"They're here, Mom!" Ellen yelled into the house.
She stood to wave as the flashy silver BMW convertible turned into the driveway with a squeal of tires and a blare of its horn. The Gamma Phi Beta "World Tour" had arrived.
"Brains!" Diana yelled from the driver's seat.
"Cut it out," Ellen said with a blush, giving Ivy a hug as she climbed out from the front passenger seat. The three rising seniors in the car might not be future Phi Beta Kappas, but none of them was dumb. Not really dumb, anyway.
"Hey, you're the girl with the four-oh," Ivy said. "You're going to turn us into one of those literary societies."
"Yeah, fat chance of that," Tiffany said with a giggle. She was still lounging in the back seat, combing her long blonde hair out.
"So how was the trip?" Ellen asked.
"Great so far," Diana said. "Did our clothes arrive?"
"They got here this morning. I can't believe you're FedExing your clothes ahead of you."
"Tiffany's makeup case doesn't leave us much room in the trunk," Ivy cracked.
"Ha, ha," Tiffany said as she finally climbed out to give Ellen a hug. "Like you guys didn't bring makeup cases, too. It's good to see you, Brains. So where are we now?"
"Troy, New York," Ellen said with a sigh. "The armpit of the tri-city area. Come on in and meet my mom."
"Can I just return this one call first?" Diana said. "They called just as we got into New York and saw one of those big "Hands-free only" signs. Freaked Ivy out."
"It did not," Ivy protested.
"Oh, it did so," Tiffany said. "You're such a goody two shoes."
"Make your call," Ivy told Diana.
The women's chit-chat was soon interrupted by Diana's raised voice.
"Oh, my God. Oh. My. God. So what do we —? The bylaws?"
She covered the phone and looked at her sorority sisters.
"Bylaws?" she mouthed to the others with a shrug and raised eyebrows.
"Yeah, they're all here," she continued. "Me and Tiff and Ivy. How long do we have? Alright, I'll call you back before then.
"Holy shit," she said as she clicked the phone closed. "Pam's pregnant."
"Pam our president?" Tiffany asked with a squeak.
"She's withdrawn from school this semester."
"So who's president?" Ivy asked.
"Apparently it's up to us three to decide," Diana said. "The three seniors. We have until August first.:
"August first?" Tiffany asked. "That's like less than a month."
"It's less than two weeks," Ivy said. "So what do we do?"
By that evening, the three girls were no closer to deciding on the new president of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Each thought she deserved it.
"Maybe we should back up a little," Ellen said. She had quickly assumed the role of mediator. "What are we looking for as far as image goes?"
"Beautiful," Tiffany said with a flip of her hair.
"Talented," Diana said, flexing the arm that had led her to a third place finish at last year's NCAA swimming championships.
"Nurturing," Ivy said. She had always been the friendliest of the three girls.
"Okay," Ellen said. "Why don't all three of you make a list of the four qualities of the sorority that you think our president should reflect? And we'll go with whichever one finishes highest."
Three minutes later, Ellen read off the lists.
"Okay. Ivy: Nurturing; service to others; sexy; welcoming. Diana: Talented; successful; sexy; athletic. Tiffany: Beautiful; blonde; sexy; and, um, blonde. Well, I guess our winner is 'sexy.' I don't suppose we're going to be able to agree on who's sexier, are we?"
"Well, obviously I am," Tiffany said. "What guy wouldn't want me?"
"One with an ounce of self-respect," Diana muttered. "Look, I'll admit you're the most beautiful, babe. But sexy?"
She shook her head and began to tick off names.
"Amanda Beard, Misty May, Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams. Strong women. Strong, sexy women. You can keep your golden mane and oval face, Tiff. I know what men like."
"What they like, Diana, is these."
Ivy lifted her hands to cup her breasts. She released them and smoothed her hands down her waist and over her hips.
"Men like women, ladies. Women that look like women. They see a body like this and sex is the first thing that comes into their mind."
Ellen decided it was time to interrupt.
"So the answer is 'no.' We're not going to be able to come to an agreement on which of you is sexier."
"Apparently not," Tiffany said. She flipped her hair in disgust.
"Why don't you decide, Brains?" Diana asked.
"Seriously. You don't have an axe to grind," Ivy chimed in.
