April would give anything to still think this was the worst day of her life.
“We’re not getting back on that moped until you kiss me,” said Randy, proving that dating was a bunch of crap. April figured it would be, but she had to go out with Randy. He had licked her leg.
She was making waffle cones the last time he asked. When she spilled some batter on her jeans out popped, “OK, lick that off my leg and I’ll go out with you.”
She thought it would be like in junior high when she got rid of a boy by offering to go steady if he brought her a purple pony.
“A real pony, not a toy,” she said. “And it had to have been born purple. It can’t be dyed.”
But Randy was given a pony he could deliver. In about 10 seconds he had launched himself over the counter, got down on one knee and licked her pant leg. When he grinned up at her, she couldn’t help grinning back.
So she said yes. How bad could it be? He drove a moped, which sounded fun. And since they wouldn’t be in a car, she figured there was no way he could force her to kiss him.
Wrong. Boys want kisses no matter what they drive. So now April was stranded with no way to even make a phone call because she didn’t listen to her grandmother.
Before when her grandmother said to “always have a dime with you for a phone call,” April would think, “Um, pay phones cost a quarter now.”
Now she wonders if her grandmother predicted a scene just like this: April sitting on a parking block with a boy and wishing she could disappear. Or better yet, that her breasts would disappear. Because without them, Randy and every other boy would just leave her alone.
April used to like boys much more than girls. Until she became a walking set of boobs.
Boobs she ignored as long as possible, until a girl ran past her on the track with her hands cupped to her chest saying “boing, boing, boing.” Once her friend Amy explained what that meant, April decided to get a bra.
But it didn’t really help. She used to love everything they did in P.E., but unless she could figure out how to take off her breasts along with the bra, she was done playing sports.
She also used to love going through her mother’s dresser after school and pulling out her bras, thinking it was funny she could cover her whole face with one of the cups. But it’s not funny now that she knows those cups are her future.
A future where she’ll have to stop on long walks to pull the underwire off her ribs so she can catch her breath like her grandmother does. A future where she can’t find a button-down blouse that doesn’t pop open between her breasts like all of her mom’s work shirts. A future full of boys like Randy, who was still waiting for her to kiss him.
April decides to just get it over with. How bad could it be? It won’t be like the kiss between Pony Boy and Cherry in The Outsiders, the one she pictures when she practices kissing in the mirror, but it would still be kissing, right? Maybe if she imagines that kiss, it would help.
It doesn’t. As soon as their lips touch, April freezes, having no idea what to do next and having none of the feelings she gets from watching that movie kiss.
“You kiss weird,” Randy says. “It’s like you’ve been practicing on the back of your hand or something.”
At first, all April feels is shame and the heat rushing up her chest to her cheeks. How could he tell? She turns her head away and sits as still as possible, hoping to keep the color from reaching her ears.
“I’m just kidding,” Randy says, poking her ribs with his elbow, and suddenly April’s shame turns to anger. First he forces me to kiss him, then he makes fun of how I do it?! I gave up a night with my mother for this?!
Saturday evenings are the only times April can sit in the living room with her mother and relax. Usually when Evelyn sees her on the couch she will say, “If you have time to sit, you have time to dust.” Or, “Is your homework done?”
But on Saturdays, April can just lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling while her mother reads at her desk. The only light comes from her small lamp, the only sounds the turning of pages or her spoon clinking on her metal ice cream bowl. Normally, that noise would annoy April, but when the clinking meant she was home with her mother, she liked it.
Thinking of her mother gives April courage, so she stands up and demands that they leave. Randy looks at his watch. “Yeah, OK, we probably should. And I guess I can call that a kiss.”
April wants to kick him in the shin. But she still needs him to drive her home.
Once they’re driving again, she feels better. It did turn out to be fun to ride on the moped, the wind whipping her hair, everything zooming by so much closer than in a car. Fun until they stop at an intersection and he puts his hand on her thigh.
