Dave was cooking dinner when Alvin, Simon and Theodore arrived home from school one Friday, each clutching a sheaf of papers and looking rather subdued.
'Hi, fellas,' said Dave, as they filed into the kitchen. 'Are those your parts for Hairspray?'
'Yes,' said Simon. 'Theodore and I are playing a married couple.'
'Oh,' said Dave. 'Well… that should be fun. Right, Theodore?'
'Yeah, maybe,' said Theodore, who was staring at his script with a blank look.
Dave turned his gaze onto Alvin, who was flipping over his pages at lightning speed with a frown on his face.
'What part did you get, Alvin?' asked Dave.
'Hmm?' Alvin glanced up briefly, then turned his attention back to his script. 'I got Link.'
'Well, that's great, Alvin - it's the male lead.'
'Huh!' said Alvin. 'Some lead! I only get one solo, and there's whole sections without me in them!'
'Oh,' said Dave. 'Well, Alvin, I'm always telling you, you have to share the spotlight sometimes. It's still a big part.'
'Yeah, I guess,' said Alvin, not sounding convinced. 'Well, I'd better go start practising my solo. Call me when dinner's ready, okay?'
Alvin ran from the room, with Dave calling after him, 'Don't forget your homework, Alvin! ALVIN!'
'I hear you, Dave!' Alvin's voice called back from some distance away.
Dave then turned to Simon and Theodore, and asked, 'Are you guys happy with your parts?'
'I'm happy enough with mine,' said Simon. 'I'm playing Tracy's father, Wilbur.'
'I see,' said Dave. 'So… that means Theodore's playing her mother?'
'Yeah,' said Theodore, still gazing expressionlessly at his script.
'Well, that's a great part.'
'I know. I just…'
'I wonder why Mr Rochelle wanted me to play a middle-aged woman.'
'Somebody has to do it, Theodore,' said Simon. 'Mr Rochelle must think you're up to the challenge. It's a far stretch from Mr Hyde - that's a real compliment. I mean, look at Alvin. He won't exactly be stretching himself, playing a shallow, attention seeking moron.'
'A man always plays the part of Edna Turnblad,' Dave added. 'It's kind of a joke.'
'A joke, huh?' said Theodore.
'Well,' said Dave, 'no, not a joke exactly. It's more a… um…'
'It's okay, Dave. I understand.'
Theodore mooched out of the room with his head down and his shoulders slumped, his script hanging limply from his right hand. Dave and Simon both gazed after him, wearing expressions of concern. From upstairs, they could clearly hear Alvin belting out the first verse of Link's signature song, 'It Takes Two', accompanied by the CD copy of the show's score that each cast member had been given.
'I really thought Theodore had gained confidence after Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,' said Dave.
'Me too,' said Simon, 'but I can see why he's not comfortable with playing Edna. It's too bad - it really is a good part for him. I guess I'll talk to him about it later.'
'Thanks, Simon. So, who else is in the show? What parts did the girls get?'
'You know the show, Dave,' said Simon, 'and you know the girls. Can't you guess?'
'Brittany,' said Eleanor, 'I wish you'd stop sulking. Amber's a great part!'
'I'm not sulking,' said Brittany. 'I'm thinking.'
'What are you thinking?' asked Eleanor.
The Chipettes were in their living room, going over their lines and songs. Jeanette was reclining on the sofa and quietly flicking through her script, her look of worry increasing with each line she read. Brittany sat in an armchair, with Eleanor standing a little way in front of her.
'Well,' said Brittany, 'actually, I was thinking about when you called me a glory hog. You may have been right then, but you can't say I'm one anymore. You got the female lead in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and now this!'
'But Brittany,' said Eleanor, 'you wouldn't want to be cast as Tracy, would you?'
'No,' said Brittany. 'I just wish…'
'What? We were doing a different show?'
'I don't know, maybe.'
'But it's a great show! I'm really excited about it.'
'Do you want to play Penny, Brittany?' asked Jeanette. 'She has so many lines!'
'Then who would play Amber?' asked Brittany. 'You? No, Jeanette, Mr Rochelle was right - I know that really. Who else but me could play a beautiful and talented, but heartless and shallow brat?'
