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Spin Control

Spin Control

Chapter One

Exactly six weeks, five days, and nine hours ago, my mother ruined my life. And even worse, because of her, I am missing a damned good party.

Right this second, I should be over at my best friend Christie Toleski's house, getting ready to watch hotties like Heath Ledger walk the red carpet at the Golden Globes. My friends Natalie Monschroeder and Julia (aka Jules) Jackson are already there, undoubtedly noshing on popcorn, watching Joan Rivers on TV and discussing the plasticity of Joan's face while she kisses and disses the celebs and their clothes—or lack thereof.

When Christie's parents aren't in the room, they're also probably talking about how far Christie and her boyfriend, Jeremy Astin, got on their last date, how far she actually wants to go, and how all of them are sooooo sure David Anderson (who I've been crushing on since kindergarten) is finally interested in me.

But no. They're doing all that without me. I know because they IM'ed me about half an hour ago to rub it in.

Unfortunately, my failure to attend this year's let's-make-fun-of-celebrities Golden Globes party (not to be confused with our annual let's-make-fun-of-celebrities Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy parties) is because, thanks to my mother, my parents are getting a divorce and I had to move with my dad to Schwerinborg a month ago.

Yes, Schwerinborg's a real country, and yes, my friends all refer to it as Smorgasbord, even though the people here aren't even Scandinavian. The Schwerinborgians—or Schwerinborgers or whatever they're called—speak German. And we're south of Germany, not north. Not that any of my friends care where it is, other than the fact it's very, very far from Virginia.

So why not live with my mother? After all, she has a nice apartment back in Virginia, where all the important awards shows are carried live. And even though the location of Mom's new place means I'd have to go to Lake Braddock High School, instead of to Vienna West where I've been going, I could still see my friends on a regular basis. about because Mom's new apartment is also home to Mom's new GIRLFRIEND? Yep, girlfriend. A super-organized, yoga-twisting, vegan Weight Watchers-devotee girlfriend named Gabrielle, who is, no kidding, a decade younger than my mother is. And no, Gabrielle isn't a girlfriend like Christie, Natalie, and Jules are my girlfriends.

Gabrielle is THAT kind of girlfriend.

I haven't even had the guts to tell my girlfriends about her, and it doesn't take a psychology degree to guess why. It's the kind of thing that takes you a while to work up to telling someone, even your best friends. Telling them about my parents' divorce—and that I was moving to Europe with Dad—was bad enough. Popping out with, "Oh, and by the way, my mom—the woman who took us all out for manicures and facials before homecoming and has definitely seen all of you naked at one time or another when we've gone clothes shopping—yeah, well, she's decided she's gay!" wouldn't have gone over with them very well.

I know they say they don't care whether or not a person's gay, and I've never heard them say one derogatory word about anyone's sexual preferences, but I'm not quite sure I want to test their beliefs yet.

And it's not that I'm a homophobe. Seriously. I know a couple of gay kids at school and they're totally cool. But this is different. This is MY MOTHER.

It's like the Mom I knew disappeared one day, and now there's another person inhabiting Mom's body. That's the really hard part. Not the what-is-she-doing-with-that-woman part. It's that I have to wonder if she's lied to me about who she is my entire freaking life.

You'd think I'd want to find the highest turret—well, if it had turrets—of Schwerinborg's royal palace and toss myself off.

But no. I'm not even close to suicidal right now, even though I'm sure Heath Ledger and Hugh Jackman and about a hundred other hot actors look completely droolworthy walking the red carpet in their Armani tuxes and I'm missing it. (Thankyouverymuch, Mom.)

It's because Schwerinborg is completely incredible. I mean there are definite downsides, like the fact they use mayo on their French fries, that the weather is misty and depressing all winter long, and that I can't watch the Golden Globes live. (Which, come to think of it, makes absolutely no sense—the awards are given by the Hollywood Foreign Press, and if anything's foreign to Hollywood, it's gotta be Schwerinborg.)

It's because I have a BOYFRIEND.

I have a boyfriend who looks like Colin Farrell, only better. More of a hottie, less of a male slut.

I have a boyfriend named Georg Jacques von Ederhollern and he is a freakin' PRINCE.

© Niki Burnham