Thursday, January 2, 2014

Episode #14: The Chandler Massey Effect

“Hello, Jeff.” Vonda Kay smiled as she reached for the fresh spinach that was always on her list. She rued the day her youngest figured out it wasn't green leaf shaped candy she added to the salad.

He smiled warm and genuinely. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Shephard. Are you having a good day?”

“Yes, I am, sweet boy. Thank you for askin’.” Vonda Kay decided to buy more spinach just because he was so friendly towards her when he really didn’t have to be, with the strange family connection and all. “And you?”

“Doing well.” He cleared his throat a little. “Mrs. Shephard, how’s…you’s Maw Maw doing?”

“Mama?” She wondered. “Just fine I reckon. I’ll see her tonight at the rehearsal…won’t you be there?” She fretted a little.

“Of course.” He said, looking up at her. “I’ve just been a little concerned, that’s all.”

“Concerned…about Mama?” She couldn’t help but be confused.

“Well after the whole Mark Hapka thing….”


“I just thought, with…”

“You!” Came a brazen interruption. “You there!”

Both Jeff and Vonda Kay cringed. When she looked over at Jeff he was practically hyperventilating to the point Vonda Kay felt compelled to put her arm around him to keep him from slipping to the floor.

“Jeff, child, it’s only the school Librarian, not Satan incarnate.”

“I can’t tell much of a difference and there’s three of them…” He pointed out.

When she peered in the direction he was pointing she almost laughed out loud. “Calm down, Jeff” she whispered in his ear. “There ain’t three of her, but there are three of them. The other two are pretty harmless.”

“You!” The High School Librarian bellowed. “New one! Where is the manager of this God Forsaken Heathen outfit?”

Jeff swallowed hard.

“Now Vida,” Vonda Kay chided the woman. “Obviously you’re upset, but try not to take it out on poor Jeff. He just knocks the dirt of the watermelons. It’s not his job to make sure you or the manager don’t get off the chain in the backyard.”

“Yes, Vida, dear.” The look-a-like to the right said. “The boy’s not in school so watch yourself.”

“That’s right.” The look-a-like to the left chimed in. “He’s not on school grounds so he can beat the crap out of you and not get expelled.”

Vida Leigh spun her head around and leaned in to the apoplectic Jeff. “He wouldn’t dare lay a hand on me!”

The bookend sisters each grabbed the corresponding arm and pulled the rabid librarian back.

“Now, now Vida, you’re upset but no need to take it out on this Yankee boy.” The chunkiest of the three told her. “Sure, he’s not one of us but remember you’re a Southern gentle woman. It’s bad manners to talk bad about the poor Northerners…to their faces.”

“That’s right, Sister.” The thinner of the three chimed in. “At least wait until we’re in the car to talk bad about ‘im. That’s the polite thing to do.”

“You’re sisters?” Jeff kind of croaked out.

“Of course, we’re sisters!” The school Librarian raised that right eyebrow, again. “What did you think?”

Vonda Kay tried to take control of the situation. “Vida, let’s be polite and let me introduce your lovely sisters.” She turned to the shaking young man. “Jeff Neff, let me introduce you to Vada Leigh and Velda Leigh, Miss Vida’s sisters.”

Jeff smiled and shook hands with the two women. Vonda couldn’t help but think what a fine, young gentlemen the teen was.

“It is a pleasure to meet both of you.”

“Like wise” the women said in almost perfect harmony.

Jeff looked to his Librarian. “For some reason I assumed you were married.”

“I am married.” The Librarian snapped. “Have been for 22 delicious years, what on Earth would make you think that someone like me would single in defiance of God?”

“Uhh…” Jeff gulped. “Because you and your sisters all have the same last name?”

“Of course, we all have the same last name!” She crowed. “We married brothers…everybody knows that!”

“Calm down…” Velda told her sister.

“Yes dear sister, you know how your hair always cracks when you get frustrated.” Vada reminded her. She then smiled and turned to Jeff. “Of course, child, you had no idea. I married Mark Leigh.”

“I married Max and Vida married Mike.” The other offered.

Vonda turned to Jeff with one of those knowing looks. “Isn’t that sweet?”

“Just…charming.” Jeff said hoping he’d found the right word with Vida Leigh you could never be quite sure. “It’s a good thing you didn’t have another sister.” He tried to joke, “You might have run out of Leigh brothers.”

“Oh we have another sister.” Velda said.

