Pink Lemonade

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
An almost-romance about a stubborn fan and an awkward idol.

Submitted: February 12, 2009

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Submitted: February 12, 2009

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Pink Lemonade
 

What kind of name was ‘Pink Lemonade’? I asked myself as I tried to scour the internet, so far unsuccessfully, for a direct download of her debut album, Soursweet. Blame Shawn. He was the one who’d recommended the overnight hit cult/pop singer whom I’d only otherwise noticed in snatches of music videos, glimpses of the entertainment section of the newspaper, or catchy songs for iPod commercials. “Reviews don’t do her justice, and her singles don’t capture the full breadth of her work. Pink Lemonade is so much more than that,” he assured me. So about a week after he made the suggestion, I began to look her up. Here is the ‘so much more’ that I’ve discovered so far: Pink Lemonade claims her father was a seal, she plays the glass harp, she’s afraid of the sound of air escaping, she committed the complete works of Dr. Seuss to memory, and her best friends were trees she’d named in the city park.

In short, Pink Lemonade was a compulsive liar. Some of her image was merely fibs that she seemed to invent in the middle of interviews that were henceforth accepted as canon. Other parts of her image were strange but true. She really did put her pants on two legs at a time (there was a video of her doing it); she really could speak Russian fairly well; and even if she wasn’t his lover in a past life, she did love Maurice Ravel, enough for his influence to show through in her work.

So she’s only famous because she created her own gimmicks? Unless her studio creates all these stories for her.

In the latest interview I found on Youtube, ‘Pink Lemonade’ sat on a bland white talk show couch, her hands under her thighs. Her shirt was oversized and plastered in graphic art paint spatters; the sleeves just long and floppy enough to hide her hands. Her skirt was a tutu; also floppy. Her hair was brown and wavy, also long. She glanced at the floor a lot, sometimes reached up to her face with a sleeve-covered hand to giggle behind, or sometimes watched the mismatched stockings on her legs as she swung them. All in all, she looked like a fidgety kid, either slightly retarded or ADD-, ADHD-inflicted. At the same time, she was strangely familiar, strangely attractive.

The interviewer was a rather manly woman in a pantsuit who gave so many courtesy smiles and polite laughs that perhaps she was only humoring the girl. “Now where did you say you lived before then?”

Pink Lemonade looked up from her patent leather shoes. “Before now, I lived in a cave. A grotto, I suppose you’d call it. It was very nice; roomy, furnished. Cheap too, and with lots of privacy and good views. That was when I was living with my father—you know, he’s a Hawaiian monk seal. My mother, she, you know… She’s a mere human, so she doesn’t like the sea as much. But I love to swim, I do. You should see me swim.”

“I wish I could. I take it your current house has a pool?”

Pink Lemonade gave the deep nod of an over-eager kid. “Yes. I’ve got everything now. William’s taking care of me.”

“Your agent?”

“Yes.” Another deep nod. “I don’t know what to do with money, but William makes sure I don’t waste it all.” And here she gave one of her strange whisper-giggles, mouth covered by a hand. “I don’t need my parents any more, but I’ve sent them some money, to make sure they eat right and everything.”

What an idiot. I can’t believe they give this girl money to act like that. Even as I insulted her, I checked the video’s comments. Most were rather useless; either insults to the extent of ‘her music sux and she cant dress herself rigth’ or compliments in the vein of ‘pink lemonade is sooooo cute! i want to pat her on the head and I bet she’d purr’. There were, however, a couple snatches of useful information hidden in. Someone had asked the reason for her obsession with seals, and there was a grammatically correct reply explaining that she was obsessed with the ocean in general. ‘Three of the songs on her album were about it. I think the truth behind it is that she lived by the ocean and used to go off swimming by herself. She was a shy kid growing up, so she did a lot of things by herself. Like making up lies, for example. As for her father, I’m pretty sure she really doesn’t have one. Her parents got divorced and her mother got full custody. I think her mom was abusive or something, not sure but something must’ve happened to make her so crazy.”

