tagNovels and NovellasDeconstructing the Nerd Ch. 05

Deconstructing the Nerd Ch. 05


Chapter V

"Eh, like, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Man, I really need to get myself to a salon."

"Really? It was pretty embarrassing. I never wore anything like that around him."

Cassie sighed, briefly looking up from her nails. "Look, if that freaks him out, I can tell he's got issues."

Reema pursed her lips as she chose her words. "It's not so much that it freaked him out... It kinda freaked me out."

"Did he say anything?"

"Um. No..."

"Then you're good!" Reema wore an antsy expression that told Cassie she still wasn't pacified. The blonde reluctantly continued. "Listen, you're not doing yourself any favours obsessing over it. It happened. It's done. Move on, forget about it. Don't even think about him."

Reema considered these adamant words. Her fashion mishap with Miguel and the thong continued to weigh on her. She'd failed in her mission to keep things totally 'status quo' between them. But Cassie was right: other than Miguel noticing her underwear that day, he hadn't broached the topic again. "Yeah, I guess you're right," she acquiesced, "why kill myself over-analyzing?"

"I know I'm right," Cassie narcissistically agreed, flashing a cute smile that put Reema at ease. "Now, do we wanna get started on this stupid assignment?"

"Yeah, sure." While Reema retrieved the appropriate textbook, Cassie informed her that she hadn't completed the required reading yet. Reema placed her book in front of them. Cassie still hadn't located hers.

"Can I borrow? I think I forgot mine," she explained. Reema shook her head and smiled. "You never have your book when you come over!" Then she paused and thought it, "...or in class either, either."

"Tell you a secret?" Cassie leaned in and dropped her voice. "I stopped bringing my books a long time ago. I figured it was better just to share." She finished with a wink.

"Oh. That's more, economic?" Reema guessed.

"Yeah. Something like that."

As the girls set to work, Reema still had Cassie's study habits in mind. She was always sharing someone else's book -- usually a member of the opposite sex. Reflecting on her own experiences lately, Reema considered that boys in class were also joking around and making more small talk with her. She had become a lot more social. That seemed like the mature thing to do. They said 'hello' to her now, made comments about the professors, and referred to her by name -- which hadn't always been the case in high school.

A few minutes later, Cassie punctuated the silence in the room. "Break time!"

Reema looked up from her textbook and gauged the time. It had barely been fifteen minutes.

"So, know what you're wearing on Friday?!" the blonde inquired.

A 90s themed pub night was coming up. Reema had Googled some costume ideas, but to no avail. She still didn't know what to do! The lack of ideas almost made her not want to go. "Um, yeah, I was looking at some stuff... I'm not sure. Honestly, I'm not good at dressing up."

"Yes you are. The tights you've been wearing to class, the little makeup touches today... I see what you're doing. You're a star, Reem," Cassie said. Reema soaked up the praise. She actually had made an effort to dress well that day. She was wearing a snug pair of shorts and crazy purple tights. Cassie went on, a fresh idea occurring to her. "I knowww, why don't you be Kelly Kapowski? It's pretty much all denim...or florals...or denim and florals!"

Reema giggled, "I loved Saved by the Bell!"

"There you go!"

After high-fiving in a way that left Cassie secretly mortified, they planned an outfit, guided mainly by Cassie's suggestions. Once again, the plan would require a shopping trip to buy more clothing and accessories. Reema still wasn't comfortable roaming around shopping malls looking for clothes, but with such a fun reason to go, she couldn't object.

"By the way..." Cassie interjected, "...have you ever thought about switching to contact lenses?"

"Well, not really. Maybe... kind of?" Reema shakily asserted. "I... Think I should?"

Cassie removed the glasses from Reema's face. She held her phone up to the anxious journalism student. "Smile!"

It wasn't like Reema had never seen herself without glasses. Because she was wearing eyeliner and other makeup to accentuate her features, however, she looked better than usual at the moment. Cassie turned the phone around and gushed over the picture she took. "See, this would totally bring out your eyes."

"Hmm," Ree pondered aloud. With her blurry vision, she still couldn't see the photo too clearly. Squinting, she considered whether to make contacts a permanent thing? It would be a major departure from her usual style. She had always worn glasses -- always. But change could sometimes be a positive thing, she reasoned.

"Are you going to admire yourself all night, or get back to studying here?" Cassie playfully interrupted.

