise and propped herself up on her elbows in a position she decided was comparable to lying down. She scooted back on the chaise and propped herself up on her elbows in a position she decided was comparable to lying down. "Good enough," the photographer muttered, slapping the Polaroids he'd already taken down on the floor and crawling toward her to take some more. Jenny squeezed her legs together so he wouldn't be able to ncc her underwear. "What kind of expression should I make?" she asked timidly. "Doesn't matter," the man answered as he slapped down more film. "Just keep your shoulders back and your chin up." Jenny's arms were beginning to tremble with strain, but she didn't care. The photographer seemed to like her. He was i rearing her like a real model. "All right. We're done," he said finally, standing up. "What's your name anyway?" "Jennifer," Jenny answered. "Jennifer Humphrey." The man nodded at the woman in the beret and she jotted something down on her clipboard. "May I see the pictures?" Jenny asked, pointing at the Polaroids lined up on the wood floor. Each one was covered with a black piece of film paper that had to be peeled away to see the image. "Sorry, honey, those are mine," the photographer told her with an amused smile. "I want to see you here next Sunday. Ten a.m. Got it?" Jenny nodded eagerly and slipped on her sweater. She wasn't completely sure, but it sounded like she'd just been hired as a model for a photo shoot! Or at least some part of her had been hired. "So what was the go-see for?" Serena asked when Jenny saw her at peer group during lunch later that day. "I'm sorry I couldn't find out more info. My model friends are pretty lame that way." Jenny put her hand over her mouth. "I totally forgot to ask. But it was so great. Everyone was really nice to me, like I was a real model and everything." "Okay, but you should find out at the shoot what it's for," Serena advised. "One girl I know thought she was doing a gum commercial and it turned out it was for maxipads. I guess she was confused between Carefree and Stayfree." Jenny frowned. Maxipads? No one had said anything about maxipads. "And don't let the stylist dress you in anything you're not comfortable with. I know that Les Best ad is good, but come on, a sundress in February? I was sick for like three weeks afterwards," Serena added. The rest of the ninth-grade girls in peer group giggled politely. They loved hearing Serena's modeling stories, but they were superjealous of Jenny and didn't want to encourage her. How come the shortest girl in the class, the one with curly, boring brown hair and those ridiculously huge breasts, was now, like, a model'? It made no sense. "I bet it's for a plus-size bra catalog and she's too stupid to know," Vicky Reinerson whispered to Mary Goldberg and Cassie Inwirth. "I'm sure it's just for something basic, like orange juice," Cassie assured Jenny, trying to keep a straight face. Elise was jealous, too, but she was trying hard not to show it. "Where's Blair?" she asked Serena in an effort to change the subject. Blair was Serena's peer group co-leader. Serena shrugged. "I don't know. She's kind of mad at me right now." Mary, Cassie, and Vicky nudged one another under the table. They loved being the first to find out about Serena and Blair's fights. "I heard Blair didn't get into any of the colleges she applied to. Her dad's sending her to France right after graduation so she can work for him," Mary announced. Serena shrugged again. She knew from experience how stories got distorted and how quickly rumors spread. The less she said, the better. "Who knows what she'll do." Jenny was still mulling over the maxipad issue. Did she really mind if the photo shoot next weekend was for something uncool, like frozen fat-free TV dinners or zit cream? At least it was a start. How else was she going to get discovered? Jenny was still mulling over the maxipad issue. Did she really mind if the photo shoot next weekend was for something uncool, like frozen fat-free TV dinners or zit cream? At least it was a start. How else was she going to get discovered? Talk about annoying. Jenny glanced at Serena. The ethereally pretty senior had once had an unmentionable part of her body photographed by a pair of famous photographers, and the picture had wound up on the sides of buses and on top of taxis all over the city. It was one of the things that made Serena the coolest girl in the entire city, or maybe even the universe! A maxipad ad was the same kind of thing. Sort of. the stuff no one needs to know "Forget your tender breasts, your swollen ankles, your stretch marks. Imagine your buttocks are balloons that are being deflated. Let go. Breathe ouuut." Blair refused to imagine any such thing. It was bad enough lying on the floor with a bunch of pregnant women in their stinky stocking feet, all moaning like overfed cows— there was no need to degrade the situation even further by involving her buttocks. On the floor to her right, Blair's mother giggled. "Isn't this Jin?" A blast. Blair felt like hitting her. She'd taken a "personal day" and stayed home from school, too upset about being wait-listed at Yale to face her classmates, especially Serena. But after six hours of Newlyweds reruns, an entire carton of Haagen-Dazs fat-free chocolate sorbet, and now this, she wished she'd gone to school. "All right. Now that the partners have had a moment to relax, it's time for them to get to work. Remember, it takes a team to make a baby!" Eleanor's trendy-with-the-Upper-East-Side-set birth class "coach" was a yoga-slim, frizzy-haired former nurse named Kuth, who taught the class in her ultramodern Fifth Avenue penthouse. Ruth was married to a newly successful appliance designer, meaning that he designed