I agree. Either she’s not right in the head or she’s faking it. If she’s faking it, then she may be even crazier for having the will to keep up that act all the time.

Another comment explained that rather than growing up in a cave, she last lived in Morro Bay, California and was mostly likely born there. I was also born and raised in Morro Bay, coincidentally. This was intriguing.

I swiveled in my chair as I considered it, and eventually began to wonder just how old this Pink Lemonade, so skilled at looking like a child, really was. There was no more data to be scraped from the graffiti wall that was the Youtube comments page, so I decided to check Wikipedia. Much of what it had to offer had already been announced on the comment pages, oftentimes copied and pasted in full. Moreover, it was mostly rumors. There were simple facts about her music releases and sudden popularity, but in her scant biography section, ‘citation needed’ flags abounded. Her age, real name, birthplace, parents, and childhood were all unknown. Even the story about her living in Morro Bay was just a common rumor. In their place were stories of her “sailing to the Earth on the tail of a comet. The first thing that I did was hurt my bum.” Insert laugh behind a sleeve-covered mouth.

My last resort was to return to her official artist page. It generally supported the lies that flowed from her mouth: seal daddy, webbed toes, imaginary friends, Russian, Ravel, Seuss, etc. However, she did have a blog with which I could to check if she ever dropped her ‘crazy girl’ act. She didn’t. She had posted just yesterday about wanting to go swimming in every ocean, including the lunar ones. The official website was useless, then.

Ugh! I spun a bit in my chair, annoyed. It was ridiculous. I didn’t mind what I’d first heard of her music. I expected to remain so impartial, or maybe even come to hate it. That way I could tell Shawn that I’d tried it and didn’t like it, and that would be the end. The problem was her music was surprisingly good; not as pop as it was often described as, eclectic enough to be entertaining and fresh, but not entirely experimental. I had really come to like the parts with the glass harp.

And ugh! Even though she was socially inept, a compulsive liar, deluded, lanky, off-kilter, and slightly retarded, she was pretty freakin’ cute and somehow intriguing. I wanted to know why she kept lying and who she really was. I wasn’t supposed to be this interested, but I was. Ugh! Stupid Pink Lemonade. Stupid, stupid, idiot girl.

Over the next few days, I would fall in love with her. I would fall hard.

 

At first, I just downloaded her complete album, but I was eventually compelled to buy it. There were, in addition, two import versions, each with different bonus tracks; I had to have them too. I devoured any scrap of news I could find on her as soon as it came out. I lurked among various message boards and forums in her honor, with usernames clearly unlike my usual ones in their bold declarations of love for Pink Lemonade. I memorized her favorite foods, movies, and books (they actually existed and appeared to be the only thing with which she would be truthful). I would listen to ‘Whoa Whoa on the Weekend’ on repeat until I knew every single non sequiter that made up the lyrics. I began to adore her inane giggle, often muffled by an oversized sleeve; her complete lack of fashion sense, and her sometimes whispering, sometimes straining, always childlike voice that flooded my brain by the headphones and coated my brain in a stultifying honey as if marinating it. She eventually invaded my dreams, telling me the answers to my Calc II homework due tomorrow and getting every question wrong. But she was so freakin’ cute when she did it! Stupid doe-eyed stupid Pink Lemonade. Stupid, stupid, idiot girl.

I was so good at hiding my obsession with her that I was a little ashamed of myself. Is this how a true fan would act? When Shawn asked me what I thought of her now, I gave him an answer I only wished were true: ‘She’s not my kind of thing.’ Truthfully, I wanted to grab him by the collar and demand what the rest of the entertainment world was demanding: ‘Who is she?’