'Right,' said Jeanette. 'And who else but me could play a clumsy nerd?'
'Hey!' said Eleanor. 'What is this? Don't say you're going to get paranoid about the parts you've been given. It's just a show, and it's going to be fun! Look, we get to do a song together right near the beginning.' She found the relevant page on her script and waved it in her sisters' faces.
'What about you, Ellie?' asked Brittany. 'You're not offended that you were asked to play… well…?'
'What,' said Eleanor, 'a fat girl? Of course not. There's so much more to her character than that. Tracy and I are kindred spirits, Brittany.'
'Apart from the romance with Alvin,' said Jeanette.
'Yeah,' said Brittany. 'That'll take some acting.'
'I can handle it,' said Eleanor. 'And so can Alvin, I'm sure.'
'What about the kiss?' asked Jeanette.
'Kiss?' Brittany sat up a little and began flicking hastily through her script. 'What kiss? You don't have to kiss him, do you? I mean, it's just a school production. No one expects kissing.'
'Actually,' said Eleanor, 'it's in the script. Look, right near the end: "LINK: Tracy, if I don't kiss you now I just might bust a gut. TRACY: Well, I certainly wouldn't want you to hurt yourself. They kiss." Yeah, so that should be… challenging.'
'So you really do have to kiss Alvin,' said Brittany. 'Poor you.'
'Are you okay with that, Brittany?'
'Of course. Why wouldn't I be okay with it? I mean jeez, Eleanor, it's only acting. And even if it wasn't, Alvin can kiss who he wants. Why should I care? I don't care.'
'Okay, good,' Eleanor said uncertainly. 'Anyway, it is only acting, remember?'
'Of course I do!'
'Just like you're acting being shallow and heartless, Brittany,' said Jeanette. 'None of this stuff is a big deal. Right, Eleanor?'
'Of course not,' said Eleanor. 'If this show had anything to do with real life, I'd have an issue with Theodore being cast as my mother, but it is just a show! It sounds like the biggest issue anyone's going to have is you with all your lines, Jeanette.'
'And me not having enough,' said Brittany, who had collapsed back into the armchair and was scowling at her script. 'And what about songs? Look at this. I get the one with you two and our moms, and then this really weird solo near the end, and practically nothing else! What the heck is this, anyway? "She's got cooties… Get Rod Serling on the phone…"'
'I'm sure I'll be all right with the lines, Ellie,' said Jeanette. 'Hey, why don't we run through our song? We can do it without the mothers - it's mostly just the three of us.'
'I bet Miss Miller would read for them,' said Eleanor. 'I'll go find her.'
Eleanor left the room and made her way upstairs.
'I do not get this song,' said Brittany, who was still looking at 'Cooties'. 'It's hardly a showcase for my talents.'
'It's a comedy song, Brittany,' said Jeanette. 'If you do it really well, you'll make people laugh.'
'Laugh?' She looked disgusted. 'I'm a pop princess, not some novelty act! Just look at all Eleanor's solos, about being in love and wanting to be a dancer and stuff. Why can't I have songs like those? Mr Rochelle does not appreciate my talents!'
'Look on the bright side, Brittany. At least he didn't cast you as a tree this time.'
'I found her!' said Eleanor, coming into the room ahead of Miss Miller, who was wearing a towelling robe and dripping bubbles onto the floor.
'Oh, I'm so proud of you girls!' said Miss Miller. 'And you got cast in the lead again, Eleanor! You're turning into quite the little actress. Why, I remember when I wasn't much older than you, I played the lead in -'
'Let's just do the song, okay?' said Brittany, standing up and thrusting her script at Miss Miller. 'You're doing the mom parts.'
Long after the Chipettes had finished their run-through of 'Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now', Dave and the Chipmunks continued to hear songs from Hairspray wafting over from next door. Eleanor practised a couple of her solos, and when Alvin was brushing his teeth in the evening, he heard her and Jeanette singing the song they'd have to sing with him and the boy who had been cast as Seaweed, Jeanette's love interest. Brittany was taking that part, and Miss Miller the part of Link.
'Trace,' she cried, as the song switched to regular dialogue, 'I wanna kiss you!'
'Then I can't wait for parole!' came Eleanor's reply.
