Heather strutted into town hall Monday after school.
She looked more buoyant somehow, simultaneously lighter and fuller, a bit like a parade balloon that got an extra burst of helium before taking off.
She smiled. She rarely did that in generic circumstances. “Afternoon, Mayor,” she greeted, or more precisely, gloated, as she flitted into Jonas’s office.
“Heather, good. I need help on the budget for the Peace Carnival.” Jonas exuded business as he spoke with an efficiency that was almost offensively out of place.
Heather decided to take amusement rather than offense, however. “The Peace Carnival is nine months away,” she observed. “You’re working on the budget for the town band, or at least, you would be, if you worried about budgets, but you just chuck the numbers in and fiddle with them afterwards when you know how much we’re actually in the hole.”
Jonas calculated instantly and decided that his best option was to continue his game. He silently tapped a folder and slid it across his desk.
Heather recognized the maneuver for what it was, and moreover, that she held the winning position and could therefore enjoy watching whatever happened. In one smoothe movement, she took the folder and offered Jonas a friendly mocking in the form of a curtsey.
At the bottom of this maneuver, she spoke one word.
She let the word ping like a naval depth charge, stretching it out until it had at least three syllables and concluding with an audible puff of air. Her smile turned into a grin, which she presented to Jonas expectantly.
“I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” This was clearly false. Heather was discussing football. As a native of Chicago, Jonas retained fierce loyalty to the Bears. Heather, meanwhile, had more-or-less randomly adopted a detectible but largely indifferent fandom of the Buffalo Bills. For three weeks, Jonas and Heather had been bantering about yesterday’s game between the two. Jonas supported his theory about the Bears’ inevitable victory with complicated diatribes about defensive theory and such, while Heather infuriated him by observing the Bills’ healthier auras and freshly cleansed spirits.
Bills 44, Bears 3.
So Heather prompted: “The game.”
Jonas responded with a blank expression.
“The game,” Heather repeated. “The gaaaaaame. The scoring tsunami, the triumph of pigskin precision, the absolute humiliation suffered by your Chicago Bears at the hands of my heroic Buffalo Bills.”
Jonas made a credible attempt to appear to be racking his brains. “I’m not aware of any such game,” he said.
“Oh, there was,” Heather assured him. “I listened to it on the little clock radio in my bedroom.” As a final shot, she added, “While I was brushing my hair.” It wasn’t true, but it would annoy Jonas; Heather knew him to be perfectly progressive in matters of gender roles, but she also knew that comprehending the combination of football with something so girlie was well beyond his abilities.
Jonas held fast. “I’m pretty sure you’re mistaken.”
“You lost! You lost! You lost! You lost!” Heather accompanied her chanting with an impromptu dance, or at least the semi-rhythmic waving of her arms.
“Can you offer some evidence to support your position?”
“Position?” Heather sputtered. Jonas’s joke was fun, but now it was getting old. “It’s not a position, it’s a stone-cold fact!”
“There’s no need for hostility, Heather,” Jonas said, with the exaggerated calmness of a psychiatrist or bomb defuser. “Simply provide some proof and I will accept it.”
“On your computer,” Heather directed. She jumped behind Jonas’s desk to call up news about the game, but she didn’t need to. Jonas was already reading a recap.
“Right here! It says right here!”
“The thing is, Heather, you really can’t trust what’s on the internet,” Jonas said with a practiced and insincere sympathy. “Anyone could have put that up there, and for any reason, and you just can’t know.”
Heather pointed at the source of the article forcefully enough to rattle Jonas’s monitor. “Associated Press,” she declared.
Jonas shook his head sadly and made tsking noises with his tongue. “Not a reliable source.”
“Not a reliab… You… NNNGGGHH!” And with that, Heather stomped her way toward the door.
“Heather,” Jonas commanded, as she was about to exit. She reluctantly turned. “It was a lesson,” he explained. “Any fact can be denied by casting doubt on the credibility of the source.”
Heather glared at Jonas for a few seconds before wordlessly turning and stomping away.
“Heather!” Jonas called, leaping from his chair and chasing after her, finally catching her half way down the hall and turning her around with a hand on her shoulder.
“So you admit lying to me, and that the Bears lost?” “Yes,” Jonas said sheepishly.
Heather’s countenance changed slightly too quickly for her anger to have been real. Once more she broke into a dance while chanting “You looo-ooost! You looo-ooost! You looo-oooost!” in ever-louder tones.
“You know, I don’t need to have an intern,” he grumbled. Heather responded with a playful punch to his arm, as they returned to his office to get some actual work done.
This one is roughly an extension of a conversation that I had with my friend Derick. He’s a rabid Steelers fan, I’m an indifferent Vikings fan. Derick thinks the two teams played a couple of weeks ago, but I simply can’t seem to find any evidence. In any event, it feels right as a Heather and Jonas interaction in Clean Hippie Murders, so that’s where I’m putting it.