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Chapter 6
geeky harvard host steals s's hear t Serena stepped out of her Logan Airport limo and tripped down the flagstone path to the Harvard admissions office, her body buzzing with caffeine from the huge Starbucks cappuccino she'd drunk during the flight. It was a sunny spring morning—cooler than in New York—and Cambridge was bustling with street vendors and hip, bohemian-looking students, hanging out on benches and drinking coffee. She wondered how Harvard had earned its serious and intimidating reputation when it seemed so relaxed and unintimidating. Her tour guide was waiting for her just inside the door. Tall and dark-haired, with silver-wire-rimmed spectacles—the perfect geekily handsome intellectual. "I'm Drew," he said, holding out his hand. "I already love it here," Serena gushed as she shook his hand. She had a tendency to gush when she was nervous, even though she wasn't exactly nervous, just over-caffeinated. "I can give you the standard two-hour tour, or maybe it would be better if you tell me what you want to see," Drew offered. His eyes were light brown, and he was wearing a beige cotton cable-knit sweater and olive green corduroys that were so perfectly creased, Serena could picture him getting the package from J. Crew that his mom had had sent for him and putting the clothes on right out of the box. She liked it when boys paid attention lo fashion, but it was almost more appealing when a boy looked hot despite his nerdy mom-just-bought-me-this outfit. "I'd really like to see your room," she said, without even stopping to think about how it sounded. Actually, it was true. She really did want to see what the dorms were like. Drew blushed and Serena blushed back at him. And all of a sudden it hit her—she'd gone to an all-girls school since first grade. All girls for twelve years straight. College was going to be full of boys. Boys all day, every day. Boys, boys, boys. Whoopee! "Are you hungry?" Drew asked. "The dining hall in my dorm actually has pretty decent food. I could take you through one of the bigger libraries and then we could walk over and get lunch and check out the dorm rooms. It's a coed dorm, so . . ." He blushed again and pushed his glasses up on his nose. "Perfect," Serena breathed. Drew led her out of the admissions office and down a long walkway that cut through Harvard Yard. The greener-than-green grass was crawling with students playing Frisbee or reading books. A professor corrected papers under a maple tree. "This is Widener, the humanities library," Drew said as Serena followed him up the building's stately steps. "I'm a music-chemistry double major, so I don't really spend much time in here," he explained, holding the door open for her. They stepped inside the quiet, cool space, and Drew pointed to a locked glass case standing against the far wall. "They have a pretty amazing collection of original manuscripts here. You know, ancient Greek papyri and muff." Papyri? Drew stood patiently with his hands in the pockets of his neatly creased corduroys, waiting for her to ask questions about the library. But Serena was too absorbed in him. She'd already decided Drew was cute, but a boy who used words like papyri with a completely straight face was completely irresistible! She twirled a strand of blond hair around her finger and stared up at the library's ceiling as if fascinated by its design. "You're a music major? Do you play an instrument?" Drew looked down at the floor and muttered something inaudible. She took a step closer. "Sorry?" He cleared his throat. "The xylophone. I play xylophone, in the orchestra." And she'd thought the xylophone was just a toy instrument invented so there'd be at least one English word that began with the letter x! Serena clapped her hands together in delight. "Can I hear you play?" Drew smiled hesitantly. "I have practice at three, but I'm only just learning. You probably wouldn't want to stick around—" Drew smiled hesitantly. "I have practice at three, but I'm only just learning. You probably wouldn't want to stick around—" When you're seventeen and blond and beautiful, you can always late. "Of course I'll stick around." She took hold of Drew's arm and pulled him out the library door. "Come on, I'm starving!" Who needed libraries full of papyri when Harvard had so much more to offer? b stands out at g-town "My name is Rebecca Reilly and I'll be your host this weekend. Here's a name tag and a map and a whistle. Please wear the name tag and keep the map and whistle with you at all times." Blair stared at the short, perky, fake blond girl in front of her. She had nothing against perkiness per se. She herself even resorted to perkiness when she was trying to get a designer like Kate Spade to donate the