Then all four resumed singing together. ''Cause without love…'
Alvin put down his toothbrush and went through to the bedroom, his brow puckered in thought. He found Simon and Theodore both there, sitting on Simon's bed and apparently having a serious conversation.
'I knew it!' said Alvin. 'You're worried about the show, aren't you, Theodore?'
'Well,' said Theodore, 'a little.'
'I completely understand,' said Alvin, going to sit on his own bed between Simon and Theodore's. 'You're worried about me having to kiss Eleanor. Well, let me assure you that I have absolutely no romantic interest in her whatsoever. It's just acting.'
'Whereas if you were interested in her,' Simon said dryly, 'you'd be able to put her under your spell with a mere two-second staged kiss. Is that right?'
Alvin laughed. 'Don't be ridiculous, Simon. We'll have to kiss for more than two seconds.'
'That isn't what's worrying him, Alvin. You may find this hard to believe, but it has nothing to do with you.'
'Oh?' Alvin at once looked concerned, and shifted his gaze onto Theodore. 'Well then, what is it? Don't you want to play Edna, Theodore?'
'Well,' said Theodore, 'I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable with it. I know that everything Dave and Simon have been saying is true. It's a great part, and Edna's always played by a man just for fun, and it isn't insulting to be asked. It's just that… well, look at this song I have with Simon, for one thing. I don't know if I want him singing "you're fat and old" at me in front of all those people.'
'I'll be singing with you, Theodore, not at you,' said Simon, 'and I really think you're right for the part. This is a woman coming to terms with her body image. Her journey carries such a positive message.'
'But if you don't want to do it,' said Alvin, 'you don't have to. If you're not going to enjoy it, there's no point.'
'Of course he'll enjoy it,' said Simon. 'It's a great show, and it'll help him with his confidence.'
'Well, maybe he's tired of everyone trying to help him with his confidence all the time. Maybe this time he just wants to sit back and watch the show.'
'No, he wants to be in the show! He just needs a bit of encouragement.'
'Oh, stop it!' said Theodore, getting to his feet to stand between his brothers' beds, glaring. 'I'm sick of you two always arguing over what's best for me. Doesn't it ever occur to you to wonder what I think?'
Alvin and Simon, surprised by this sudden outburst, exchanged a look that Theodore did not like. He turned his back on his brothers and made his way to his own bed.
'We're sorry, Theodore,' said Simon.
'You know it's only because we care about you,' Alvin added.
'Yeah,' said Theodore, his expression softening as he climbed into bed. 'I know.'
'So,' said Alvin, 'what do you think? Do you want to play the part or not?'
'I'm not sure,' said Theodore. 'I know that Simon's right, and it should be a really good part for me, and it would be kind of fun to play Eleanor's mother and do those songs with her - and the one with you, Simon. But on the other hand… well, I'm not sure I'd be very good at portraying someone coming to terms with their body image.'
Alvin and Simon exchanged another one of those looks.
'I know I have to decide quickly,' Theodore went on, before either of them had a chance to jump in, 'so Mr Rochelle can replace me… if I decide not to do it.'
'So, how can we help you decide?' asked Simon.
'I don't know.'
'Let's have a look at this song with Simon first,' said Alvin, jumping to his feet and retrieving his script from under his bed. 'How about if we sing it for you? I'll be Edna, and you see if you think you can do it as well as I can.'
Simon rolled his eyes. 'Alvin…'
'That might help,' said Theodore.
'Great!' said Alvin. 'Just let me get changed.'
Two minutes later, Alvin had found himself a blond wig and an effeminate sheet to drape round his shoulders, and had shoved his soccer ball and his basketball down his front. Theodore was already in fits of giggles before the song even started, and by halfway through Simon was struggling to keep a straight face.
'Wilbur, this is no time to laugh,' said Alvin, causing Theodore to collapse into a heap of guffaws. 'Your daughter's in jail, your wife's out on parole…'
This did not help Simon to stop laughing, and soon Alvin was at it too. Eventually, however, they all managed to calm down, and Simon and Alvin made it to the end of their song and dance without further incident.
'You'll always be first string,' sang Alvin, as he and Simon waltzed between the beds, clutching Simon's copy of the script between them in their clasped hands.