‘Who the heck is Pink Lemonade?’ Everyone knows that all that nonsense she spouts is just that. What was wrong with her so that she had to make it up? Every now and then, she would say something to hint at mental instability. When recounting an anecdote about meeting a grizzly bear (Pink Lemonade admitted that she couldn’t speak Bearish, but she and the bear could both speak Tree, and they asked the nearby eucalyptus trees as whenever they were lost for words) and negotiating her way out of becoming its lunch, Pink Lemonade’s eyes had an almost sadistic sparkle as she said that she almost wished the bear had eaten her mother, ‘because he was so very nice but so very hungry. And everyone dies eventually, right? I sometimes wish we could make death useful.’

There were rumors that she was neglected and unbalanced, there were rumors she that she was staged and manufactured, there were rumors that she was just bored and actually quite normal. I took every rumor with a grain of salt, besides the one that she was from here. That I digested in its syrupy sweet entirety. I knew it was true because it had to be true because I willed it to be true.

Shawn would have to exploit that mania of mine: “Did you know she’s from your hometown? Pink Lemonade.”

I grew quiet, and the noise of the lunch hall seemed to grow all the louder as a result. I didn’t want to let on that I was interested, so I had to disguise my speechlessness as distraction. There were ‘obviously’ more important things to think about, like Karen walking by in that tight little miniskirt she sometimes wears. Only after I’d seen enough of her nice behind as she walked did I pretend to remember the conversation. “Pink Lemonade said what now? Is this another one of her lies?”

“No. This is true. A former classmate is outing her. She went to Morro Bay High School. She’s not in the yearbook or anything, but there are photos.”

My hands were shaking, so I shoved them into my pockets. I went to Morro bay High School. Did that I had walked the same halls as Pink Lemonade once did? He had to be kidding me. After all, my will wasn’t really strong enough to bend the universe like that. I was getting kind of scared, because bending the universe might get me arrested.

My voice remained calm, however. “Oh. So where are these photos?”

“On Livejournal. You can probably just Google it and find them, but if not, you can just IM me and I’ll link you. I thought you weren’t interested in Pink Lemonade, though.” Shawn pushed up his glasses and gave a challenging look out-of-place on his harmless face.

“I’m not. I just want to see if she drops her image,” I answered. He was the original Pink Lemonade fanboy. I had begun to think myself more dedicated as of late, but by securing this crucial piece of data before I had, he had just attempted to demonstrate his superiority. Call it machismo, but I knew this was the absolute worse time to admit my obsession.

“Oh, okay.” And then, Shawn bought the lie so that I didn’t need to admit it.

 

Glory be to the internet, even I could play the private investigator with its primary and secondary sources right at my fingertips. It really was as easy as going to Google, pressing ‘Search’ and there it was, first result; Dugg and Stumbled Upon and everything. It felt too easy. All I had to do was read.

The article began: “I don’t keep up with pop music much, so I didn’t even know about Pink Lemonade until a friend mentioned her to me. After I got past her outrageous lies, I realized that she looked familiar. No wonder, we’d been classmates for all of chemistry class in our senior year. She mostly sat unnoticed in the corner, but she was so awkward that I’m surprised no one else…” The entry dragged on and on, its cutesy literary voice grating to someone hungering for straight facts. I would’ve preferred a list, or a lie/truth chart. Maybe it was my excitement, but I could just barely bring myself to sit down long enough to read the entry and glean for information. I found my eyes skipping sentences that I had to go back and reread, I found myself experiencing delayed shock by said re-read paragraphs once I realized what they meant. After a while, I realized what the entire entry meant. It numbed me, the force of my own stupidity numbed me.

Data bubbled up from my psych courses to rationalize away the numbness and the sitcom coincidence that caused it. There was something called ‘familiarity bias’ or the ‘exposure effect’ where people respond better to things just because they’d seen them before. It worked even if people didn’t know they’d seen it before; even if the first exposure was sub-conscious. I stared at the ceiling, and it returned to me, flooding my vision. I didn’t even have to close my eyes.

