“I don’t get it? Why do I need to be blonder?” my sister Sherona whined for like the millionth time. She continued on about the unfair stereotyping of blonds and complained about being compared to Barbie.
“Just because I have blond hair and boobs, doesn’t mean I am like some vapid plastic icon.”
“Don’t forget that you like pink, too,” Virginia piped in, which set Sherona off again. Virginia and Rhonda exchanged smirks at their sister’s ranting. Sherona wanted to be known as the smart one, but no one ever printed that she was a master at chess and liked to invent things in her spare time.
“Well at least you’re known as the pretty one,” Rhonda said once Sherona ran out of steam. “They see me as some sort of fat Goth freak. Look at this outfit. I like orange. I said that in the interview. Orange. Who the hell thought that that translated into tiger print?”
“At least it’s faux,” Virginia said. “You went on an on about the environment last time the Sim Beat people were here. If they thought you were wearing real tiger skin, they’d have a field day.”
“Exactly!” Rhonda agreed. “I’m an environmentalist. What sort of environmentalist lets them dress her up in animal print even if it is fake!”
Virginia just shrugged and fluffed her mop of unruly curls. “I like my new outfits and my new look.”
Both Sherona and Rhonda glared at her. Virginia hadn’t had to change much of her look now that we were famous. She was still known as the tom-boy and could pretty much dress the way she liked. No one would accuse her of being pretty, and she was just too colorful to be considered Goth. But she was interesting, and interesting is the way they wanted her to stay.
As for me and Danny, well, not much changed about us either. They encouraged me to color my hair, but I might have done that anyway. I liked the green dye. Danny says I look like Christmas puked on my head, but I don’t care. The chicks think I’m hot.
Danny-boy is no slouch either. It’s the hair. If my hair wasn’t so flaming red, I could have that style, too, but on a ginger like myself, all those locks just look gay. On Danny, they make for screams and faints. It’s pathetic. All he has to do is run a hand through the ‘do’ and the girls go nuts.
Danny has the label of being the “good” boy, which is fine by me. He’s Mr. Sporty, leaving me to be the “bad” boy that the chicks secretly want. I cultivated a sort of sneering look that sends girls into a frenzy. It’s sort of a cross between Elvis and Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day. It’s pretty damn awesome to know you’re some girl’s fantasy.
‘Course it sucks, too. ‘Cause no one ever knows the real you. The one and only time I ever tried to let the “real” me show, I said in an interview that I liked painting. The tabloids had a field day and called me “The Rebel with the soul of an Artist.” Ugh.
We didn’t start out thinking F-5 would be a huge hit. Does anyone start out that way? We just figured it’d be fun to be in a band together. It was Virginia’s idea. She brought it up over breakfast one morning and the thing sort of took off. By the time Danny and I were old enough to be in a band, I think we both just assumed that’s what would happen.
And it kind of did. Dad got us guitars and taught us how to play. We had lessons in the other instruments, too. Then he took us to the park and had us play to see if anyone would like us. I guess they did.
When you’re young, I suppose you don’t realize that you’ve got talent or whatever it is that makes you good at something. We all liked what we were doing. We had fun. I suppose we’d have done it even if we hadn’t had that talent or whatever.
But we did, and now we’re F-5. We have agents, publicists, stylists—the whole works.
At first Dad was our manager, but he realized that he was in over his head after our first few gigs. Uncle Paul took over. He and aunt Meili are both in the music industry. Though they hadn’t made it big in their own band, neither had stopped working in the industry.
I don’t think mom and dad expected what would happen once we started the band. We started playing locally—watering holes, nothing fancy. We made a CD and Paul marketed it. He played our single on Simtube and used a word of mouth campaign on Simbook. It worked. As we got more famous, Paul talked about us needing to move to Bridgeport to take advantage of the larger city.
“Look, Shawn, I know you and Kara don’t want the kids to move, but if they’re going to make it big, Bridgeport is where it’s at.”
“I know that Bridgeport has the best local scene and is the place where all young musical talent goes, but are the kids really ready for it?”
See this is what got in the way of Dad ever getting famous with his own band. He was really reluctant to go out and try for it. I think if he had his way, we’d never be famous. Which I think is really ironic since it was his idea to get us into a band in the first place! I was rooting for Uncle Paul in this argument.
“You have to face facts Shawn. If F-5 is going to really take off, we have to make decisions soon. We’ve reached our potential here. They could stay and just be known locally, or they could go and have a chance to be known by everyone. The buzz on the band is great right now. You’ve got a teen sensation here, but it won’t last very long. Teens are a great audience, but they are fickle.”
“I know. I’ll have to talk to Kara.”
So Mom and Dad talked about it. Mom was dead set against us moving away from Twinbrook. She liked living on the farm and didn’t want it to be taken away from the family. Dad also liked the farm, but he wanted us to have the chance he had never gotten.
Finally, when they couldn’t resolve the issue, they decided to ask us about it. Which is what they should have done in the first place. It was our career after all, and our opportunity. And it wasn’t as if we didn’t know what was in the works. We’re not stupid, deaf, or blind. We’d already been talking about it ourselves.
Still, I don’t think Mom was ready for our enthusiastic response to the idea when she broached the subject at breakfast.
“You might know that your dad and uncle Paul have been talking about moving to Bridgeport so that the band has more opportunities to gain popularity,” she began in a very business-like tone.
“Awesome, mom,” Virginia said around a mouthful of waffles. “When are we leaving?”