'Ring-a-ding-ding,' sang Simon.
'You're timeless to me,' they sang together, repeating the refrain twice before Alvin spun round under Simon's arm, and they finished with an awkward dip.
'That was great!' said Theodore, crying with laughter as Alvin's basketball fell out of his sheet with a thud. 'I don't know if I can be as funny as that, Alvin.'
'You won't know unless you try,' said Alvin, as he began disassembling his costume. 'Would you like to borrow my balls?'
'Maybe not tonight,' said Theodore. 'I've got all weekend to decide, haven't I?'
'Of course you have,' said Simon. 'Well then, if that's all, I think I'd better get ready for bed.'
He reached under his pillow to retrieve his neatly folded pyjamas, and then made his way into the adjacent bathroom. Alvin began pulling on his own pyjamas, which lay crumpled at the foot of his bed.
'Will I have to wear balls down my front on the night, Alvin?' asked Theodore.
'Well,' said Alvin, 'maybe not balls, but you'll have to have something.'
'I wish you were doing costumes again, like you did for the Thanksgiving pageant.'
'Really? Why? I know I was good, but…'
'It's not that. I mean, you were good, but… well, I don't know if I want those girls… you know… measuring me, and trying dresses on me.'
'Oh,' said Alvin, 'I see. Well, maybe we can do something about that.'
'Really?' said Theodore, his eyes going saucer-wide.
'Sure. Does this mean you want to do the show?'
'I don't know, maybe. I guess I might enjoy it.'
'I'm sure you will. It's going to be fun.'
'Absolutely. Now, you sleep on it, and then we'll practise some scenes over the weekend, okay? And we'll get the girls to help.'
'Okay,' said Theodore. 'But don't tell them I'm… you know…'
'Of course not.'
On Saturday afternoon, Alvin answered the door to the Chipettes with a red dress draped over his left arm.
'Ooh, pretty dress, Alvin,' said Jeanette.
'Yeah, it's nice,' said Brittany. 'It could use a few sequins, though.'
'Give me a chance,' said Alvin, as he ushered them inside. 'I've only had this morning to work on it.'
'What do you mean?' asked Brittany.
'I made it.'
'You did not!'
'Yes I did.'
'Why?' asked Eleanor.
'For the show,' said Alvin. 'The costume department has a lot to do, so it'll save them time if I do a few costumes for Theodore at home.'
'I don't understand,' said Brittany. 'Since when do you make dresses?'
'I don't, normally, but I learned when I did the costumes for that Thanksgiving pageant, remember? Oh, that's right - you weren't in it.' His voice filled with mock tragedy at these last words, and Brittany shot him a dirty look as she passed him into the living room, where Simon and Theodore were waiting on the sofa.
'So which scenes are we doing, anyway?' asked Brittany. 'The six of us don't do anything together, or at least not without all the rest of the cast.'
'We can fill in for other parts,' said Alvin, 'like you guys were doing last night. I heard you doing "Welcome to the Sixties", Eleanor, with Miss Miller as Edna. Let's do that one now - then we can try my dress! Jeanette and Brittany, you and I can be that girl group - what are they called?' He retrieved his script from an armchair and flicked to the right page. 'The Dynamites.'
'You want to be a Dynamite?' Brittany asked sceptically.
'Sure,' said Alvin. 'Wait here and I'll go get ready. Simon, you can be the ensemble and sing those couple of lines the store people have. Oh, and you can be in charge of the CD.'
With that, Alvin left the room. Simon went over to the sound system, while Theodore made no move to get up from the sofa. Eleanor sat down beside him and said, 'Are you okay, Theodore?'
'I'm fine,' said Theodore. 'It's just that I haven't practised this song yet. Simon and I have been doing "You're Timeless to Me" all morning while Alvin was working on the dress.'
'Never mind,' said Eleanor. 'That's what practice sessions are for. This is the part I'm looking forward to performing the most, Theodore. It'll be fun.'
She beamed at him, and Theodore gave her a weak smile in return. Then he burst out laughing when Alvin swaggered back in wearing high-heeled shoes, the blond wig from the previous night and a dress he had improvised from his bedclothes.