gift bags for one of the big benefit parties she chaired, or when she needed a teacher to let her out early for a Chloe sample sale. But genuine perkiness among your peers was just plain sad and desperate. "A whistle?" Blair repeated. The entire plane ride down she'd been building this trip up as a big ego boost. She'd spend the day with some geeky tour guide who'd make her feel sophisticated and intelligent in comparison. Later on she'd get a room at the DC Ritz-Carlton or some equally grand hotel and spend the night soaking in her own private hot tub, quaffing champagne and indulging in more phone sex with Nate. "Georgetown gives all its women students whistles. We have a very strong women's advocacy group here. And there have been no campus rapes or stalkings in the past two years!" Rebecca announced in her southern twang. She beamed up at Blair through thick, blue-mascaraed lashes. Her permed, bleached-blond hair smelled of Finesse hair products, and her white leather Reeboks were so new, they looked like they'd never been worn outside the mall. Blair flicked a stray hair off the sleeve of her new pink Marni suit jacket. "I need to book a hotel room for tonight-Rebecca grabbed her arm. "Don't be silly, sugar. You're staying with me and my girls. We have a quad that's just deeelish, and you have absolutely the bestest ever timing, because tonight we're having our girls-only Southern Belles partay!" Hello? Since when was girls-only anyone's idea of a partay? "Great," Blair responded weakly. If only she'd thought to book a room in advance. She looked around at the other visitors being greeted by their hosts. Everyone, hosts and visitors alike, looked strangely similar to Rebecca. Like they'd all grown up in suburban mall towns where everyone was blond and happy and clean and uncomplicated. Blair felt like a dark-haired, pixie-cutted, stylishly dressed, cynical and jaded alien among them. Actually, it was just the sort of ego boost she'd been looking forward to. See, I am different and smarter and better than these girls, she told herself. At least she'd never stooped to dyeing her naturally walnut-colored locks blond. "Come on, let's start the tour!" Rebecca grabbed Blair's hand like they were four years old and pulled her out of the admissions house. Sun glistened on the Potomac River, and the spires of the university's ancient Jesuit chapel towered majestically from the hilltop. Blair had to admit that the old Georgetown University campus was beautiful, and the town of Georgetown was way nicer and cleaner than New Haven. But it definitely lacked the unique, we're-the-smartest-kids-in-the-class air of Yale. "Up ahead on your left you'll see a big modern structure. That's our architectural award-winning Lauinger Library, with the largest collection of . . ." Rebecca walked backwards ahead of Blair down a flagstone walkway, burbling boring facts about Georgetown. Blair ignored her, keeping her eyes focused on the human traffic crisscrossing the main campus. Boys and girls dressed head-to-toe in Brooks Brothers or Ann Taylor marched purposefully toward the library, their Coach bags bulging with books. Blair took schoolwork seriously, but it was Saturday. Didn't these people have anything better to do? on the human traffic crisscrossing the main campus. Boys and girls dressed head-to-toe in Brooks Brothers or Ann Taylor marched purposefully toward the library, their Coach bags bulging with books. Blair took schoolwork seriously, but it was Saturday. Didn't these people have anything better to do? Blair wanted to say something about how the entire situation made her want to puke, but then again, so did most situations. "Why don't we just sit down somewhere and have a ... coffee," she suggested, pleased with how normal and friendly she sounded, when what she could really use was a very strong vodka martini. Rebecca threw her arms around Blair's neck. "A girl after my own heart!" she squealed. "I'm absolutely addicted to caramel macchiatos, aren't you?" Yuck. It was only two o'clock. Coffee would have to do. "Is there someplace close by?" Rebecca slipped her arm through Blair's. "There sure is!" She whipped out her pink-and-white sparkly Nokia phone. "Just give me a minute to round up the girls. Why not get our Southern Belles partly started earlay?" Blair grimaced and fingered the cell phone in her mint green Prada bubble bag. Already she was homesick for Nate. If only she'd borrowed the silver flask he carried around, then she'd at least have a memento of him, and a shot of vodka for her macchiato. Rebecca looked up from the little telethon she was having with her friends. She held her hand over the mouthpiece. "They're in a bar already," she whispered, her cheeks flushing a perky, embarrassed pink. "It's down on M Street. Do