"Oh, no. I'm not getting in the middle of this."
"How 'bout your mom?" Tiffany asked.
"My mom?" Ellen asked. "She still has that Alexis Carrington hair thing going on."
"Your dad?" Diana asked.
"My dad thinks my mom is sexy."
"How about your little brother?" Ivy asked.
"Forget it," Ellen said with a glare. "If you let Ricky choose the president of my sorority, I will never hear the end of it. Plus he's only sixteen. I don't think that's the image we really want, is it?"
"Well, then, you'll have to find us a judge." Diana said. "We have three more days we can spend here in Troy, then we have to Boston to visit Cheryl over the weekend. We can stop back here again on our way south."
Ellen squirmed under the gaze of the three seniors. Her mind raced as she considered and rejected various candidates.
"Okay. I've got just the guy. He was a year ahead of me in high school. A little shy, but very, very cute. He lifeguards at the community pool every afternoon."
"So what do we do?" Tiffany asked.
"That's up to you. You can each have one day to convince him."
"One day and one night?" Diana asked.
Ellen smiled enigmatically.
"Sure," she said. "First of all, though, we're going to put this in writing. And all three of you are going to agree to it."
Ellen retrieved pen and paper and drafted a short little form. All three seniors acknowledged their willingness to abide by the decision of the judge.
"Suppose he has a girlfriend?" Ivy asked.
"Harris?" Ellen said with a giggle. "Have a girlfriend? Let's suppose he doesn't and save ourselves the worry. Now, who wants to go first?"
Harris O'Connor scanned the pool yet again. His eyes touched briefly upon the teenagers that he had whistled for roughhousing. There were the two mothers whose silly dispute over using the wading pool he had resolved. There were the giggling junior high school students whose crush on him was both obvious and unfathomable.
"Where were they when I was in junior high school?" he muttered as he continued his survey.
For that matter, where was Ellen McKay? She hadn't been here yesterday either. So far, she was the only thing that made this job worthwhile. Well, that and the money.
Harris would have much preferred to have gotten a full-time summer grant at the engineering school he attended. The part-time grant only paid for his work from eight o'clock to noon each day, not enough to let him keep his apartment over the summer. So in order to prevent him from having to move back in with Mom and Dad, he had reclaimed his afternoon shift at the pool.
He hoped Ellen was okay and found himself blushing at the thought. She had been there nearly every day so far that summer. She had been a year behind him in high school, a rare combination of class valedictorian and prom queen. She was going to some Southern college now — Auburn or Alabama, something like that.
It wasn't like he had ever actually spoken to her. Everything about her — her auburn hair, her blue eyes, her smile — tied his tongue. There was that one time when he had almost spoken to her, just after band practice in the late fall of his last year at Troy Senior High. But he had run into a water fountain and Ellen's boyfriend-of-the-month had swooped in and spirited her down the hall.
This particular day at the pool was not without its compensations, however, Ellen's absence notwithstanding. The hot-looking girl in the lap lane had shown up about half an hour ago, flashed him a big smile, and started swimming like she belonged in the Olympics. She was currently doing the breaststroke. It was a slow, easy stroke that had the advantage, from his perch atop the lifeguard tower, of showing off the gorgeous muscles that flexed in her butt each time she pulled her legs in for a frog kick.
The three o'clock lull remained a mystery even after three years of lifeguarding. It simply made no sense that everyone would be out of the pool at the same time. But it happened every day. Not that Harris was complaining. It afforded a nice break. All he had to do now was keep an eye on Jimmy Warder. Jimmy was a tenth grader whose favorite sport was edging his way along the fence until he got behind Mrs. Shepherd, who appeared to have an entire drawer full of bikinis that she had purchased when she was slightly less well endowed. A glare was usually enough to send Jimmy heading back in the other direction.
"So what time do you get off?"
The voice had come from his left and when he looked down, there she was: the swimmer. She was very attractive, with close-cropped dirty blonde hair and a crooked smile. She was wearing a one-piece red swimsuit that accented the muscles beneath the tanned skin of her arms and legs.
"Uh, I get off at five, but the pool will stay open until nine."
"That's nice," she said. "Why would I want to stay here after you leave?"
.... There is more of this story ...