Reema shook her head and apologized. "Sorry. What page are we on?"

A few days later, the girls followed through with their shopping trip, raiding the aisles of various thrift stores to find retro items to complete their outfits. Afterward, they stopped by the optometrist's office, conveniently located on campus. They learned that basic eye care was covered under the university health plan. Waiting to see a doctor, Reema confided, "My parents are going to explode when they find out."

Cassie laughed, refraining from making further comments. Behind her Cheshire grin, she mused that they would be freaking out about a whole lot of things... once she was done with Reema.

Although somewhat nervous, Reema also felt giddy. It had all come together so fast. With little premeditation, she was shedding the bifocals that had been such a defining part of her image and her life.

A young female doctor inspected her eyesight. Reema conversed with her throughout the appointment. She was a former Montgomery graduate, which gave Reema optimism about her own future success. And she was super nice. The woman talked about the first time she personally switched to contacts. In the doctor's words, it was the 'best decision' she ever made.

Reema left the office with a prescription for contact lenses and a heightened sense of confidence. Unfortunately, the lenses wouldn't be ready for another week, so she couldn't test them out at 90s Night.

Reema powered through the rest of her classes and coursework for the week. She liked going out with Cassie, but tried not to think about socializing while fulfilling her academic commitments. She realized that meeting new people and putting herself out there was an important part of university, but didn't want to jeopardize the main goal: getting an education. Thus, she made efforts to keep her social routine separate from her academic priorities. This was harder, of course, when she had to study with Cassie -- whose comments frequently centered on their next weekend outing.

90s Night felt different for Reema. Maybe it was the theme itself, or the prospect of dressing up. Either way, her weekend plans kept popping into her thoughts. She was quietly excited.

After capping their week with a strenuous workout at the gym, the girls regrouped in Cassie's dorm room to prepare for the big Friday night event. Although they were both born at the tail end of the decade -- and didn't experience many 90s fads first-hand -- they still cranked some 90s music, shared nostalgic stories, and reminisced about what the decade must have been like.

"There were no cellphones back then," Reema pointed out. Feeling the need to correct herself, she added, "No wait. There were... because they were invented in the 80s. But they were like, super rare... and a big deal!"

"Hellooo...?? Zack Morris!" Cassie comically blurted out.

Reema laughed. "I know, right? Can you imagine? All those shows and movies... 'Friends', 'Seinfeld'... they didn't have cell phones. Now, today, everything has cell phones!"

"That's so interesting!" Cassie cheered, trying hard to sound excited. Even when she talked about pop culture, Reema could drone on like such a know-it-all. "Hey, anyways... Wardrobe?"

"Yeah!" Reema concurred, eager to model her vintage attire.

Cassie picked out a pink and blue floral top, some acid wash jeans, and a modest pair of white heels. With pants like those, Reema knew a thong would also be involved. She didn't think twice about it -- small, discrete underwear was just part of wardrobe now.

Reema put on the intentionally dated garments, earning instant praise from Cassie. "O. M. G... you look soooo good!!"

Reema giggled. "Really??"

"Yeah! Those jeans look wicked!"

The brown girl agreed. The style was pretty familiar to her -- a bit tight, but still comfortable. Reema enjoyed the funky vintage aesthetic. She did have reservations, however, about the top half of the outfit.

Reema approved the way the colorful top looked on her chest, but didn't like how the shirt stopped short of meeting her pants. There was an inch of exposed skin around her stomach. It helped that weeks of exercise at the gym left her with much less 'muffin top' than would usually be spilling out of a skimpier style of top, but the midriff look still made her uncomfortable.

Cassie had oddly discouraged her from trying on this shirt at the mall. Instead, she opted to drape it over Reema's body for a 'quick test'. Thus, Reema never noticed how it actually fit. "I think it's a little short," she weakly laughed as Cassie adjusted the top.

The blonde fashion expert immediately noticed how tight it hugged Reema's bust, but kept the observation to herself. "What? It's perfect." She anticipated the objections that would be coming next, "I already know what you're going to say. It's not a big deal if a bit of your tummy is showing. It's barely noticeable."

"I know, but there were girls in high school who were always trying to look cool and show their stomachs and everything, even though it was against the dress code," Reema defended. She never saw the point in trying to dress above one's age.

Cassie shook her head. "You talk like you're a high schooler who just happens to be at a university. Adjust your thinking, Reem. You're in university now. Be a university girl."