“Verna.” Vada admitted.

“She thinks she better than us.” Vida harrumphed. “And she had her chance to marry a Leigh brother, but noooo; she had to run off with that Potter boy,”

Vada threw up a hand. “Now, Vida, once again in Verna’s defense, Milt is one of them homosexuals.”

“Oh don’t give me that, Sister.” The Librarian snorted. “Milt just needed a good woman to show him what for.” She crossed her arms and raised that right eye brow in that eerie way she could. “A good woman can make a man outta anybody.”

“Yeah, I hear that works real well.” Vonda Kay said just loud enough for Jeff to hear, who had to bite his lip to keep from giggling.

Jeff quickly decided to change the subject and hopefully get that creature out of his sight. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Leigh, you wanted to see the manager? Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Oh don’t go trying to brown nose me, New One! You don’t have the authority to meet my requirements.”

“I’m sure not, but I thought maybe there was something I could pass along to him.”

Vida rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t trust you to pass a kidney stone on Easter. Just tell me where the manager is.” She demanded.

“He’s probably up front in the office.” Jeff smiled while biting his tongue. “If you go up to the service desk they will be happy to page him for you.”

“There was that so hard?” She put those bony hands back on those sharp, protruding hips. “When someone asks a question, Yankee, stop being snide and just give them an answer.”

“Now Vida…” one of the sisters said.

“Maybe you should just leave this one alone.” The other said.

“I certainly will not!” The mean sister snorted.

“What’s got you in such an uproar this time?” Vonda asked.

“It’s disgusting!” Vida launched in. “We walk through the doors; calmly got our carts and they were playing such nice music.”

“Oh, it was lovely…” Velda agreed.

“I hadn’t heard it in years.” Vada smiled and thought back. “It stirred up such nice memories.”

“And then…” Vida Leigh's lips curled and nostrils flaired. “And then they broke in with one of those timed in store announcements!”

“Well that doesn’t sound so bad.” Vonda told her. “I think that happens every twenty minutes or so.”

“Of course it does.” Vida stared at her like she was stupid. “It wasn’t that they did it, it what’s they said!”

“What they said?” Jeff sheepishly asked.

“Yes! All of a sudden this voice comes out of nowhere and tells me to enjoy my pork on a bun!” Vida snorted.

Velda rolled her eyes at her sister; the other shrugged and added, “Well they did interrupt Charlie Pride singing “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” when they did it.”

Vida crossed those arms again. “Which makes it pornographic and sacrilegious! You people are disgusting and I plan to put a stop to it.” She grabbed her cart and headed toward the front of the store.

“Oh, Vida?” One of her sisters called her. She stopped, but didn’t turn; only listened. “Remember, this isn’t the Johnson County High Library.”

“That’s right.” The skinnier one interjected. “If you tear pictures and articles out of the magazines at the checkout line they will charge you for them...again.”

Vida Leigh turtled her head but thrust on toward the front of the store. Both her sisters waited until they were sure she was out of sight before turning to Jeff.

“Quick, before she gets back!” Vada half whispered.

“Yes!” Velda agreed. “Do you have any Mandarin Oranges?”

Jeff blinked a moment. “I am so sorry ladies, but they aren’t quite in season for us yet.”

“Oh dear…” The sisters sighed in unison.

“But we do have canned ones on aisle two.” Jeff added.

“No thank you, Sweet Boy,” Vada put her hand on his arm. “We wanted to try the fresh ones.”

Velda nodded. “You know, just to see what all the fuss was about.”

Curiosity peaked; Vonda Kay decided to kill the cat. “Fuss?”

“Everybody’s talking about them.” Vada said and then looked at her sister. “Aren’t they?”

“I’m clueless.” Vonda Kay admitted. “Why is everybody but me and Jeff talking about Mandarin Oranges?”

“That Chandler Massey…” Vada said.

“Of course.” Velda agreed. “He’s leaving ‘Days of Our Lives’ to study them.”

Jeff tried not to laugh. “Ladies, Chandler Massey is studying Mandarin Chinese…the language, not the orange.”

Velda put her chubby little hand to her mouth. “Oh my. How embarrassing!”

“I thought that was strange.” the woman said knowingly. “When I heard that I kept thinking, why on Earth would someone want to leave a hit TV show and study oranges, but then I thought...well…he is a blond.”

“You don’t know that for sure, Vada.” Her sister retorted.