'You look ridiculous,' said Brittany.
'Stop looking in the mirror, Brittany, and come over here,' said Alvin. 'You too, Jeanette. I want to show you how this dress works. We have to put it on Theodore during the song, so I've tried to make it really easy to slip on and off.'
While Alvin was demonstrating this feat of design to Brittany and Jeanette, Eleanor stood up and pulled Theodore to his feet.
'Ready, Theodore?' she asked.
'I guess,' said Theodore, picking up his script.
'Great!' said Alvin. 'We're ready too. Hit it, Simon!'
Simon started the music track playing, and then Eleanor began to sing: 'Hey Mama, hey Mama, look around. Everybody's groovin' to a brand new sound…'
As she sang, Alvin did a very camp dance behind her with Jeanette and Brittany, eliciting giggles from both of them, and from Theodore. The girl group then joined in with the chorus, and in the middle of the song they had a few lines of their own, occasionally backed up by Simon. It was at this point that they had to try and get Theodore into the dress without breaking their rhythm. Jeanette seemed to forget all about that part, so Alvin and Brittany together worked him into it.
'Don'tcha let nobody try to steal your fun,' Alvin sang with great enthusiasm, wiggling his hips as he pulled Theodore into the dress, ''cause a little touch of lipstick never hurt no one.'
As he finished and Brittany took over with her part, Alvin pulled an effeminate pose and puckered his lips at Theodore, causing him to start laughing again.
Brittany and Jeanette sang their parts, then Alvin and Simon joined them for, 'Step on out, hear us shout…'
'Mama, that's your cue!' cried Eleanor.
Then Theodore started to sing, matching everyone else's enthusiasm as he put his arm around Eleanor and began, 'Hey Tracy, hey baby, look at me…'
Once Theodore's verse was over, all that remained were several refrains sung at great volume, and one instance of Brittany belting out, 'Welcome to the "six" to the "O" to the apostrophe "S"!'
At the end of the song, Simon remarked, 'I'm not sure there should be in apostrophe in "60s", actually.'
'It's in the lyrics,' said Brittany. 'You'll just have to live with it.'
Just then Dave popped his head around the door, and said, 'That sounded great, guys. Would you like something to drink before you do the next one?'
Two minutes later, the six chipmunks were all settled on the three piece suite sipping glasses of lemonade.
'Isn't it time to take off the wig and stuff now, Alvin?' asked Brittany.
'I will in a minute,' said Alvin.
'I think maybe you enjoyed that a little too much,' Brittany went on. 'You really don't mind dressing up as a girl, do you?'
'I guess I've done it once or twice,' said Alvin, 'when I really had to. I don't mind because I'm secure in my masculinity. So how about the dress, Theodore? Was it okay getting into it?'
'It was great, Alvin,' said Theodore. 'And it's really comfortable as well.'
'Good. I'll finish it tomorrow, and then we can try it again with the adjustments.'
'Wow,' said Brittany. 'You must be really secure in your masculinity.'
'What song shall we do next?' asked Eleanor, who was flicking through her script. 'Most of us are in the finale, but we'd probably need a lot more people to rehearse that one. Three of us are in "Without Love" - we could try that.'
'Four of us are in "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now",' said Brittany. 'We should do that.'
'Why?' said Alvin. 'Because you're in it?'
'Why not?' said Brittany. 'Because you're not in it?'
'Hey,' Alvin said with a shrug, 'no skin off my nose. I'll have way more than you to do on the night. How many songs do you have, anyway? Just the two with solos, is it? That's too bad. You know, I don't think the show even needs those two songs. Maybe I'll have a word with Mr Rochelle about cutting them out.'
'Don't you dare!' said Brittany. 'A production of Hairspray without those two songs is no production at all. "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now" is one of the best ones, and it needs "Cooties" for the finale to make sense.'
'He's only trying to be funny, Brittany,' said Simon, 'and failing, as usual. Come on, let's do "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now". Alvin and I will be the other two mothers.'
'I'm not having Alvin as my mother,' said Brittany.
'Fine,' said Simon. 'Then I'll be yours, and Alvin can be Jeanette's. Now let's stop bickering and get on with it.'
