Here it was the end of the third summer of high school and Pierre would be going back without a dependable female social companion for the near future. He was bemoaning the prospects with his friend Vern when an idea hatched that had some possibilities.
Vern's girlfriend Julie had just returned from a self-reliance building camp that lasted half the summer. Pierre had listened to Vern read some of Julie's letters she sent while at camp. The parts Pierre was most interested in hearing were the realizations she and her friend Gelany were having about how fun outdoor wilderness activities could be and how much their lives were changed by the experience.
Pierre had noticed Gelany before. She was a no-nonsense down-to-earth person if not a little pensive and short tempered. He was somewhat interested to hear about the girls summer first hand as Vern had proposed the four of them get together soon to hear about their new and possibly great expectations.
The next Saturday the four of them met at Gelany's house. Both girls were quite excited to share all the events of the summer and had pictures to show and souvenirs to explain. From the photos Pierre gathered the format of the camp was an extended bivouac where groups of six girls went through a well planned and supervised wilderness experience. An initial impression that they were going to hear about a girl scout-like so'- mores and campfire song party was quickly put aside. They had seen rough hikes, semi-serious injuries and even interesting survival problems. Evidence in the pictures was the more beat-up and dirty they got the happier they looked.
After the visual presentation they went into another room to listen to some of the records Jules and Lany had gotten addicted to at the camp. Their favorite was by an anemic sounding singer from Minnesota who tried to play a harmonica between verses of various poems he chanted with maudlin subjects.
One thing that added a little taste to the atmosphere was a tray full of wilderness food the girls had prepared. Because the environs of Kankapot were not wild enough to provide the actual ingredients for the camp recipes, substitutions were made resulting in very interestingly tasty "treats". Pierre thought the taste was somewhere between fruit jerky and pemmican his grandmother used to make. When he looked at Vern it was clear by his facial expression that his thoughts were as far as you could get away from enjoyment or satisfaction.
The conclusion of the afternoon was the girls listing the possible new quests they were hoping to embark on as soon as they could get some money. Hiking the Appalachian Trail and rafting on the Colorado seemed like financial impossibilities to Pierre but Vern assented to every one of their suggestions.
After leaving Vern commented that now that the girls were back from the woods their heads should be following them in about a week. Pierre agreed with his observation and thought to himself maybe the next time they got together he hoped he would get a little more personal recognition than a polite audience member.
A few weeks later to his surprise Vern asked Pierre if he wanted to try out for the school play along with Jules and Lany. "Sure, why not." He said wondering how the three of them developed any interest in that kind of activity. Then he thought about what opportunities might happen that would allow him to cultivate a stronger friendship with Gelany. Even the possibility of working on the sets and scenery could be fun. He had been to the movie and there was the book of Through the Looking Glass at home, but he would have to go to the library to get the play to see what he might like to do in the theater production.
When he checked out the script copy at the library the desk assistant asked, "Which part are you going to try out for?"
"I'm not sure yet." He answered.
"You can try for up to three, "she said, "and you're a senior so you'll get priority."
"I didn't know that."
"It's all on the last page of the announcement. You should read it. Even if you don't get a part you can be on the stage crew." She sure knew a lot about it.
Bringing back the script he was again questioned by the same librarian, "What parts did you decide to try for?"
"Maybe the hatter, the Cheshire cat or the white rabbit, Are you trying out too?"
"I hope to get to be a prompter again. I was one last year" she said with a clear receptive smile. He thanked her for the help and walking away remembered her name was Bobbie.
On the day of the try outs all four of the novice actors were amazed at how many people were there to try for the parts. It was quite organized and they all finished their readings and were out on the sidewalk near the kiosk in three hours. They hadn't exchanged more than a dozen words when Lany's sister Elaine pulled up in a car and said, "If you want a ride home get in now or walk." As the girls piled in to the back seat Lany leaned out and said, "Bye Per." Finally he got recognized personally and directly.
This last label reminded him of a Latin conjugate, a kind of locative case putting you in a closer status of friendship. A logical conjecture but in fact not true.
On the way home Vern asked "Are you still hoping to get something going with 'Paula Bunyan'?" His sarcasm although creative was usually baiting an argument. He was expressing his own irritation that he seemed to not be able to go anywhere with Jules without Lany coming too. A mutual friend, Sean, had given Vern a rusty log splitting wedge the last time he was carping about the girl's close friendship