“Well, I’ve never seen him naked.” She smiled as she thought about it. “So I’m not for sure if the drapes match the curtains, but with men you can usually be pretty sure they do.”

“Oh, Vada” Velda chided.

“Except of course, if it’s that Ryan Seacrest…or Ricky Martin.”

“Which reminds me,” Velda turned to Vonda Kay. “How’s Miss Ruby doing? Is she okay?”

Vonda Kay was confused again. “Mama?”

“Yes, Thursday’s his last day, you know.” Vada added quietly and concerned. “How’s she handling it?”

“Handing it?”

“Honey, everyone knows how she took to her bed when Mark Hapka left her story.” Vada smiled sweetly.

The bells finally went off in Vonda Kay’s head. “Oh, now I understand.”

“Is she doing okay with it?” Jeff said now that he understood that she understood.

“Well, she’s extremely upset of course, but at least this time we saw it coming.” Vonda smiled. “We let her turn the Parents Party for the Pageant tomorrow night in to a ‘Bon Voyage, Chandler Massey’ soiree.”

“Oh we’re doing that at work tomorrow, too.” Vada beamed.

Velda nodded her head. “Everyone at the office is going to come to work wearing an ugly vest and carrying an empty latte cup in Will Horton's honor.”

Vada shook her head. “You know, I realize that money’s tight on daytime drama these days, but you’d think those people could afford to at least put some water in those cups.”

“Nobody’s that good an actor!” Velda finished for her.

“Well I’m not exactly sure what all Mama has planned, but everyone has to come tomorrow night dressed as their favorite character since Will came out of the closet.” Vonda told them and then admitted, “I’m a hikin’up m’boobs, drenching myself in bling and going as Kristin Dimera!”

“That sounds like so much fun!”

“Do you ladies want to come?” Vonda asked.

“Oh we’d love to, but Vida would pitch an absolute fit if we went anywhere near that pageant.” The skinnier one admitted.

“Or ugly whore parade as she calls it.” Velda sighed.

“Is she still upset they won’t let her give the contestants a Bible Drill when they’re in swimsuit competition?” Jeff asked.

“Of course.”

“Jeff is helping run the lights for the contest.” Vonda smiled slyly. “Have you decided who you’re going as tomorrow?”

“Let’s just say I’ll have a ribbon in my hair that matches my backpack.” He laughed.

“Ciara Brady!” Velda clapped her hands together. “You’re going as Ciara! Oh please, please post pictures on Facebook.”

“Yes, do!” Vada chirped. “I love that little girl. Lawdy, when she grows up she’s gonna make Kristin Dimera look like Theo Carver.”

“It won't take that long!” Velda put her hands on her hips eerily like her sister. “As soon as she finds out she needs braces she’s gonna rip a hole in the fabric of time!”

“And if Nick really is dead…” Jeff chimed in, “Don’t you know that body will turn up in her backpack!”

“Either that or Dr. Dan’s desk.” Vonda Kay added.

“Oh no!” Velda said. “They’d never find it on Dr. Dan’s desk.”

Vada half closed her eyes. “I think Nick is so hot! He was lookin’ good when he showed up last week.”

“Ew, Miss Velda.” Vonda said. “He showed up as a floating corpse in the river.”

“Hey I’ll take my Nick any way I can get him.” She smiled. “I love me some bad boys…the more confused the better!” Velda leaned against the shopping cart. “…And those big pouty lips, those big, big eyes…”

“Vada!” Her sister snapped. “Do you need some privacy?”

“Oh heavens!” She giggled. “Sorry, I guess I got carried away…uh…I assume Miss Ruby will be showing up as none other than Will Horton himself?”

“You know, I’m not sure.” Vonda Kay told them. “But I wouldn’t count on it and you can rule out Caroline Brady, too. Mama says she’s already a senile old bat seven days a week so she has no plans to show up at a costume party dressed as one.”

“I think she’ll show up as Victor.” Jeff interjected.

“And Little Tucker will come as Maggie then.” Vonda smiles. “Those two have just become inseparable.”

“I thought for a while Tucker, Modine and Brod were gonna go as Eric, Sami and Brady but…” Jeff frowned, “Brod says he hasn’t got enough of a six pack to pull Brady Black off.”

“Shoot.” Vonda Kay smirked. “Just tell Brod to whip his shirt off and we’ll draw the one ab he’s missing in.”

