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The rules of attraction bret easton ellis



НазваниеThe rules of attraction bret easton ellis
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'How about all of McCullough?' suggested Donald.

'Even better.' Raymond scribbled something down.

'What about that slut with Mitchell?' I offered.

'Now, now, Paul. Calm down,' Raymond said, sarcastically.

Donald laughed and wrote her name down anyway.

'What about that mean fat trendy girl?' Harry asked.

'She lives in McCullough. She's taken care of

I couldn't stand this twisted faggy banter so early in the morning and I was going to get up and get more coffee but I was too tired to even do that and I sat back and didn't look at Mitchell and soon all the voices became indistinguishable from one another, including mine.

'Anyone with beards or facial hair of any kind.'

'Oh that's good.'

'How about that boy from L.A.?'

'But not really.'

You're right, but put him down anyway.'

'Anyone who goes for seconds at the salad bar.'

'Are you auditioning for that Shepard thing, Paul?'

'What? What are you talking about?' " 'That part. The Shepard play. Auditions today.'

'Anybody who waits to get braces after high school.'

'No, I'm not.'

'People who consider themselves born again.'

'That rules out the entire administration.'

'Quelle horreur!'

'Rich people with cheap stereos.'

'Boys who can't hold their liquor.'

'What about boys who can hold their liquor?'


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True, true.'

'Put down girls who can't'

Til just put down Lightweights.'

'What about David Van Pelt?'

Why?'

'Why not?'

'Well, I slept with him.'

'You didn't go to bed with David Van Pelt.'

'Yes I did.'

'How?'

'He's a Lightweight. I told him I like his sculptures.'

'But they're awful!'

'I know that.'

'He's got a harelip.'

'I know that also. I think it's. . . sexy.'

'You would.'

'Anybody with a harelip. Put that down.'

'What about The Handsome Dunce?'

I vaguely wanted to know who The Handsome Dunce was for some reason but couldn't bring myself to muster the interest to ask. I felt like shit. I don't know these people, I was thinking. I hated being a Drama major. I started to sweat. I pushed the coffee away and reached for a cigarette. I had switched majors so many times now that I didn't even care. Drama major was simply the last roll of the dice. David Van Pelt was disgusting, or at least I used to think so. But now, this morning, his name had an erotic tinge to it, and I whispered the name to myself, but Mitchell's came instead.


Then suddenly they all cackled, still huddled around the paper, reminding me of the three witches from


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Macbeth except infinitely better looking and wearing Giorgio Armani. 'How about anybody whose parents are still married?' They laughed and congratulated each other and wrote it down, satisfied.

'Excuse me,' I interrupted. 'But my parents are still married.'

They all looked up, their smiles fading quickly to deep concern. 'What did you say?' one of them asked.

I cleared my throat, paused dramatically and said, 'My parents aren't divorced.'

There was a long silence and then they all screamed, a mixture of disappointment and disbelief and they threw their heads on the table, howling.

'No way!' Raymond said, amazed, alarmed, looking up as if I had just admitted a devastating secret.

Donald was gaping. You are kidding, Paul.' He looked horrified and actually backed away as if I were a leper.

Harry was too stunned to speak.

Tm not kidding, Donald,' I said. 'My parents are too boring to get a divorce.'

I liked the fact that my parents were still married. Whether the marriage was any good was anyone's guess, but just the fact that most, or all, of my friends' parents were either divorced or separated, and my parents weren't, made me feel safe rather than feeling like a casualty. It almost made up for Mitchell and I was pleased with this notoriety. I relished it and I stared back at the three of them, feeling slightly better.

They were still staring, dumbfounded.

'Go back to your stupid list,' I said, sipping my coffee, waving them away. 'Stop staring at me.'


32


They slowly looked back at the list and got back into it after that short, stunned silence, but they resumed their game with less enthusiasm than before.

'How about people with tapestries in their rooms?' Harry suggested.

'We already have that,' Raymond sighed.

'Is there any more speed left?' Harry sighed.

'No,' Donald sighed also.

'How about anyone who writes poetry about

Womanhood?'

'Bolsheviks from Canada?'

'Anyone who smokes clove cigarettes?'

'Speaking of cigarettes, Paul, can I bum another one?'

Donald asked.

Mitchell reached across the table and touched her hand. She laughed.

I looked back at Donald, incredulous. 'No. You cannot,' I said, my hysteria building. 'Absolutely not. That infuriates me. You are always "bumming" cigarettes and I won't stand for it anymore.'

'Come on,' Donald said as if I was only joking. I'll buy some later. I'm broke.'

'No! It also infuriates me that your father owns something like half of Gulf and Western and you always pretend to be broke,' I said, glaring.

'Is it such a big crisis?' he asked.

