"They always go in pairs," Vincent commented, watching their asses as they left. "Or groups."
"I know, it's frickin' hilarious. Why the hell do they do it?" Stan dipped a french fry into the chili and it disappeared quickly thereafter.
"To talk about us, dude. Where we can't hear 'em."
"Stupid. Why don't they just tell us what they're thinking? If it's dumb, we'll tell 'em so, and if it's cool, we'll be cool."
Vince shrugged. "Chicks, dude. They're all alike."
Raffy was silent, but that wasn't entirely out of character; he was pretty shy, even back in Manila. Here, he had an adequate, but not expert, grasp of the language, and the Americans were prone to using idioms and slang which he imperfectly understood.
But wasn't that why he'd come here? The brashness of Americans was world-renowned, and Raffy felt he needed a bit of that for himself, to help him break out of the quiet mold he was in. They were a bit crazy, too, which was why his initial choice as an exchange student had been Australia, but he'd gotten used to the oddness quickly enough. He decided he needed to participate in the conversation.
"In the Philippines, women usually go to the restrooms alone. This is definitely not ... um ... universal."
"Seriously, dude? That's bizarre." Vince was not prejudiced against other cultures, really, he was just a bit clueless. "Well, not bizarre, you know, but, like, different."
"Yes, it is different."
"Well, Rosalinda went with them this time, so I guess she's becoming more American or something, huh?"
Raffy laughed musically. Rosalinda had always wanted to be more American. She was fascinated with American culture, and television, and ... well, too fascinated, perhaps. But there was no harm there, he thought. The Philippines were going their own way, despite being part of the American empire in one way or another for almost a century. He liked Rosalinda a great deal, and planned on travelling to see her when they both returned home next year. "Yes, she's definitely becoming more American in some ways."
Rosalinda followed Trina and Anne into the restroom. She didn't really have to answer the call of nature, but both girls had invited her to come with them, and she wanted to do whatever it was they were doing. She suspected they wanted to talk about the boys, privately. Which was fine by her; she wanted to ask them about Vince...
Anne headed into one of the stalls, while Trina walked up to the mirror and began to fix her hair. Rosalinda giggled inwardly, not knowing why Trina bothered-- her pretty red hair always looked elegant despite the occasional misplaced curl. "So how do you like the States so far, Roz?"
"I love everything." Except perhaps the diminutive "Roz". "I have always wanted to come here and see it. It's a lot of fun."
"Yeah, you seem like a real party girl."
Rosalinda was not sure if this was sincere or sarcasm. It was so hard to tell with these girls. To be safe, she just smiled and began to toy with her own glossy black locks.
Trina became a bit more guarded, now. "Um, Roz?"
"Do they have TLC where you come from? The Philippines, I mean."
"TLC. 'Together, with Love, we will Conquer.' Ring any bells?"
Rosalinda had never heard of such a thing and shook her head.
"Really?" Now Trina was smiling broadly. "Hey, Anne," she yelled. They don't have the TLC over in the Philippines."
"Get out!" came Anne's voice in disbelief over the aluminum barrier of the stall.
"Well, I think it's time to change that, don't you?" She flushed the toilet, and came out of the stall, headed for the sink to wash her hands.
"I don't know. What if she doesn't want to?" Trina was smirking.
Anne rolled her eyes. "Does that even matter?"
Rosalinda was stumped, and wary. Were they making fun of her, like Rizzo had made fun of Sandy, the fish out of water, in Grease? She stayed quiet, but looked quizzically at the two girls as they tried to decide ... whatever it was they were trying to decide ... Now they were both looking her up and down in what seemed to Rosalinda a ... predatory way. It made her uneasy.
"I'm thinking 'yes'."
"Oh, yeah. Definitely a keeper."
Now Rosalinda had to speak. "I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you both are talking about?"
"You will, Roz, hon. Anne, shall we explain?"
Anne was headed for the lightswitch. "Yep. Just a sec."
Then the lights went off, and everything became very clear to Rosalind.
"So what do you think of Rosalind, Raffy?"
"Dude, what do you think he thinks of her. She's a hottie, dude."
"Vincent, man, I'm asking him. We already know you've got wood for her, okay?"
Vince was furtive. "I don't have wood for her, dude. She's got nice tits is all. Right, Raffy?"
Raffy didn't quite know where to begin. This was pretty damned offensive, if you asked him, but he'd heard worse from these guys. Somehow it was different when they were talking about another Filipino, though. Especially Rosalinda ... He decided not to take offense, but it was a close thing. He didn't think they actually meant any harm. "She is very 'hot', I think. Nice teeth, nice figure. And lovely hair."
"Looks like you've got competition, Vince."
"Shut up, dude. Raffy can have her if he wants her. I'm ... sorta seeing Trina right now, anyway."
Stan was incredulous. "Nuh uh."
Vince looked a little proud. "Hell, yeah, dude. We were going at it in her basement last week."
"Sheeit! So, spill, man: didja get any?"
He leaned back in his seat. "Dude, I got my share."
"I'm not sayin', dude. It's none of your business."
"That's a 'no'."
"Hey, fuck you, dude! I don't see Anne under the table servicing your ugly ass right now. And you've been with her for like six weeks."
"Anne'll do anything I want, Vince." He looked very smug. "Anything."
The emergency lights flickered swiftly as Rosalinda felt perhaps a bit woozy. Anne held her arm and guided her over to the padded bench near the exit door.
"I ... don't know why I feel so ... I'm sorry..." she sighed.
"It's all right, Roz," came Trina's voice, a bit singsongy. "We're here to help you."
"Yes," Anne replied. "We'll help you. You can trust us."
"Just sit back and relax. Feel content. Look at the flickering lights."
"You're feeling a little bit tired now, aren't you Roz?"
"But still very attentive and alert, now Roz. The lights are flickering slower now, aren't they?"
They were, a little. "Yes." She heard a rustling noise where Anne was sitting, next to her. Her eyes were half-lidded, and Trina spoke again.
"Now, look at me, darling. Notice how the flickering is reflected in my eyes, making them light up and darken in a lovely rhythm."
It was a lovely rhythm, and Trina's blue-green eyes were as deep as the sea.
"Sink in, dear, look into my brightly shining eyes and sink in."
Rosalinda was swirling inward, now, listening to Trina speak and drowning in her eyes.
"You're caught in my eyes, now, but don't be frightened. Anne is there with you, aren't you, Anne?"