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Blond, Black and Pink – A sequel Part 23

This is the twenty third part of a story about the girls and women of the Crown Point community. There are no dramatic haircutting scenes in this episode. It focuses on their their on-going saga. If you are not interested in such long stories, If you haven’t read the preceding episodes and enjoyed them, then you are likely to be bored by this story. I apologize for that, but I do suggest that you skip this story in favor of stories more to your taste.

In Part 22, the Crown Point girls teams in swimming, volleyball and soccer demonstrated their dominance. The swimming part of the meet was upgraded into a sanctioned meet insofar as the times achieved by the swimmers would be recognized. The four top swimmers astonished Hal and the other Dads who had belatedly learned that they were improving far more rapidly than could have been expected. The Moms had know that they were accomplishing something special, but weren’t aware of the magnitude. All the Mom’s had attended the swimming events on Saturday morning. Paula was surprised at the way Patty, Gail’s Mother, had criticized the girls for their haircuts. She was even more shocked at what Patty said about the girls turn toward being vegetarians and her indifference to Gail’s remarkable accomplishments and dedication. Patty had left during lunch. After lunch the swim team emerged to cheer the soccer team. They received a lot of attention, praise and hugs from the adults for their morning triumphs. Gail was distressed by her Mom’s absence. The swim team consoled her and the other Moms and Dads tried to offer support and encouragement. Gail turned her hurt into a fierce determination to prove herself.

Kate, who had begun to realize how close she had become to the girls after she had referred to them as her girls, made the decision to get her own hair buzzed as a show of support. A local hairdresser friend came to Kate’s shop after it had closed and did the haircut.

In this episode the meet will be completed. Kate will begin to play a new role.

Week 10

Sunday – The Regional Meet Continues

“Christine are you up. We need to shave this morning. We have a volleyball match at nine thirty too,” Melissa called urgently.

“Mmmph” came the muffled reply. It was only seven thirty, but Melissa was anxious to get things done.

“OK, I’m up. Fix breakfast and come back up. I’ll have everything ready,” Christine said as she pulled on a tank top and shorts.

A few minutes later Melissa ran up the stairs. “Sit down and I’ll do you while you wake up,” Melissa told her.

“I’m awake, but you can do me first anyway,” Christine said sitting down in the chair.

Melissa began spreading foam on Christine’s head and gently massaging it. She checked the shaver and proceeded to shave Christine’s nearly bare head. Christine had gotten a little more sun during the past week by spending a few minutes in the sun during their lunch. Tommy had watched the time closely and took her back to a shaded area if she remained more than ten minutes. She was noticeably tan now.

Melissa now knew exactly how much pressure she could exert. She proceeded with assurance, shaving Christine’s head quickly, but thoroughly. Having done the right side, she explored it with her fingers to verify that it was smooth. She continued at the back, pressing firmly as she went upwards from the nape. A quick cleaning of the shaver followed. She turned to the left side and continued shaving. It too succumbed to her firm pressure. Now she proceeded to shave the top of Christine’s head, once again pressing firmly to achieve the smooth result that Christine wanted. At the crown she shaved in several directions to account for the circular pattern that was found there. In a surprisingly short time she had finished and checked the result for any possible rough spots.

It’s done Christine. You have a nice tan now. It’s almost impossible to see any shadow,” Melissa said.

“Thanks, little sister. You do a great job,” Christine said.

“Little sister? You never called me that before. Where did that come from,” Melissa asked somewhat bemused.

“I think I heard it it on TV on some show. I’m glad you’re my little sister. The way you’re going I think I would be pretty intimidated if you were my big sister,” Christine said.

“That’s crazy. You’re the one setting all the records and stuff,” Melissa retorted.

“Sit down so I can get started on you,” Christine said. “I like it that you’re pushing me to be the best I can – you and Tommy. If you were older I wouldn’t have the confidence to try to keep up with you. You’re the outgoing one.”

Christine started spreading the shaving foam on Melissa’s head and massaging it in. Like Melissa, she was assured in her actions now, and after cleaning the shaver started shaving Melissa.

“Maybe so, but you could have been just as good,” Melissa replied somewhat at a loss at how to respond.

“Good morning girls. I see you’re nearly done,” Paula said as she stepped into the open doorway.

“Almost. I have to put on the moisturizer,” Melissa said.

“I need to shower,” Christine added.

“I’ll take your things out of the dryer and fold them for you. Is breakfast ready?” Paula asked.

“It’s just some orange juice and cereal, Mom. Your coffee is ready,” Melissa replied.

“Good. I’ll be ready when you two are,” Paula told them.

“I’ll be down in about fifteen minutes Melissa,” Christine said.
Twenty five minutes later they were on their way. They arrived a little after eight thirty.

Christine and Melissa headed toward the locker room where Christine stored her gym bag in a locker and Melissa began to change into her volleyball uniform.

Christine hung around until she had finished, then went to her to give her a hug. “You’re the best little sister. Good luck.”

“Thanks, big sis. I’ll be rooting for you too,” Melissa said.

Most of the volleyball team members were already there and changing. Christine went back to the court to join the rest of the swimming team and parents. As she arrived she spotted Bridget and Gail. All of the soccer Moms were already present. A few minutes later she saw Tommy coming through the entrance followed by Michelle, James and Brian. She went over to greet him. She smiled at him as they grasped hands, and he leaned forward and gave her a quick kiss.

“You and the others put on quite a performance yesterday. You should be proud of yourselves,” Tommy told her.