The girls performed 'Mama I'm a Big Girl Now', backed up by the boys, with the same levels of skill and confidence that they took to professional concerts. Then they moved onto 'Without Love', Brittany taking the part of Seaweed with Simon's blessing. He fancied that Jeanette looked a little disappointed when he declined the part, but he was glad of the opportunity to take Theodore into the kitchen to talk.
'Well?' Simon asked. 'What do you think?'
'I'll do it,' said Theodore. 'You guys were right - that was fun. And if I can do it here, I can do it in front of everyone in the auditorium. Eventually.'
'Good,' said Simon. 'Alvin making a spectacle of himself helped, did it?'
'He was just trying to make it fun for me, Simon. And he went to all the trouble of making me that dress.'
'Yes, that was good of him. So you're completely comfortable with it now?'
'Yeah, I'm fine. Let's have something to eat.'
Theodore switched on the kettle, then climbed onto a stool and began rifling through the cupboards, as Simon listened to the last few verses of 'Without Love'. When the song had finished, Brittany and Jeanette came into the kitchen, while from the living room wafted the opening chords of Alvin's solo, 'It Takes Two'.
'Would you guys like some tea and cake?' asked Theodore.
'Thank you, Theodore, we'd love some,' said Jeanette, as she and Brittany sat down at the table. 'Well, that was fun. It should be a great show. Oh, listen - Alvin's sounding good on that solo, isn't he?'
'Don't let him hear you say that,' said Simon. 'We don't want to encourage him.'
'The show would be a lot better if I had more songs,' said Brittany.
'At least you have a solo,' said Theodore, as he handed out the tea and cake. 'Maybe you'd like to sing it for us later.'
'Well… no, not today,' said Brittany, shifting a little in her chair and stabbing at her slice of cake with her fork. 'I need to work on it a little first.'
'Oh, there goes Eleanor,' said Jeanette, as the backing vocals for Alvin's song became audible. 'Wow, they sound really good together.'
'They should,' said Brittany, still playing with her food. 'They're playing the leads.'
'I thought that sounded great,' said Alvin, beaming as the song came to an end, and Eleanor stopped the CD. 'You were good too, Eleanor.'
'Thank you, Alvin.'
'Let's go into the kitchen with the others. I think they might be having tea and cake.'
'All right,' said Eleanor. 'But before we do… what about this kiss?'
'What about it?' asked Alvin.
'I thought maybe we should have a little practice.'
'What, right now?'
'No,' said Eleanor, 'not right now. We're missing tea and cake time, for one thing. Can you come over tomorrow?'
'Sure,' said Alvin. 'But not until the afternoon, when Theodore's dress is finished. You're not, um… worried about kissing me, are you?'
'No, not really. But we don't want it to look awkward on stage or anything.'
'Why would it look awkward? I'm an expert at that sort of thing.'
'Alvin,' said Eleanor, 'we all know about your endless talents, but the rest of us need the practice. So you'll come over?'
'Sure,' Alvin said with a shrug. 'Now let's go have some tea and cake.'
When Eleanor answered the door to Alvin on Sunday afternoon, she fancied that he did not look quite as confident as he had made himself out to be. She showed him to the living room, and they both sat on the sofa clutching their scripts.
'How's Theodore?' Eleanor asked.
'Fine,' said Alvin, clearly wondering why she had asked.
'He seemed kind of weird yesterday,' Eleanor went on, 'at least to start off with. I thought maybe he wasn't happy about his part in the show. You didn't dress up like that to make me laugh, did you?'
'Well, he wasn't sure about it at first. But he's okay now.'
'Good. People are getting far too worked up over all this, if you ask me. It's only a school show - it's supposed to be fun. Which is why no one needs to be weird about you and me kissing.'
'Right,' said Alvin, with an awkward laugh. 'Who's being weird? So, are we… you know… alone?'
'Miss Miller's gone out to play poker,' said Eleanor, 'but Brittany and Jeanette are up in our room.'
'Good. So, let's just go from "Tracy, if I don't kiss you now".'
'Right,' said Alvin, looking down at his script. 'Um. Tracy, if I don't kiss you now I just might bust a gut.'
'Well,' said Eleanor, 'I certainly wouldn't want you to hurt yourself.'