Yeah, Paul, stop having a grand mal,' Raymond said.

'Why are you in such a bad mood?' Harry asked.

'I know why,' Raymond said slyly.

'Wedding bells?' Donald giggled, looking over at Mitchell's table.


33


'It is such a crisis.' I was adamant, ignoring them. I'm going to kill that slut.


'Just give me one. Don't be bitchy.'


'Okay, I'll give you one if you tell me what won best costume design at the Tonys last year.'


There was a silence that followed that I found humiliating. I sighed and looked down. The three of them didn't say anything until Donald finally spoke up.


'That is the most meaningless question I have ever heard.'


I looked over at Mitchell again, then slid the cigarettes, across the table. 'Just take them. I'm getting more coffee,' I got up and headed out of the dining hall. But then I had to stop and duck into the salad bar room because there was the Swedish girl I was with last night, showing her I.D. to the food service checker. I waited there until she walked into the serving area. Then I ran quickly downstairs and headed for class. I thought about trying out for that Shepard play, but then thought why bother, when I'm already stuck in one: my life.


I sat at a desk not listening to the drone of the professor, glancing over at Mitchell, who looked happy (yeah, he got laid last night) and who was taking notes. He looked around the room, disgusted, at the people smoking (he quit when he came back - how irritating). They probably looked like machines to him, I imagined. Like chimneys, spurts of smoke rising from that hole in their heads. He looked at the ugly girl in the red dress trying to look cool. I looked at the graffiti on the desk: 'You Lose' 'There Is No Gravity' The Earth Sucks' 'The Brady Bunch Slept Here' 'What Ever Happened to Hippie Love?' 'Love Stinks' 'Most Cab


34


Drivers Have Liberal Arts Degrees' And I sat there feeling like the hapless lover. But then I remembered, of course, that now I'm only hapless.


LAUREN Wake up. Hair needs to be washed. I don't want to miss lunch. I go to Commons. I look disgusting. No mail today. No mail today from Victor. Just a reminder that the AA meeting is going to be in Stokes instead of Bingham next Saturday. Dawn of the Dead tonight in Tishman. I have four overdue art books from the library. Bump into weird-looking girl with pink party dress on and glasses who looks like a victim of shock treatment searching for someone's box. Another minor irritation. Walk upstairs. Forgot my I.D. They let me in anyway. Cute guy wearing Wayfarer sunglasses serves cheeseburgers. Ask for a plate of fries. Start to flirt. Ask him how his flute tutorial's going. Realize I look disgusting and turn away. Get a Diet Coke. Sit down. Roxanne's here for some reason sitting with Judy. Judy's picking at tofu lettuce celery rice French fry salad. I break the silence: I'm sick of this place.


35


Everyone reeks of cigarettes, is pretentious, and has terrible posture. I'm getting out before the Freshmen take over.' I forgot ketchup. I push the plate of fries away. Light a cigarette. Neither one of them smile. O ... K ... I pick at a spot of dried blue paint on my pant leg- 'So ... what's' wrong?' I look around and spot Square out of the corner of my eye at the beverage center. Turn back to Judy. 'Where's Sara?'


'Sara's pregnant,' Judy says.


'Oh shit, you're kidding,' I say, pulling the chair up, 'Tell me about it.'


'What's to tell?' Judy asks. 'Roxanne's been talking to her all morning.'


'I gave her some Darvon,' Roxanne rolls her eyes up; Chain-smoking. 'Told her to go to Psychological Counseling.'


'Oh shit, no,' I say. 'What's she doing about it? I mean when?'


'She's having it done next week,' Roxanne says. 'Wednesday.'


I put the cigarette out. Pick at the fries. Borrow Judy's ketchup. 'Then she's going to Spain, I guess,' Roxanne says, ' rolling her eyes up again.


'Spain? Why?'


'Because she's crazy,' Judy says, getting up. 'Does anyone want anything?'


Victor. 'No,' I say, still looking at Roxanne. She leaves.


'She was really upset, Lauren,' Roxanne's bored, plays with her scarf, eats fries.


'I can imagine. I have to talk with her,' I say. 'This is terrible.'


'Terrible? The worst.' Roxanne says.


'The worst,' I agree.


'I hate it when this happens,' she says. 'I hate it'


We finish the fries, which are pretty good today. 'It's awful, I know,' I nod.


'Awful.' she says. More agreement. 'I'm beginning to think romance is a foreign concept.'


Ralph Larson, Philosophy teacher walks by with tray looking for a place to sit followed by my printmaking teacher. He looks at Roxanne and says, 'Hey baby,' and winks. Roxanne smiles big - 'Hi, Ralph' - and she's looking now at me, eyes saucers, still smiling big. I notice she's gained weight. She grabs my wrist. 'He's so handsome, Lauren,' she breathes, pants, at me.