“We are. It sent shivers down my spine when I saw my time in the free. I thought at first that they must have made a mistake. Now I know that I can do it Tommy! I’m going to get even better because I know I can. We all can,” Christine said.

“I know. And I want to be part of it anyway that I can,” Tommy answered as they headed back to the large group of kids and parents that had assembled. She saw Ellen and her Mom, Doris talking with Iris and Janet. Dana and her Mom had joined the group. I don’t know her name she thought. Only Mrs. Petty. Paula was in a conversation with Sammie and Michelle. Jessie, Bridget and Gail were off to the side with Sharon. Christine and Tommy headed in that direction. As they turned she saw Ginny coming through the door.

“There’s Ginny. It’s great that she could come to see Penny playing volleyball and soccer,” Christine said.

“You bet. Having people around to support you really helps,” Tommy said.

“Hi Ginny, You’re looking great. I’m glad you could come. Penny is going to put on a show for you and us,” Christine greeted her.

“Christine. You look stunning! And I look shaggy. It’s been a week since I had Kate buzz it. I’m got to get it shaved smooth like yours. It’s the only way to go, I’m beginning to realize. I wouldn’t m
iss this for anything. I traded shifts with another waiter. I won’t be able to go out till next Monday, but it’s worth it to see Penny play, and I sure don’t want to miss the swimming competition. Mom told me how great you all did yesterday,” Ginny told her.

“Thanks, but we still have a long way to go. I think we can get a lot better,” Christine answered.

“Of course you can. Everybody knows that!” Ginny exclaimed. “Christine can you tell me who some of the women are. I don’t recognize them.”

“I guess you would be a little bit baffled. See the great looking blond lady with the short buzz cut? That Bridget’s Mom Rhonda. Two weeks ago she had hair down to her waist. That’s Jessie’s Mom Sammie standing beside her. She had long red hair last week at the meeting. And over there is Janet’s Mom Iris. She got the shortest buzz cut of all. Dana’s Mom is the lady talking with Janet’s Mom. That other woman with her back to us with a buzz cut is new. I’m sure it’s not Sharon’s Mom,” Christine tried to sort out all the people present.

Just as she made this remark the mystery woman turned to speak to Paula who had walked up behind her.

“Oh my gosh, it’s Kate! She got her hair buzzed too!” Christine said in astonishment.

“You’re right. She did. Come on I want to go see her,” Ginny said equally excitedly.

Tommy grinned as Christine tugged him along with her.

As they arrived, Kate spotted them. “Christine. You’re more beautiful than ever. And I see your have a very lucky admirer too,” she said. “And Ginny you must be pretty proud of your sister.”

“Oh Kate, this is Tommy. He, uh, helps me with my workouts,” Christine stammered trying to get her words.

Tommy intervened with a grin. “She means that we’re going together. I do think she’s pretty special though.”

“I am absolutely proud of her Kate” Ginny said. “She’s going to be a champion along with the rest of the amigas. That is such a cool buzz cut. You look super with it. What prompted you to do it?”

“Thanks Ginny. I’ve been feeling close to these kids and I wanted to be part of it too. Besides, all these Moms with their terrific buzzes had gotten me quite envious,” Kate told her.

They finally settled down and found seats in the bleachers half way back above the net. They were grouped with the adults occupying three row and the swim team in the row behind them. Somehow Gail ended up sitting at the end of the row with Kate sitting beside her. Christine and Tommy were at the other end.

The teams had finished their warmups and were gathered around their respective coaches. A whistle blew and the two teams went to their positions. The Bulldogs served first and the Dolphins immediately scored a point with a good set and down the line put-a-way by their best attack player. They served and Penny made a good recovery. Nicola put up an excellent set and Audra drove it between two players. One of then got a hand on it, but sent it under the net. A point for the Bulldogs. On serve again they handled an attack shot, got a good set from Nicola and an accurate shot to the back corner by Cindi that the defender could only get a hand on and deflect out of bounds. The game score went back and forth with the Bulldogs maintaining a precarious lead. With the score fourteen to thirteen the Bulldogs were serving. Nicola was back in the game after being given a short break. Once again the Bulldogs’ defenders made a good play on a hard attack shot and Nicola set it up for Audra who drove the ball down the line untouched where it struck squarely on the sideline a foot from the back line. The Crown point contingent erupted.

“Wow, our kids are playing better than I could have imagined,” Heather exclaimed.

“They were great,” Hal said. “What did you mean?”

“They’re not just fired up, they’re doing stuff they couldn’t do at all a month ago. Nicola’s sets are just beautiful and they give Audra and Cindi a perfect chance to get the ball down. Those too are very quick and strong and can really jump. They’re outplaying those bigger Wasena girls. And the back line players seem to be able to handle anything that comes their way. I think they can win the match,” Heather said.

At the beginning of the second set, the Bulldogs seemed to have moved into an even higher gear. They were playing with abandon and scored the first three points before the Dolphins scored. When they served, the Bulldogs scored again when Nicola and Audra blocked a shot and the Dolphins couldn’t recover it. After another score by the Bulldogs the score had become five to one. The serve changed sides several times and the Dolphins had narrowed the score to ten to seven when the Bulldogs regained the serve and scored twice to put the game virtually out of reach with the score thirteen to seven. Melissa and Beth had come in the game to relieve Nicola and Penny who had played the entire set up to that point. Beth served and the dolphins scored on a good play. When they served Beth took the serve and lofted an easy shot to Melissa who set it up for Audra. Audra took two steps and went up high to drive the ball to the back corner. It was saved, but the ball was far out of bounds. It was saved again, but was still out of bounds and had to be lofted back over the net. Melissa set it up for Cindi who dropped it into the open back court. The Dolphins saved match point and made a point, but on the subsequent serve Melissa’s set to Audra resulted in an unreturnable shot. Final score fifteen to ten Bulldogs.