“Does this mean I shouldn’t try out for baseball next week?” Danny asked. I knew he was pretty set on going out for the team, but he’d agreed with the rest of us that we wanted to try to make something of the band and that Bridgeport was the place to do that. Besides, Danny could try out in Bridgeport anyway. We were pretty sure that Mom would make us keep going to school there.
“So you guys are ok with moving to the city?”
“Totally,” Sherona said. “Bridgeport would be epic! They’ve got a fantastic science center there. And you know that Argyle Sinclair, the chess champ, lives there. So there’s more to do than just play gigs and go to school. I might actually get some culture.”
Rhonda and I both added in our two cents. I could tell that we’d surprised mom who thought we’d be more reluctant to go. I felt bad when she just pushed her plate aside and said, “Well, your dad and I will work it all out. One of us will have to stay here to keep the farm in the family. Someday one of you might want it. I’d hate to see it go back to the city.”
Once it was decided that we’d be moving, uncle Paul hired the publicist and image consultant to get us prepared. He wanted the hype to precede us into the city so that we’d make a bigger splash once we got there.
The publicist is the one who set up all the interviews with the teeny-bopper magazines. They sent over this fogey old guy who interviewed all of us. He had a photographer with him who took tons of pictures. We were supposed to do the things we liked in them. Also, they wanted to do them not as an entire group, but as boys and girls—one of our biggest appeals as a group was the fact that the girls were trips and Danny and I were twins.
Reporter: So, are you and your brother competitive or do you get along really well?
Me: Both. We get along, but we both like to play to win.
Danny: I’m better at sports, but Mickey’s better at things like foosball and Gnubb. He throws a baseball like a girl, though.
Me: Do not.
Reporter: You both take turns in front of the band as the lead singer. Are you competitive about that, too?
Danny: Nah. It depends on the songs.
Me: Doesn’t matter. But the girls do like Danny’s pretty face better.
Reporter: Does it bother you that more girls like your brother than you?
Danny: He cries himself to sleep over it. (laughing)
Me: Asshole! I don’t care what the girls think. I want a girl who doesn’t compare me to Danny. I’m me and they have to like me for me.
Danny: Aw, did you practice what you were going to say? Seriously, he’s green with envy.
Me: STFU, Danny-boy. All that hair gel is getting to you. It must be the fumes.
Before leaving for Bridgeport, we performed one last concert in Twinbrook. The reporter was there for that, too. It was a pretty good concert with a nice turn out. In the history of going away parties, this one was pretty epic.
I wasn’t going to miss much about Twinbrook. Sure, I had a group of friends, but they were mostly acquaintances. I spent too much time with the band and my music to really be that social. Danny, on the other hand, was going to be leaving behind a string of girls crying in their pillows at night.
Sherona was going to miss her friend Jena, but they had agreed to Skype each other and keep in touch. Virginia and Rhonda both had boys that they liked, but like me, the band kept them more occupied, so though they each had goodbyes to say, they weren’t too sad.
The last thing we did before leaving Twinbrook was record our new CD. We were going to launch it once we moved. Paul would promote the hell out of it in conjunction with the move. It would be a huge deal.
And that’s why we ended up with the make overs.
The image consultant that Paul hired pointed out that we needed to citify our looks to match the move. We couldn’t look like suburban kids. So I got the Billy Joe Armstrong hair, Sherona became rocker Barbie, Rhonda became Tigress, Queen of the Night, and Virginia and Danny had to cut holes in their jeans and try to look angst-y.
“Do you think we made the right decision, Mickey?” Sherona asked just before our first appearance in Bridgeport.
“Yeah. You’ll see. We’ll go out there and rock this place. We’re going to be a huge hit.”
“I would have been a hit even without the slut gear,” she muttered, pulling at her top, trying to get it to cover more of her breasts, but only succeeding in revealing more of her stomach.
“You’re not a slut. You’re a slut who drums,” Virginia said. “When people say you like to bang on things, they aren’t commenting on your sex life.”
Sherona gave Virginia a nasty glare. “Very funny.”
“Hey, they could be talking about how you like to screw…and hammer things together with one of your inventions.” Sherona threw her hairbrush at Virginia, but she missed.
“Knock it off, V,” I said.
“Let’s go out there and play some music,” Rhonda added. “We can talk about Sherona’s sex life, or lack of one, later.”
“Or not,” Sherona stormed out of the dressing room.
“She needs to get a sense of humor,” Virginia said. “If she can’t laugh at all of this nonsense, it’s going to get to her.”
“I don’t see you laughing,” Rhonda said. “Yesterday you were ranting at how the last issue of Sim Beat hinted that you might be a lesbian.”
“I don’t see how. You aren’t one, are you?” Virginia just glared in response. “See, Sherona’s not a slut either. And no matter what they say, I don’t think I’m too fat and should go on some stupid diet.”
“And that’s why we all need to get a sense of humor about this,” I interjected. “We should only care about the music. Everything else isn’t as important.”
“Right. Let’s go V. We’ll show them all that we don’t care how they label us.” Rhonda pulled Virginia out of the room.
I looked over at Danny who was fiddling with his hair. “Let’s go, Romeo.”
Danny looked over at me and took a deep breath. “God I hate this part.”
“You’ll get over it.” Danny was always nervous right before we went on. As soon as we started, he calmed down, but right before a gig, I always wondered if he was going to throw up or run away screaming.
I put my arm around his shoulder. “Let’s go make the girls in the front row faint with adoration. You can take the sweet ones, and I will pin point their slutty little friends.”
“You’re such a dick,” Danny shoved me.
“Just being me.”
I guess we should have known that our first few shows wouldn’t be packed with girls screaming to get a piece of us. It would take awhile for us to really hit it big in Bridgeport.