Since it's less than 2 months to the December 10 publication day, here's another taste of Cate and her friend Guy, owner of the fabulous coffee shop TeaBaggers. Guy is the jam.
I found a parking spot, slung my bag over my shoulder, and made my way into TeaBaggers.
“Cate the bitch!” came the yell from behind the counter.
“Guy the bitch!” I hollered back. Guy Hammer and I bonded in the fourth grade over our mutual hatred of vile Ms. Krapuskle the principal. Guy would draw cruelly accurate caricatures of her in his Trapper Keeper and label her the Princess Bull. She hated children in general and banned birthday parties to make our lives unbearable. Guy and I spent many a recess forced to clean desktops and chalkboards as she sat at a desk staring at us with her beady rat eyes, drumming her fat fingers with Lee press-on nails. More than once I was sent to detention in hysterics after Guy whispered, “Princess Bull” in my ear. We were also united by our affinity for 80s music and culture. We were technically millenials, but always felt we had been born in the wrong time period.
Guy opened TeaBaggers last year to much fanfare. He offers pastries, tea and coffee, and the name of the place guarantees it is perpetually full of pretentious liberals and teenagers.
“What do you want today?” asked Guy, already getting the hot water in my favorite pink mug with a fat lady emblazoned on the side.
“I think I’ll try the Dragon Well today,” I replied. “And a cranberry scone, please.”
“Excellent. Now, let’s chat,” said Guy. “Anything new? And no, haven’t seen Stone.”
“Stone? Stone who?” I joked, hiding my disappointment. I hadn’t heard from Stone in two weeks, which was a long stretch even for him.
Guy followed me to my seat after directing Rita, his underling, to take over the counter for awhile. She gave a small shrug and tossed her hair around.
“Well, I did meet one of your people. Maybe,” I said.
“Do tell! Does he love Margot Kidder? It‘s her birthday, you know. October 17. Learn it, live it.”
“I didn’t ask about Margot,” I said. “But he does wear a red kimono around the house. It complements his Adam’s apple.”
“Well, well. You know I don’t dress like a girl, but I wonder if I know him.”
“His name is Simon, and he’s some sort of Asian,” I explained after telling the whole inflatable mannequin story.
“And when I left, he kissed me,” I said, grinning, leaving the best detail for last.
“What!! What!!” Guy bounced in his seat and clapped his hands. “How was it kissing China Ching Lao?” He leaned over dramatically for the details. “Well, what are you waiting for? Oh my, this is too good. Cate kissed a cross dresser. Wait till I tell Rob.”
I bit my tongue at the mention of Rob and let it go. There is no love lost between us, but Guy is happy so I shut up. “It wasn’t bad, actually. I think I may have felt…something,” I said, reluctantly.
Guy doubled over in laughter and tears started to run down his face. “You felt something? Like against your leg?”
“No! I mean, I felt a little tingle, like butterflies in my stomach. It was really weird, because he repulses me,” I could feel my face turning bright red. “Anyway, he called me before I came here and said he dreamed he went dancing with me.”
“O.M.G. He’s a total wanker and probably a perv. You’re going to end up with him just because he’s crazy and you won’t be able to resist.”
“Gee, Guy, you really know how to make a girl feel better,” I said, smacking him on the arm. “Now go away and get back to work. I have an article due in three days to the New Yorker and I haven’t even started it.”
Guy pouted and went behind the counter. “Mark my words, Cate. You’ll kiss the cross dresser again before the month is over,” he said, wagging his finger at me. “Stone is going to get a kick out of this. When is that man coming here again?”
“You know Stone. Well, the one thing we know is that we don’t know much, but he’ll be around when he can be,” I stuttered. “Now I need to work. Go make some pretty petit fours.”
“Petit fours remind me of grandma,” said Guy as he disappeared into the kitchen. “She would have approved of a cross dresser!”
I rolled my eyes and took a sip of my tea with a bite of my scone. With a heavy sigh, I hunkered down over the circular glass table.
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Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.