Chris and I sat down on each side of Alice, glaring at each other.
"Isn't this nice?" Alice said, "Just a bunch of friends, sitting down to eat lunch together."
"Lovely." I said.
"Pleasure." Chris said.
Alice gritted her teeth nervously and continued wiping the table space in front of her with a disinfectant wipe.
Tae-Hyun watched her curiously and Mouse whispered something to him.
He looked confused and said, "What?"
Mouse whispered something else and Tae-Hyun nodded.
"So..." Leo said, "What kind of music do you listen to? I guess it's probably all Korean."
Tae-Hyun laughed and said, "Not all of it. I know some American musics."
"Yeah?" Leo said, "Do you like any rappers?"
"Yes!" Tae-Hyun said, his eyes lighting up, "Have you ever heard Kanye West?"
Leo laughed, patting Tae-Hyun's shoulder, "Of course, you've heard of him. Yeah, Tae-Hyun."
"What about 50 Cent?"
It was hilarious how Tae-Hyun said "50 Cent". He said it like "Fiddy cent."
Silly Americans fooled the Korean guy.
Alice and I exchanged a glance and stifled a laugh.
"Yep." Leo said, "Go shorty, it's your birthday, blah blah blah blah..."
"Do you like Lady Gaga?" Chris blurted out.
Mouse, Leo, and I groaned.
"Really, Chris?" I said.
"Yes! I love her!" Tae-Hyun said, "She is very amazing!"
"I know, right?" Chris said, "Oh my God, I have Telephone as my ringtone!"
Tae-Hyun laughed, "Really?"
"Yes! She's, like, my idol!" Chris said, beaming.
I crushed the half-full soda can in my hand and soda spilled all over my arm.
All my friends turned to look at me and I smiled tightly.
"I'm fine." I said, putting down the can.
Alice gave me a napkin and I nodded 'Thanks'.
Alice changed the subject, "So, did you guys know there's a talent show coming up?"
Tae-Hyun's eyes lit up again and he said, "Talent show? Really?"
Alice nodded and Tae-Hyun glanced at Leo.
"That's very cool." Tae-Hyun said, grinning, "Are you guys ever in the talent show?"
Chris shrugged, sighing, "Well, I used to do it every year, but then I got sick of having eggs thrown at me..."
Everyone was silent and Tae-Hyun glanced at Leo awkwardly.
Leo shrugged and Chris said, "So, I quit the talent show..."
"And people still threw eggs at you?" Mouse said.
"And people still threw eggs at me." Chris said, "........ Wait, how did you know what I was going to say, Mouse?"
Mouse shrugged and said, "Well, I know you pretty well, Buddy."
"So, if nothing changed when you left the talent show," Tae-Hyun said, "Why don't you join again this year?"
Chris sighed heavily and said, "I have no idea what I would do. The Withrow Sophomores didn't seem to like my Lady Gaga tributes..."
"I have an idea." Someone said from the end of the table.
Kathy was standing there with her hands on her hips and a big grin on her face.
Chris glanced up at her, his head glumly propped up on his fist.
"Yes, Kathy?" He said.
Kathy grinned widely, leaning onto the table, "Okay, so, here's the idea. You should memorize a dance to some cool foreign song."
Chris looked confused and said, "Why foreign?"
"Because foreign is the new chic." Kathy said excitedly.
Chris nodded, "Chic is good."
"Uh-huh!" Kathy said, beaming, "You know how girls are really into French guys and stuff."
"I thought of that too!" Tae-Hyun said suddenly, smiling excitedly, "Memorizing dances! I thought of asking Leo to do that too!"
"Woah, woah, woah." Leo said, "What? No, uh, Tae-Hyun... I-I can't memorize a dance like that."
Tae-Hyun's face fell and he said, "Why not?"
"Because," Leo said slowly, glancing at my death stare and quickly looking away, "That's... Girly."
Tae-Hyun crossed his arms and said firmly, "What, you think I am girly? Is that what you are saying, Leo?"