you mind if we meet them there?" "Okay," Blair agreed readily. Give her a cocktail and a cigarette and she could be happy in almost any company. how badly do they want him? "Dude, you never told me the coaches were all chicks," Jeremy Scott Tompkinson, one of Nate's best buddies, hissed as he sprinted past Nate to retrieve a long pass. Nate twirled his lacrosse stick overhead and waited until Jeremy had overshot before stepping in to catch the pass himself. It was a show-off kind of maneuver, but it was effective. Besides, he was supposed to be showing off. He tossed the ball back to Jeremy, demonstrating his teamwork skills the way Coach Michaels had asked him to. Then the two boys ran back to center field together. "The tall one's the Yale coach. The short one is the Brown admissions chick who interviewed me," Nate explained. "The Brown coach couldn't make it because of a game." "But dude, they're all chicks!" Jeremy said again, his shaggy rock star haircut flapping around in the breeze as he jogged away. "No wonder you got in!" Nate grinned to himself as he wiped the sweat from his brow. It might have been nice to believe he was completely oblivious to his perfection, but the truth was, he knew exactly how hot he was. He just wasn't an asshole about it. From the sidelines the two women watched him intently. Then Coach Michaels blew the whistle. "Gotta quit early today, boys!" the coach shouted, spitting into the grass. "Wife and I are celebrating our fortieth anniversary tonight." He tucked his gnarled hands into his forest green Lands' End windbreaker and nodded at Nate before spitting into the grass once more. "Come on, Archibald." Nate followed the coach over to where the two university women were standing. "It'd be great to have our own pitch," Coach Michaels told the women. He gestured at the stretch of Central Park grass where Nate's teammates were dismantling the goals. "But when you play in the city, you use what you've got." As if they really had it rough. On a bench nearby, four tenth-grade girls in green plaid Seaton Arms uniforms giggled and whispered to one another, their eyes fixed longingly on Nate. "At least in the park you always have an audience," the Yale coach observed. She was tall and horsey-looking, with a mane of blond hair and a handsome, angular face. A street vendor was selling drinks and ice cream from a cart parked near the benches. She unzipped the front pocket of her navy blue backpack with the gray Yale bulldog decal on it. "Can I buy you two a Gatorade or something?" "At least in the park you always have an audience," the Yale coach observed. She was tall and horsey-looking, with a mane of blond hair and a handsome, angular face. A street vendor was selling drinks and ice cream from a cart parked near the benches. She unzipped the front pocket of her navy blue backpack with the gray Yale bulldog decal on it. "Can I buy you two a Gatorade or something?" The coach took off, and Nate whacked at the new spring grass with his lacrosse stick. "I better get home and shower," he mumbled, unsure of what the two women had planned. Brigid, his interviewer from Brown, was watching him expectantly. Brigid had left a message on his cell phone asking him to meet her in the lobby of the Warwick New York Hotel at live o'clock that afternoon to "discuss his options." Whatever that meant. The coach from Yale handed him a blue nylon sports bag with a big white leather Y embossed on it. "Compliments of the team," she said. "Your jersey and shorts and stuff are all in there. Jockstrap. Even socks." Brigid's face fell. Guess she hadn't thought of that. "Are we still on for later?" she asked quickly. "I could buy you dinner." Her hair was strawberry blond, which Nate hadn't remembered from when he met her in October, and he wondered if she'd dyed it. Actually, she was a lot cuter than he remembered and he kind of liked that she hadn't tried to seduce him with a whole bag full of Brown sweatshirts and shit. Even if he decided to go to Yale, did he really need a Yale-issue jockstrap? "I'll be there," he said. Then he held out his hand to the Yale coach. "Thanks for coming down." But the coach wasn't giving up that easily. "How 'bout I take you to brunch around eleven tomorrow? I'm in the Hotel Wales on Madison—Sarabeth's is right downstairs. Their pancakes are wicked good." Nate noticed the Yale coach had a seriously nice chest— big, but firm. She looked like one of those hot Olympic volleyball players. He slung the Yale bag over his shoulder. "Sure," he agreed. "Brunch sounds good." It was kind of a head trip to be schmoozed this hard by two of the hardest-to-get-into colleges in the country, and it might be fun to see just how badly they wanted him. upper west sider flies the coop "Tell me honestly, is this