Unlike Tanya, Shirley didn't have much to say about all this. If Tanya brought up the times Shirley'd been called "Chink" by the the sons and daughters of the town's labo
Shirley seemed to like the way Tanya could parlay a raw deal into something full of meaning-- a bit like how Springsteen can turn a life of factory work lyrical--but a few feet outside of the cone of Tanya's vision, Shirley quickly morphed back into being an Asian high school girl in a town waiting for Wal-Mart to be created.
Before I moved to town, Tanya'd taken on another white girl, Marlene. Two factors seem to qualify Marlene for Tanya's caseload: She was skinny beyond the dictates of fashion and she was the adopted only child of the two oldest parents I'd ever seen. They lived on a busy street in a tiny, overheated house crammed with knickknacks, doilies and glass bowls of peppermints. Her gray parents were perpetually parked in front of Alex Trebek with their Swanson's TV dinners. Like Tanya, Marlene had a car, presumably because her parents were too old to drive anymore.
And then me, of course. I think we've established that I was pitiable enough make Tanya's list, pitiable the way we can pity an antelope that's wandered into a lion's den. I had no business being in this town and yet I was.
All this being said, it seemed to me that Tanya would want to take on Bruce, the gay boy in denial living deep in homophobia's heartland. Except. Except, Tanya sniffed the air with contempt when Bruce's name came up. Unlike Marlene, Shirley and I, Bruce was like Tanya. He was an alpha. A ruler among misfits. And so this is how I came to spend my senior year--the year when my city friends scampered from one grad party to the next---trying to please both Bruce and Tanya, both of whom I loved in a crazy sort of way.