Social Deductions technically begins at 3:00, but some people apparently believe that it starts the second school is out. I see a girl with a ponytail sitting against the club door. “Hello?” I ask confusedly.
She gets up quickly. “Oh, you’re here? Cool!”
I pause for a moment. “Yeah… I’m here… Would you like to come in?”
She claps happily. “Oh, thanks!”
I open the door and sit at my desk. “Evan’s gonna be here soon, so I can’t talk until he gets here, okay?”
She nods. “That’s okay.” As we wait, I make some observations about her. Fifteen year old, Caucasian, Freshman girl. 5’2, 92 pounds. Slumped shoulders; shy. Is agreeable. No jewelry. Is either really casual, though may be athletic.
Finally, Evan comes in. “What’s up? Oh, we’ve already got a client? Impressive.”
She waves a little while smiling, but she doesn’t say anything. Definitely shy.
As Evan sits down at another desk, I begin to question her. “So, first off, what’s your name?”
She looks up a little more. “Vivi Moore.”
I start on my notes as well. “So, Vivi, what’s the problem?”
She stalls by adjusting on her seat and smoothing out her blond ponytail. “I like volleyball.”
I nod. “That’s… Not a problem?” I ask.
She shakes her head. “I don’t wanna join the team here. They’re snobs. I want to do it somewhere else.”
Evan looks confused. “Vivi, these aren’t exactly problems…”
She huffs a hair out of her face. “You’re being impatient! I… I’ve got an idea of where to go…but I’m scared to! What if they’re snobby? What if they’re older? There are so many what if’s, and I’m not even good at introducing myself.”
I can summarize this easily. “So, you’re shy. But you don’t strike me as shy. You seem too… Open.”
She shakes her head. “I know I’m bubbly, but underneath that, I’m shy. If I didn’t act so bright, it’d be obvious.”
I think for a moment. “Have you even talked to any of the girls on the volleyball team? I can’t believe that they’re all snobs.”
She sighs a little. “There are some nice girls, but there are still too many snobby ones for my taste.”
I nod. “That makes sense. Vivi, where do you want to try out for the volleyball team?”
She sits straighter. “I’d like to join the volleyball team at Blue Mountain gym.”
I tap my pencil a moment. “Huh. Never heard of that one. Evan, have you?” I ask.
He shakes his head. “Can’t say I have.”
Vivi fidgets even more. “It’s the gym closest to my home.”
Ah. “Vivi, d’you have any ideas on how to be less shy? I don’t mean less introverted, I mean socially awkward.”
She shakes her head. “No, I don’t have any ideas. That’s kinda why I came here.”
I think for a second. “Vivi, I need some time to think. Can you come back tomorrow?”
She glances down for a moment. “Okay. But we need to hurry.”
“Because the volleyball tryouts are on next Monday.”
When it’s 9:30 at night, I’m tempted to curse out Vivi. I have done no homework, and when you look up ‘how to cure shyness’, about a billion results come up. If she’d come by last week, I’d be okay. But no. She had to give me less than a week to come up with a solution!
I nearly slam my forehead into the keyboard. Suddenly, I hear, “Sage. Why’re you still up! You should be in bed!” I turn around to see my mom.
“Sorry mom. I’m working on Social Deductions.”
She rubs her forehead. “When I told you join a club, I never expected this!”
I nod. “I didn’t either. But this is a big deal, I have a time limit.”
“I don’t care! You will not be at your best if you don’t sleep! Now off the computer!”
I sigh and log out. “Fine,” I mumble.
Thursday goes by quickly, and before I know it, I’m back in Social Deductions with Evan and Vivi.
“Vivi, I did do some thinking last night.”
She raises her eyebrows. “And?” she asks.
“I think that you need to meet some of the girls who’re also trying out for the team at Blue Mountain.”
She blanches and glances away. “No way. I can’t do that.”
I try not to look to exasperated. “Why not, Vivi?”
“They may turn out as bad as the people here…” she whispers.
“Vivi, you can’t let that stop you!” Evan cries. “I did baseball twice when I was eight and nine. There were some snobby kids who thought they were better than everyone else, but the majority were pretty cool. You can’t let some people get in the way.”
Vivi looks rather uncomfortable. “But… I’m scared. I’m okay at volleyball, but I’m nothing great. What if I don’t get in? Then all this stress would be for nothing!”
“So, your two main problems are: shyness and self-doubt?” I ponder again. “I have an idea. Vivi, would you be okay with meeting the coach to see how you can practice?”
She looks up. “Huh? Meet the coach…?”
I nod. “Yeah! It’ll make a good impression on her. It’ll show her that you’re serious about volleyball, and that you’re willing to ask for help.”
She thinks for a moment. “That’s actually a good idea! It sounds less intimidating than meeting some of the other girls… But I have a favor.”
I raise my eyebrows. “What is it?”
“Can you come with me to see the coach?”
I wasn’t quite expecting that. “W-why me? What would you say? That I’m your sister? We don’t look a bit alike…”
She laughs. “No, I’ll just say the truth; you’re a friend, and I wanted you to come along because I was nervous!”