In my high school Government class, to the soundtrack of Mr. Hillard speaking of iron curtains and invisible hands, I could see the back of a girl’s head one row ahead and two chairs to the right. She had wavy brown hair. It was not yet as long as it was now. Some days it would be more or less unkempt, more or less frizzy. The girl would often sit on her hands, wearing sleeves long enough to cover them. Her giggle might ring out, playfully hiding in the chorus of laughs that resulted when a teacher told a joke. There was one day I remember staring critically at her upon noting the large, floppy, polka-dotted bow she threw on her head and marched to school in. Another day she arrived in an outlandish dress covered in pictures of strawberries and pies, and this was slightly more interesting than the day’s lecture. More than once, I looked askance when I spotted her walking down the halls and singing strange songs she may have invented. I thought she was affected even then, vaguely retarded but maybe a little intriguing. But, the school was so full of other kids that I forgot that single strange one out of a thousand. But that meant she was my age, huh? Pink Lemonade. We probably walked on the same stage at graduation.

I couldn’t remember graduation, but I returned to other days in the past, exploring them while I was there. This time, I spoke to the wavy-haired girl, for example, and she answered me. After a particularly long conversation, she told me that her name was Talya Matthews. She gave a goofy smile that could easily be mistaken as the sign of carefree idiot. I didn’t let it fool me. I told her my name in turn and subtly promised to speak again with the words, ‘talk to you again later.’

We talked about books and movies and music, and our taste was similar enough for either of us to become interested in anything that only the other knew. There were movies we both loved, bands we both hated, and recommendations flying back and forth. I joked about wanting a pen to write them down. She dug one out of her pockets and gave it to me. I would have to meet her again to give it back.

Eventually, she let on me that her father was estranged and that she couldn’t even remember him. After revealing that bit of vulnerability, she returned to her usual clueless expression and threw in and that she’d rather think he was a seal “—like a selkie from Irish folklore?” I suggested. She was pleasantly surprised because she hadn’t heard of the concept before.

Talya opened up in small increments; first relating the invention of her friends the trees (“but I don’t need them anymore, now that I have you,” she said on an almost-romantic summer night) and confessing her dream of becoming a singer. She spun on her heels as we walked down the sidewalk. “My name would be Pink Lemonade; sour but sweet, somehow pink when it should be yellow, a name that sounds like it means more than it does. I don’t think I’ll ever make friends as strange as I am, so maybe if I become a spectacle, a star for everyone to see, then someone out of the thousands will come to like me. Maybe.”

I told her that ‘Pink Lemonade’ sounded like the stage name of an adult movie star, and she pretended to cry, still a bit affected. Maybe even possessively, I hinted several times that she didn’t need to cling to her dream as if it were some sort of security blanket, but maybe it’s good she didn’t listen to me.

I continued to attend college, meanwhile enduring her jokes about being the smart one of the partnership. Occasionally, she had business miles away from me, and I would miss her. Occasionally she had business just near enough for me to attend if I rushed to finish my homework the night before. That award ceremony, the first one she’d ever attended as an artist; I arrived at the nearby hotel with bags under my eyes that her staff fixed with makeup. Not without embarrassment did I wear the $500 suit she provided me with, it incongruent with the dollish getup Talya wore as she clung to my arm, sylphish, as the cameras tracked us. I would sometimes shield her from the camera, unsure if I was more ashamed or possessive.

Later, she would point at the likeness of me broadcast onscreen and squeal, “You’re blushing, you’re blushing!” while jumping in her seat. I would deny it. I would deny lots of things, but she’d always be able to tell what I was really thinking. Likewise, she would pretend lots of things, but I’d always be able to tell what she really meant. We were a couple.

 

I opened my eyes and returned to the present, where the LCD screen of my computer sat before me shining. On another tab was a paused video clip of Pink Lemonade. She was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. With the press of a button, I could make her dance. It was as though she were a marionette or a wind-up toy. I clicked, and then she began to sing the title track of her debut album. Our eyes seemed to meet in a close-up, but a pre-recording couldn't return my smile.


© Copyright 2020 DandelionHead. All rights reserved.

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