Chapter 21: The Birthday Girl

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I was sound asleep in our bed, but I woke up and I had to pee.  Rolling over to check the time, I wondered if it was worth it to get up.  11:38 AM.  The door creaked open and Sodapop’s hand gently touched my shoulder.  I looked up at him.

“Hey baby,” he whispered softly, “Happy birthday.”  I smiled. “I’ve got a surprise for you,” he said implying that I get up, “I tried to let you sleep for a while.”

He pulled me up from the bed and tugged me out the door into the living room.  Nobody was there on the Saturday morning.  Sodapop covered my eyes with his hands and led me outside to the front yard.  We walked down a couple steps until I felt my warm bare feet touch the cold grass.  He lifted up his hands unveiling his surprise. 

I gasped, “Sodapop you shouldn’t have!” I was looking directly at a grey souped up car.  Running over to the car, I opened the passenger door and slid into the ruby red seats and over to the steering wheel.  I gripped the wheel imagining what it would be like driving my own car.  “Sodapop Curtis!  Why’d you do this?” I looked out at him from inside the car. 

His hands were shoved in his pockets and he shrugged.  “I knew how much you wanted your own car, so I looked around and Steve and I’ve worked on it.  I hope you like it.”

I got out of the car gave him a big kiss, “I love it.  Now I can say I have the best boyfriend ever.” 

* * *

Evie and I were walking down Main Street.  Evie was trying to find me something ‘appealing’ for tonight, more ‘girly’.  I hated getting dressed up so I was against the idea.  We sauntered into a shop, a Lingerie store.  Guess who picked it?  

“Ooh, Sodapop would love this,” she showed me a skimpy piece of fabric. 

“No, absolutely not.” I stated. 

“C’mon,” Evie stamped her foot, “Imagine, Soda laying eyes on you in this.  Looking you up and wanting you.  He comes closer and…”

“You’re disgusting!” I interrupted.  “What is wrong with you?”

“Oh like you’ve never thought about that.” She sighed then raised her eyebrow, “Or has it already happened?" 

“Are you on drugs?” I asked putting my hand on her shoulder. 

“Have you?!” she demanded.

“I’m leaving.” I shouted out the door.

Evie slyly paid for the lingerie and running out after me trying to get an answer from me.

* * *

The whole gang and a couple ladies crowded around a tiny table at Buck’s passing around present after present, beer after beer, cigarette after cigarette. 

“You guys really don’t have to do all this.” I announced.

“Hey, you’re only seventeen once.  Might as well do it right!” Two-Bit countered slamming his bottle down on the table. 

I got a new switchblade from Two-Bit, a new black leather jacket from Dally, a car from Sodapop, a new Elvis Presley record from Darry, To Kill a Mockingbird book from of course Ponyboy, and Steve got me some new cowboy boots.  They really didn’t have to get me anything, but I know that none of them pay for any of the presents.  They do what greasers do best, steal.  I’m real proud to call them my friends.

“So how does it feel being seventeen?”  Steve asked.

“Feels about the same.” I answered.

“Well I’d like to say couple words,” Two-Bit declared as he stumbled getting up, “Colly,” he hiccupped, “You are one of my best friends and you’re turning out pretty good.  Who knows, you might just go off to college and you’re the best looking greaser girl out there, no offense Sodapop.” He staggered back into his seat, drunk as hell.

Darry got up next, “If I wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have found the love of my life,” he pulled Sally under his arm and kissed her.  “Just know that if you get in trouble or need somewhere to call home, even if you’re miles away from here, you’re always welcome at the Curtis residence.”

I raised my beer to him, tipping my head.  Steve got up next.  “Well, I’m a man of few words, so I’ll make this quick.  I’ve never seen my best buddy this happy ever since we were ten.  You’re something special and I’m happy you’re in our lives.”  Soda looked over at me and smiled acknowledging the truth.

“I got a couple things to say too,” Dally got up, “Colly, you’re my little sister and I’ve been looking out for you for the past four years.  You are a hell of a fighter and I’m impressed.”  It takes a lot for something to impress Dallas,  “I care a lot about you and you can come to make for anything.  You get jailed, I’ll probably be in the next cell over.”  Everybody let out a chuckle, “You can count on me babe, whenever you got a problem, give ol’ Dal a shout.”

Around two in the morning, Buck kicked us all out.  The gang scattered out going their separate ways; Two-Bit and Steve walked one way, Dally and Darry went another, Ponyboy and Johnny wandered off, leaving Sodapop and I to walk back together. 

“How’d you like your birthday?” He asked.  We were walking down the back roads toward the Curtis house.  I was having a hard time walking straight after hours in a bar.

“It was great, you guys didn’t have to get me all those things.  I’d be happy with nothing.”  I replied. 

“I know I know, but you like your car right?”  Soda questioned.

“Of course I do! It was the best one.” I reassured. 

“Good, I got one more present, but it’s going to have to wait until tomorrow.” He said.

“Why tomorrow?”

He opened the back door for me, “Because you’ve had enough surprises for the night and you’re not completely with it right now.”

I stumbled into the wall, “I’m completely with it!” I shouted.

“Shh, don’t wake Darry or Pony.” He said as he tried to shush me.

“Why should I keep quiet? I’m such a rebel.”

“You know why.” He winked. 

I winked back.  I was somewhat with it, enough to understand what he meant.  “My feet hurt.” I whined.

We sat on the couch in silence while Sodapop rubbed my feet.  The clock ticked and we went from the couch to the bed.  My feet still hurt.  

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