Rules of Attraction(10)

By: Simone Elkeles


Not really. It’s called transfer student, but I don’t think this woman cares about the details. “Yeah.”

I can’t help but notice the beads of sweat on her peach-fuzz mustache. I’m pretty certain there are, you know, people who can take care of that. My aunt Consuelo had the same problem until my mom got ahold of her and some hot wax and put them in the same room together.

“You speak Spanish or English at home?” Shevelenko asks.

I’m not even sure that’s a legal question, but whatever. “Both.”

She cranes her neck and scans the rest of the class. “Ramiro, come here.”

This Latino kid walks up to her desk. The guy is a taller version of Alex’s best friend, Paco. When they were seniors in high school, Alex and Paco got shot, and our entire lives turned upside down. Paco died. I don’t know if any of us will ever fully get over what happened. Right after my brother got out of the hospital, we moved to Mexico to stay with family. Since the shooting, nothing’s been the same.

“Ramiro, this is . . .” Shevelenko looks up at me. “What’s your name?”

“Carlos.”

She eyes the Ramiro kid. “He’s Mexican, you’re Mexican. Make sure you two Spanish speakers pair up.”

I follow Ramiro back to one of the lab tables. “Is she for real?” I ask.

“Pretty much. Last year I heard Heavy Shevy called this guy Ivan ‘The Russian’ for six months before she learned his name.”

“Heavy Shevy?” I question.

“Don’t look at me,” Ramiro says. “I didn’t make it up. She’s had that nickname for at least twenty years.”

The class bell rings, but everybody is still talking. Heavy Shevy is back on her computer, still busy with her e-mail.

“Me llamo Ramiro, but it’s too beaner so everyone calls me Ram.”

My name’s beaner, too, but I don’t feel the need to dis my heritage and change my name to Carl to fit in. One look at me and you know I’m Latino, so why pretend to be somethin’ else? I’ve always accused Alex of wanting to be white because he refuses to be called by his given name, Alejandro.

“Me llamo Carlos. You can call me Carlos.”

Now that I’m paying more attention to him, I notice that Ram’s wearing some golf shirt with a designer logo. He might have family in Mexico, but I bet su familia doesn’t live anywhere near mine.

“So what’s there to do for fun here?” I ask him.

“The question is what’s there not to do,” Ram says. “Hang out at Pearl Street Mall, go to the movies, hike, snowboard, raft, mountain climb, party with chicks from Niwot and Longmont.”

None of those things are my idea of fun, except for the partying part.

Across the table from us is that hot girl Madison. Along with her tight clothes, she’s got long, streaked blond hair, a big smile, and even bigger chichis that actually rival Brittany’s. Not that I’m lookin’ at my brother’s girlfriend, but they’re kinda hard to miss.

Madison leans across the table. “I hear you’re the new guy,” she says. “I’m Madison. And you are . . .”

“Carlos,” Ram blurts out before I can say anythin’.

“I’m sure he can introduce himself, Ram,” she hisses, then tucks her hair behind her ear, showing off diamond earrings that might actually blind someone if the sun hit ’em at the right angle. She leans toward me and bites her bottom lip. “You’re the new guy from Meh-hee-co?”

It’s always irritating when the white kids try to sound like they’re Mexican. I wonder what else she’s heard about me. “Sí,” I say.

She flashes me a sexy smile and leans closer. “Estás muy caliente.” I think she just called me hot. That’s not the way we say it in Meh-hee-co, but I get the idea. “I could use a good Spanish tutor. My last one turned out to be a total loser.”

Ram clears his throat. “¡Qué tipa! If you haven’t guessed, I was her last tutor.”

I’m still watching Madison. She’s definitely got it goin’ on, and obviously has no problem flaunting her assets. While honey-skinned, exotic Mexican chicas are my usual type, I suspect no guy can resist Madison. And she knows it.