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Old 04-09-2018, 09:48 PM   #351
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Default A stiff upper chin.

Kelly just sat and watched the clock, a cheap old-fashioned hand clock with plain black numbers like ones that sat in government warehouses the world over. She still had five minutes before she had to be down in the convocation room. Not since she was six-years-old (the last time she was in time out) had she ever known a clock to tick so slow.

But her thoughts pulsed at a mile a minute. This wasn’t some vendetta. Sure, Lindsey didn’t like her, God knew why. And, yes, Lindsey was bureaucratic and fanatical—a Code Warrior—insecure in a position she inherited in an hour of need, because of Sherry’s abrupt departure, maybe even because no one else wanted it. Kelly sure would never do it! And Kelly had no doubt Lindsey was a fat-o-phobe, just like Sherry and apparently a dozen or more of the other lollipop girls who ran the place.

But Kelly would never be able to deny that she was facing review because she deserved it. And not for all the reasons she knew and they didn’t that she deserved it, either. The expulsion. The lies. The blackmail. The inside connections. The deals.

She did violate the Code.

Not because she got fat. Not even because she got so fat, so fast.

It was because of how she presented herself when she did. Because she got out of control time and time again and never fully appreciated it. And because when she got a chance to make it all right doing Lindsey a favor—maybe, Kelly considered, she was doing me a favor, kind of a chance to prove herself—she lost control there, too, and betrayed Phi Gamma’s secrets “in violation of her solemn and eternal fraternal oath.”

If Kelly were Lindsey, and someone like herself had forced her into this choice, she’d have made the same call.

So what now? Why even put up a fight?

She could hear the memory of Gail’s voice in her head: I thought you were past this giving up thing!

Well what else can I do?

She decided she’d at least go through the motions, run back head down through the gauntlet of girls on the stairs, ignoring their shadows in the halls, trying not to imagine them crowded up against the convocation room and kitchen doors to find out what was going on. And then, after the meeting was convened and she had her first chance to answer, the charges she’d try not to cry and just say she had no defense and submit herself to their judgment. Maybe they’d let her stay. Maybe after all that Kelly might even still want to.

Or maybe Kelly would stick it through to the end, just bareface her way through until she lost all credibility. Or maybe she could explode in outrage, just dramatically blow out the doors and huff past the eavesdropping girls in a final hot blaze of glory while they scrambled toward the dark corners of the house like so many roaches.

She could go clear out her room straightaway—after such a short meeting, she’d have plenty of time before she had to meet with Daddy. Which with Phi Gamma out of her future, now didn’t seem so scary after all. Lindsey and the other girls would finish up the meeting notes and pack up their notes and their precious audio recording, and the decision would be sent off to the national office, and that would be that. She had so little left of her stuff in the Attic, she’d be out of the house before they finished, and she'd never have to see them ever again. And that didn’t seem so bad.

It was two minutes to two, and Kelly started shuffling the papers back into the folder because—well, what else was she gonna do with the time? Last thing to go in before she shut the folder closed like it was heavy (it wasn’t) was the COMPORTMENT packet.

That was it!

The national office. The national office!

A happy little warmth wriggled through Kelly’s body and a silly smile stole its way onto her face. Gail’s voice echoed through Kelly’s mind one more time:

“Chin up, Rise-N-Shine. You’ve got a great chance of beating this.”

Yes, yes she did.
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Old 04-13-2018, 12:22 PM   #352
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I have all sorts of guesses, but I'm not saying them in black and white. Bad luck or something?

But they fall into three main categories that I'll call Right Turn, Blinkers, and Barrel Roll. Well, there is also u-turn that I don't think you'd do to us, and Minute 21 which I don't think is your style.

Also when I saw you had posted I was all excited. Tease!
OK. So, I'm a little bitter. I posted such a short section specifically as a tease this time and you didn't say anything. Would you call this Right Turn, Blinkers, or Barrel Roll?
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Old 04-14-2018, 05:45 AM   #353
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Sorry, I'd read it without logging in, so didn't respond ... and anyway, it was so short that I don't know yet! Looking like barrel role, but there is so much that could change that ...
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Old 04-14-2018, 03:09 PM   #354
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“Ready?” Brittney asked.

Kelly gave her a confident smile.

“Ready as ever.”

Everything was just preparation for this.

She couldn’t believe they hadn’t thought of this.

