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Chapter 22


"Yes, I washed my hands." (For ten solid minutes. Still purple.)

"I'm glad to… Good God, Hunter, your hair!"

Mom and I smiled at each other across the table as this morning's terrifying graph slipped from Dad's fingers.

"Yeah, I decided to go for a different look."

He took a breath. "Well, you managed that, all right."

"And he was wearing a tuxedo and bow tie last night," Mom said, then added in a stage whisper, "It's the new girl."

Dad's mouth closed, and he nodded with the insufferable expression of a parent who thinks he knows everything. Which I was glad he didn't.

"I thought you just met her two days ago."

"I did?" I asked. But he was right: I had known Jen less than forty-eight hours. A sobering thought.

"She's an impact player," I admitted.

"Are your hands purple?" Dad asked as I poured coffee.

"Retro-punk thing. Plus the dye kills bacteria."

"You kids," Mom said. "So, what did you two do last night? You never told me."

"We went to a launch party for this magazine, then we, um, went and watched videos at Tina's house."

"Oh, what did you see?"

"'Computer Warrior Polygon. " I sipped my first coffee of the day.

"Is Kevin Bacon in that?"

"Yes, Mom, Kevin Bacon is in that. Oh, wait, no, he isn't. It's animated and Japanese." I named the franchise.

My father spoke up, disconcertingly looking at my bleached hair instead of my face. "Aren't those the cartoons that cause epilepsy?"

I fought my way through this coffee-spitter. "How did you know about that? Is epilepsy contagious now?"

"Well, in a way it is. Most of the reactions in that case were sociogenic."

Okay, if there's anything sadder than your dad using the word sociogenic at the breakfast table, it's knowing exactly what he means.

* * * | So Yesterday | * * *