One night at the beginning of spring semester, Yulia was up late working on her term paper when she noticed her brother had just appeared online.
"Hey, you--I thought you'd go straight to sleep after your gig." Yuri and Calista had been hired for a private party by a professor who'd heard them playing at the Campus Lounge.
"I would have," Yuri typed back, "except that Calista's asleep in my bed, and she's a sprawler."
Yulia typed fast. "Yuri, you didn't!"
"Calm down, little girl," he wrote. "We got back from the reception and someone was asleep in her room. Who it was, we couldn't figure out."
"Can't she lock her door?" asked Yulia.
"You know Calista," Yuri typed. "That would be like 'ownership', and that's one of those 'bourgeois principles' she's completely opposed to. And she's getting up obscenely early tomorrow, and I'm not."
"She never has early classes--what's she up to?" asked Yulia.
"She's going down to the fish market with Chloe," Yuri answered. "I didn't ask for details; it's probably something weird."
A couple of days later, Yuri and Calista were having dinner. Her table manners were as abysmal as ever.
"Oh--" Calista exclaimed, "Guess what--my furniture's finally arrived!"
"What furniture?" asked Yuri.
"My four-poster bed, my Morrocan desk, my monastery chair, my Persian rugs, my Chinese lamps ...."
Yulia was approaching the table. "Where are you planning to put all that stuff? Not in your tiny dorm room, obviously," she said.
"Didn't I tell you?" Calista asked. "I'm moving off campus. I mean, I really like living in the dorm, but there's no room for all my furniture. Or my pots--I need room for my pots. And, I would really like to play music at all hours, and I can't do that here."
Calista had rented a small house just down the street from Pinenut Plaza.
Like most rental properties, the decor was undistinguished--off-white walls and beige wall-to-wall carpeting--
but Calista was able to play music whenever she felt like it,
and the landlord had told her she could paint the walls any color she wished.
So, she did:
She was able to fit her pottery wheel under the stairs.
On one of her first days in her new house, she was browsing the web when Opal streaked through her front door and up the stairs. "I'll be right with you, Opal," Calista said without looking up. "I just have to finish one thing."
That evening, Calista had invited Yuri over for dinner.
"This is delicious," said Yuri, enthusiastically digging into his food. "I didn't know you could cook."
"Can't really," replied Calista. "I was telling Chloe Gonzaga about this fantastic fish plate I had the last time I was in Thailand, and do you know she was able to figure out what was in it, just from my description! She took me food shopping, and helped me gather all the ingredients, and then wrote down a simple recipe for me. She really has a lot of experience with food, that girl."
"If you ask me, Chloe's having too much 'experience with food' lately," Yuri replied. "She gets fatter every day."
"It's not like she's unhealthy, Yuri," Calista chided. "I think she looks fine. But I told her she should ditch Philosophy and just major in Food Science--I bet she'd be a lot happier."
Yuri changed the subject. "So, am I your first visitor in your new abode?"
"Yeah, except for Opal, who came by this afternoon."
"Opal?" asked Yuri, interested. "Clothed or unclothed?
"Decidely un," laughed Calista. "It was a a warm day, so I'd left the front door wide open while I was upstairs, and I guess she took that as an invitation."
"Bet you wished it had been a male streaker," Yuri teased.
Calista was indifferent. "Why should I care? Male, female, doesn't matter to me."
As Yuri was about to leave, Calista suggested he wait a minute so she could find the Mercy Hellhole CD she'd promised to lend him. She looked through the bookcase without finding it. "Maybe it's upstairs," she mused.
Yuri followed her up the stairs to her bedroom. "I suppose it could be under here," Calista speculated as she dived under the bed, which Yuri noticed was unmade.
"Eight o'clock at night, and you haven't made your bed yet?" Yuri teased. "You're getting sloppy."
Calista emerged from under the bed with the Mercy Hellhole CD in her hand. "I've already told you, Yuri--Opal was here this afternoon."
Yuri, trying to put two and two together, asked "Did you sleep with Opal?"
Calista considered his question for a moment. "Yeah, I guess we slept for a bit. Napped, really." She dusted off the CD case and handed it to Yuri.
"Are you gay?" he asked.
Calista rolled her eyes. "Oh, Yuri, you're hopeless. Sex is boring. And it's the least interesting thing about any person. Take Opal, for example. Her streaking isn't about sex--she does it to feel powerful. She's a really intriguing human being. You should give her a chance."
"I would love to 'give her a chance', but she won't go out with me."
"You're positively prehistoric, Yuri. That isn't what I meant. Why don't you try to get to know her? She mentions her life modeling quite a bit--she likes seeing the different drawings the students do of her--why don't you talk to her about art? That's something you know a lot about."
One afternoon, George called up Yulia. "Could you come over and go through the slapdance with me? I'm thinking of using it for an audition."
So Yulia walked over to Landgrabb House and went through the steps with George. He was a much better dancer than she, but she had a knack for picking things up quickly, and also had a better memory.