The bleacher erupted in stamping and screaming as the Bulldogs players rushed from the bench to embrace each other. Later they stood in line as the Dolphin players shook hands congratulating them on a game well played.

“They were amazing,” Heather announced after the noise had subsided. “They’ve improved tremendously since the last meeting with Wasena. I don’t know how they did it. It’s quite unbelievable, but I guess I should not be so surprised.”

“Cindi says that the amigas practice volleyball just as hard as they do soccer. They work out in the gym only an hour on Wednesday, so they can practice volleyball for two hours.” Michelle explained. All that running in soccer plus the work outs has made them really strong. That’s why Cindi and Audra can jump so high.”

“It’s very impressive to watch them. I never imagined that thirteen year old girls could play they way they do. They’re about to give them the award for best volleyball team.

After the brief ceremony the Crown Point contingent erupted in applause. The Crown Point boys had lost in the preliminary round so many of the group elected to go outside to the picnic tables under the trees or to the soccer fields. Among them was Kate and Gail. Kate seemed to have taken a special interest in Gail and was staying with her.

Kate stayed beside Gail as they walked toward the soccer field. The others on the swimming team were in a group, behind them. They had avoided saying anything to Gail as long as Kate was with her.

“You have a dream don’t you?” Kate said. Gail started to say something, but Kate interrupted. “No, don’t tell me. I’ll find out when you get closer. Just let me be a part of helping you get there. Let me be your special Aunt.

“Mom thinks that I’m just rebelling because I got this haircut. She thinks that being a vegetarian is just a stupid fad. I have to buy it myself with my own money. And she doesn’t care about swimming or sports. Neither does Dad. They expect me to get good grades, go to college, find some guy to marry and have a couple of kids. If I want to have a job before I have kids that would be OK. I’m not supposed to even try to do anything that I want to do!” Gail told her in anguish. Suddenly all the frustration, disappointment and hurt overwhelmed her and with a gasp she began sobbing. Kate took her into her arms and held her tight. Finally the sobbing subsided, but Kate continued to hold her. She realized what her role was going to be for the next sev
eral years and she welcomed it wholeheartedly.

“I can’t be your Mom Gail, but I can be the next best thing. Whatever you need you can come to me. I believe in you. I’m going to be your biggest fan starting right now. I may not be able to be with you at every meet, but I’ll do my darndest. And I’ll always be there when you need someone to talk to. All you have to do is be the best darn swimmer this state has ever seen in the breaststroke,” Kate told her, her own voice quavering as her emotions threatened to break through.

Gail clung to her for a while longer. She looked up at Kate. “I’m going to do that Kate. I know I am. We’re all going to do it.”

“I know you all are. There isn’t any doubt at all,” Kate told her. “you and the others are already champions. Here, dry your eyes. Do you have some of that shiner that Christine uses?” She asked.

“What? No, why do you want that?” Gail asked.

“I want you to look your best of course, and a little shine will be just right,” Kate said with a small grin. “Let’s ask Christine if she brought some with her.”

“I wanted some, but it’s too expensive. I still owe you for the razor and stuff and I have to buy my vegetarian burgers and soy milk,” Gail told her.

“You don’t owe me anything. I’m your sponsor on the swimming team. If you need something you ask me first, OK,” Kate told her with mock sternness. She leaned down the few inches difference in height between them and kissed her on the cheek.

“Gail laughed. “OK. I’m almost out of that special moisturizer.”

“I’ll have some on Tuesday,” Kate responded. “And some shiner too. Let’s catch up with Christine.”

They walked briskly toward the soccer field where they found Christine and the others. Gail rushed up to Christine.

“Christine, did you bring your shiner with you – could I borrow some?”

“Sure. I put some in this little tube. It’s a little hard to get it out though,” Christine said as she handed it to Gail.

“Come on over here Gail and sit down while I do the honors,” Kate said.

“You’re doing a very good job of shaving Gail. It’s very nice and smooth. You haven’t been doing it very long have you,” Kate said trying to remember when she had first shaved Gail.

“It’s just three weeks, Kate. Some days I skip shaving. Christine said that she and Melissa started shaving every other day after a month and now they shave only twice a week,” Gail explained.

“Hum, I have this little soft cloth in my shoulder bag and I know I have a sponge in her somewhere. Here it is. Now I can give you a nice shine,” Kate told her as she began to spread the creamy makeup over her head. She allowed it to sit a moment before she tried polishing it with the soft cloth. “That looks better Gail, but let’s try to give it a little more shine,” Kate said as he applied more shiner with her sponge. This time she waited longer before she polished it with her cloth.

“That did it. Now you look great with you beautiful head smooth and nicely polished. It even feels nice and soft,” she said as she leaned down and kissed her on the top of her head.

Gail giggled. “Is it really shiny? Christine came to practice one time with hers really shiny. It was cool.”

“It’s quite shiny now. I don’t know how long it will last though. Let’s go show you off to the others,” Kate said. “Do you have a baseball cap. You don’t want to get sunburned.”

“I’ve got one here in my pocket. Christine said that Melissa had gotten sunburned once and she insisted that we keep a cap with us just in case,” Gail responded.

The went back to the area where everyone had congregated to wait for the start of the soccer match.

Gail walked over to Christine and gave her back the little container of shiny makeup. “Well, what do you think Christine?” she asked giggling.

