Rufus’ REAL ending
Several months had passed and Amber and Rufus continued their charade when they were with the Stanhopes. However, they spent increasingly more time together, even when Amber’s parents weren’t around. The two went to coffeehouses, cupcake shops, and hole-in-the wall burger joints. They went to movies, mostly foreign-language or obscure independent films. Rufus took her to lectures at UC Berkeley, where he was studying engineering. In turn, he attended all the exhibits at San Francisco Art Institute, Amber’s school, and he was so proud to see her mixed media art on display.
One evening they went to a soul food restaurant. After taking their order, the server asked them how long they’d been married. They laughed and Amber said, “We’re not even dating. We’re just friends.”
The server put her hand on her hip, shook her head and said, “Oh, Hell no! The two of you act like you’ve been married at least five years.”
They continued their conversation over chicken and waffles and bacon studded greens.
“Married?” Rufus asked. “She thought we were married!”
Amber exclaimed, “I know! How crazy is that?”
They laughed some more, and soon it was time for him to take her home.
He walked her to the door but he hesitated before saying good night. He remembered what the server at the soul food restaurant said. Married? No. Not even dating. He hugged Amber and looked deeply into her eyes before awkwardly turning away. When he got into his car, he wondered why his heart was pounding and his knees felt weak. What was happening? Wasn’t he in love with Ellowyne?
Amber also slept poorly that night. On sleepless nights, she entertained thoughts about Ellowyne and wondered what it would be like to be romantic with her. But that night, she couldn’t get Rufus out of her mind. Married? Dating? Just friends? He was sweet, smart, and kind. He made her laugh and always listened to her. And she loved being with him. What was happening? Was she falling in love—with Rufus?
Sleep continued to elude Amber so she went downstairs to the kitchen to seek solace in a pint of Häagen-Dazs and a stack of old issues of Cosmopolitan. As she savored every spoonful of the rich Belgian chocolate ice cream, she leafed through the magazines, stopping to read the confessions, romantic advice, and the quizzes. One quiz in particular caught her eye. “Lesbian Love or Girl Crush?” She set aside her ice cream and quickly went to work on the quiz.
It was 3 o’clock in the morning but she was so excited about her results that she called Rufus. “I just took a Cosmo quiz and I’m not gay!”
Rufus, who had just nodded off to sleep, saw the text. He answered, “Wut?”
“I’m not in love with Ellowyne or any other girl! It’s just a girl crush!”
“Don’t you see? I thought I couldn’t be interested in you because I thought I was in love with Ellowyne. But I’m not in love with her. I’m in love with YOU!”
Immediately she regretted telling Rufus about her feelings. What was he going to say? Would he laugh? Would he reject her?
“Don’t worry, Amber. I’m in love with you, too.”
What a hot mess we have here! Rufus and Amber in love with each other? Amber having a huge girl crush on Elllowyne? And what would happen to Ellowyne now that she no longer had Rufus’ undivided attention? Well, it doesn’t matter because this ending is absolutely, completely false. Rufus and Amber can’t stand each other! Amber will simply need to continue with her outrageous appearance and behavior while Rufus will need to continue avoiding the kiss-and-slap.
Prudence’s REAL ending
Prudence’s story contains elements of the truth, but she never finds out exactly what huge secret Amber has that motivates her inappropriate behavior. Pru remembered the first time she met Amber. She got a headache and could tell that something different was happening and knew when she first met Amber, she read her aura and realized how big an energy vampire she was. Many of the times she encountered Amber, Pru would develop a migraine, sometimes one bad enough to land her in the hospital. We all know from the canon that Prudence is a spiritual character, someone who would be inclined to meditate or practice controlled breathing when stressed. It’s a little stretch, however, to envision Prudence as someone who would happily wade in piles of dry, clinically oriented book to find answers. She is surely smart enough to understand what is written in the DSM-V, and she might use it as a springboard for understanding behaviors like Amber’s. But no. This ending is false.
Lizette’s REAL Ending
Lizette’s mind wandered the rest of the day. Freshman English and Introduction to Biochemistry, two classes she usually enjoyed, seemed tedious and downright boring. She wondered if this was how Ellowyne and Amber felt as they wallowed in ennui.
After her last class, she stopped by The Hub, a popular coffee bar on the first floor of the humanities building. To her utter surprise, she saw Ellowyne and Amber seated at a table. They weren’t arguing. They weren’t deep in discussion. They weren’t studying, either. Instead, they were lazily leafing through the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. One thing they had in common—other than ennui—was an addiction to Cosmo’squizzes, celebrity gossip, and sex tips, even though Lizette suspected that neither girl had much of a love life.
She grabbed a latte and sat down. “So, what’s in Cosmo this month?”
“It’s so boring,” Ellowyne whined. “I’m so sick of profiles about famous stars.” She paused. “Who is it this month again?”
Amber shrugged. “The Kardashians. Again.” She shifted in her chair and took a sip of her blueberry and kale smoothie. “Did you see that Justin Bieber is married?”
Ellowyne laughed. “Who cares? He is so boring! Hey, did you see the fashions in this issue? Lots of expensive stuff that I can’t afford.”
“I can afford them,” Amber said. “But I won’t because they’re…”
Lizette piped up. “Boring?”
“Ohmigod! Yes! They’re boring!” Elllowyne exclaimed.
Amber moaned. “Everything is boring. Life. Love. College.”
Ellowyne chimed in. “Even San Francisco is boring.”