obscene?" Jenny asked. Vanessa was perched on the edge of Jenny's bed filming her while she selected an outfit for her upcoming photo shoot. Vanessa was supposed to be helping Dan pack, but he'd discovered a notebook full of poems he'd written back when he was thirteen and was busy hunting for some recyclable poetic gem. Good luck with that. Jenny had psyched herself up to appear at the photo shoot without a bra, something she never did, at least not in public. Not only that, she'd decided to wear a light blue T-shirt that was kind of tight. "So, what do you think?" "Yes, it's obscene," Vanessa replied matter-of-factly, careful to keep the camera focused above Jenny's shoulders so her ratings wouldn't go from PG-13 to NC-17. "Really?" Jenny turned around to check out her butt in the mirror on the back of her closet door. Her new Earl jeans made her legs look so much longer than her other jeans did. It was a remarkable feat of engineering. Vanessa panned around the room. It was a typical adolescent girl's room, decorated in pink and white, with a collage of pictures ripped out of fashion magazines tacked to the wall and a bookshelf strewn with teen fiction and half-dressed Barbies that never got thrown out. The art on the walls was definitely unique, though. A perfect replica of Klimt's The Kiss, an impressive copy of van Gogh's Windmills, and a stunning O'Keeffe-like poppy— nil painstakingly painted by Jenny herself. Vanessa panned back to her subject. "Why don't you try a black shirt?" she suggested. "And a bra." Vanessa panned back to her subject. "Why don't you try a black shirt?" she suggested. "And a bra." Her dad appeared in her open doorway, the long pieces of his wiry gray hair pulled up on top of his head in one of Jenny's scrunchies. "Jesus, girl, put a sweater on or something," Rufus gasped. "What will the neighbors think?" Jenny knew her dad was playing around, but it was pretty clear what the general consensus was. She pulled a sweatshirt out of her closet and pulled it on over her head. "Thanks, people. It's so nice to know you care," she said, glaring at her dad. "Any chance I could move into your place, too?" she asked Vanessa. "Absolutely not," Rufus retorted. "Who will drink all the orange juice before I even get up in the morning? Who will fill up the butter compartment of the fridge with nail polish? Who will bleach my black socks pink?" Jenny rolled her eyes. Her dad would be really lonely all by himself. And she didn't really want to live with Dan and Vanessa anyway. Not when they were practically married and everything. It would be way too weird. All of a sudden Vanessa felt horribly guilty for taking Dan away from Rufus when Dan's mother had already left years ago to live in Prague with some baron or something. "We'll come over for dinner on weekends," she offered lamely. "Or you guys could come over and cook. Ruby has lots of great cooking stuff. Someone better teach me how to use it." Rufus brightened. "We can have cooking tutorials!" Vanessa fiddled with her camera lens, trying to get Rufus into the picture. "Mr. Humphrey, do you mind if I ask you some questions?" she asked. Rufus sat down on the floor and pulled Jenny down next to him. "We love the attention!" he said and pinched his daughter in the side. "Dad," Jenny whined, crossing her arms over her chest even though she was wearing the sweatshirt. "So, how does it feel to have a son old enough to be going to college and moving out?" Vanessa asked. Rufus tugged on his wiry, untamed salt-and-pepper beard. He was smiling, but his brown eyes were liquid and sad-looking. "If you ask me, he should have moved out a long time ago. American families spoil their kids. They should start school as soon as they can hold their heads up, and they should be out of the house by fourteen." He pinched Jenny's side again. "Right about when they start acting resentful toward their fathers." "Dad," Jenny whined again. Then she brightened. "Hey, does this mean I can have Dan's room? It's like twice the size of mine." Rufus frowned. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves," he grumbled. "He still needs a room." He cocked a wild eyebrow at Vanessa. "You might kick him out. He might even get kicked out of college!" "But you just said—" Jenny started, and then stopped. Her father was always contradicting himself. She should have been used to it by now. "Anyway, once I get some modeling money, I can redecorate this room," she added. Rufus rolled his eyes dramatically for the sake of the camera and Jenny punched him in the arm. Then Dan appeared in the doorway. He was wearing a Kelly green Lacoste polo shirt that his mother had sent him a few years ago. It was about three sizes too small and made him look like a golf-playing dweeb on crack. "That shirt