Arthur has discovered something about himself. It happened maybe two months earlier. He went to a party at the house of this boy named Dmitri. Dmitri is a tan blond person whose parents are European, and their house is also far outside the city, but is beside a river and there are woods around it. No one else was home, and Dmitri had ten people sitting in his living room, where there was a crystal tower of some kind on the mantle and blue arbors with blue ivy printed on the sofas. The girls who are friends with Grover were there, like Alison who is another redhead who does soccer and sucks her fourth finger during Spanish, Chloë whose parents are both doctors and she chain smokes and has four siblings.
Posen, who lives two blocks from school in a mansion on a street with other mansions, was present. He dates his best female friend because he wanted to lose his virginity before college, and he has openly admitted this, forcing smoke through the gap between his front teeth. Posen brought cards.
“Poker,” said Stan, who still had his coat on.
Said a chubby person named Gwen, “Strip poker.”
Everyone acted like they didn’t want to be dealt in, and Arthur could hear someone telling Alison what kind of pictures were on her underwear. He opened his eyes and got up off the couch and went and sat in what he thought was the right place on the floor to count as in.
“Hell no.” It was Posen.
“What?” He looked at Posen sitting cross-legged with too-large white basketball sneakers tucked up under him like weird doves.
Posen took a pull on the cigarette he was holding wobbling out the back of his flattened palm and gingerly tucked the smoke under his tongue. “You’ll throw the game.”
“You will,” Posen insisted, setting the whole deck on the carpet before him in a fan. “Dude, you’ll get naked.”
Which was when Arthur had to get up and consult Stan, who walked him into the kitchen.
“You remember last weekend at Claire’s?”
“You were on the lawn.”
“It’s not sexual,” Arthur said.
“I believe you.”
“You have a reputation.”
“It’s my thing.”
“It’s natural,” Arthur said.
“It’s your thing,” Stan repeated. Stan’s eyes were soft, melting; they seemed to stretch a long ways down his face.