"So and then Gen says her college boyfriend’s dick is too big for condoms," Chris says, and waves her Subway sandwich around. It’s still in its packaging, thank god, because Lara Jean could do without chicken teriyaki pieces flying into her face. Nobody else is around, since it’s already turning fall, but the weather is dry even though it is cold and everything beats the drum of people in the cafeteria.
"Is this entire story about Gen’s college boyfriend," Lara Jean asks. "Because I could really do without that, you know."
"No, no, you’ll like this one, I swear. It’s funny," Chris tells her, and then she continues with her wide sweeping gestures. "She didn’t say dick, of course. My mom was in the kitchen, and grandma sitting on the porch outside, but anyway. Cousin Mike, you know him, the one you didn’t have a crush on in middle school—"
"He once hit me with his motorcycle!" Lara Jean interrupts her best friend. Chris is being absolutely unfair lately, there are plenty of guys that Lara Jean has never had a crush on, which they both know because it happens to be a very frequent topic of conversation. And yet Chris keeps teasing her about the letters Lara Jean hasn’t even mailed herself! It’s a completely unreasonable obsession of hers and probably also unhealthy, but it’s like Chris can’t stop herself from bringing it up all the time.
Chris knows that she doesn’t like the teasing and in her inimitable way continues to do it anyway, carelessly waving off Lara’s objections. "Anyway," she continues. "Cousin Mike started laughing uncontrollably, and then of course, had to inflate one of the standard kind you can get at the health center."
Lara Jean begins to giggle. She doesn’t know where this is going yet, but the way Chris tells the story, it’s going to be good.
Chris mimes the size of the balloon the condom blew up to, and Lara Jean swallows her tongue imagining the scene. Cousin Mike is, contrary to both Chris and Gen, pretty massive. He can be rather intimidating from his size and the strength of his arms, but he has that calm nature that both Gen and Chris lack, and he doesn’t take bullshit.
"So he takes it, and ties off the end, right?" Chris continues. "By that point, I don’t think she was paying attention anymore. But he’s got a footlong balloon made out of a condom, and so the first thing he does with it, is to whack it on her head—she shrieked like a banshee! And grandma looks over and says, in this totally earnest voice, 'We used to fill them with water and play water balloon wars.'"
Chris looks at her with her earnest face, the one she uses for all her deadpan stories, and Lara Jean can’t help it—there’s tears in her eyes and she’s trying to hold in her laughter.
"What," she finally manages to say. She smoothes out the tear tracks on her faces. "Why are you telling me this?"
"I figured you needed a good helping of making fun of Gen," Chris says. She’s right, of course. Gen managed to make fun of Lara Jean’s socks loudly and, even worse, entertainingly, in front of her locker today. Usually, Lara can take a bit of teasing, but today Gen hit harder than usual. She must be rather unhappy with her new boyfriend, even though she posts pictures of them together on Instagram constantly."And also I need help," Chris adds, and brandishes her footlong sandwich. Then, out of her super tight but very fashionable pants, she pries a tiny pack of condoms. Lara Jean recognizes them from the discreet bowl in the Student Health Office. "I’m going to make my stream a constant barrage of condoms filled with long, hard things."
Lara Jean’s expression must be doing weird things again, because Chris nudges her and says, "I’m going to make it my art project for the year, too," as if Lara Jean wouldn’t be up to doing it just to spite Gen.
"Fine," Lara Jean says. "What do I do?"
Chris rips up the condom wrapper, but the insides are more slippery than she expected, and it slides right out of her hand.
Lara Jean catches it out of the air, knowing that it’s oily, but it still tries to glide out of her grasp.
"Shit," Chris says. "Do you have it? I should’ve brought two."
Lara Jean manages to grip it tightly, finally, and triumphantly holds it up.
"Okay, hold on," Chris says, and sticks the wrapped sandwich between her thighs so that her hands are free. "Dude, Mike made it seem so much easier, I guess he does have a sex life."
Lara Jean wordlessly hands over the condom. As she watches Gen wrestle with the slip of latex, she finally finds something to say. "You need to pinch the top, and roll."
"Huh," Chris says, and does it, badly. "Why?" she asks.
"Give over," Lara Jean says. "It’s so there’s space for the semen."
"I don’t think my sandwich is going to ejaculate," Chris says, very drily.
Lara Jean elbows her. "How are you supposed to do it right, if you start out doing it wrong? And that way you can see more easily which way to roll it, look," she explains, and rolls the condom onto the sandwich. It’s a long way down, and it does need a bit of help to accommodate the entire diameter of the sandwich. With a bit of pinching, Lara Jean manages to squeeze it in even so.
Chris makes a considering noise. "His dick must’ve been gigantic," she says, and takes out her phone.
"Don’t you dare!" Lara Jean tells her, and tries to wrestle the phone away from her.
"What are you so shy about now?"
"You think Gen isn’t going to notice whose hands are in the picture? Hold it yourself!"
"Don’t you want to—fine, let’s just drape it on top of the bleachers. But it’s not like she won’t know anyway that you helped with the thing."
"Plausible deniability," Lara Jean murmurs.
Chris scoffs. "Like she knows what that is."
"Come on, she’s smart, even though she is..." Lara Jean trails off.
"A bitch?" Chris suggests. "Off her rocker? Crazy with popularity?"
"That’s not nice," Lara Jean says.
"Neither is she." Chris is focused on the screen of her phone, and Lara Jean watches as she changes the filter to one of the prettier Instagram filters. Gen uses them sincerely, Chris ironically, and Lara Jean isn’t sure she can tell the difference. They both know how to go viral. And Gen is going to be so embarrassed by her cousin getting likes from her failures—and nobody but her will be able to tell that it is aimed at her. Lara Jean doesn’t like to be bullied, but she also doesn’t really want Gen to be mad, either.
"Thanks for making me feel better," Lara Jean says quietly.
"What, like I could pass up this brilliant opportunity to make fun of Gen?" Chris snorts. "This looks perfect." She passes the phone to Lara Jean. It is a lovely picture of a sandwich wrapped in a condom.
"I don’t know how that’s supposed to have any artistic merit," Lara Jean says.
Chris scoffs again. "The biggest part of any art project is the bullshitting. Now come on, let’s find a baseball bat!" She turns around and heads towards the equipment shed.
"A baseball bat?" Lara Jean calls after her.
And across the entire field, Chris yells back to her "There’s other stuff I can wrap in condoms!"
Lara Jean has to laugh—and really, Chris may not like to talk about it, but she is the best at cheering up people. Ignoring the looks from the lacrosse team, she smiles and runs after her.