She’d have to engage them before the review started. Maybe strike a conciliatory tone from the beginning. But she’d have to start it before they started recording. And before that recorder came on, she’d have to start off with some form of this:

“Do you really want this memo in the hands of the national office?”

The negotiations could begin, and conclude, and then the recorder could come on.

The trip downstairs was just what she expected. This time there was no effort at hiding. Seven girls were waiting outside the office door, smiling. “Good luck, Kelly!” someone murmured, a quiet chorus of affirmations on its heels. At the bottom landing there were several more girls. No words, but smiles. The clump of girls in their way pressed against the walls to let her pass, then closed ranks behind her just as the first of the girls from the second floor reached the bottom of the stairwell. Brittney even opened the door for her before following her inside and closing the door behind her.

Tables and chairs were set up to their right: two 12-ft tables set to form a “V” with a single chair meant for Kelly almost in the middle. Kelly didn’t even know how many people were on the Executive Council, but it looked like four, maybe five chairs were squashed into the seating space behind each of the tables.

Just four girls were waiting: little Isla Greene, red hair down, gird in Phi Gamma uniform silk shirt and black pencil skirt, talking to Kerrie Lipscomb, who Kelly had recently learned was now acting Phi Gamma vice president; Kelly Johnson, who’d been bouncing from committee to committee of late; and of course Lindsey, standing in the middle, wringing her hands, looking almost Twiggy thin in her loose gray wool pants and the tiny pink cardigan draped from her shoulders. It was a small gathering in a cavernous room, and Kelly’s heart skipped a beat as she wondered if the proceedings would be opened to the crowd of initiates clumped up on the other side of the door, until she realized if that were the case the rest of the chairs would have been out.

Kelly walked over directly and promptly sat in her seat while Brittney walked over to half-sit, half-stand against the table to Kelly’s right—something Brittney could do easily with her six feet of length. The other girls didn’t make much move to do anything. Maybe they were waiting for more girls? Kelly didn’t know, but if she was ever gonna have a chance to control this thing before they got started, this was it.

“So I know the meeting hasn’t really gotten started, but—”

“Just a moment, Kelly,” Kerrie interrupted, turning out of her quiet conversation with Isla “Give us a moment and we’ll be right with you.”

Kelly looked at Lindsey, who was pulling something up on an iPad, then at Brittney, who just gave her a shrug.

That didn’t go well at all. Kelly needed to do something to leverage some control.

“I was just wondering,” she continued, mostly in Lindsey’s direction, “since I don’t really know how this is supposed to go, whether I would have the chance to make some kind of opening statement for everyone. It may not matter at all, but it does to me, and I would just like the chance to kind of, uh, explain myself and maybe—”

“Uh, yeah, yeah,” Lindsey answered, looking up briefly from her iPad. Not rudely. Distractedly. She looked right back down at her iPad and started the arduous process of typing something on the screen. “I understand, OK?

“But none of that really matters.”

Kelly paused a second. What was going on here? Were they not going to offer her at least the appearance of defending herself? Isla and Kerrie finished their conversation about the time Lindsey put down her iPad and all eyes focused on Kelly. They seemed to be waiting for everyone else to speak.

“Look, I know this is supposed to be some kind of formal review, but I was thinking that maybe before everything went on the record that we could maybe, you know, just each share where we’re coming from on this thing and maybe—”

“Kelly,” Kerrie interjected again. For such a slender girl she had a low, powerful voice that made you feel like you were in trouble, even if you weren’t. And Kelly, of course, was in trouble. “We all can appreciate what you’ve been going through, but really, we don’t really care about any of all that.”

“Yes, but—wait. Say that again?”

“We’re sorry. Really. It was … a mistake that … uhhh ... caused more trouble than it was worth. For everyone. And we were hoping maybe we could use today to put it all behind us.”

Put it all behind us? Was this a joke!? Was it somehow April 1 and she didn’t know it? Kelly looked Lindsey’s direction. She looked a little sour-faced, but she made no move to contradict Kerrie.

“Lindsey?”

“I’m not sure that’s the way I would put it,” she answered, measuredly. “I wouldn’t say we don’t care. I’d say we definitely care. You put our reputation at risk, and I don’t know about these girls, but I take that really seriously.”

Isla rolled her eyes. Kerrie grit her teeth. The rest betrayed nothing. Apparently Lindsey was alone in that, unless perhaps the other girls on the Council who didn’t show up were the ones backing her up on the review. And maybe whatever was happening, those girls didn’t approve of letting Kelly off the hook.

If that’s what they were really doing.

