“Logan Oxford,” she finished for me. “Remember him? In sixth grade, I had his poster on my wall!”
I’d had a notebook with his picture on the cover. As well as every song he ever recorded, a copy of his documentary/concert movie This One’s for You, and, although I was hugely embarrassed to admit it now, the kind of crush that made me imagine scenarios where we were married. Oh, the shame. And now it was all flooding back in this big, sticky club. I wished Jenn had come. She was even more nuts for him than I was.
“I don’t get it,” Rosie yelled across to us. “They’re playing retro top forty now?”
“I believe,” Mrs. Chatham said, picking up her Pepsi, “that it is supposed to be an ironic take on the universality of the early teen experience. But I might have that wrong. I will admit to tuning out at some point.”
“I loved Logan Oxford,” Layla sighed, eating another cheese puff. “Remember his hair? And that dimple, when he smiled?”
I did. Rosie said, “Didn’t he just get busted for drugs?”
“Look who’s talking.”
I felt myself blink. But Rosie, hardly bothered, just shot her the finger.
“Ladies,” Mrs. Chatham said. “Let’s be ladies, please.”
To say I was taken aback was a huge understatement. Who were these people?
Hey Dude was wrapping up “Prom Queen” now and, after a bit of a bumpy transition, launched into “You+Me+Tonight.” My inner thirteen-year-old was swooning as I looked over at Layla, who was singing along. She said, “Remember this video? Where he was in that convertible, driving through the desert all alone?”
“And the lights appear far in the distance, and then suddenly he’s on that busy street?” I added.
“I wanted a car just like that for years,” I said.
She sighed, propping her chin in her hands. “I still do.”
The music just kept going, bringing every one of my awkward early teen memories with them. After another Logan Oxford song, they played one by STAR7 (“Baby, take me back, I’ll do better now, I swear”) and then a medley by Brotown, one of which I distinctly remembered slow dancing to for the first time. There were a few shrieks of feedback, and Eric kept getting too close to the microphone and muffling his own voice, but by the time they were done, a decent crowd had gathered at the base of the stage, most of them girls. When two brunettes ran past our table, singing along loudly and giggling, Layla narrowed her eyes.
“Uh-oh,” she said. “Eric might have groupies. Can you even imagine?”
“No,” Rosie said flatly.
He could, though. It was clear in the way he brightened, leaning into the microphone too close again before winding up the final chords with a flourish. The applause was actually loud, with a fair amount of whoops and whistles, and Mrs. Chatham looked around, smiling.
“Well, listen to that,” she said. “They might actually be on to something.”
Eric was waving to the crowd now, soaking it up, as Mac and the other guitar player left the stage. The brunettes pushed forward, getting Eric’s attention, and he crouched down, cupping his ear as one of them spoke. This time, Layla said nothing.
“Excuse me,” I heard a voice say from behind us. It was a tall girl with red hair, dressed in a tight black T-shirt and white jeans. “But, um, are you Rosie Chatham?”
Rosie looked at her. “Yeah.”
“I’m Heather Banks. I used to train at Lakewood Rink when you were there?”
The expression on Rosie’s face was not exactly welcoming. Mrs. Chatham said, “How wonderful! Were you working with Arthur?”
“No, Wendy Loomis. And I was just taking lessons, not competing.” She looked at Rosie again. “I just have to tell you . . . you were amazing. Where are you skating now?”
“Oh.” Heather blushed. “I didn’t realize. I’m—”
“She got injured,” Mrs. Chatham told her. “Knee issues. But before that, she did two years with the Mariposa touring show.”
“Wow! That’s amazing! So you were, like, one of the characters?”
“I need something to drink,” Rosie announced, pushing out her chair. Then, as we all watched, she just walked away, leaving the poor girl standing there, watching her go.
“It’s a sensitive issue,” Mrs. Chatham said in the awkward silence that followed. “You understand, I’m sure.”
“Oh, totally!” Heather said. “I, um, just wanted to say hello. You all have a good night.”
“You too, honey,” Mrs. Chatham replied. Once the girl was gone, she looked over at the bar, where Rosie was talking to Mac. Now that I looked at her, I realized she did have a skater’s body: small, muscular, and compact. She kind of reminded me of Meredith, although older and with a rougher look to her.
“Rosie has issues,” Layla explained to me.
“Everyone has issues,” her mother said. “Now, go see if she’s okay.”
Making a face, Layla got to her feet, leaving the table. I wondered if I should follow her, but that meant leaving Mrs. Chatham alone. So I stayed put. After a moment of silence, she said, “It’s good that you came.”
I wasn’t sure if this was her reading my mind or she meant from her point of view. I said, “I was nervous. Not knowing anyone and everything.”
“But now you do.” She smiled at me. “And I’m glad to see Layla making a new friend. She’s had a tough time lately.”