Mouse and I snorted and Leo looked at me nervously.
"Er... No..." He said slowly, "I-I don't think that, Tae-Hyun... I, uh..."
"Then why can't you do the dance with me for the talent show?" Tae-Hyun said with wide, sad eyes.
Wow, who taught him about the power of manipulation?
"Uhhh..." Leo said.
"I have never been in a talent show before." Tae-Hyun said, "We don't have them in Korea."
"Really?" Alice said.
Tae-Hyun nodded, looking down sadly.
"Uh, hey, wait." Leo said.
Tae-Hyun looked up at him and Leo said reluctantly, "Uhhmmm.... What kind of dance did you have in mind?"
A slow smile spread across Tae-Hyun's face and he flung his arms around Leo.
"Will you really do it, Leo Oppa?" Tae-Hyun said.
Then he awkwardly retracted and, blushing, said, "Oh, er, I'm sorry..."
"Uh, no problem..." Leo said slowly, "So, er, the dance?"
"Here, I have another idea." Kathy piped up, beaming and sitting down next to me, across from Tae-Hyun and Leo, "How about we all discuss this at recess? I can help with costumes and such and Tae-Hyun can teach Chris, me, and Leo choreography!"
"What?" Leo said.
Tae-Hyun grinned, "That sounds fun! I know a lot of dances that would be good."
"Great! Then it's settled!" Kathy said, taking a notepad and gel pen out of her bag, "Now, I think that there should be a boy's group,"
She gestured to Leo, Tae-Hyun, and Chris.
"And a girl's group." She gestured to herself, me, and Alice.
"Wait, wait, no, no, no, nooooo." I said, "Bad, bad, idea. I can't dance."
"I can teach you." Tae-Hyun said, grinning again.
I studied him hesitantly.
This is a perfect opportunity to get to know Tae-Hyun better, but it's also perfect for embarrassing myself in front of the whole school.
"I-I really don't think I can do that, Tae-Hyun." I said.
Tae-Hyun's smile faded and it broke my heart.
He turned to Alice and gave her a hopeful look.
"Oh, no, no. I can't, I'm very sorry." She said instantly, "I just... I can't handle crowds."
Tae-Hyun smiled encouragingly and said, "But you can learn. Me and my friends did a bunch of these back in Korea in Middle School."
"I thought you said there weren't any talent shows in Korea." Mouse said, almost... suspiciously.
Tae-Hyun stared at her for a second and said slowly, "That is... Correct... Not in talent shows, just..."
"At school?" Mouse said.
Tae-Hyun nodded, smiling again, "Yes, exactly."
Leo groaned and put his head down on the table.
"It's okay, it's okay." Tae-Hyun said to him, "There is still time to learn! Lots of time. The talent show is in a couple of weeks."
Kathy smiled and stood up, "Well, we can talk more at recess. I'll meet you guys by the picnic benches."
Leo nodded awkwardly and watched Kathy walk away.
Chris almost squealed with excitement, "Oh my gosh, this is going to be SO MUCH FUN."
He turned to Tae-Hyun and asked, "Are the dances hard?"
Silence fell over the table and we all looked at Tae-Hyun.
Tae-Hyun shrugged and said, "Not really...."
I walked outside to recess slowly.
I don't dance. I don't know how to dance, I don't want to learn how to dance, and I don't intend to dance.
Tae-Hyun was sitting next to Leo on one side of the picnic table and he was showing Leo his iPod.
"You see, there are a lot of *k-pop bands." Tae-Hyun explained, "Not all of the songs have a dance for them, but most of the ones with a video do. As an example-"
"What's HyunA?" Leo asked, probably pronouncing it wrong, "Let's watch this one."
Tae-Hyun blushed and he said, "Oh, uh, how about not that one please."
"Why not?" Leo said, selecting the video.
Tae-Hyun bit his lip and Leo's eyes widened excitedly, "Dude, she's hot. Why can't the girls do this one?"