“Wow, that looks great Gail. Turn around so I can get a better look. I like mine shiny like that, but it washes off when I swim. I don’t see any shadow either. Let me feel it. You must have shaved this morning. It feels nice and smooth. I think you look super good Gail,” Christine told her.

“I’m going to have Kate shave it all smooth as soon as I make the Forest team. I know that I can make it Christine,” Gail said, her determination clear in the intensity of her voice.

“You bet Gail. No doubt at all that you’ll make it,” Christine reassured her.

The rest of the team crowded around her offering positive comments and encouragement. They knew yesterday afternoon and today had been traumatic for her. They sympathized, but didn’t quite know how to help. They did their best to make her feel that they cared and wanted her to succeed. They had become her closest friends and their words helped.

“Come on guys let’s find some seats. The match is about to start,” Christine called out as she headed up the bleachers.

“They certainly showed their stuff yesterday. Will they do as well today?” Frank asked.

“I doubt that they know how good they are,” Michelle offered. “They’ve been getting better every week and they’ve worked harder in the last two weeks than ever, if that’s possible. Wasena has a good team though and the Bulldogs can’t afford a letdown.”

“All the amigas are in. I hope they’re not worn out from the volleyball game,” Leigh said.

They had cheered and stamped when the team took the field. Now they were all anxious. Everyone stood up as the game started. The Bulldogs would receive the kick. The kick was high over the heads of Melissa and her forwards. It was brought up field where it was passed to Cindi. Cindi took it over midfield with Melissa and Beth trailing her. She passed to Melissa who headed toward the goal, and passed to Beth. Melissa eluded her defender and received a pass from Beth who crossed in front of her drawing a defender with her. Melissa headed toward the vacated zone and made a pass to Cindi who took it, faked one direction and scored easily.

It was a preview of the rest of the game. The Crown Point contingent yelled at every good play, and groaned when a good play did not result in a score. At the end of the half it was three to one Bulldogs. At the end of the match it was five to two Bulldogs. The Dolphins had played well, but were not a match for the disciplined, tightly knit play and tireless hustle of the Bulldogs, especially their forwards.

At the final whistle the Bulldogs all raced onto the field to embrace each other to the loud applause and yells of the Crown Point spectators. They ended up in a large pile in the middle of the field while the Dolphins walked slowly back to their bench. Eventually the two teams lined up and shook hands with each other.

“They’re as good as you said Michelle. They are great team players, as well as terrific play makers on their own,” Frank said. “If they keep it up they’ll be outstanding in a couple of years.”

“I agree,” Hal said. “I watched the Women’s soccer team in the last Olympics and some of the professional matches since then. They do a lot of things just the way I’ve seen the good teams do it. Of course they’re not as fast or as big, but they’re impressive.”

“Come on down so we can congratulate them. I wish Hallie was here,” Heather said. Audra did a terrific job. Steffie you be sure to tell Hallie how great she did.”

“Don’t worry,” I’ll let her know. I played a little soccer myself in college you know,” Steffie told her.

By the time they had gotten to the edge of the field the kids were coming over to see them. There were hugs all around and congratulations and high fives from the swim team.

“We have to go right now,” Christine said as she turned to hustle toward the locker room. “Come on, let’s go guys,” she called as she left. Several stragglers ended up trotting to catch up to the quick stepping Christine who had Tommy by her side.

“She’s pretty much no nonsense isn’t she Paula,” Doris said.

“It’s a side of her I don’t see very often. Usually she is pretty laid
back. Although I must say, she gets up and gets ready to go every morning promptly and no fooling around. I guess she’s on a mission so to speak and the others seem to have taken it up with her.” Paula responded.

“Janet says that she never tells them what to do. She will offer a suggestion if asked. So I think the time had gotten away from them in the excitement of the soccer match. She is probably a little anxious and was just reminding them that they were behind schedule,” Iris said. “Maybe we should head back to the picnic tables and have lunch. The rest of the kids will probably show up soon enough.”

Arriving at the picnic area they occupied four of the tables when Abby and Dan along with their son Timmy joined them. Ginny would stay for lunch also as would Brian. The swimming and soccer Mom’s all came prepared this time. They laid out their veggie and tuna salad sandwiches, fruit, yogurt and cookies while their husbands found lemonade and iced tea in the machines inside.

“Paula, I almost didn’t recognize you with that buzz cut. I thought your other style looked wonderful, but your buzz cut looks even better. When did you get it done,” Abby asked.

“It was Friday. Kate did it. Have you seen her new buzz cut?” Paula asked.

“She got hers buzzed too!” Abby was astounded.

“She said she was feeling so close to the girls that she wanted to join the buzzed set. I was the last of the Moms to get buzzed,” Paula said.

Abby looked around as the other women magically retrieved lunches from various shoulder bags, backpacks and hand bags, then examined what Paula had brought. “Paula, that looks good. Do all of you come prepared like that?” she asked in surprise.

Paula laughed. “The kids have been brain-washing us. We aren’t allowed to buy any of those packaged sandwiches in the vending machines. I’m sure we’re eating healthier than we’ve ever eaten in out lives. Funny thing is, I’ve actually started to like it and I don’t miss the other stuff at all,” Paula responded.

“Tess never mentioned anything like that to me. Who told them to do that?” Abby asked.

Heather was sitting across from them and overheard the conversation. “I’m quite sure it was their own idea. My two girls have been flirting with being vegetarians for a while. When Penny found out that Melissa didn’t eat any meat, she decided she was going to be a vegetarian. Then Ginny decided. Her boyfriend is a vegetarian. Chris and I aren’t, but we eat a lot less meat than we used to.”