She then began leaning towards Alvin with her lips puckered. Alvin leaned in as well, but then Eleanor drew back and said, 'Actually, can you take off your hat?'
'Um, okay.' Alvin reached up and removed his baseball cap, then sat holding it in his lap and twiddling his fingers. 'Are you sure you're okay with this, Eleanor?'
'Well, I'll have to be, won't I?'
'Yes, you will. You were the one saying it wasn't a big deal a moment ago.'
'Well,' said Eleanor, 'if I had the choice I'd rather not kiss you. No offence.'
Alvin looked most put out at this.
'I suppose,' Eleanor went on hastily, 'Theodore's okay with this?'
'He hasn't mentioned it,' said Alvin. 'I did try to bring it up two nights ago, but Simon wouldn't let me talk about it. Of course, deep down, Theodore is probably terrified by the very thought of me kissing you, even if it is only acting. It can't be easy for him, or Simon, having an attractive and charismatic older brother.'
'You're only a few minutes older, Alvin.'
'So what? Aren't we straying from the point here? Are we going to kiss or not?'
'Yes, we are,' said Eleanor. 'Say your line again, Alvin.'
'Okay.' Alvin cleared his throat and said, more confidently this time, 'Tracy, if I don't kiss you soon I just might bust a gut.'
'Well,' Eleanor said again, 'I certainly wouldn't want you to hurt yourself.'
Again they leaned towards each other, and this time they managed to touch lips. It lasted for barely a second, however, as they snapped apart at the sound of an angry voice saying, 'Oh, I'm sorry - am I interrupting something?'
'Of course not, Brittany,' Alvin said brightly, forcing an awkward smile. 'Please, come and join us. No, wait, that didn't come out right. I mean -'
'We're just practising for the show, Brittany,' said Eleanor.
'Oh, sure,' said Brittany, crossing her arms and turning her back on them. 'I've heard that one before. Couldn't you at least have come up with something original?'
Alvin and Eleanor exchanged a blank look. Then Alvin said, 'Perhaps I'd better go.'
'Yes,' said Brittany. 'Perhaps you'd better.'
Alvin got to his feet, pulled on his cap and mooched out of the room. He kept his gaze on Brittany as he passed her, but she refused to meet his eye.
'Brittany,' said Eleanor, when they heard the front door close. 'Don't you think you're overreacting? You knew I was going to have to kiss him.'
'You don't have to kiss him for weeks. Why start rehearsing it so soon?'
'Because I didn't want it hanging over me. Anyway, why are you so upset? You said you didn't care who Alvin kissed.'
'I don't,' said Brittany. Then she thought for a moment before adding, 'But no one wants him kissing their little sister.'
'Well,' said Eleanor, 'I'm afraid you're just going to have to put up with it. Look, let's talk about something else. How are you getting on with "Cooties"?'
'Terrible!' said Brittany, seeming to forget all about her indignation. 'I can't do a comedy routine, Eleanor - I'm just not funny.'
'Well, that's too bad. It's not just the song - Amber's supposed to be a funny character. People won't like watching you being bratty unless you're funny with it.'
'Ugh! Why couldn't we have just done Grease or something? I'd make such a great Sandy, and there isn't even a kiss in the script.'
'I'm sorry I have to kiss Alvin, Brittany.'
'I bet you are. So, just how bad was it?'
'Oh,' said Eleanor, 'it was horrible. I don't think I'll do it again before the dress rehearsal. Now, would you like me to see if I can help you with this song?'
'Well,' said Brittany, 'we might as well try. I have to do something about it. Maybe cutting it out of the show isn't such a bad idea.'
'Don't be silly. Like you said, the finale wouldn't make sense - I can't be the only one to lay on a performance in the final of the pageant. Come on, let's get Jeanette down here and we'll see what we can do.'
Here's a little fanfiction, for a change. This was fun, and very much influenced by my trip to see Hairspray in London a couple of years ago. If you know the show, you'll have some idea what's going on besides all the conflict etc., but hopefully this is a good read for AATC fans who don't know the show. (If it's the movie you know, please bear in mind that it's rather different from the stage show. )
Part 2 of 2 is here: [link]
Part 2 of 2 is here: [link]