I wouldn’t go so far as to call Vivi a ‘friend’ (I did curse her out mentally just last night after all), but if it’ll help her… “Okay. I’ll go meet the coach with you tomorrow or Saturday. Here’s my home number; lemme know if you can schedule a meeting.”
Vivi is positively glowing. “Okay! Thanks so much, Sage!” She gets up and leaves.
Evan glances at me. “Are you sure that’s okay, Sage?”
I shrug. “What d’you mean, Evan?”
“You don’t really wanna meet the coach, d’you?”
“No, not particularly.”
“She shouldn’t force you to go.”
I shrug again. “It’s okay, I don’t mind.”
“Sage, you shouldn’t be such a borderline doormat. Just tell her that she should take someone who’s closer to her, like her mom. You don’t have to bend to every customer’s whims.”
I tap my fingers a little. “Yeah, her mom would be better. But, since she’s my client, it’s my “job” to see that she’s okay.”
Evan snorts. “‘Job’? We’re not getting paid. It’s more like volunteer work.”
“Sometimes I wish we were paid,” I answer. “Well. I’ll see you on Monday?”
He shrugs. “Unless I get sick or something.”
I laugh. “Ditto.”
I do tell Vivi that it would be a good idea to bring her mom along, but her mom actually has beaten me to it; Vivi tells me that her parents told her point blank that she couldn’t try out unless one of them came along. So that’s how I end up meeting two people in one day.
The coach is surprisingly short in every way possible. She’s probably only five feet tall, and her hair is no longer than a buzz cut; she told us that she’d shaved it for charity.
Vivi and her mom talk to the coach for a while. I tune it out for most of it; volleyball isn’t my thing. Suddenly, I feel a pinch on my arm, and I involuntarily twitch. “What?” I demand.
Vivi goes a little pink. “Sorry! I was just trying to let you know that it’s over!”
I rub the sharp spot a little; Vivi can really pinch. “What’s over?”
She rolls her eyes. “The talk with the coach.”
Her mother smiles at me. “Thank you so much for giving Vivi this idea. I may have suggested it earlier, but it always sounds better coming from a friend rather than a parent, yeah?” Vivi reddens more and twitches uncomfortably.
I chuckle a little, trying to break the ice a bit. “Ah, it was no problem, ma’am!”
As they drive me home, Vivi thanks me over and over. “Coach said that most of the girls here are serious, but not overly competitive. She said they try to make it more fun than teams at school. This is so cool!”
I smile a little. “Think that’ll help with the shyness?”
She nods. “Yeah!”
“What about school?”
Her smile wavers. “Uh, uh, maybe… I’m gonna try more. I mean, you and Evan weren’t snobby. Maybe there are more who aren’t.”
I nod. “Believe it or not, Vivi, I have more friends besides Evan. Do I seem like the type to befriend snobs?”
She laughs and shakes her head. “Nope!”
“Doesn’t that tell you something, then?”
The meaning behind my words sink in a little. “Yeah, it does.”
I smile. “When’ll you find out if you made it on their team?”
“Could you check in with me in Thursday, then?”
She nods again. “Yeah, I can.”
The car stops; I’ve just gotten home. I open the door. “See you Thursday, Vivi.”
She waves. “See you then!”
I’m merely walking to the Social Deductions room on Thursday when the shrieking begins. “Ohmigod Sage I made it I actually did it and the people aren’t stuck up and it’s so cool-”
I turn around sharply. “Vivi! Do not scream in my ear!” I take a breath. “I take it by your indecipherable screaming that you made the volleyball team?”
She nods like crazy. “Yes! Yes, I did it! I can’t believe it!”
“Did meeting with the coach help?”
She nods again. “Yeah! She said only two other girls met with her, and they’re both on the team! Both!”
I smile a little at her enthusiasm. “Congrats, Vivi. You earned your spot, I think.”
Her smile grows. “Thanks, Sage! I wouldn’t have thought of meeting with the coach on my own. That may’ve made all the difference.”
“Oh. Thanks, Vivi. That means a lot, actually.”
“Thanks again!” She’s off now, and soon all I see is her ponytail. I hear footsteps behind me.
“I take it that we’re actually not meeting today?” Evan asks.
I shake my head. “Nope! Vivi seems to have a thing for being early.”
He chuckles. “Yeah, I heard her screaming a bit away.” He scratches his neck a moment. “Oh yeah! Sharra was asking to meet with you.”
“About what?” I ask.
“Remember Tabitha? I guess that musical is this Saturday, and she was wondering if you could make it.” I think for a moment. “I think that works,” I say. He nods again. “Okay, I’ll tell her. Bye!”
I high five him. “Yeah, see you!” As he leaves, I remember what he said about me acting like a borderline doormat, and I realize something; there’s a difference between being a doormat and finding a happy medium.
I’m not gonna let my customers walk all over me. I don’t think I have, but I can’t be quite sure. But I will find a happy medium. It’s my ‘job’, in a way.