Bathsheba Shinderling resented her mother Marlene for giving her such an embarrassing Biblical name. Obnoxious classmates would repeat the phrase “Bathsheba needs a bath” as if it were a mantra.
“It happens to be a beautiful name,” Marlene of Marlene’s College of Total Massage told her deeply depressed twelve-year-old daughter, “and when you’re an adult with sex appeal you’ll realize it. Bathsheba was the mother of Solomon who succeeded David as the King of Israel.”
“Big whoop,” she said.
“Are you ready to paint your mama’s toenails chick flick cherry?” Marlene asked in a baby voice. Bathsheba emitted a groan considerably louder than the one she always emitted when Marlene introduced herself as the dean of a private college.
After coming upon a bottle of painkillers in her mother’s crowded medicine cabinet, Bathsheba decided to put a stop to the endless embarrassment of her miserable life. Her best friend Shannon initially objected, but after lengthy consideration realized it was the best solution to an agonizing problem. “Will you play the home version of Jeopardy with me until the drugs kick in?” Bathsheba asked.
“Sure, why not?”
She chose a Monday night when her mother was hanging out at the home of her boxing instructor Miguel. Next to the Jeopardy board game sat a jumbo glass of pink lemonade and a vial of pills. The determined twelve-year-old poured a dozen small tablets into her hand and swallowed them with a large sip of lemonade. Another dozen fell into her palm and she swallowed those too. “Let’s play Jeopardy,” she said.
The categories were Rivers in Romania, Silent Movies, Famous Virginias, Corporate Law, Icelandic Volcanoes, and Broadway. “I’m going to suck at these categories,” Shannon said.
“When you’re a contestant on a TV game show, you can’t choose your categories, Shannon,” Bathsheba replied testily.
“Maybe you should lay down,” Shannon suggested. “I think that would be an appropriate way to jet out of here, don’t you?”
“You just want to avoid the game because I know my Virginias and my volcanoes.”
“If there was at least one category I was good at, like Trendy Teen Clothes or Ashton Kutcher Movies, I’d definitely go for it.”
“Fine. We can end it all on a happy note.” The friends hugged. “No tearful goodbyes,” the suicidal girl insisted.
“You’re totally sure about this?” Shannon asked.
“Look, I’m never going to be the girl in silk blouses, plaid skirts and clean underwear. I am my mother’s daughter. I share her genes, her blood, her abnormal love of fried food. And if my future looks anything like her, which it most certainly does, what’s the point?” Without looking back, she dramatically marched into her bedroom and closed the door with care.
The following morning, Bathsheba opened her eyes. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or revolted that heaven resembled her bedroom to an astonishing degree. Then she felt the distinct, unnerving sensation that she was still alive. Slowly and suspiciously, she ambled to the kitchen where she instantly saw the empty vial of pills smack in the middle of the counter, as if lit with a spotlight. In a ratty red bathrobe and black suede stilettos, Marlene was pouring whiskey into a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats. “Could you explain where my extended release sodium tablets went?” she calmly asked.
Bathsheba could barely speak. “Uh, I had friends over, and I guess one of them pocketed the pills.” She reached for the container. “It says these are for pain.”
“You think I’d leave my Oxycontin within reach of an adolescent?” Marlene barked. “I may not be Mother of the Month, but I’m not an imbecile. I happen to have what’s called horse sense.”
“Then maybe you should apply for work at the Mustang Ranch.”
“You watch your tongue, young lady,” Marlene snapped. “You’re one insult away from being sold to a Korean sex trafficker.”
Impressed with her mother’s judgment for the first time, Bathsheba grabbed a fistful of Frosted Mini-Wheats and dashed over to Shannon’s house. “Yep, it’s me,” she glumly said. “Unfortunately I’m still here.”
“Actually I’m glad. I missed you already.”
“They were stupid old sodium tablets. What am I going to do now?” she asked, looking at Shannon searchingly.
“How about jump off the roof of a tall building?” the enterprising girl suggested.
“Awesome. You’ll come with me?”
“Tonight I’m going shoe shopping with Tamara. Wanna join us?”
“How’s Friday for the jump?” Shannon asked.
“I guess I can stick it out till then,” Bathsheba said.
The following day, a dreamy new boy with serious dimples appeared in Bathsheba’s class. His shoes looked very expensive and very polished, and he seemed really smart. His name was Deuteronomy Solomon.
Bathsheba felt her sex appeal approaching rapidly, like an oncoming train at maximum speed. She decided to postpone her big jump for the time being.