“Actually Tommy, Christine’s boyfriend, had some influence even if it was indirect. He was the one who helped Christine get started doing the workouts that allowed her to improve so fast. He’s a vegetarian and is very strict about his diet. I think they teach that a little in some tae kwon do classes. After the others saw what Christine was doing they began working out with Christine and they just seemed to pick up on the idea I think,” Sammie said.

“The most important thing seems to be how fiercely loyal they are to each other and how intensely they relate. They’re all different, but they still act like they’re twin sisters. That’s why they all want their heads shaved, workout together, and want to be vegetarians. Ellen insisted on it. I talked to a dietitian before I agreed, and she said that what Ellen had told me was correct and that she would be just fine. She even helps me cook now, which is a big surprise. Speaking of relating, look at the way our husbands are relating. They’ve gotten into it in a big way. Of course it didn’t start until we women came together. I guess the soccer Moms had already gotten involved.” Doris offered her thoughts which had been rapidly taking shape in her mind.

“I suppose I’ll just have to have one of those awful machine sandwiches. Tess was very disappointed last night. She couldn’t believe that Christine and Janet had beaten her so badly. She was actually shocked that Bridget had tied her for third place. She had worked hard for the past two weeks and had improved her times she told me,” Abby said.

“You wouldn’t believe what those girls do in a week, Abby. Six hours working out in the gym and fifteen hours in the pool. They’re on a mission,” Iris said.

I guess they are. No wonder they’ve improved so much. Tess is worried that she may not make the Forrest team,” Abby said.

“She’ll make it. And if she joins the others in their program she’ll do a lot better. Christine said that Tess has more potential than any of them. She just has to get it going,” Paula said.

“I hope so. If she doesn’t make it, I’m sure she won’t want to keep her head shaved and I won’t have a reason to shave mine either,” Abby said with a little laugh.

Their quick lunches finished, they cleaned up and headed for the pool. They arrived just at one PM. Some members of the volleyball team had already arrived. A few minutes later the soccer team began to stream in, many with a bag containing their lunch which they had not had time to eat.

The lane assignments were already posted on the board. The eight swimmers came in at irregular intervals. Christine, Janet and Bridget came in together and went over to their coach. A few minutes they hugged and Janet gave Bridget’s short buzz a quick rub. They went through a complex ceremony of hand slaps and high fives, then stepped to their lanes where they stretched and shook their shoulders to keep loose.

The lanes and swimmers were announced and they stepped forward as their names were called. Christine in lane two, Janet in lane three and Bridget in lane five. Tess was in lane four. The spectators had become quiet.

The gun sounded and sounded again. There had been a false start by the Cloverdale swimmer. They all climbed out of the water shook themselves and got ready for a second attempt.

The gun sounded and it was a fair start. When Christine and Janet emerged they were neck and neck with a small lead over Tess and Bridget. Christine and Janet extended their lead as they approached the wall and made their first turn. They emerged with Christine leading Janet by a head and leading Tess by half a meter. Tess was just ahead of Bridget at the turn, but they emerged even again. Christine and Janet steadily increased their lead going into the second turn. When they emerged Christine had stretched her lead over Janet to half a meter. The two bald girls battled to the third turn and once again Christine extended her lead and surged to the wall where she touched a little more than a quarter of a second ahead of Janet who was a half second ahead of Bridget. At the third turn Bridget had finally pulled ahead of Tess and powered through the last twelve meters to touch ahead of Tess by a head.

Christine and Janet pumped their fists exchanged high fives and had a quick hug before swimming over to congratulate Bridget, giving her a high five and a hug. All three turned and surrounded Tess who was hanging onto the lane divider disconsolately. Eventually Christine hugged her and both Janet and Bridget gave her an arm around the shoulder.

The Crown Point supporters had kept up a continuous roar during the race. As the times were announced they roared even louder when they saw that all three girls had personal best times by substantial margins. Hal, their unofficial keeper of the records, announced that Christine, who had easily broken sixty seconds, had just qualified for the Eastern Super Sectional Summer meet. Janet had qualified for the Spring meet and was only a few hundredths of a second away from qualifying for the summer meet.

The next race was the boys hundred meet freestyle and Tommy would be swimming as the number two swimmer from Crown Point.

“Isn’t Tommy Christine’s boyfriend?” Hal asked. “Well, he has a chance of getting third place if he has improved half as much as Christine.”

“I really don’t know Hal. They don’t say much to me about how they’re improving. We could ask Melissa though,” Paula answered.

“Hey Melissa, w
e need your help,” Hal called to her.

“Has Christine said anything about how Tommy is doing with his swimming?” Paula asked.

“She told me he has been improving a lot over the last two weeks,” Melissa answered.

“Why am I not surprised?” Hal laughed.

The lane assignments had been posted and Tommy would be in lane six.

The boys emerged to stand behind their lanes. As the starter began his sequence they got into their starting positions. The gun sounded and they were off. The two Wasena boys took an immediate lead with Tommy almost even with the swimmer from Cloverdale. They stayed together through the second turn, then Tommy pulled ahead slightly. He lost that advantage in the third turn, but pulled ahead in the last twelve meters to take third place. He too had a personal best. After her race Christine had pulled on a pair of shorts and a tee shirt over her swim suit and raced around to the side of the pool where she could cheer for him. When the times flashed on the screen, she yelled and pumped her fist. Tommy pumped his fist and gave her a big smile and a thumbs up sign.