Kim had warned April about Randy. Kim also works at the amusement park and is very cool, but doesn’t know April isn’t cool because she goes to a different school. If she didn’t, Kim would ignore April like all the other cool girls do, only talking to her when making fun of her underwear in the locker room.
“Be careful with Randy,” Kim said. “Allison told me he’s got four hands.”
April nodded like she knew what that meant, but she didn’t until now, when he seemed to have two hands for driving and still two free for touching her.
So April is glad to get off the moped in the theater’s parking lot, until she remembers that the last person she wants to see her on a date works there.
It’s a boy named Seth, who sits behind her in Driver’s Ed. And of course he’s in the ticket booth.
“Hey, April,” Seth says with a smile, which fades when Randy drapes his arm around her.
“Two adults, please,” Randy says smugly, grandly pulling out $20 from his wallet. “Don’t think she’ll pass for 12,” he adds with a laugh, giving April’s shoulders a squeeze.
April pulls free and heads inside, not caring that she doesn’t have a ticket yet.
“See you in class, April,” Seth says behind her.
At their seats April slouches down, pressing her knees high against the seat in front of her, trying to hide her face from the rest of the theater. But that just brings Randy’s eyes to her legs and his hand back to her thigh.
Since they’re not on the moped anymore she could shake off that hand, but she just looks at it, feeling its warmth through her thin pants. She wishes she wore jeans, but is glad she didn’t wear a skirt.
No one in her house wears skirts. Her mother used to, but all April sees her wear now are slacks to work, and jeans or shorts on the weekends. And her sister Hannah — she’s even less of a girl than April.
Hannah has one skirt she wore once, after spending hours of red-faced misery at the mall shopping for her junior high graduation dance. She finally settled on a long-sleeved white blouse and a long cotton skirt.
When April went with her mother to pick Hannah up, she saw her sister “dancing” in a corner of the gym with another girl, her long hair flipping from side to side as she hopped awkwardly from one foot to the other.
April would later remember that moment as when she knew Hannah would never date a boy. Their mother must have known the same, because April later learned she asked Hannah if she had danced with any boys.
“No,” Hannah said.
“Do you like boys?” Evelyn asked.
I don’t like boys, either, April thinks, reminded where she was when Randy’s hand began moving down her thigh.
“Is this OK?” he asks.
She wishes she could say no. She wishes she could pick up his hand and push it away. But she doesn’t, and spends so much time making sure the hand doesn’t reach her underwear that when the lights come back on, she can’t remember a thing about the movie and just wants to get back on the moped and go home. So much so that she has forgotten to care what Randy will think of her house.
At least he will only see it at night, when you can’t really tell how small and old it is, or see the jungle of weeds and blackberry bushes in the front yard.
Randy parks his moped behind her mother’s little Honda station wagon in the carport and April can see inside the kitchen, which has a glass door between two big windows. Her father is sitting on the wine barrel behind one of the windows where his transistor radio gets the best reception.
“Is that your dad?” Randy asks.
“Yeah,” April says as her father gets up and moves away from the window. She wishes he’d come outside to get her, but she knows he’s just giving them privacy.
“Kiss me,” Randy demands. “Bet you won’t kiss me in front of him.”
Randy doesn’t have anything to hold over her anymore, but April decides the quickest way she can go back inside is to kiss him. She leans over to kiss his cheek, but he turns his head.
“No. On the lips.”
April looks at the smirk on his mouth. Nope, never doing that again, she decides, turning and running up the brick path to the kitchen door, calling over her shoulder, “Thanks for the movie.”
She opens the door and breathes in her kitchen, vowing to never leave her house for a date again.
“You’re home early,” her father says.
She wants to throw her arms around his stomach and bury her head in his chest, but she just nods and bounds up the stairs to her mother, who is sitting at her desk.
"Good," her mother says with a smile. "You can get up in time for Wilder now."