'Never invite a teacher to your room,' I tell her.


'He can come by anytime,' she says, still squeezing.


'Let go,' I'm telling her. 'Roxanne, he's married.'


'I don't care, so what?' She rolls her eyes up. "Everyone knows he slept with Brigid McCauley.'


'He'll never leave his wife for you. It would screw up his tenure review,'


I laugh. She doesn't. And I slept with that guy Tim who got Sara pregnant and what if it was me who was getting an abortion next Wednesday? What if ... Ketchup on the plate, smeared, make unavoidable connection. I wouldn't let it happen. Judy comes back. Next table: sad-looking boy is making a sandwich and wrapping it in a napkin for hippie girlfriend who isn't on the food plan. Then it's the Square walking toward the table. Whirl around and tell Judy to tell me a joke, anything. 'What? Huh?' she says.


36


'Talk to me, pretend you're talking to me. Tell me a joke. Hurry. Anything.'


'Why? What's going on?'


'Just do it! There's someone I don't want to talk to.' Point with my eyes.


'Oh yeah,' she starts, we've played this before, warming up, 'that's why, it all, you know, happened.


'That's why?' I shrug. 'But I thought, you know that, it happened . ..'


'Yeah, that's why . . . uh, see, do . ..' she says.


'Oh, ha ha ha ha ha ...' I laugh. It sounds fake. I feel ugly.


'Hi, Lauren,' Voice Behind Me says. Stop laughing, casually look up and he's wearing shorts. It's October and the boy is wearing shorts and has a New York Times business" section under one arm. 'Is there room here?' Gestures at our table where he's about to put his tray down. Roxanne nods.


'No!' I look around. 'I mean ... no. We're expecting someone. Sorry.'


'Okay.' He stands there, smiling.


Leave, leave, leave. Use ESP ... anything.


'Sorry,' I say again.


'Can we talk later?' he asks me. Leave. L-E-A-V-E. 'I'll be in the computer room,'


'Sure.'


He says 'Bye' and walks away.


I look for another cigarette and feel a little shitty, but why? What does he expect? I think about Victor, then look up, and ask for a match and say 'Don't -'


'Who's he?' they both ask.


'Don't ask. No one,' I say. 'Give me a match.'


'You . . . didn't,' Judy says, cocking her head.


'I ... did,' I mimic the head movement. 'Oh boy.'


'He's a Freshman. Congratulations. Your first?'


'I didn't say I was interested, dahling.'


'He's got such a nice ass,' Roxanne says.


'I'm sure Rupert would love to hear you say that,' I tell her.


'I have a feeling now that Rupert would agree with me,' Roxanne says sadly.


And that's a weird thing to say and I wonder what she means. It reminds me of something I don't want to be reminded of. I tell Roxanne to give me a call and tell Judy that I'll be in my studio. Go back to my room and decide to skip video class and take a bath instead. Clean the tub out first. Dorm's quiet. Everyone at classes or maybe still sleeping. Great, hot water. Bring a pad and some charcoal and my box and put some Rickie Lee Jones on. Smoke a joint and lay there. Tried calling Victor last night when I came back from Steve's room, crying, couldn't stop, but there was no answer at the house in Rome he said he would be staying at on this date. Remember my last night with him. Touch myself. Think of Victor. I hate Rickie Lee Jones. Turn the radio on instead. Wash my hair. I turn the volume up. Bad station. Top 40. Static. But then I hear a song that I remember listening to when I was seeing Victor. It was a dumb song and I didn't like it at the time but it suits the moment now and makes me cry. I want to write this feeling down, or draw it out, but then I feel like that would make the whole thing seem impure and artificial. I decide it will only cheapen the feeling and so I lay there in


38


39


the white brightness and think of memories the song brings me. Of Victor. Victor's hands. Victor's leopard-skin pants. Ripped army boots and ... his pubic hair? His arms. Watching him shave. At the Palladium, how handsome he looked in a tuxedo. Making love in his apartment. Brown eyes. What else? He starts to fade. I get scared. I get scared because while I'm laying here it suddenly seems as if he doesn't exist anymore. It seems as if only the song that's playing does, not Victor. It's almost as if I had made him up last summer.


SEAN Terror in the Dining Halls. Part IVXW. The girl who fucked Mitchell last night and who I want to fuck again is standing over at the Beverage Center. I can see her very clearly from where I sit. She's talking to her overweight lesbian (probably) potter friend. Wearing a dress that I really can't describe. I guess you'd call it a kimono maybe but shorter and with a sweatshirt over it. It's bulky but you can still tell that she has a good body and it doesn't look like she's wearing a bra so her tits look nice. I


40


sort of know this girl; after we'd spent the night together, I talked to her at a Friday night party in Franklin. She might be in one of my classes but I'm not sure since I don't go often enough to tell. But, whatever the story is, she is next.