They were soon joined by Chloe and another of George's dormmates, and Yulia and George had fun teaching the dance to them.
A couple of days later, everyone in Landgrabb House was busy studying when George ran in and high-fived Alvin. "I got a part!" he yelled.
Tosha leapt to her feet. "In what, George?"
"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," he answered, excited.
Tosha looked confused--since she had started dating George, she had avidly followed every potential casting, but hadn't heard that this particular production was coming up.
"It's a combined production by the Music and Drama departments," George explained. "The Dance department isn't technically involved."
"So, what part do you have?" Tosha asked.
"Well, there isn't actually a named part, yet," George began.
"I don't get it," said Alvin. "Do you have a part or not?"
"Well," said George, "here's what happened--I brought my portable CD player with me, told them I was a dance major and that I knew a mountain dance that would be great for their musical, I suggested maybe it was something they could use while they were changing scenery, and asked them to keep an open mind. And then I did the slapdance, and I wowed them!" he cried. "They said they'd definitely find a place for me. And it's a senior production, which means that critics will be there."
Yulia jumped up to hug him. "That's fantastic, George! And what a creative idea--to go to another department, and get a part that didn't even exist!"
"It's like your mom says," George replied. "'You have to make your own opportunities'."
The Landgrabb House students, along with Yuri and Yulia, had been invited to a party at Randy London's fraternity house for the upcoming weekend. "I don't think I saw Randy once all during the fall semester," said Yulia.
"That's because he was pledging, so he was busy being tortured by the other guys in the frat," said Yuri, who thought fraternities were stupid. "But now he's a member in good standing, and he says he needs us all to show up."
"I don't want to go to a frat party," whined Chloe. "No one's going to dance with me."
"I'll dance with you, Chloe!" Alvin said, and grabbed her hand and twirled her around.
Though Chloe privately thought this would be like dancing with her brother, she appreciated Alvin's kindness. Alvin and Brittany were so deliriously in love with each other these days that they'd become quite the most agreeable people on campus. Brit had even forgiven Yuri for his boorish behavior involving the streaker.
"And Meadow can't go to Randy's party," pointed out Tosha, "because she's off meeting Orlando's family this weekend."
"There's another person I never see," said Yulia, referring to Meadow.
"She spends all her time at Orlando's dorm--," explained George, "you know, the dorm where Randy lived before he went Greek. She comes back to Landgrabb to pick up clothing, but that's about it."
"I've said it before, and I'll say it again--" said Chloe. "I'll be surprised if either one of them lasts the whole four years."
The party was in full swing by the time the friends arrived. Rebecka Louie was there; she had been a dormmate of Randy's before he joined the Greek house (and, since Randy was very money-oriented, she liked him a lot). She was looking very interested in Castor Nova, one of Randy's frat brothers, to whom Randy had just introduced her.
Randy had a lot of spirit, and was good at getting people to enjoy themselves. He had Lilly Thompson (another former dormmate of his) dancing the smustle with his frat brother, Josh Reuben.
Soon, Randy had everyone dancing, except Yuri, who was trying to decide which girl to flirt with first--Rebecka or Lilly.
Since Castor had just approached Lilly, Yuri opted for Rebecka. "Hey, I haven't seen you around!" he said. "I thought you might occasionally show up at the Campus Lounge to hear me play, but no?"
Rebecka, who was an avid believer in "The Rules for Women," and knew that the best way to attract a self-absorbed guy was to appear confident, nonchalant, and otherwise occupied, replied "Oh, I keep meaning to drop by--you're such a good musician!--but I just have so much going on these days. I'll really try to come next week sometime, okay?"
One of the fraternity members approached Chloe. "Hi, I'm Kevin. Who are you?"
"I'm Chloe," she answered.
"Wow, Chloe, you look like a girl who enjoys her food."
"Excuse me?" Chloe stammered.
"No--that's a good thing!" Kevin laughed. "You wanna dance?"
Rebecka had excused herself, saying she needed to talk to someone named Uma,
and Yuri took this opportunity to chat up Lilly. "How's the prettiest girl on campus?" he asked her.
"Oh," Lilly blushed. "You're so funny. Okay, I guess." They talked for a while, but Lilly's soft voice was hard to hear over the din.
Yuri became aware of another female voice behind him that easily cut through the noise--Rebecka had introduced herself to Yulia and was busy schmoozing her.
"I'm just in awe of you hard science types--biology just seems so challenging!" she said animatedly, and asked Yulia several questions about her major that would lead the casual observer--that is, someone who didn't know Rebecka--to think that Rebecka had a real interest in the subject.
As they walked back to Pinenut Plaza after the party, Yulia asked her brother how he knew Rebecka. "Just met her at the Campus Lounge, that's all," he replied. "Why do you ask?"
"She seems a bit predatory to me. I'd watch out, if I were you."
Yuri laughed. "I can take care of myself, but, thanks, sis."
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week, as George finally gets noticed, Chloe finds her footing, and the wily Rebecka plots to get "her" man.