“Brod Moretz with his shirt off?” Velda Leigh waved her hands like a fan to her face. “My, my…oh yeah, he could pull Brady off, no problem at all. “

It was Vada’s turn. “Do you need some privacy, now?”

Velda laughed. “Well, my only complaint these days with ‘Days’ is the writer’s keep comin’ up with too many ways to keep Brady dressed.”

Vonda Kay agreed wholeheartedly. “Between Brady and Father Eric my DVR is always in need of a cold shower and a cigarette.”

“Lawd, Eric is one hunk of a Priest, ain’t he?” Velda leaned in. “Makes me wanna forget I’m a good Southern Baptist, slap on a habit and ask that man to show me how to use a rosary!”

“Law, Velda!” Vada snickered. “It’s a good thang Vida can’t hear us, she’d lock us in a closet until we repented of our ways.”

“Anyway…” Jeff tried to change the quickly becoming uncomfortable subject. “I think most of Salem will be represented at the party Thursday night. I think Louie Kirk is even going to come as Sonny.”

“All we need is a Will, especially since it’s a bon voyage for Chandler Massey.” Vonda said. “I thought maybe one of my girls would do it or even Trey but they all have other plans.”

“Who are they going as?” one of the sister’s inquired.

“Well Ruth Ann and Ann Bliss have decided to go as Anne Milbauer and Jennifer Horton, but I think they just want an excuse to slap the snot out of each other all night long and not get grounded and Trey, to my surprise his Daddy is going to allow him to go as Theresa Donovan.”

“Little Trey is going as Theresa?” Jeff’s mouth dropped open.

“Oh don’t be such a prude…Ciara Brady.” Vonda chided him and then playfully ribbed him. “He has such a crush on that girl. You know Jen Lilley, who plays her, is from Roanoke. He’s just sure they’re gonna get married.”

“Aw that’s so cute!” Vada cooed.

“You know all that boy wanted for Christmas this year was to go up to the Glade Spring exit to 81 in hopes he’d see her driving by on her way home for the Holidays.” Vonda Kay shook her head. “He figured whether she flew in or drove home from California that’s the one place they could ‘accidentally meet’.”

“That is so sweet.” Velda sighed. “…and a little creepy.”

“My thoughts exactly.” Vonda told the little group. “But he’s eight and I think just a little too innocent to mean any harm by it, and it made him so happy to sit there, for two hours mind you, thinking he may get the chance to see the girl of his dreams just drive by.”

“That Jen Lilley is so pretty.”

“And talented, I just love to hate her as they say.” Velda cocked her head a little as she reached for a few kiwi. “You know I can’t think of a another character on that show that makes me wanna laugh til I puke while strangling her until her pretty little eyes bug out at the same time.”

“I have to ask.” Vada chirped. “Our sister is an advisor for this beauty pageant, isn’t she?”

“Well…yes.” Vonda Kay admitted whether she liked it or not.

“So she’s coming to this party?”

“I doubt it, unless it’s long enough to pitch a fit and then stomp out when she doesn’t get her way.” Vonda admitted again, this time with no guilt.

“No one’s seen her since Miss Vista told her that her idea for the set and opening weren’t appropriate.” Jeff told the sisters.

“Bet she loved that.” Velda bit her lip.

“Do you know she wanted the set to look like a Bible…”

“King James, of course.” Jeff interrupted.

“And for the introductory runway walk she wanted all the girls to look like marble angels come to life.” Vonda cocked her head, “To be honest it was a little more artsy than I expected from her.”

“Well she means well…” the skinnier sister sighed.

“Actually her idea for the set and even her insistence on a Bible Drill as part of the competition planted the seeds for a few ideas we actually ran with.” Vonda told them.

“Oh?” Both sisters were intrigued.

Vonda smiled. “You’ll have to come to the pageant and see what I mean by that though…”

Jeff smiled broadly. “I hope you already have your tickets reserved because as of 3 PM today the pageant is sold out.”

“I’m not surprised.” Velda said as she inspected a few tomatoes. “Ever body knows what those Football Players did and to be honest ever body wants a gander.”

“Believe me, those football players are going to have the tables tuned on them.” Vonda grinned.

“Talk about a soap opera.” Jeff added.

“So…” Vada thought. “In order for Vida to show up and complain about something Thursday night, she’ll have to some dressed as a character from Days of Our Lives?”

“That’s right…even to get in the auditorium to protest.”