Having no retort, Reema said nothing. She watched her blonde friend return to the closet. "Plus, if you still wanna be reserved, I've got this sweet jacket," Cassie beamed. She flipped the jacket around to show it had an embossed pink flower on the back.

"Ah!" Reema awed, feeling the flower. "When did we get that?"

"We didn't... I already own it," Cassie said. "But it's yours now!" She held it open for Reema to slide her arms in. The jacket was long enough to squash her midriff concerns -- her navel could barely be seen!

For her own costume, Cassie paid tribute to the Alicia Silverstone character from Clueless. As Cher Horowitz, she wore a preppy blue blouse and a grey plaid skirt, along with tall white socks. After applying more makeup and restyling their hair, the two campy 90s characters slipped on some footwear, grabbed their purses, and departed the student residence. Cassie snapped a cute picture en-route to publish on Instagram.

Walking inside a local campus watering hole (after sneakily bypassing the line-up outside), Reema was struck by the liveliness of the event. Everyone's retro outfits looked so creative! She saw a lot of ripped denim, flannel in all permutations of color and plaid, and even some parachute pants. The latter were Reema's favourite -- they were so wacky!

Reema was getting used to a particular vibe that set in whenever she hung out with Cassie. Whatever they did, it seemed to turn out fun, never lead to disappointments, and always give Reema a feeling of being valuable and interesting to other people.

"Wow, check out her hair?" Reema nudged Cassie, pointing at a girl who'd styled her tresses into the perfect Rachel Green hairdo from Friends.

"Awesome! Let's grab our drinks and sit down," the Blomshell instructed, heading over to a crowd of people surrounding the bartender.

Along the way, Cassie noticed a guy dressed like Vanilla Ice eyeing the wide backside of her friend. She turned to Reema and raised her voice, "Wow, Reem! I can't believe you pulled off that outfit so well!!"

Reema chuckled. "Right?"

"I mean, who's more classic than Kelly Kapowski?" Cassie added. The guy turned to face them now.

"Nooobody," Reema humoured her with a laugh.

He interjected. "I have to agree. Although Rachel does come close, as far as 90s babes go!"

Reema looked him up and down. He had a blonde, flattop hairstyle, with lines shaved into the sides. He wore a bold star spangled jacket and some baggy, American flag-pattern pants. Reema loved the effort he put into his costume. She also understood his comment about Kelly and Rachel. "I think they were both cool... in their own ways!"

He hungrily studied the front of her outfit. The neckline on her floral top was round and wide. Peeking out the top was a touch of cleavage. His eyes trailed down to Reema's waist and hips, which protruded attractively in the vintage jeans Cassie had picked out.

"I really like your costume!!" Reema said, making eye contact with the poor man's Rob Van Winkle.

"Thanks! I got most of my clothes from the theater department! But it's nothing compared to yours," he conceded. "You really went all out."

"Huh, me? No! You did!"

"I like yours better. I mean look at that jacket. Oh shit, I didn't even see the earrings!"

Reema grinned, feeling her pink, circular accessories. They were the biggest hoop earrings she could find, trying to match Kelly Kapowski's light blue ones. She was glad somebody noticed the resemblance!

"Hehe. Let's compromise and say we both did a good job?" Reema asked, touching her silky black hair.

"Deal," he agreed, giving a firm, ironic nod.

They both saw Cassie sashaying back with a couple of drinks in hand. She sized up the imitation rapper and said nothing to him -- but didn't object to his presence, either. "Let's go find some place to hang, 'kay Reem?"

Before Reema knew it, their conversation was over. Cassie brushed her elbow, escorting her away. "Nice to meet you!" she called over shoulder. As they walked to another group of tables, she confided in her friend, "Wow, he was really nice!!"

"Think so?" Cassie chuckled, pointing to some empty seats. "Here?"

Reema eyed the table in front of them. There was a half-full pitcher of beer and a couple of glasses around it. "Uh, aren't people sitting here already?"

Cassie dismissed the idea, already sliding into a chair. "I don't see any placeholders, do you? You snooze you lose! Coming?"

Surrendering the point, Reema took the next closest seat. As they resumed drinking, she told Cassie more about her conversation with Vanilla Ice. "We had a whole 'it's not me, it's you' thing going on... about who looked better," she giggled.

"Oh yeah?" Cassie tried to match her friend's enthusiasm over the essentially meaningless anecdote.

