VIRGO: TODAY VENUS IS IN AMNESIA
AND MERCURY IS IN OPPOSITION
TO PROZAC. FORGET ABOUT THAT
WEREWOLF IN THE CUPBOARD
UNDER THE STAIRS.
Her dad had sent one of his “horrorscopes.” But Jess wasn’t worrying about the werewolf in the cupboard under the stairs. She had a more immediate problem: the size of her bum. She stared at herself in the huge mirrors of the communal changing room at Togs R Us. She was wearing leopard-skin stretch pants. Did her bum look big in this? You can bet your sweet life it did.
Geographically, Jess’s backside was a mountain range. The sun rose over it–eventually. Huge birds of prey nested on its craggy heights and hunted in it shadows. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Jess’s bum had been balanced by a nice big bosom. Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, and Serena Williams were designed with this pleasing sense of balance. But geographically, Jess’s boobs could not balance her bum at all. Her chest was the kind of featureless plain upon which airports are constructed.
If only, thought Jess, some gifted cosmetic surgeon could slice off my bum and transplant it onto my chest, we’d be in business. Then she would have a majestic cleavage. It was wasted out back, under her jeans. Oh well. They say a clever choice of clothes can conceal bad features and emphasize one’s good points. But these leopard-skin stretch pants weren’t working. You don’t see leopards waddling heavily across the plains, do you? They tend to streak across in a streamlined kind of way.
“Flora,” asked Jess, “what’s my best feature?”
Flora was admiring herself in a cute little black top. A pink navel ring winked cheekily out above her gray hipsters. She looked divine. Flora’s dad didn’t know she’d had her navel pierced. If he ever found out, he would personally build a high stone tower and lock her up there until she was thirty. If that was what having a dad around meant, Jess thought, you could keep it.
“Your best feature?” Flora hesitated.
Oh God! thought Jess. She can’t think of a single thing.
“Your eyes are fantastic–and your neck–and your ears–and, well, you’re fabulous all over, Jess. You’re a babe.” Flora turned back with relief to the ravishing vision awaiting her in the mirror.
“But my bum is like some terrible gigantic Siamese twin!” wailed Jess. “It follows me around everywhere and gets stuck in doors.”
“Your bum is great!” cried Flora, but her voice went up just a little too high. “I wish I had a proper bum. I look like a boy.” Needless to say, Flora looked as much like a boy as a box of chocolates looks like a side of beef. Jess sighed.
Three hours later, having tried on approximately three thousand garments, Jess decided on a black top with plunging neckline and a strange shawl-like black skirt. “Gypsyish!” said Flora approvingly. “You look stunning, babe! Ben will see you as he’s never seen you before! Suddenly across a crowded room he will feel Cupid’s dart!” They’d been doing all about Cupid in English with Mr. Fothergill. They’d both tried to develop crushes on Mr. Fothergill, but he simply was too fat and sweaty. You could more easily fancy a hippo.
Jess doubted if Ben would fancy her despite the plunging neckline and gypsy skirt. Life was so unfair. Everybody fancied Ben no matter what he wore. Although Flora said she preferred his best friend, Mackenzie, who was dark and rather short. “It’s a biology thing,” she explained. “Blondes don’t fancy blond guys. It’s to avoid inbreeding.”
They parted, and Jess went back home to get ready. How could Jess cram it all into six hours? Jess’s house, of course, was empty except for dirty dishes. Her mother had gone off to demonstrate against the war. She did this every Saturday. There was usually a war to demonstrate against. Jess didn’t mind really. It kept her mum out of trouble and out of the way, and it was free. Just as long as she didn’t ever end up on TV, dancing for peace. Naked. This was Jess’s most nightmarish fantasy.
Having a mum who was often out on demos also permitted Jess to surf the Internet unchallenged by cries of “Get off that thing now! We’ll get a bill as long as my arm!” Jess did a search on lingerie. Soon she was in the slightly weird world of bra inserts–not just little cotton pads, but apparently bags containing water or silicone gel.
“Curves are made of a specially formulated silicone gel, enclosed in a sheer, skinlike polyurethane cover. This material was developed for space research and is extremely well tolerated by the skin.” Wait a minute! Space research? What would be the effect of nil gravity? Wouldn’t your boobs fly off in different directions? Jess didn’t like the concept of outer space. She liked to keep her feet firmly on the ground.
Thank God I’m an earth sign, thought Jess. What Jess needed now was water. She raced to the kitchen and found a roll of those small plastic bags mothers use to wrap up sandwiches. Jess filled a small plastic bag with water, tied it up tightly, and secured it with a rubber band. It was quite gel-like. Jess wobbled it around in her hand. It did indeed move rather like breast tissue. She didn’t have enough breast tissue of her own to have conducted personal research on the subject. But she had watched a lot of pop videos on MTV.
She wasn’t quite sure about the water, though. Perhaps a faint sloshing would be heard. And what if she sprang a leak? Jess shuddered at the thought of puddles on the floor. The jokes about potty training would last a lifetime. Maybe there was a food substance a little less watery than water. Jess ransacked the food cupboard, and her eyes fell on a tin of soup. Minestrone!
Getting it into the bags was a little bit more laborious and messy, but fifteen minutes later Jess had a cleavage. The bags of soup really worked. Amazing! She was going to have a ball! Now all she needed was a pumpkin coach; failing that, the number 109 bus would take her all the way to Tiffany’s. She just had to spend four and a half hours on her eyebrows first.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb Copyright © 2004 by Sue Limb. Excerpted by permission.
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