“I take it seriously, too,” Kelly answered. Carefully. Measuredly. “That’s why I wanted you to know I realize what I did—all the things that I did. I just didn’t realize how—”

“Sure, Kelly. Really. You don’t have to tell us, OK? We know what you did. But I want you to know that you caused us some real headaches—”

“I know.”

“Let me finish. You caused us some real problems. Big ones. Problems that might hurt us for a long time—or maybe even close us down. And we wouldn’t—”

“Kelly,” Kelly Johnson interrupted, “to put it bluntly, we need your help.”
Lindsey, pursed lips, unlocked her iPad and passed it over wordlessly to Kelly to read.

To: The Georgia University Panhellenic Council and its associated chapters of the fraternal orders of the National Panhellenic Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Conference
From: Assistant Dean for Student Inclusion and Diversity, Division of Student Affairs
Re: Recent Concerns Regarding Student Inclusiveness in GU Greek Organizations

November 25, 2017

I am writing to introduce myself and announce the creation of a new office within the Division of Student Affairs: the Office for Student Inclusion and Diversity at Georgia University, now separate from the Office of Multicultural Identity within the same division. GU has a long tradition of breaking down barriers, from its early leadership in creating a coeducational environment, to its role as the first major university in the South to achieve full racial integration, to its world-renowned prominence in international student exchange, and through its efforts to expand gender acceptance on campus. We are proud of our heritage. But there is still much work to be done, and we are eager to press forward in the effort to create a welcoming campus environment for students of all walks of life.

Recently some disturbing information regarding the recruiting and retention policies of some Greek organizations has come to our attention, policies that may have the effect of reinforcing harmful and self-limiting stereotypes. We recognize the unique value of Greek life both to our campus and to our alumni, understanding that each organization functions and thrives by creating a unique house culture emphasizing some of the highest values in our society, including the celebration of camaraderie, ethnic identity and vocational excellence. We also recognize that in providing a coveted university experience, selectivity (which unfortunately leads to exclusion) is a necessary component of the Greek system.

“Preferred” and “selective” do not necessarily translate to superiority and exclusivity. But history tells us that organizations reliant on the former often devolve into the latter. We in the Office of Student Affairs are concerned about the tension between the many unique flavors of Greek life on campus and the need to promote inclusivity and tolerance between and within organizations. It is a problem for which we do not presume to have immediate answers.

I am announcing the creation of a Greek Student Advisory Panel for Panhellenic Organizations (SAPPHO), composed of representatives from each of the two panhellenic umbrella organizations, one male and one female, as well as a currently undetermined number of representatives from the larger student body, following Spring Rush in January of the new year. The purpose of this body will be to identify components of Greek life, formal and informal, that may work to perpetuate harmful stereotypes that have the potential to foment deep divisions on campus. University President Weller, Dean of Student Affairs Jane Wycoff, and the Board of Regents have invested this panel with the power to make formal recommendations to the Board, which after careful deliberation and allowing for public comment, may be adopted campus-wide. These recommendations could have substantial implications for the nature of Greek life on our campus. I have been selected to chair and moderate SAPPHO and to correspond directly with the President and the Board regarding both its composition and the conduct of its mission.

You should have every confidence in the value that Georgia University places on Greek life and its commitment to ensure that it endures at least as long as it has already persisted, since the first house opened off campus in 1836. More specific details regarding dates and times of meeting, as well as the general guidelines and by-laws for the panel, will be communicated to your organization as they become available. Your cooperation and assistance with this effort in any manner will be greatly appreciated. And as always, my door is open.

Dennis Lierman, Ph.D.
Tenured Professor of Logic and Mathematics
Assistant Dean of Student Inclusion and Diversity
Division of Student Affairs
Georgia University


Kelly didn’t take the time to read the whole memo. She didn’t need to, especially once she glance down and saw Lierman’s signature at the bottom. She now understood what was happening today. They were after a deal.

For what?

“You work for the guy. What do you know about this?” Kelly Johnson continued.

“I never heard of this before. I work in a lab. He used to be my professor. He’s some kind of dean now. I don’t have anything to do with this.”

“But you have plenty to do with him,” Lindsey answered.

“He was my professor. Yours, too. Now I work in his lab. That’s it. I told you, I never heard about this until you showed it to me. Is there something you would like me to do?”

Lindsey looked Kelly over for a second, trying to discern whether Kelly was telling the truth. Then over the course of the next ten minutes, Lindsey pitched the deal that would allow Kelly to stay in Phi Gamma.