There was little drama in the next race, the butterfly. Janet and Gail were well ahead of the other swimmers. Sharon had a chance of being third. Janet and Gail battled each other for the early lead, but Janet prevailed and won and also beat the qualifying time for the Spring meet by a tenth of a second. Gail had missed the qualifying time by less than a tenth of a second. Once again Sharon had finished a respectable fourth.

In the breaststroke Gail, Jessie and Ellen could possibly take the first three spots. Gail had the most difficult challenge. She had to swim two races within half an hour. At the gun Jessie took a slight lead, but Gail battled her and gained the lead at the first turn. Ellen was a head behind, but holding her own. By the third turn, Gail had a lead of half a meter. Ellen was doggedly pursuing them leading the fourth swimmer by half a meter. They touched one, two and three to the yelling and clapping of their supporters. Gail had just barely qualified for the Spring Meet. They climbed out of the pool triumphantly to exchange high fives and wave to their supporters.

The only question anyone had about the backstroke was by how much Christine would improve on the qualifying times. Hal had pointed out that at the Wasena meet two weeks earlier, she had an unofficial time that would have qualified her for the Spring Meet. Jessie would be at a slight disadvantage because she had competed in the previous race a half hour earlier.

When the race was over Christine had won by a significant margin over Jessie, easily met the qualifying time for the Summer Regional meet and improved on her personal best in the hundred meter backstroke by half a second. Jessie met the qualifying time for the Spring meet, and Dana came in a strong fourth. Tess had a good showing, coming in third. She had bettered her previous best as well.

Christine hustled back to the locker room to get ready for the two hundred meter freestyle relay.

“They seem to get better faster than I could have imagined,” Abby said.

“They haven’t been swimming long, especially as a team, and I’m sure they’ve never been around anyone with the sheer drive and determination that Christine has. It has rubbed off on them,” Iris said. “They’re just beginning to show their potential. They’ll keep improving, but they’ll find it harder and harder to make progress from now on I expect.”

The teams emerged from the locker room. It was immediately apparent who was who. The Bulldogs team consisted of four nearly bald girls. Only Bridget had any hair at all on all of her head and what pale blond hair she had was so short it was almost invisible, especially when she was wet. The little fringe of bangs that Janet and Ellen had was all that was actually noticeable. The stood near their coach holding hands in a circle. The score board showed Christine leading off followed by Bridget then Ellen and anchored by Janet. They showed no sign of nerves. When the race started Christine made her best launch of the meet, emerging just short of fifteen meters well ahead of the second place swimmer from Cloverdale. She continued to lengthen her lead as she made her turn and emerged more than fourteen meters out where she surged ahead toward the wall. As she touched Bridget launched over her as Christine pulled herself forward to get out of the way. Janet offered her a hand to boost her out of the pool. Bridget continued to lengthen the lead over the second place team. She powered her way home. As she touched Ellen launched over her and emerged a meter and a half ahead, while Christine helped Bridget out of the pool. She too lengthened the lead. As she raced for home she had added almost a half meter to the lead. She touched and Janet took off over her for the final leg. She swam furiously, made a fast turn and continued her all out assault on winning the race even though the race had been decided before Bridget had completed her leg. Janet had lengthened the lead to more than two meters when she touched. The other three swimmers had been screaming their heads off as she raced toward home. When she touched they all jumped into the water to congratulate her.

When they had calmed down enough to examine the scoreboard they looked at their splits. Christine had equaled her winning time in the fifty free, Bridget was only a tiny margin behind, Ellen had a personal best and Janet had improved on her time in the fifty meter free by almost a tenth of a second. They had easily qualified for the Spring Meet four by fifty meter freestyle relay.

The other four swimmer emerged from the locker room to congratulate them. Finally the awards were given out to the three teams.

Eventually the swimmers showered and changed emerging to flash bulbs and requests by their families for group and individual pictures.

Rhonda had told the soccer and swimming Moms and Dads that they had a room reserved at the Herb Garden. Abby had been invited along with Tess. Brian would be coming as well. When Tess had emerged Brian had been the first to greet her. He gave her a hug. Kate had been invited also.

A reporter and photographer made an immediate dash for the Bulldogs swimmers to interview them and get some pictures. The soccer and volleyball teams had already been photographed and interviewed. The two photographers present had taken numerous pictures during the various games throughout the meet. The fact that the swimming events had been elevated to a meet where the times would be certified had gotten the attention of the local papers. The Bulldogs’ coach was being interviewed along with the Forest High coach and the swimming coach for State University who was present also. There was at least one representative of a summer advanced swimming training camp, one that worked with potential Olympic level swimmers. The Bulldogs swimmers were being noticed.


The excitement finally wound down, reporters and photographers left and the amigas and the swim team’s eight members stood about talking animatedly about what they would do next. The tryouts were on the minds of the swim team and the amigas were discussing how they could continue with their growing interest in continuing soccer and volleyball at a serious level.

“I just had an idea guys. Tess is really worried that she might not be able to make the Forest team. She just needs to get into a program like ours. I’m going to keep working out and practicing the next too weeks. If the rest of you do the same, then maybe Cathy will work with us too. She seemed interested in doing something like that and we can ask Tess if she wants to join us,” Christine offered.

“You said she could be a great swimmer if she worked at it,” Jessie said. “Could she beat out any of us?”

“We’re going to be doing the longer races like two hundred and four hundred meters. No one is going to beat us when we start swimming those.
Tess is a sprinter, she likes the short races. I don’t mind her swimming the fifty and hundred meter races,” Christine answered.