"It is sexual." Tae-Hyun said, "That is not good for school."
Leo looked disappointed and Tae-Hyun changed the video.
I sat down across from them, next to Alice, who had Chris sitting on the other side of her.
Kathy was sitting on the opposite side of Leo as Tae-Hyun.
"Hey, guys." I said, "How's the dance-searching going?"
"Korean girls are hot." Leo said without looking away from Tae-Hyun's iPod.
Tae-Hyun blushed even deeper and he cleared his throat.
"Uhmmm... Oh, okay, here's one the boys could do." Tae-Hyun said.
He selected a video and showed it to Leo.
Leo gave Tae-Hyun a look and said, "Tae-Hyun."
".... In... America," Leo said gently, "Boys don't dance to songs called 'Ring Ding Dong'."
Kathy giggled and Tae-Hyun looked confused.
"Are you sure?" Tae-Hyun said, smiling, "We could be the first."
Leo shook his head, "Let's look at some of the others.
Tae-Hyun looked disappointed and said, "Alright, fine."
He looked through the videos and said, "Ooh, how about Lucifer?"
"Lucifer?" Chris said.
Tae-Hyun nodded, "Yes, watch this one."
Chris leaned over the table to watch the video with Tae-Hyun and Leo.
"Dude, I can't do that!" Leo said, "Those moves are insane!"
"Well, it takes practice." Tae-Hyun said patiently, "None of them are going to be easy at first."
"I thought you said they weren't hard!' Chris whimpered.
Tae-Hyun nodded and said again, "At first."
The boys looked through a few more and a grin spread across Tae-Hyun's face.
"Here, try this one." He showed Chris and Leo the iPod.
Chris and Leo looked at each other and Chris said, "Are you sure that's humanly possible?"
"I can do it." Tae-Hyun said casually.
Chris and Leo stared at Tae-Hyun and he said, grinning, "Practice makes perfect."
"Okay..." Leo said.
"But," Tae-Hyun added, "This one requires more people."
Right on cue, Chris waved to someone and said, "Hi, Sweetie!"
"NO!" Leo and I said at the same time.
Chris walked over to Geoffry and stood next to him, "Why not?"
Geoffry put his arm around Chris and said, "Yes, Angela, why not?"
I doubt he even knows what we're talking about, he just wants to do whatever it is because I don't want him to.
"B-because!" I said, "Because, uhhh..."
Geoffry smiled creepily at Tae-Hyun and Tae-Hyun awkwardly tried to smile back.
"Because..." Leo said, "It's... Too hard!"
Geoffry laughed and said, "Please, Leo. If you can do it, I can do it."
"That's right, Sweetie." Chris chirped, leaning his head against Geoffry.
"Please, Tae-Hyun." I whispered to him, "Please, please don't let Geoffry dance with you. He's a creep!"
"I, uh..." Tae-Hyun stuttered.
Geoffry looked at him and said, "Why not?"
There was a pause.
"Because members of Korean boy bands don't have blonde hair." Tae-Hyun said, looking embarrassed, "I know, it's an awful reason, but we were really looking forward to keeping this culturally accurate."
Everyone looked from Tae-Hyun to Geoffry.
"What about Alice and Kathy?" Chris said, "They both have red hair. And you asked Angie if she wanted to join and she has blonde hair!"
"Yes," Tae-Hyun said, "But they are girls. A lot of members of Korean girl groups have dyed hair. Like in So Nyuh Shi Dae, or SNSD. Example, Jessica has blonde hair, the leader, Taeyeon, has light brown hair..."
We all stared at Tae-Hyun with a mixture of confusion and fascination.
I'm not sure how smart Geoffry is, but the look on his face basically read that he got that we didn't want him to dance with us but Tae-Hyun was trying to say it politely.
Geoffry smiled tightly and said, "Oh, okay. I'll see you later, baby."
He kissed Chris' forehead and walked away.
Chris stared at us with his mouth hanging open.