“I wonder who she’d go as.” Velda pondered. “Kate?”

“No.” Vada was quick to say. “She’d have to break her hair. God knows I love the old battle ax…” she leaned in “Both Kate and my Sister, but I don’t think that Vida could last for two seconds without at least one can of Final Net sprayed all over her head.”

“Excuse me?” came the voice behind them that no one expected, so unexpected Velda stuck three fingers completely through the cantaloupe she was sniffing.

“Vida, we were just talking about you.” Vonda smiled broadly 'fessing right up.

“I gathered.” Handing a Kleenex to her sister she pulled from the handbag she had made out of recycled Christmas cards and the twist ties that came off loaves of Wonder Bread. “My ears haven’t been this hot since I got too close the fireplace right after having my hair done.”

“We were just wondering what character you might go as to the pageant Parents Party tomorrow night.” Jeff swallowed hard.

“I have no intention of gracing that disgusting ritual.”

“Well, we knew that.” Velda wiped her hand and shoved the sticky tissue under her bra strap. “We just wondered who you might show up as if you did.”

“You know…for fun.” Vada mimicked her sister and put her hands one her hips and raised her right eyebrow. “Fun? You remember that. It’s the feeling you get when you’re on your knees pointing out everyone else’s transgressions.”

“How rude!” The Librarian dismissed her sister’s comments. “I find the theme to that party not only distasteful and sinful but completely in appropriate.” Turning back to her sister she ended with, “Obviously you aren’t surprised by that.”

“Not at all.” Vada said.

“I’m sorry, Miz Leigh,” Jeff looked at the floor. “But I don’t see what’s inappropriate about it.”

“First of all, New One,” Vida smirked, “A person of your age shouldn’t even be watching such filth. My children are only allowed to watch the Inspiration Channel and Hee Haw.” She said proudly. “And The Mary Tyler Moore Show, pre-Sue Anne Nivens, on their birthday and they are better Christians because of it.”

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoyin’ a little daytime drama for time to time”, the skinnier sister spoke up.

“How shameful, Vada!” Vida Leigh spit at her sister. “All that debauchery, fornication and clam chowder can only lead one down a path of sin and regret!”

“Yeah,” Jeff smirked, “I can see how Hee Haw would be a much better example to follow.”

“Don’t you dare mock me, young man!” She shook her finger at him. “Those shows are pure fantasy, lustful fantasy…disgusting and have absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever…none!”

“Okay…stop right there.” It was Vonda Kay’s turn to sternly slam her hands to her hips. “You do realize that you are screaming at my twin sister’s ex-husband’s late wife’s son, don’t you?”


She took a calculated step closer to the Librarian. “And I’m sure you recall how just a few months ago you relished in telling everyone about my poor unfortunate nephew who was falsely accused of murder because he accidentally ran over a dead body with his hay baler in the field behind my house?”

Vonda Kay took a deep breath. “Now you wanna explain to me again how soap operas don’t reflect reality at all?”

“Well…” Vida Leigh stood her ground and started to say.

“Just shut up Vida.” Velda and Vada took a step back, pulling Jeff out of the line of fire with them. “After years of listening to you it’s your turn to pretend to politely listen to my rant.”

“I can do that.” Vida Leigh said quietly and looked at the floor.

“Good.” Vonda Kay took a deep breath and forged on. “Now you’re probably right that daytime drama isn’t a great example of Christian life, but that’s not the point. Its escapism, pure escapism, a way to sit down for an hour and forget about how hard and rotten life is sometimes and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all get a little carried away with it, but that’s part of the fun, Vida.”

“And as far as it not being appropriate for this party, you are dead wrong…dead wrong. This is a celebration of Chandler Massey, a young man we’ve never actually met, but have come to know and love because he created a character named Will Horton. You do know who Will Horton is, Vida, do you?”

“Of course, I do.” She defended. “He’s that little gay boy on that soap opera.”

Vonda shook her head. “Oh Velda, he is so much more than that. He’s a young man who in four years has dealt with so much pain and heartache while struggling with his own identity. He’s what they call a legacy character from the show, a child born in a story line that we’ve watched grow up just like he was one of our own children.”

“In watching over the years we’ve all been mesmerized by his story, seeing a little part of our family, our neighbors and even ourselves in that boy. We saw him make choices, wrong ones and right ones, but always making a choice and never wavering from it, willing to suffer whatever consequences that came along. In doing so, by God, that boy taught us all a lesson.”