“I think you’re right. When we do two hundred meter endurance practices we all have really good times. I think I’d be better in the longer races than in the fifty or even the hundred,” Jessie said. “I can’t beat either you or Gail in those races. Maybe I’ll concentrate on the four hundred. I think we should invite her. I like her and we want to have the best team we can possibly have.”

“Sounds good to me,” Gail agreed.

“I’m in,” Janet said.

“I like her too,” Bridget said. “Everyone ought to have a chance of being able to do their best.”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Ellen chimed in.

“Sure,” Dana said.

“OK,” from Sharon.

“I’ll go talk to her,” Christine said. “Someone needs to talk to Cathy before she leaves. Anybody want to come with me?”

“I’ll go talk to Cathy,” Jessie volunteered.

“I’ll come with you,” Janet said.

“OK, I’ll go with Christine.” Gail spoke up.

Five minutes later the arrangement had been made.

“You guys are something else,” Tess said in surprise. “You don’t have to do this for me.”

“Don’t worry Tess, we’re going to beat you every chance we get, so you better work your butt off,” Gail told her laughing.

“You’ve already done that, Gail,” Tess said. “I sure hope I’m able to return the favor sometime and make a contribution.”

While they were talking Kate arrived. “Hi kids. We’re going to the Herb Garden for dinner. Your Mom and Dad are coming Tess, so I guess you’ll be going especially if you want to hang out with Brian. And I’m inviting Gail as my guest.”

“I don’t know if I should Kate. Mom expects me to come home after the meet is over,” Gail said.

“Don’t worry. Just call your Mom and tell her that you’ve been invited by the parents of all the kids. If she wants to talk to anyone they’re all here. Either Rhonda or I will take you home afterwards,” Kate reassured her. “Here’s my cell phone. Iris is right over there. She’ll talk to your Mom if needed.”

After a brief conversation with her Mom, Gail turned the phone over to Iris.

“Hi, Patty, it’s Iris. We’re just treating all the kids with a little party at the Herb Garden. They did great, all of them especially Gail. We would like for her to be there too. Rhonda will bring her home afterwards. It won’t be later than nine PM.”

“She’s a great kid Patty. She’s working hard and she’s not going to do anything that would jeopardize her chances of being a champion swimmer. And that’s her goal. It’s a good goal. She doesn’t do anything like most teenagers do does she? She gets good grades, doesn’t run around with the wrong crowd or anything else that I’m aware of.”

“OK, we’ll be sure she’s back by nine. Thanks Patty.”

Iris turned to Gail. “It’s OK Gail. You can go. Kate said she’s sponsoring you so you should pay attention to her,” Iris said with a smile.

“Come on Gail, I’ll take you to the Herb Garden. We can talk a little while we go,” Kate told her. “I hear that you have a boyfriend too. What’s he like?”

“His name is Jeremy. He a lot like Tommy. I mean he’s not as smart as Tommy and he not a super athlete like Tommy, but he’s like Tommy in the way he talks and acts. He’s pretty quiet and he doesn’t do dumb things. He wants to go to college. He likes me and thinks it’s cool that I’m trying to be a really good swimmer. He thought my haircut was neat. He was going to come today except that his parents were going on a vacation trip starting yesterday,” Gail told her.

“He sounds like just the kind of boyfriend a hard working swimmer needs,” Kate told her.

It was about five thirty when they met with several others walking toward the entrance to the Herb Garden. Tess and Brian were walking hand in hand behind Jan, Leigh, Dan and Ray who had struck up friendships.

Christine was walking beside Tommy a little ahead of Paula who was with Heather, Chris, Sammie, Tim, Iris and Andy. Most of the rest had already gone in and found the reserved room. Their greeter had been startled when she saw so many girls with their heads shaved and women with buzz cuts. She finally got it figured out when Ginny entered with her boyfriend Simon and started talking to Jill. They were all present except for Sharon and Dana. Their parents had been invited but declined.

There was a lot of chatter as Jill accompanied by two other servers hustled to get their drink orders. After some consultation, Hal, Dan, Tim and Chris agree to order four bottles of a Chardonnay that Chris recommended. Louis, James and Ray said to add two more bottles and they would split the cost with the others. Not to be outdone Andy and Frank said to count them in on paying for the wine.

Jill had stopped at Paula’s chair. “Wow Paula, I almost didn’t recognize you. That is a wonderful buzz cut. You look great. What’s the occasion?”

“The kids just finished competing in their final meet of the year for the summer leagues. They did terrifically well. So we decided to have ourselves a treat to celebrate their accomplishments. You met Iris and Sammie at the last BGMC meeting, but they’ve gotten short haircuts since then.” She pointed out the two women in question. “And that gorgeous blond woman with the short buzz is Rhonda. She had waist length hair ten days ago. She’s the Mom of Bridget, another terrific swimmer. And Doris – she’s the Mother of Ellen, who’s on the team also and is doing extremely well – got a buzz cut at the same time as the other three. I suspect we’ll all be seeing a lot more of each other over the next few years, and I expect there will be quite a few more baldies showing up too,” Paula explained.

The younger folks order iced tea or lemonade. Finally every one had a glass.

Chris stood up and said “I want to offer a toast.”

No one except those in his immediate vicinity heard him. There followed a considerable tinkling of spoons on glasses and a few vigorous spoon on the table rat-a-tats before he received their full attention.

