The Upside of Unrequited Page 15


“That’s not art,” I mutter, burying my face in the throw pillow.

“She did all this Pinterest shit for our brother’s first birthday party last month,” Cassie says. “It was so cute. And she does all the decorations for our birthday parties. She did the centerpieces for our b’not mitzvah.”

“Is that like a bat mitzvah?” Mina asks.

“Yeah, like a double bat mitzvah. Or, in our case, a barf mitzvah.”

Mina laughs. “What?”

“Ooh. I’d like to hear this,” Will says.

Cassie’s eyes flick to me, and she looks suddenly sheepish. Like it just occurred to her that sharing the details of my vomitous past might not help the cause. Something tells me Will won’t consider it a turn-on.

But it’s too late. He’s staring up at her, rapt.

“Molly, do you want to tell it?”

“I’m not telling it.” I hug my knees.

Cassie shrugs. “Okay, so we’re up at the bima, and the rabbi’s holding the Torah. And Molly and I are supposed to undress it.”

“Whoa,” Will says, and he and Max smile at each other.


“That’s what they call it? Undressing the Torah?”

“Oh my God, guys, please stop.” Mina shakes her head. “You’re being offensive.”

“I’m just asking!”

“Anyway,” Cassie says, “the rabbi starts taking off the breastplate and the top thingies, and Molly’s just standing there, looking, like, dead white. Like what’s his name. The vampire.”

“Edward Cullen,” I say.

“Yes. Edward Cullen. And I’m whispering, like, ‘Molly, we’re supposed to be undressing the Torah.’ And she’s like, ‘I don’t feel good.’”

“Oh no,” Mina says, hand over her heart.

“But I’m like okay, well, this is literally our bat mitzvah, so you’re gonna have to suck it up. And then I hand her the pointer . . .”

I remember this perfectly. The way the tip of the yad looked like a hand, with a tiny little metallic pointer finger. I used to think the yad was adorable. But when Cassie extended it toward me in that moment, it felt like an accusation. YOU, MOLLY, YOU. I remember the sudden sensation of bile burning the back of my throat, the tidal wave in my stomach.

“And she’s like—” Cassie clutches her stomach, making gagging noises. “And she jets out of there. She runs down the stairs and out the side door, and everyone’s like oh holy shit. It’s totally silent. And then you could just hear these insane puking sounds going on for like twenty minutes.”

“Okay, it was not twenty minutes.”

Seriously. This. This is how Cassie’s going to convince Will to make out with me.

“It was twenty minutes. And at first, we’re all like, oh shit, she barfed in the lobby of the synagogue. Because, you know, we can hear it.”

“Oh God,” Mina says.

“But then . . .” Cassie raises a finger. “I remember.” She taps her collarbone. “We’re wearing microphones.”

“No. Oh, Molly.” Mina looks at me. “Oh my God. That is just. I’m sorry, but, can I hug you?”

I nod, and she actually slides down from her perch on the love seat. She actually hugs me. “That sucks,” she says. “I’m so sorry.”

“And then I chanted my entire Torah portion without missing a single syllable,” Cassie announces smugly.

“Yeah, well.” I wrinkle my nose at her.

“You know what I love about Jewish people?” Max says. He looks so different when he smiles. His face lights up entirely.

Mina side-eyes him. “What?”

“I love that you have your bar mitzvah in front of your parents and grandparents and everyone, and like, that’s the Jewish version of ‘becoming a woman.’” He leans forward, grinning. “But in my religion—”

“You are not religious,” Mina says.

“In my religion,” he repeats emphatically, “you become a woman by . . .” He forms an O with his left hand and pokes through it with his right pointer finger, again and again and again.

“Jesus Christ, Max. Stop it. I’m serious.” Mina stands up.

“Yeah, that’s pretty fucking problematic,” Cassie says calmly.

“What?” Max looks wounded. “How is that problematic? The Jewish thing?”

“Um, let’s start with the implication that becoming a woman has anything to do with whether or not you’ve had sex.”

I have to admit, my sister is a badass. She just doesn’t get intimidated by people. I don’t know how to be like that.

“Ohhh, geez. Okay. I was kidding.” Max sighs.

“And you know what? I’m pretty much done with this construct of ‘virginity.’” Cassie does air quotes. “Which I’m sure you think applies to hetero, vaginal sex.”

“You think a person can lose their virginity from oral sex?”

“Yes,” Cassie says.

“Max, seriously.” Mina glares down at him.

“Okay, but don’t you think it depends on the couple?” Will chimes in. “It’s like a case-by-case thing. Like, if oral is the endgame for a particular couple, then yeah. But if it’s like a hetero guy and girl, I think there would have to be penetration.”

“But why?” Cassie leans forward. “Why would that be considered more intimate than oral? Like, why do you get to decide what makes something intimate?”

I lean back against the cushions and tuck my feet up under my thighs. It’s even worse than the bikini wax conversation. I feel so out of my league. I don’t know. This is not the kind of sex talk I’m used to having. I’m not saying the concepts are new to me. I mean, Patty’s a midwife, and she can get very specific about these things. But that’s strictly informational mom stuff. And when Abby talks about sex, it’s about the feelings, not the orifices. But I feel like we’re jumping straight into orifices.

Will nudges me. “What do you think?”

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