"Oh my God," He said, "I can't believe you guys just did that."
Chris looked really pissed as he crossed his arms and said, "Geoffry offered to fill the space we needed and what did you do? You turned him down just because some of you have a problem with my boyfriend!"
"Boyfriend?" Tae-Hyun said, furrowing his brow in confusion.
"Yes, Tae-Hyun, my boyfriend." Chris said sharply, "I have a boyfriend, because I'm gay, and I REALLY WISH YOU WERE TOO!"
Chris stomped off, wiping his face and looking just like a pissed off teenage girl... Which was exactly what he was except for maybe the last part...
Tae-Hyun watched in shock as Chris stormed away, speechless.
Mouse was walking over and she casually watched Chris run past her.
"What's the prom queen upset about now?" She said.
"Don't worry about it, man." Leo said gently, putting his hand on Tae-Hyun's shoulder, "He does this all the time. Seriously. Don't take it personally."
Tae-Hyun looked traumatized that he had upset someone. He didn't say anything.
Knowing Leo and judging by his expression, I guessed that he was praying Tae-Hyun wouldn't cry.
"I'm so confused," Tae-Hyun said shakily, "What does 'gay' mean and why does Chris want me to be it?"
It was a terrible time to make Tae-Hyun feel worse, but every one of us started laughing except for him.
Tae-Hyun looked hurt that we were laughing at him.
"I'm sorry, Tae-Hyun." I said, still laughing, "We're... Not... Laughing at you!"
Tae-Hyun crossed his arms and made an adorable angry face.
We all looked at his expression and laughed harder.
I know, we're terrible.
"Will you please explain to me why you are laughing?" Tae-Hyun said, sounding like he was losing patience.
Leo shook his head, "Never mind. It doesn't matter."
"I want to know what is so funny!" Tae-Hyun said.
Our laughing finally slowed and Mouse said, "Chris likes boys. As in he's dating a boy. You're a boy, he thinks you're hot, he likes you."
There was a still silence.
I leaned toward Mouse slightly and said, "Could you have been any more blunt?"
Mouse shrugged, "I try. Thank me later."
Alice, Kathy, Leo, and I all turned slowly to look at Tae-Hyun.
He was staring at Mouse with a look of the most immense shock I have ever seen.
And yes, I did just say 'immense'.
Slowly, a deep red blush spread across Tae-Hyun's face.
Leo patted Tae-Hyun's shoulder and said, "Sucks, doesn't it? Having a gay friend that's in love with you..."
"Dude," I said, "Chris is not in love with you! Why do you think that?"
"You can see it in his eyes, Angela!" Leo said, "Of course he loves me! Everyone does! I'm sexy!"
We all stared at Leo and Mouse said, "You really want Chris to love you that bad?"
"What? Ew, no!" Leo said, "I don't want him to, he just does. It's weird."
I exchanged a look with Alice and we shook our heads.
"Whatever, Leo." I said.
"Chris... Loves me?" Tae-Hyun said, the side of his mouth twitching a little bit.
We all awkwardly looked back at him.
"Did we just mentally scar the new student?" Kathy said.
Leo waved his hand in front of glassy-eyed Tae-Hyun, who didn't move.
"Uh-huh." Leo said.
"Maybe we can finish this meeting tomorrow at lunch and recess?" Kathy suggested.
Alice looked at Tae-Hyun and said, "I don't know if Tae-Hyun's going to be up for it."
"Yeah..." Mouse said, cocking her head and studying Tae-Hyun, "He's kind of catatonic."
Tae-Hyun mumbled something that sounded kind of like, "Cuhh.... luh muh nuh..."
"Huh?" Leo said.
"I think we should let him think for a while." Alice said.
Leo nodded and patted Tae-Hyun on the back, "Get well soon, Buddy."
"He's not sick, you moron." Mouse said.
"He could be!" Leo said defensively.
Yes, this is what my friends are always like.
*K-pop = Korean pop music.