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it’s not an earring, it’s tomorrow’s uniform

And now at lunch he got a real lucky break. He emerged with Jamal from the burger line and saw that Brigid was two tables away from them, sitting between Lucia (a heavy Latina girl) and Debra (a cute black girl he had known since third grade). And the bench across from them was empty!

Jamal seemed to want to drift over to the football players’ bench to hang out with Jaycee, but Rod subtly steered him to Brigid’s table. As he was about to sit down he was distressed to see her get up. But no, it was only to get some napkins. As he sat down and said hi to Debra, he sneaked a peak back at Brigid, skipping over to the napkins. He loved her fashion sense, the jacket, the turtleneck shirt, the jeans. Yet she did change things from time to time. For the past couple of weeks, instead of her black Uggs, she had been wearing old sneakers with no socks. Cute ankles. Of course, everything about her was cute, her ankles, her chin, her ears, and on parade, the slopes of her breasts, her tight butt, the dimples over her butt cheeks. . . Rod was self-aware enough to know that he was gushing about her in his head. He was in love and obsessed. Well, nothing wrong with that!

When Brigid sat down again Rod looked at her dancing green eyes. After some bumbling attempts to start a conversation he finally hit upon a theme. “This looks like the Tunemasters table.”

“Yes,” Jamal said, “Time to walk the halls like a dork in my uniform tomorrow.”

“You don’t have to wear it,” Debra said. But of course it would be disrespectful to Sarge not to.

“It will be strange to wear my uniform without thermals underneath,” Virginia said. “I haven’t done that since October.”

“Yes. And that’s good. Mine scratch me in some weird places anyway,” Jamal said.

“T.M.I.!” Brigid laughed. Too much information! Which made Rod laugh too. Though Jamal was right. Those special thermals that Sarge ordered were pretty coarse. You had to wear your regular underwear under them. Of course, the band’s majorette didn’t have the option of wearing thermals or even underwear so she wouldn’t know.

“Hey, Fridge!” a guy said as he passed by with his tray. Brigid’s eyes narrowed. Rod turned to see who this jerk was -- she knew Brigid hated that “Frigid Brigid” nickname -- but then he saw it was Sammy, the baritone saxophone player, who was a good guy. As he turned back Rod realized that Brigid had actually taken the nickname as good-natured kidding, at least from Sammy.

They were all eating burgers and fries, except Lucia, who was trying to watch her weight with a salad. Seconds passed uneasily. Rod thought: should I try to make conversation again? Or just let things come up? Does this silence show that Brigid and her friends are ill at ease with me and Jamal? Or is it just something that comfortable friends allow to pass? Am I worrying about this too much?

Fortunately the girls made conversation themselves. It was prompted by Brigid’s trying to get something out of her bookbag, and dropping a key on the table, the key to the weight room.

“How’s body conditioning working out?” Lucia said. She had thought of signing up herself, but was self-conscious about people seeing her in workout clothes.

“Great. It’s just the ten of us, and Janowski is pretty cool. We do it three times a week, after school.” If Rod had known she’d signed up, he would have too. . . Another opportunity missed!

“Sounds like a lot of work,” Jamal said.

“It is. But it gives ya energy. And I’m gettin’ results, after only four weeks. Feel this muscle!” She flexed her left arm and pushed her elbow out at Jamal, daring him to feel her bicep. Realizing her jacket was in the way, she said, “Wait -- “ and got up to take the jacket off. Rod and Jamal were treated to the sight of her twisting and turning in her turtleneck shirt, long red hair flinging about, her shoulders jerking to and fro along with her breasts, which were encased in what looked like a sturdy bra. Brigid’s breasts were a little big for her frame, and contrasted with her slim waist. Both guys imagined them bare, wobbling and jumping as she threw her baton, nothing covering them except the little circlets over the nipples.

“Feel here,” Brigid said again. (With her white-girl-Boston accent, it was more like, “Heah.”) She pointed her elbow at Jamal and then Rod, who felt her bicep. Rod’s heart (and his dick) jumped as he felt the firm lump under her long shirt sleeve. “Wow, Grade A!” Jamal said. Rod nodded.

“I bet you could throw a baton at the moon now,” he said. As Brigid put her jacket back on she smiled at this weak joke. He was going to say, “I bet you could hit McPherson from a hundred feet with your baton,” referring to Ms. McPherson, the principal, but decided it would sound mean. Though it would have been funnier. Rod bit his lip. He was always twisting himself in knots, thinking of what to say around this girl.

“I wrote something in music theory that I’d like to try out,” he said impulsively. “Why don’t we give it a go tomorrow after lunch?”

He was looking at Brigid, who for a second looked puzzled, an odd expression for her. “What?”

He hadn’t called her name but had been looking right at her. “Um. . . A piece I wrote that I need a woodwind for. I’ll play the trombone part, you can do the clarinet.”

Brigid smiled, her bright green eyes making his heart jump again. “Sure. . . Let’s try it out.”

Rod exhaled and thought: What did I just do? What just popped out of my mouth? I didn’t write no “piece”! I’m in music theory class but I’m terrible at it! Yet Brigid had said yes. I’d better write something tonight and it better be good!

“You were almost late to band this morning,” Debra observed.

Glad to be talking about something else, Rod said, “I couldn’t figure out Hank’s system for unlocking doors.”

“Thursdays, it’s always the last one on the right,” Brigid said.

“Except last Thursday,” Debra said. This was some kind of joke between the girls and all three laughed.

Rod saw Debra’s T-earrings jiggle as she laughed and then noticed that Brigid was wearing something on her ear after all. Just a little green thready-type earring on one ear, about an inch long. So small he hadn’t noticed it in band practice. What was that? It looked like just a supporting thread for something that had fallen off.

“So you’re wearing your uniform tomorrow?” Jamal said to Brigid. The majorette’s uniform, of course, did not comply with the school dress code, but that issue was settled long ago. In the big Tunemasters glass case in the lobby, amid all the trophies and photos of bands from years gone by, there was a yellowed newspaper article from 1977 or so about that year’s majorette being cited as in violation because she wore her uniform on Uniform Day. The article had a photo of the majorette, Vondera Richardson, in her majorette’s leotard and a skirt that was impermissibly short. Due to the publicity the school backed down and never made a fuss again -- as the years went by and the majorette’s uniform got skimpier and skimpier.

Brigid sipped her soda, then glanced sideways at her friends and smiled. “I’m wearin’ my uniform now!”

Jamal and Rod looked at each other and then at Brigid. Their eyes darted a quick moment down to her chest, though the jacket and shirt would have easily hidden her circlets. Plus she had a bra on. Jamal said, “What, you’re wearing your uniform under your clothes?”

“That’s dedication,” Rod observed.

“No,” Brigid laughed. She turned her head and touched the thready green thing on her ear. “This is it. My new uniform.”

Rod narrowed his eyes to focus on the tiny thread. “What part?”

“This is the whole thing,” Brigid said, keeping her head turned, nibbling on french fries, talking between bites. “Ms. Kleinfelter cut it down some. . . Easier to twirl in. . . You’ll see me in it tomorrow. It’s very pretty.”

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We definitely need to see her in that get up. Yes please.

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