Reema craned her head to scan the bar. "I wonder where he went..."

"I'm sure he's around," Cassie promised. In truth, her own scan of the premises located him standing beside the dartboards. "Don't worry about it. I want you to tell me how many days until we finish our freakin' classes!"

"I know, right?" Reema groaned. "I think it's six, or seven weeks, or something like that. And then exams, of course."

"Ugh. Help."

Reema smiled. "We're in this together, Cher."

Cassie held up her glass, "Cheers to that..."

Before they could drink, two young men appeared in front of them. They were both on the shorter side, and seemed visibly impressed by the girls they were approaching. One of them grabbed the half-full pitcher on the table. "I'll just get this out of your way," he said, meekly shifting his eyes to Reema's chest.

"Oh, were you sitting here?" Reema asked, lifting her ample bum and pointing to her chair.

"Yeah, but don't worry about it," he confirmed, backing away with the unfinished container of ale. "You're here now."

"Are you sure?" Reema asked again.

He was adamant as he looked square at her body. "Yeah, no worries." His friend collected their pint glasses, taking an uncomfortable final look at the curves beneath Reema's floral top. With a gracious 'good night', he followed his buddy, presumably in search of another table.

"I told you someone was sitting here," Reema chided Cassie as the two boys scuttled away.

"And I told you it wasn't a big deal!" her blonde friend laughed back.

"It was nice of them to let us have their table, though," Reema admitted, starting to release her guilt. "Really nice, actually."

"And selfless!" Cassie nodded, stifling a laugh. She was enjoying a lot of comedy lately, seeing the world through Reema's still majorly confused eyes.

Cassie switched topics, announcing that she was close to winning a big discount from one of her Rewards cards at an upscale store in the mall. She went on to tell Reema what kinds of purchases would be necessary -- and how many -- to fulfill her 'shopping destiny'. It was just filler talk, and Cassie knew it. Reema was sipping on her drink and giving the occasional nod, but it was clear she was distracted, just as Cassie intended.

The Blomshell kept the conversation going, enabling Reema's curiosity to intensify. The nervous energy building up in Reema caused her to drink her cocktail at a faster pace. Cassie watched as she rapped her fingers on the glass, frequently tilting it to her painted red lips. She replied to the small talk with a few 'oh yeahs' and 'I knows', but Cassie knew Reema was too preoccupied to fully understand the gist of her words... especially with several lime daiquiris clouding her thoughts.

When the brown girl turned around to look the other way again, Cassie finally announced, "Damn it, Reema, do you wanna go look for him?"

Reema was surprised, but immediately lit up. She clasped her hands together. "Can we, please??"

"Only if we pick up more drinks first!"

That was an acceptable compromise. As Reema looked at her cocktail, she saw it was empty. On the way to the bar, she removed her tight jean jacket and hung it over the chair. The venue was getting humid with all the bodies inside. She felt more refreshed minus the additional layer of denim.

Reema faltered as she stood up, experiencing a rush of blood to the head. As soon as she regained her balance, her phone started vibrating. It was Miguel. Although Cassie was too far away to notice, Reema decided not to take the call. She discreetly stuffed the device back into her coat pocket, letting it go to voicemail. Rushing to catch up with her friend, Cassie was soon handing her another daiquiri filled to the brim.

"I think I saw him over there," Cassie observed. That comment sent them winding through the crowd, drinks in hand, tracking down the elusive Vanilla Ice. A strange thought occurred to Reema. For the first time in years, she was having a positive - even thrilling - experience, and she didn't immediately want to tell Miguel. In fact, she wasn't sure she would ever want to share it with him. That was a surreal concept. Yet she still didn't feel guilty or depressed... just slightly confused. Seeing Cassie wave her finger and point, Reema quickly shrugged off her internal revelry.

They found Vanilla Ice standing by the dartboards again, having a one-on one-contest with a guy in a David Hasselhoff costume. The white rapper took a swig of beer, put it on the table, and prepared for his turn.

"Going for double score right here!" he boasted.

"Whatever, Bro," his lifeguard friend taunted him.

The Ice Man shrugged and said he was about to take him to 'school'. He twirled a dart between his fingers and stepped behind a line of tape on the floor. Spreading his baggy pants, he squared his shoulders and lifted his hand.

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byMarquisdeBad© 10 comments/ 8173 views/ 2 favorites

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