“And pray tell what on Earth would that be?” Vida crossed her arms slyly.

“That no matter how hard and impossible it all seems the key to love and survival is not the acceptance of everyone else, but simply to accept yourself for not what you are but who you are. And that Vida is a basic truth we all need to know and follow no matter if you are straight, gay…”

“…or just stupid.” Velda interrupted looking straight at her sister.

“This young man, Chandler Massey, came on the show four years ago and let’s face it, at that time ‘Days of Our Lives’ was a train wreck. But that young man, barely 20 at the time, became the focus of a storyline that struck the hearts of a lot of people, not only because it was a little different and a little controversial, but because it was grounded in truth. It both hurt and healed to watch, and as that storyline grew the whole soap itself sort of changed with it.”

“You know,” Velda offered. “I think you’re right about that.”

“When the audience attached themselves to Will and Chandler, the writers realized something they’d forgotten in storytelling, that if you allow the stories, no matter how wild or farfetched, to be grounded in a character that is struggling to be who they are despite what anyone else may think the audience will fall in love…and they have.”

Vonda smiled quietly and continued. “And now Chandler Massey is leaving in much the same way that Will Horton struggled. He is going to finish what he started and complete his education; not because he’s unhappy or disappointed but because he feels this is something he has to do to complete himself. Now how absolutely wonderful is that?”

“I tell you,” Vada sniffed. “I am going to miss that boy so.”

“Here, Honey.” Velda pulled the Kleenex from her bra strap and handed it to her sister. “I’ve got to hand it to that Guy Wilson.”

“Who the heck is that?” Vida demanded.

“The young man who is stepping into the shoes left empty by Young Chandler.” Vada wiped her nose with the tissue then sniffed it and handed it back to Velda.

Velda tucked it back in place. “He has got to have one big ol’ steel set of…”

“Velda!” Vida sniped.

“Well he does!” Her sister insisted. “Can you imagine what guts it takes for someone to take over in a role that so many, many people have come to not only adore but look up to?”

“Well, it’s going to take some time,” Jeff said quietly but assuredly “But I’m sure we’ll come to accept and love him as Will, too.”

“Okay, you’ve made your point Vonda Kay.” Vida turned back to face her. “But I still don’t see how any of this makes it an appropriate theme for these young girls in this beauty pageant.”

Vonda just shook her head. “Oh Vida, you know how these girls got elected to be in this pageant. It used to be such an honor to be chosen, but this year a bunch of kids got together and somehow convinced every home room to choose a girl to represent them that everyone either made fun of or thought was the ugliest possible choice in the class.”

“That’s just ridiculous.” The Librarian insisted, “I know every one of those girls and I don’t believe that for a second.”

“Oh come on, Vida. No one was even for sure that Louie Kirk was a girl until we gave her a tube of eye liner!” She reminded her.

“And she looks so much better now that she knows you’re not supposed to use it around your lips!” Jeff chimed in.

“Every one of those girls was chosen not out of pride but out of ridicule, one of them even told me she heard they wanted her to be the best nag in the Horse and Gunny Sack parade. All of them have spent most of their school years limited by everyone else’s misguided perceptions of them. It’s taken a lot of work, but I think we’ve managed to help all fourteen of them stop seeing themselves through everyone else cruel eyes and finally, finally believe in themselves.”

“Mrs. Leigh,” Jeff had to add “You will not believe how those girls have changed. It’s like the moment they stopped to understand that it's who you know you are, not what everyone else thinks you are that they just...blossomed.”

The skinnier one turned to the chunkier one, “Oh I haven’t heard anything so beautiful since they cancelled ‘Designing Women’.”

“He’s right, Vida.” Vonda Kay smiled widely. “All those girls needed was to believe in that little bit of beautiful they found in themselves to make every bit of ugly on the outside go away…and that’s what the character of Will Horton is all about, finding that something inside you that makes you who you are and allowing it to make you strong no matter how scary that might be. So a Bon Voyage to Chandler Massey is a perfect theme to this party because every one of those so called losers has become a winner, just like Will Horton.”

There was a moment of silent, finally broken by Vida Leigh herself. “Fine…”

With a flourish she ripped a green produce bag of the role near her, whipped in the air to open it and handed it to Jeff. “Here, New One, load me up with Mandarin Oranges. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.”