washing machines, refrigerators, and dishwashers that looked like spaceships and cost as much as cars. They had five children, including a set of fraternal twins, and every once in a while one of the children would wander through the living room to get something from the enormous chrome fridge in the kitchen without even batting an eye at all the pregnant women sprawled on the floor. They'll probably all turn into psychologically disturbed gynecologists, Blair thought. Ruth hitched up her weird black-and-white two-tone Yohji Yamamoto yoga pants, crouched on the floor, and scrunched up her face until she looked like a baboon trying to expel a whole banana tree from its ass. "Remember the stages of labor we went over in the beginning of class? This is the face of the third stage. Very antisocial. Later on, when the epidural has worn off and you begin to push? Forget about it. That's when you start shouting at your husband to fuck the prenup. Babies may be pretty, but there's nothing pretty about having them. That's why they call it labor." Blair raised herself up on her elbows. Didn't they have more technologically advanced ways of doing this nowadays? Couldn't they just, like, laser the baby out? "Now it's time for a treat. Ladies, keep relaxing on the floor. Partners, kneel down at their feet, where you belong. Now, ladies, get ready for a fabulous foot massage!" All the other partners happened to be the women's husbands, not their seventeen-year-old daughters. Husbands were supposed to give foot massages. It was part of the job. Daughters weren't. Blair stared at her mom's feet. They looked sort of like hers, except they were encased in skin-colored knee-high socks. Just the thought of touching them made Blair gag. "Start working on the right heel. Cradle the foot in one hand and use your thumbs. Don't be afraid to dig in. She's been carrying two people around all day. Her feet are tough!" "Start working on the right heel. Cradle the foot in one hand and use your thumbs. Don't be afraid to dig in. She's been carrying two people around all day. Her feet are tough!" "Now rest her foot on your chest and drum your fingers from the big toe up to the knee. I know it sounds odd, ladies, but it feels wonderful." The husbands started drumming. They were really getting into it. "I have to go to the bathroom," Blair announced, letting her mother's foot fall with a thud to the flokati-wool-carpeted floor. "Why don't you use the twins' bathroom? It's just down that hall, on the right," Ruth said, coming over to take Blair's place. "Ahh," Eleanor moaned as Ruth began to drum her fingers over her foot. The bathroom was large and modern, like the rest of the house, but it was cluttered with bottles of Clearasil and assorted hair products. On the floor was a silver plastic litter box that looked like it had been designed by Ruth's husband, and bits of cat litter were scattered all over the tiles. Blair wasn't sure where Kitty Minky's litter box was located in her family's penthouse, but certainly not in her bathroom. How unsanitary! She stood at the sink and ran the tap, staring at her reflection in the toothpaste-spattered mirror. Her thin lips were turned down at the corners, and her small blue eyes were hard and angry-looking. Her short brown hair was growing more slowly than she would have liked and was in a stage of styleless droopiness. She lifted up her shirt and examined her body. Her chest looked small, and her stomach was a little soft after not playing tennis all winter. Not that she was fat or anything. But maybe if she'd gone out for the swim team and stayed in shape, Yale would have wanted her and she would have already had sex with Nate and her life would be great instead of— Suddenly the bathroom door swung open and Ruth's thirteen-year-old twins, a boy and a girl with braces and frizzy red hair like their mother, stood staring at Blair. The girl was wearing a gray pleated Constance Billard uniform. Blair let her shirt drop. "We're looking for our cat," the girl said. "Are you a lesbian?" the boy asked. The twins giggled in unison. "Because if you are, then how did you get pregnant?" continued the boy. Excuse me? Blair reached for the door and slammed it in their faces, careful to lock it this time. Then she flipped the lid down on the toilet seat and sat down. A worn copy of Jane Eyre was lying on the floor and she picked it up. Blair had read the book twice. Once on her own when she was eleven and once in ninth-grade English. Now she reread the first few pages, feeling very much like Jane herself—locked away, tortured by her family, her great intelligence and sensitivity completely underappreciated. If only the bathroom had some sort of escape route—a trapdoor to the street. She would take a cab straight to the airport, catch a plane to England or even Australia, change her name, get a job as a waitress or a governess, fall in love with her boss just like Jane, get married, and live happily ever after. But first she had to wash away the disgusting odor of pregnant woman foot that seemed to have permeated her skin. Without stopping to think about what she was doing, Blair closed the book, stood up, and turned the tap on in the bath. She emptied a capful of Kiehl's cucumber body wash into the water, took off her clothes, and got in. There. Closing her eyes, she envisioned herself lying on an Australian beach in that shell-pink-and-navy-blue-plaid Burberry bikini she'd almost bought last weekend, watching her hot husband surf the Pacific. At sunset they'd sail out into the horizon in their yacht, drink champagne and eat oysters, and then have sex right on deck, his green eyes glittering in the moonlight. Green eyes . . . Blair sat up in the tub. Nate! She didn't need to run away after all, not