Dinner again and I'm sitting with the usual crew: Tony, Norris, Tim, Getch. The goddamn House Pigs, our house band, woke me up at four this afternoon, rehearsing above my room. I took a shower, aware when I was blow-drying my hair that I missed two classes today and that I have to find a major before the end of the month. I paced the room, smoking, listening to old Velvet Underground hoping it would drown the House Pigs out, until it was time for dinner. They were still playing when I left for Commons.


Jason was serving and I told him I talked to Rupert and that I could get him the four grams by tomorrow night, but that he should take his sunglasses off because they make him look too suspicious. He only smiled and gave me an extra slab of meat, or turkey, or pork or whatever the hell it was he was serving, which was cool considering, I guess. So, I'm looking at that girl, wondering if she's the one who's been putting those notes in my box and I get excited - even if it's not her. But then her fat friend says something to her and they both look at our table and I look down and pretend to eat. I think she's a Sophomore and I'm pretty sure she lives in Swan but I'm not going to ask anyone at this table. I don't want to take the fun out of the pursuit. Tim's a bonehead for getting Sara pregnant and he doesn't care. I screwed Sara a couple of times my second year. In fact most of the guys at the table had. It seemed almost like a joke that Tim just got stuck with the short end of the stick, the deal. But no one's too upset or morose about the whole thing. Even Tim makes jokes about it.


'So many girls are having them there might as well be a CWS job for it,' he laughs.


'I'd seriously do it for fifty bucks,' says Tony.


Getch is playing with an Etch-a-Sketch and says, 'Gross man. That is just gross.'


'Are you talking about the food or the abortion jokes?' I ask.


Tony explains: 'Drano in a Water Pik.'


Getch says, 'Great, we're making jokes about it.'


'Come on,' I tell Getch. 'Cheer up.'


'Why aren't you upset, man?' Getch asks Tim, staring at him in a way only a Social Science major could.


'Look,' says Tim. 'I've been through this shit so many times before, it doesn't even faze me.'


Getch nods, but looks like he doesn't really understand, but he shuts up, and looks back at the Etch-a-Sketch.


'How do you know it's even yours?' asks Tony, who just came back from a student council meeting, stoned.


'I know,' Tim says, like he's proud of being so confident.


'But how do you know? The bitch could be fucking you over,' says Tony, a big help.


You can tell,' says Tim. You can look at her and just know she's not lying.'


No one says anything.


'You can feel it,' he reiterates.


'That's, uh, really mystical,' Tony says.


'So when is she getting the fetus ripped out of her?' Notts asks.


42


The whole table moans collectively and Tim's laugh is guilty but helpless and it makes me queasy. The girl finally gets a Coke and walks out of the main dining room, looking confidently hot.


'Wednesday, guy,' Tim borrows a cigarette and cups his hands even though there is no possibility of the match going out. Precautions, I guess. It would've been Tuesday, but she has this primal dance piece on Tuesday so it has to be Wednesday.'


'Show must go on,' I smile, grim but loose.


Yeah,' says Tim, a little anxious. 'Right. And then she's going to Europe, which is a total relief.'


The table, including Tim, has already lost interest in this already old (known since last night, for latecomers, lunch) piece of gossip, so other conversations ensue, about other important subjects. I ask Norris if he can get me some coffee when he gets up.


You want cream in it?' he asks.


Yeah. Cream in it,' I tell him. Old joke.


'Hey Sean, you're .. . pretty funny.'


Yeah, I'm a pretty funny guy.'


'Does anyone know where we can get Ecstasy tonight?' Tim asks.


'Where's the party tonight?' Getch asks.


I spot my roommate, he's back from New York.


'Ca va,' he says as he passes by.


'Ca va,' I say, then 'Ribbet.'


'At End of the World and probably The Graveyard,' Tony tells him. Tony's head of Rec Committee too. 'All donations toward alcohol will be greatly appreciated.'


'Isn't it too cold to be outside?' asks Getch.


43


'Dress warm, pussy.' Tony pushes his plate away and starts on his salad; even though I like Tony, that European salad thing bugs me.


'Pussy? Who said pussy?' asks Tim. 'I haven't heard that term since eighth grade.'


'Fuck off,' Tony says. He's pissed because he didn't get the part in some stupid Drama Division production, even though he's a sculpture major, and even though he's a good guy and all, it bugs me that he gets sulky over something so lame. I want to fuck Sara again. She gives incredible head, I remember. Or was that someone else? Or was Sara the one with the coil I almost slit my dick open on? Considering what the situation is now, she probably wasn't the one with the I.U.D., but even if she was I might just -take a chance again, if it was offered to me.
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