“I want to offer a toast. We have among us the finest group of young athletes, scholars and exceptional adult citizens in the entire state. They have just shown us the meaning of dedication and determination. And they have equally shown us what it means to be gracious and generous in victory. We adults usually consider it our role to explain why it takes hard work to succeed and why it is important to act in ways that fulfill our goals without diminishing others, but our young athletes have taught us the meaning of those terms that go beyond our meager knowledge and experience. So here’s to out wonderful group of soccer players, volleyball players, and swimmers, winners not only of the events in which they participated, but also of the respect and admiration of their opponents, friends and families.”

“Hear, Hear!!”

The room burst into yells of approval and applause and twelve kids grinned and looked faintly embarrassed at Chris’ flowery oration, which seemed to be about stuff they had never though about. Tommy understood it though, and he knew how well it applied. He stood up and turned toward Christine and applauded.

Several more toasts followed as they found something to say that made the point about how proud they were of all the kids.

Jill and the other servers reappeared and took orders while thr group sipped their wine, iced tea and lemonade. Sammie was sitting next to Paula.

“Paula, when I got my hair cut I noticed that Kate had that little nose stud. Now I see that you have one, and I’m sure I saw one on Heather and a couple other women as well. So, I’ve gotten curious. Just how many of you soccer Moms have them? They do look rather nice with your buzz cuts,” Sammie said.

“I’ve been expecting for someone’s curiosity to finally get the better of them,” Paula laughed. “I guess I’ll just have to tell you all about it. Ginny was the first to get
one. That was more than two months ago. About a month ago Kate got hers. She kept admiring Ginny’s so much she couldn’t resist. Leigh, Michelle and I saw hers and liked the way it looked. A week and a half ago Leigh called me to see if I would like to get one. She and I had talked about it briefly earlier. When she called I was eager to do it. So we call Heather, Michelle and Hallie and asked them to come along and at least get their ears pierced again. We were all going to let our girls get their ears pierced again and Hallie said that Audra could get hers done again. Steffie heard about it from Hallie and wanted to be in on the fun. The long and short of it was that we all went together to Rings and Things. At first it was just going to be Heather, Leigh, Steffie and me, but something happened and first Hallie and then Michelle got one. So now we all have one. It was just something we liked and thought it looked nice and was a little daring. Doing it together made us feel even closer than before.”

“Sort of how the four of us ended up getting our buzz cuts. I think Abby noticed them too,” Sammie said. “I’m feeling a little adventurous myself now that I have this brush cut. It’s as though a lot of my inhibitions fell on the floor along with most of my hair,” she laughed.

Doris had been listening in rapt attention to this narration. “That’s right Sammie. I’ve had the same feeling.”

“It does have that effect I think.” Paula said. “Even the kids feel it I’m sure.”

Their meals began arriving and they enjoyed the camaraderie of being together and sharing the exuberance they felt about the days events and reliving the moments of triumph. The kids, the objects of all this excitement and good feelings, talked about everything except the days events. At the end, when almost everyone had finished eating, there was another round of toasts, but this time centering on their togetherness and resolve to strengthen their bonds of friendship in support of the kids.

Kate had gone over to speak to Sammie. When she came back she turned to Gail. “I think it time to go Gail. I don’t want you to be late getting home.”

“OK, I’ll tell the guys I’m leaving,” Gail said.

A moment later she returned. “Thanks for inviting me Mrs. Haskell, and Mrs. Jenner and everybody. I had a great time.”

“It wouldn’t have been right without you Gail,” Paula said as she stood up and reached out to give Gail a hug. Sammie said nothing, just hugged her in turn. Doris held her for a moment then said “Don’t let anything stop you from reaching your goals Gail.” Iris had quietly moved around the table and stood a step behind Gail. When Gail turned Iris held out her arms. Gail stepped forward to be embraced. “You’re going to be great Gail. You’ve got all the right stuff.” Rhonda was at the door and took Gail by the shoulders and looked at her. “I’ve always wanted to look into the face of a real champion Gail. Now I can say that I have. I hear that you’ll soon be joining the ranks of the beautiful bald babes. You’ll be one of the best ever. I look forward to the time when Bridget is able to join you.” She hugged her and caressed her head briefly. “Perfect head for a great swimmer.”

“Thanks Mrs. King. I’m not going to give up, and Bridget is going to be a great bald swimmer too, Gail answered.

She and Kate exited the room to a quick round of applause. Gail swiped at her eye again.

The evening had begun to wind down.

Abby came over to talk to Paula before she left. “Paula do you know what Christine did?” she asked

“Well, no I guess I don’t,” Paula answered perplexed.

“She got her team to invite Tess to workout and practice with them. And they’ve gotten their assistant coach to stay on for the next two weeks while they continue to practice for the tryouts for the Forest team. That’s incredibly generous,” Abby said.

“That sounds like Christine all right. That’s just the way she is. Besides she likes Tess and wants to see her succeed,” Paula explained.

“It’s no wonder the other girls follow her,” Abby said. “Tess is quite excited. I’ll be bringing her to Crown Point every morning for the next couple of weeks. I think she’s going to receive quite an education in hard work and determination if what the other women say is only half right. Well we have to go. This has been a really fun evening. Oh, by the way, have you decided when you’re going to get shaved. I think I’ll wait until after the tryouts. I’d love to have you go with me, Paula.”

“That sounds like a plan Abby. It might have to wait until Friday evening though,” Paula said.

“I think that would be OK with me. I’ll call you when it gets a little closer,” Abby said.

“That will be fine Abby. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye,” Paula responded.

They exited the Herb Garden and began making their separate ways home. It had been an exhilarating and exhausting, but thoroughly satisfying day for the adults certainly, but even more so for the teenagers who had worked so hard to achieve their successes.

To be continued in Part 24

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