Kelly listened carefully to all the details and considered her options. But really it was pretty cut and dried. There was only one answer Kelly could give.

“I’m sorry, y’all, but I’m gonna have to say no.”
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Old 04-16-2018, 05:02 AM   #355
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Oh, veering to the side!
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Old 04-18-2018, 03:33 PM   #356
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Oh, veering to the side!
You're *really* teasing me with these labels now...
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Old 04-19-2018, 10:57 AM   #357
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You're *really* teasing me with these labels now...
Well, could be setting up for a right turn, but could still be a barrel roll ... does not look like blinkers. I'll explain later ;-
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Old 04-19-2018, 07:16 PM   #358
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You're *really* teasing me with these labels now...
Turnabout is fair play. It's only fitting that you, too, should be kept in suspense.

(I jest. Please don't rush. We'll wait. The internet is forever)
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Old 04-20-2018, 07:35 PM   #359
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Turnabout is fair play. It's only fitting that you, too, should be kept in suspense.

(I jest. Please don't rush. We'll wait. The internet is forever)
That's the irony I was going for.
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Old Yesterday, 09:51 PM   #360
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Default I really love how this scene turned out.

“Hi, Daddy.”

Kelly’s dad was sitting in the middle of the busy country club restaurant at a round table large enough probably for six people. The room was spacious and clearly recently remodeled. Clear cool bright November light spilled through the wall of windows that ringed one half of the room. Bright white linens covered the tables, and the chairs were all white leather and polished brass. The restaurant was a bit cool from the day’s chill, and steam streamed upward in a misty white column from Ben Kingsley’s newly-arrived T-Bone steak, broccoli florets, and loaded baked potato. Next to his plate was a near-empty rocks glass of what Kelly knew to be a double single-malt Scotch, next to another rocks glass of ice that Kelly knew used to also contain a double of single-malt Scotch. His knife and fork were poised to cut into the steak as Kelly announced herself. He didn’t lift his eyes to Kelly until he had cut off a bite, fatty edge and all.

“Well, I guess it’s pretty clear what you did with all my money,” he said, then popped the bite of steak into his mouth and chewed it with all the vigorous energy a fatty chunk of meat like that required.

Kelly kept standing there, hurt. Tuesday night she’d sunk the whole of her check into what she was wearing now: a white, business length Tahari dress from Macy’s, and a wide shiny bright red belt to camouflage her midsection and tie in her red shiny heels and matching purse (which she’d already had). She'd found the inspiration in a bright red bolero, knit with intermittent glimmering gold thread, that she’d need for the winter cold—and to camouflage her exposed chubby arms. The white dress was on clearance after Labor Day, of course, and originally sold for hundreds of dollars more than she’d paid. She knew she looked like a million bucks—with every penny of it sunk into what she was wearing.

She also knew that wasn’t what he meant. The last dress he saw her in was a size 6. Today she was a size 16.

“Sit,” he said, still chewing his steak, pointing at the white high-back leather chair with his steak knife.

Kelly pulled back the chair and did as she was told. When daddy told you to do something, you did it.

“The hair was a big mistake. Leave it long. You’re young. It’ll never look better. Leave it alone.”

Ben Kingsley was not a big man, a little shorter than average. He had a squattish, unathletic build, and he didn’t dress particularly nicely: today it was a nondescript short-sleeve off-white shirt with widely-spaced pinstripes so faint you couldn’t tell the color, pocket on the left breast with a pen hitched to it, no tie, neck button open to expose the top of his white t-shirt underneath. Two buttons pooched up at the edge of the table, suggesting the creep of growing middle-age spread since this shirt was purchased as long as two or five or even ten years ago, knowing him. His receding hairline had merged into his male-pattern baldness, so that a solid ring of thick, straight reddish-brown hair circled his shiny pink crown from temple to temple without the slightest hint of gray, despite his 46 years. He was meticulously clean shaven except for the thick brown mustache the exact color and consistency of his hair. And, he had a weak chin resting on top of a small roll of pink skin, now sagging and filling with middle age. Underneath thinning, well-groomed brown eyebrows were small round hazel eyes, which struggled to escape dark circles of that special kind of fatigue brought on by chronic sleepless nights and from constant, relentless effort to monitor the environment for threats and to force circumstance to his will.

“I told them to bring yours when you got here.” He raised his hand over his head extending two fingers toward a waiter, as if to tell him it was time, then leaned to the side and dug, without looking, in the pocket of the tan corduroy sports jacket hanging on the chair behind him.