when she still had Nate. Her cell phone was sticking out of the back pocket of her jeans where they lay crumpled on the floor next to the tub. She grabbed it and dialed Nate. next to the tub. She grabbed it and dialed Nate. "Will you still love me even if I don't go to Yale?" Blair purred as she lay back in the bubbles. "'Course I will," Nate responded. "Do you think I'm fat and out of shape?" she asked, kicking one naked foot out of the water and then the other. Her toes were painted burgundy. "Blair," Nate scolded her. "You're the opposite of fat." Blair smiled and closed her eyes. She and Nate had had this conversation a thousand times before, but each time it always made her feel better about herself. "Hey, are you taking a bath or something?" he asked. "Uh-huh," Blair opened her eyes and reached for the bottle of body wash. "I wish you were here." "I could come over," Nate offered hopefully. If only she were actually home in her own bathtub. "Sweetheart?" Eleanor Waldorf's voice called through the door. "Are you okay in there?" "I'm fine!" Blair yelled back. I'm just lying in my mother's birth class instructor's tub, having phone sex with my boyfriend. "Well, don't forget there are a lot of pregnant women out here with overactive bladders!" Thanks for the reminder. "Damn, I gotta go," Nate said. "All these college lax coaches are calling me. They're coming down this weekend to watch me play." Notice that he was careful not to mention which colleges. "Well, I'm going down to Georgetown early tomorrow morning, but I'll call you from there, okay?" Blair clicked off and, with a rush of water, rose to her feet and dried herself off with one of the fluffy white towels she found folded in a stack on a shelf beside the tub. Then she pulled her clothes back on and ran her fingers through her damp hair. Her reflection in the mirror looked more vibrant now, and she smelled fresh and cucumber-clean. Maybe it was the bath, or the pick-me-up talk with Nate, but she felt like a whole new person. Outside in the hallway, pregnant women were milling around eating goat-cheese-and-olive pizzettes delivered from Eli's. Blair lingered by the door, waiting impatiently as Eleanor chatted with Ruth about Ruth's husband's refrigerator designs. Ruth's twin daughter, the one in the Constance Billard uniform, walked over, carrying a white Himalayan cat. "This is Jasmine," the girl said. Blair smiled tightly and tightened the posts on her diamond stud earrings. "Are you having a nervous breakdown?" the girl persisted. "I heard you had to drop out of school." It was no secret how fast rumors flew around school and beyond. By Monday the braces-wearing, redheaded wretch would have told every soul who would listen how Blair Waldorf was looking at her chest in the bathroom at her house, or probably much worse. In a way Blair was actually looking forward to this weekend's trip to Georgetown. At least no one would know her, and she would be treated with the decency and respect she deserved. "Mom!" she called harshly. "It's time to go." And, just as Blair predicted, as soon as the door closed Behind her, that evil twin raced to her room to log onto the computer, and the IMs began to fly. 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! Honesty is overrated You know how everyone is always talking about how honesty is the best policy and how the only true relationship is an honest, open one? Well, I think that's crap. Not that I think lying is cool. Just that sometimes the less said, the better. I mean, how interesting can you be when you have no secrets? Where's the mystery? The element of surprise? Admit it, it's exciting when your boyfriend goes away for the weekend and you have no idea what he's been up to. You like it when that guy you have a crush on has a party but keeps to himself most of the time or leaves the room to make a mysterious phone call. Isn't it more interesting to imagine that everyone you know leads a double life? And face it, if what we really wanted was honesty, we wouldn't talk so much trash about each other and thoroughly enjoy it, would we? Your e-mail Dear GG, It sounds strange, but my mom teaches childbirth classes in our living room, and this senior girl from my school was there last night with her mom, who is like way too old to be having a baby. Anyway, the girl like locked herself in the bathroom for like an hour and then came out all wet. Everyone in my class is so scared of her and thinks she's so cool, but now I know she's just crazy. No wonder she didn't get into college. —newsworthy Dour newsworthy, You said she's a senior? Babe, we're ALL crazy. —GG Dear GG, My cousin goes to Yale and works as a tour guide for prospective students. He was told there is no wait list at Yale. They just send out the letters to meet some national quota or something. —drea Dear drea, Eek. That sounds scary enough to be true. —GG Sightings D drinking farewell coffee in a diner on Broadway. J practicing the runway-model strut down the center aisle of the Seventy-ninth Street crosstown bus. S catching the U.S. Air shuttle to Boston. Guess she's taking this decision-making thing pretty seriously. B chugging down one of those little bottles of vodka on her flight to DC—psyching herself up for Georgetown. V chucking out a girls only sign that she stole from a bathroom in a Williamsburg bar. C and his dad boarding their private jet. On their way to convince some gullible institution to take him next fall? Dad was carrying a briefcase—let's just imagine it was full of money. Remember people, we've got almost three weeks to decide which school we want to go to. Let's use the time wisely. Wink, wink. You know I will! You know you love me, gossip girl

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