stays here," Vanessa ordered. Dan chuckled, pulled the shirt off over his head, and tossed it into Jenny's trash basket. "Hey," Jenny whined. "Use your own trash can." "It's just a shirt. You can handle it," Dan growled back. Then Jenny burst into a fit of giggles. Dan thought he was such a stud because he'd had a poem published in The New Yorker and had gotten into all those colleges, but without a shirt on he looked really puny, and wasn't it sort of lame that he did absolutely everything Vanessa told him to without really puny, and wasn't it sort of lame that he did absolutely everything Vanessa told him to without "I'll really miss you, Dan," Jenny sighed with pretend dolefulness. Rufus pulled a packet of mini cigars out of his back pocket and passed them out to everyone without any explanation. Then he lit his and began to puff away. "Maybe it's for the best," he sighed. Vanessa turned off her camera and rolled her unlit cigar around between her lips. It was hard not to feel guilty when Rufus looked so sad, but then again, she couldn't wait to have Dan all to herself, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Her eyes were riveted on his pale, bony chest. It was the chest of a tortured artist. Her man. "Ready to go?" she asked, grinning at him excitedly. Dan grinned back. He still hadn't come down from his happy high, and he wasn't planning to anytime soon. "Ready," he responded gamely. Let's just hope he packed some other shirts. 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! Annoying Girl You know who I mean. The one who thinks she's gorgeous and smart and every boy is in love with her. She shouts, "Me, me, me!" and waves her hand in the air whenever the teacher asks a question. She's the most self-righteous person in the room, but she's insecure about appearing too self-righteous, so she giggles a lot and acts stupid to hide her supposed genius. And she's the loudest, messiest drunk you've ever seen. Without her friends, she'd pass out in a puddle of sick on the bathroom floor or wind up going home with some sleazy older guy. But her friends always seem to take pity on her, and the next day she's bouncier than ever, smiling like nothing happened. The thing about Annoying Girl is, whether we like it or not, we all have a little bit of her in us. That's why we love to hate her so much. She's our worst nightmare. I mean, how many times have you wanted to wave your hand in the air when you knew the answer, only stopping yourself because you didn't want to look like an idiot? And how many times have you wanted to just sit down in a boy's lap and start kissing him but didn't for fear he'd laugh in your face? In a way, Annoying Girl is us minus the insecurity. She's so fine with herself you want to slap her. But you also secretly wish you could be that obnoxious without any concern for what other people might think. Face it, people will always find reasons to hate us, especially if we're beautiful. Though there is one particular blond girl who seems unable to do wrong. Not only did she get into every impossible-to-get-into college she applied to, she's already got all the guys at each of those schools lining up to talk to her. Your e-mail Dear GG, I heard there's this whole forgery scandal going on. Like you can pay someone to make you totally convincing acceptance letters to like, Princeton, or wherever, and there's nothing the schools can do about it because they are so real. —wiz Dear wiz, You can buy anything these days, but if you weren't a good enough student to get into a school as hard as Princeton on your own merits, would you really want to fake it? I mean, eventually you might have to do some work! —GG Sightings This just in: S and geeky-but-cute glasses-wearing Harvard boy feeding each other French fries in one of the Harvard dining halls. She's got her college selection criteria straight. Cute boys, check. Decent fries, check. B hanging with her new homegirls in a karaoke bar in Georgetown. She really is having a nervous breakdown! N doing some private drills with the leggy blond who coaches Yale's lacrosse team. Nudge, nudge. As if he didn't already have enough secrets from B. Little J in that hole-in-the-wall bra shop in the Village where they take one look at you and tell you you're a totally different size than you thought. In her case, an E-cup! V and D in Williamsburg, grocery shopping together. Actually, they were fighting over whether to get spaghetti or a more interestingly shaped pasta—yup, married already. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I'm thinking of putting on a tracksuit and pretending to be a lacrosse coach. Who knows, I may get lucky! Be good. You know I won't be. You know you love me, gossip girl

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