Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: Weekend Part 1

Friday night, I got Meg to drive me up to Lake Erie with her and Wade. I had put off packing until that afternoon, because I'm so... fussy when it comes to Lauren's clothes. In fact, I was still working on it when they showed up to pick me up. I ended up, in almost cliche girl style, packing way more than was needed for a weekend, but I genuinely didn't know what I would feel like wearing when we got there. There's jeans, shorts, tights, light tops, heavy tops... three pairs of shoes, depending on whether I wanted to wear sneakers (foofy purple ones at that) moccasins or sandals. I let Meg talk me into bringing a sundress as a break glass in case of emergency, if it got oppressively hot, those things do have a way of deflecting the heat at the cost of making me feel like a total knob. The dress in question was a thin-fabric light blue number that hangs off my shoulders by spaghetti straps. I'm learning to cope with such garments, and it comes down just to my knees so it actually covers more than the short-shorts that dominate Lauren's wardrobe, but I can't shake the feeling that 1) I'm wearing an overturned sack and 2) at any second a nice breeze is gonna lift the whole thing up and expose my goods.

It was unpleasant sitting in the backseat, trying to distract myself by reading on a while Meg played the girlfriend in the passenger seat. I haven't spent that much time around Wade, and seeing Meg interact with him disturbs me to a degree. When she's around me, she's lively and spirited, but when she's around Wade she gets very quiet, afraid to say the wrong thing or raise trouble. I guess I'm the same way when I have to be Lauren. Seeing it in someone else, especially when you know the truth, is really upsetting.

I guess Wade actually did notice, because he couldn't help but mention at one point how moody she's been lately. Wade seems like the kind of guy who blurts out his every thought without thinking of the consequences. On one level, you can respect that, on another it makes him come off like a self-absorbed prick. Whereas Meg and I are in a position where we have to watch literally every syllable that comes out of our mouths - not because we don't want to blow our cover (I'm confident now that we couldn't if we wanted to, this inn magic is for real) but because we really don't want to stir up trouble between ourselves and our "hosts."

If that's the case, though, it's going to be harder than it seems for Meg. At one point we were driving through the rural backroads and Wade said "Yo, it's a nice day, I bet they've got some sick markets and shit around here." And Meg's response was kind of an indifferent "I guess we can stop off, if you really want to."

I guess something about the tone of Meg's reply hit Wade the wrong way, because he got very touchy, saying "You're always like this. If you don't wanna stop just say so."

"I don't really care," Meg said with a sigh, and then things got quiet again.

And no offense to the both of them, but that is a weird damn thing to be fighting about. I understand the subtext - people in couples sometimes fight about fighting as much as they fight about actual material things... and maybe the only way to avoid that altogether is to be a totally submissive doormat, which I know Meg isn't.

When Wade got out to fill up the tank, I asked Meg what was going on, and she said she figured he was annoyed that she hadn't had sex with him in a week. "I've just been feeling crummy and not up for it... and since Tasha is usually pretty easygoing about things, he can sort of tell things are going on."

"Oh, that's... too bad." I said flatly.

"He thinks it's because of him," she said, "You know how guys are." I didn't really know how to take that.

She changed the subject quickly, "I read about your little party... did you get everything cleaned before we left?"

"Sure, I think so, I had a few days. Nobody puked anywhere. There was one broken glass but I got it cleaned up, I think."

"And everyone behaved themselves?"

"More or less," I shrugged.

She raised an eyebrow. "I just think you need to be careful about entering situations like that. Things can get out of hand pretty quickly."

"I can handle it," I said insistently. "I'm just not going to be throwing wild parties every week. That was a onetime thing."

"I just want to make sure about safety..."

"You mean because I look like a 17-year-old girl surrounded by guys, or because I'm really a 30-year-old man surrounded by young girls? Because either way I'm not doing anything dangerous."

"Okay, I trust you, just remember, if you get in trouble, I'm here."

I have to admit, I felt like I was being talked down to a bit, but on the other hand there was a moment or two where I did feel overwhelmed, so keeping that in mind would probably be healthy.

An hour later, we were at Lake Erie. It was a nice enough beach, not exactly the Gulf Coast, or even Maine, but it had a good wholesome quality to it. It was early evening when we arrived. There was a little clutch of cottages, most of which were rented out by members of Paul's extended family, many of whom were gathered around picnic tables drinking. It made my throat feel mighty dry, if you get my drift. Paul and Susan were actually delighted I had come along. I guess people expect 17-year-olds to always be into their own things if given the chance, and I wouldn't normally be an exception, but as I said before I was starting to get bored and restless at "home." So I think I won some brownie points for togetherness.

I was shown around. Even though Lauren has been nominally part of the Blanchard family, I get the sense that as a stepdaughter she's mostly a figment to these folks. "Oh, you remember Susan's daughter, don't ya? Kylie and Kevin's sister... well, half-sister." People Lauren isn't really close enough, even after more than a decade, to call uncle and aunt and cousin. It was actually kind of sad to be her in that moment, but a relief to be me... I didn't have to fake closeness. Meg didn't get so lucky. She was swarmed, and had to look to Wade for support - and of course he had no idea what her problem was and happily chatted up the bros as they stood around a Trans Am drinking Bud Lites. I kid you not, an honest to god muscle car.

I was never exactly a gearhead, but I did feel the desire to get over there and see what was under the hood... but from my viewpoint, the guys that would have been my people a few months ago now saw me as, well... a girl.

I had these visions of condescending glares mixed with implied sexual advances and I figured "Not worth the hassle."

There was a cookout we hadn't totally missed, so I grabbed some ribs and then wandered around and just tried to blend in and fade into the background. I made chitchat with some of the distant relatives, but between having enough of people Lauren's age and adults not really knowing how to talk to teenagers (I still don't, really) I found myself already getting bored and worn out, so I slunk quietly to bed.

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