Lizette became angry. She had a hard time moving to San Francisco from her beloved New Orleans. But Ellowyne and their other friends, including Amber, took her around the city to show her what a great place San Francisco was. They went to museums and restaurants, took her for rides on the trolley, and visited so many places to shop for clothes, from department stores to boutiques and thrift stores that were like hidden treasures to be explored. Ellowyne’s sudden ignorance of the fun things she shared with her was simply too much to bear.
“Do you know what’s really boring? Listening to the two of you whine about how bored you are!
Lizette stormed off. While waiting for the bus that would take her home, she called Rufus. Between sobs she said, “I think I’ve made a terrible mistake. I got angry and told Amber and Ellowyne that their ennui is just boring. Ellowyne probably won’t speak to me ever again. What am I going to do?”
As it turns out, Lizette didn’t need to worry. This ending is false. Although Lizette is smart enough to tackle a complex concept like ennui, as a college freshman, she didn’t have the academic skills necessary for this kind of study. As someone dangerously overeducated, my gut level reaction was that Lizette could write a concept analysis about ennui. But trust me on this: Lizette wouldn’t be ready to do such a project until she was in graduate school. Let’s let her enjoy life as an undergrad for a little while! Another clue that this is a false ending is that Amber and Ellowyne were sitting quietly at a table, contemplating the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. While Cosmo probably on the girls’ reading lists, I’m not sure Ellowyne and Amber would sit together, quietly reading. Um. No. Not gonna happen.
Ellowyne’s REAL Ending
A few days later, Ellowyne and her friends met at Déjà Brew. Knowing that Amber was often there on Wednesday afternoons, they came prepared with some ammunition. To their delight, Amber showed up, wearing a skintight dress and platform heels, and she strolled over to them expecting to create a commotion.
Prudence gave Amber a saccharine smile. “I hope you don’t mind but we ordered you a beverage. Go-Go Juice. Part Mountain Dew, part Red Bull.”
“I have something sweet for you too, Amber.” Lizette chimed in. Then she handed some Pixy Stix to Amber. “I hear this stuff is addicting!”
Ellowyne smiled with the satisfaction of a dog eating the juicy steak he had grabbed out of the kitchen. “Which was your favorite costume? Satine, Jessica Rabbit, Jayne Mansfield, a Playboy bunny?”
Penn, who first asked the question of Amber’s secret, queried, “So how many times have you been Grand Supreme Queen?”
Amidst the laughter from his friends,, Rufus, who for so long had been the target of Amber’s unwanted attention, got in the last word. “Will you holler for a dollar, honey boo-boo child?”
Amber’s eyes and mouth widened in surprise. Then she did something most unexpected. She laughed. She pulled up a chair, sat down, and laughed until her sides ached and tears streamed down her face. She even snorted a couple of times. “How did you find out?” she asked. The friends were shocked.
“I watched some reruns of Toddlers and Tiaras online. It’s kind of my guilty pleasure,” Ellowyne replied. “And I thought I saw you and decided to Google you.”
Amber wiped her cheeks and blew her nose. “Good sleuthing! And to answer your questions: Yes, Pru, I drank Go-Go Juice and ate Pixy Stix. You’re right, Lizette. The pixy stix are addictive and in the pageant circle, they’re known as pageant crack. Actually, sometimes I have Go-Go Juice and Pixy Stix, and trust me, they keep me going when I’m busy studying. Ellowyne, my favorite costume is as a Barbie doll. I wore a black and white swimsuit and mules. My father actually built me a Barbie box. And yeah, I won that competition hands down. Penn, I usually win queen in most pageants and have been Grand Supreme Queen, oh, maybe a dozen times. Maybe more. And Rufus, I knew Honey Boo-Boo. She really did holler for a dollar. But I didn’t. I kind of flirted with the judges but never did anything as brash as what Honey Boo-Boo said.”
Rufus cocked his head and furrowed his eyebrows. “You flirted with the judges? Did you ever, um, kiss any of them?”
Amber’s tears of laughter stopped at Rufus’ question. “Omigod! No! I never kissed any of them but I learned how powerful flirting can be.”
“Maybe you’re treating us the way you would a pageant judge, only more extreme,” Penn said.
Amber quietly considered his statement. “You’re right. I’ve been treating you and Rufus like pageant judges. When the judges didn’t respond, I’ve had to kick it up a notch. I guess I’ve done that with the two of you. I’m really sorry.”
Prudence spoke up. “Is that why you dress so, um, provocatively?”
Amber shrugged. “I think so. I mean, the if judges liked it, it must be okay.”
Now Ellowyne furrowed her eyebrows. “Amber, you always seem to be in competition with us. Is it because you did child pageants?”
“And I competed with every girl I knew,” replied a dumfounded Amber. “I am so sorry! I like all of you and I want to change. Can you please help me?”
Of course Ellowyne and her coterie agreed that they would be glad to help Amber be a real friend. Ellowyne, Prudence, and Lizette took Amber to a makeup counter for a makeover—or perhaps a “makeunder” to tone down the way she applied cosmetics. The girls also took her shopping and Amber found some cute clothes at a couple of thrift stores. The boys were a little hesitant to embrace Amber as a friend but she earned their trust by no longer trying to force her affections on them. Rufus and Amber continued to argue, but the discussions were friendly banter rather than heated debates. Penn appreciated the change in Amber’s behavior and considered asking her out on a date. Everyone went to Amber’s house to look at her pageant crowns and prizes, and watch old tapes of Toddlers and Tiaras and videos taken by her parents that showed many of the things that had been edited out of the program.
And this, dear friends, is the true ending and exactly what happened.