He pulled out a small stack of credit cards and flipped them across the table so that they fanned out across Kelly’s empty place setting.

“I don’t want to see anything like that little stunt you pulled this summer.” He was talking, of course, about the spending binge on the West Coast she’d conducted last summer, with her mother’s blessing.

I didn’t know, Daddy. If I’d had any idea what Mommy was doing, I never would have done it!

“Yes, Daddy.”

You didn't give daddy excuses, either.

“You’ll find a lot tighter spending limit on those to insure you don’t.”

Kelly opened her purse, which she still had over her shoulder and resting on her thighs, leaning against the fluff of her taut little seated belly. She slipped them into her wallet then dropped the purse to the floor by the strap so she wouldn't have to bend. She wondered what exactly those spending limits might be. $1000? $100? With him, there was no telling.

“Yes, Daddy.”

Kelly sat with her hands in her lap just looking patiently over at her father, who was chewing another bite of his T-bone, slowly this time, looking her over like he was taking his measure of her.

“All right, then.”

Just then Kelly’s plate arrived: T-bone steak, broccoli florets, loaded baked potato, just like her father’s, steam scattering furiously into the cool air of the restaurant.

“Something to drink, ma’am?”

Now that her Phi Gamma review was over, she desperately wanted a stiff drink like her father’s. But she’d never drunk alcohol in front of him, and she wasn’t about to start now.

“Iced tea. Unsweet.” She usually wanted sweet, but as the size she was she wasn’t about to order that in front of her father either.

Kelly’s father drained his rocks glass and held the empty glass up in a bid for another. Has this family always drunk this much and I just never realized it? The waiter slipped away after an affirmation, and Kelly unrolled her silverware and cut into the strip side of her steak. Her stomach was still in knots, and she didn’t want to, but she knew that not to eat her steak was to invite an inquisition from her father. It was well done, the way her father liked it. Even the strip side was hard to chew. She did her best with it and swallowed it down. It felt like it was flopping around in her stomach like a rock in a tumbler.

She had so much she wanted to tell him, so many feelings jumbled inside. It wasn’t that she was afraid to tell him. It was that she didn’t know how to get started. She’d never talked that way with him before.

Meanwhile, the business meeting continued.

“So you’re gonna ask me about what's been going on with your school bills and your car payment and your car insurance and your sorority. Well, with what your mom’s doing all of that has been in flux.”

Mom’s doing?

“Frankly, that car and the insurance on it isn’t even close to worth it. It’s a crap European import, and I don’t care what’s on the faceplate. That was all your mother’s doing. No kid needs to be driving that thing as her first car. And personally I don’t give a crap about your sorority and that crappy house over there, either. Should have torn that thing down years ago. But I know that sorority’s your thing and I’m not gonna get in the way—though as far as I’m concerned all of that oughta be your mother’s responsibility. She was always the one who took care of that crap.”

The habit of avoiding cursing was a long one in their family. Kelly appreciated it even now.

“But all that crap’s still tied up in court,” he continued, “and I don’t know how long she’s gonna be pressing me on all that, so for now all of that’s gonna come from me. The car and insurance and the health insurance—all that’s fixed, routine. Easy. But I can’t keep track of all the minutiae of exactly when tuition and dues and all that mess has to get where. I’m done with that. So when you get that info I don’t want it bogging me down. I’ve got too much going on with the expansion of the business and all this court crap your mom’s having us do.”

Again with the your mom bit. Does this man appreciate for one second what he did?

The waiter arrived with Kelly’s tea and her father’s Scotch.

“So what I want you to do is to coordinate all that directly with Justine. That way you won’t have to put up with all those hang-ups and delays on my end.”

Justine was Ben’s longtime personal assistant in New York, where he’d been living now since last May.

“Justine,” Kelly deadpanned, while her father attacked his steak again, knife and tooth.

“Yeah. She manages almost all this stuff since your mom stopped doing it.”

“Your steak, ma’am,” the waiter interjected. “Is it prepared to your liking?”

“It’s fine. Thanks.”

As she cut into it again, Kelly thought more about what it would be like under these circumstances having to call Justine for the things her father should be taking care of.

It pissed her off.

“Tell me, Dad,” she said, her bite of steak halfway to her face, “has she been fucking you since Mom stopped doing that, too?”

That was it! That was exactly how she wanted to talk to him!
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