DISCLAIMER: Characters not mine, and I do not claim to have any of the views expressed by them, nor have I any in-depth knowledge of the issues mentioned. (with the exception of anything computer-related. Vaios SUCK.)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL: To How Others See Her.
Something In Common
"Do you have a moment?"
"Of course, Cassidy," her mother replied, engrossed in her work. "What do you want?" Her mother always made time, even if she was busy, since she possessed quite an extraordinary knack at multi-tasking.
Cassidy walked into the seating area next to the kitchen and plopped beside Andy on the couch. "Can I ask you two some simple questions for a homework assignment?"
Andy looked up from her laptop, immediately interested and grateful at the excuse to distract herself. "What sort of homework assignment?"
"It's for English class," Cassidy explained. "I'm supposed to interview adults or parental figures about their tastes and preferences, and then write an essay on how I think they've influenced my own. Don't worry, I only need short answers from you."
"You think I'm a parental figure?" Andy seemed oddly pleased with herself.
"What are they teaching you at Dalton these days," sighed Miranda. "Just last week you were working on a critical analysis of Mansfield Park, and now they have you doing something this silly?"
"Oh, this is just for extra credit," said Cassidy. She got herself ready and was about to start when she noticed Andy staring slack-jawed at her. "What's wrong?"
"You're taking notes with that?" Andy said in surprise and a faint look of distaste. "What is it?"
"A Fujitsu Lifebook T4200," Cassidy said, hefting her tablet computer. "I know it looks a little big, but I prefer the Fujitsu Lifebook series over the Toshiba line -- I used to have a Portege but it just didn't work very well for me." She hoped the explanation would take the shock off Andy's face, but instead Andy's jaw sagged a little further.
"When I was in fifth grade I just used spiral notebooks," Andy muttered. "Man, I want one of those."
"What's that you have there?"
"A Thinkpad T40 from work. You know it's old because it still says IBM on it."
Cassidy clucked sympathetically. "Well, it was a decent computer at the time."
"It's really time I should get a new one though," mused Andy. "I was thinking about getting a Sony Vaio, because they're so pretty."
"Gosh, don't get a Vaio."
Just as Andy and Cassidy were about to launch into a spirited discussion regarding the merits of one laptop model over another, there was an impatient cough across from them.
"You had questions, Cassidy?" said her mother.
"Oh, right, of course." Cassidy flipped her screen sideways and pulled the stylus out. Just then Caroline poked her head in.
"Cass, can I copy the answers from you later?"
"You're supposed to think of your own questions, and besides, why don't you just sit here and take notes now if you don't want to think of your own?"
"Can't. Ugly Betty's starting."
Cassidy glared. "Fine, but you need to do my math homework later."
"I'll do the first two questions and no more."
"Do half. The last half."
"Deal." And Caroline ran upstairs for the TV room.
"Miranda, you're not really going to let Caroline get away with this, are you?" Cassidy heard Andy hiss.
Her mother shrugged. "I'd much prefer that Caroline use her time on something other than that hideous show that makes a mockery of the fashion world, but it's a much better use of both their time not to duplicate efforts. Division of labour is key to maximising productivity. Go on, Cassidy, I'm ready when you are."
Cassidy glanced at Andy, who looked like she wanted to say something more but was holding it back. "Go on, Cass," Andy grinned a little too forcefully. "I'm cool."
"If you say so." Cassidy glanced down. "First question -- what's your favourite colour? You go first, Andy, and then I'll take your answer, Mom."
"Hm... that's a tough one," Andy said, "Um ... turquoise? No, maybe sky blue. Um ..."
"Black," said her mother.
"I'll go with blue," said Andy.
Cassidy dutifully jotted down the answers. "Favourite animal."
"Cat," said her mother.
"Dog," said Andy. "I'm supposed to go first, Miranda."
"Well, I don't have all day."
"Sorry, Mom. We can do this another time," said Cassidy.
"Now's perfect, really," assured her mother. "Carry on, darling."
"Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand," said Andy quickly.
Her mother's mouth quirked. "Am I allowed to say Runway?" When Cassidy smiled and shook her head, her mother said, "Ah, let's just say the Art of War. Sun Tzu."
"Really?" said Andy. Miranda gave a "why not?" look.
"Favourite ice cream flavour," said Cassidy.
"Chocolate chip cookie dough!" Andy said gleefully.
"Lemon sorbet," said her mother.
"Um... uh ... ah ... Shawshank Redemption. No, Pretty Woman. Wait... Apocalypse Now? Uh, go with Life is Beautiful."
"My Fair Lady."
"Really?" said Andy. This time, she was ignored.
"Name three famous people from history that you'd want to meet."
"Three? Emily Dickinson... Thomas More... Benjamin Franklin," Andy said slowly.
Her mother was much quicker. "Jesus, Einstein, and Mozart."
"Hmm. That one's tough. Right now, it's Being Alive, by Stephen Sondheim."
"Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto."
"Favourite pastime?" said Cassidy.
"Reading, I guess."
"Going to the symphony."
"Favourite type of food or cuisine."
Her mother visibly shuddered at Andy's response before giving her own. "French."
"Well, that's something. You don't have a single answer in common yet," Cassidy remarked. "Can I ask you now about your stance on various issues?"
"It's not Paris?" said Andy. "Your favourite city."
"Ugh, no. Can't stand the traffic and the service attitude."
"Then why do you like New York?"
Her mother cleared her throat. "Cassidy, what sort of issues?"
"Um, right. What are your views on ... " Cassidy tapped her monitor. "... abortion?"
"A woman's right," declared Andy.
"No comment," said her mother.
"Gun ownership?" said Cassidy.
"Guns should be banned," said Andy.
"Guns don't kill people, people kill people," responded her mother.
"Trade policies with countries like China?"
"Should be restricted until they get their quality standards higher," Andy spat.
"China's an important trade partner, not to mention we're up to our necks in debt to them."
"What do we owe China?"
"A lot of money that we've borrowed from them, for starters."
There was a moment of silence while Cassidy debated whether or not to proceed. She wasn't the best reader of moods, but somehow she could feel huge currents of energy palpating around the room.
"Cassidy?" said her mother.
"Immigration control?" Cassidy said hesitantly.
Andy answered carefully, "I'm all for immigrant rights, but we need to regulate the influx of illegal immigrants across the border because it's just unsafe for everyone involved."
"Building a fence is somewhat overkill, don't you think? They're not farm animals to be kept out."
"Well, I'm not saying they are --"
"Environment! Energy!" shouted Cassidy quickly. "What are your views on renewable energy?"
"Well, that's easy," said her mother. "Of course it's sensible to invest in clean, renewable energy sources like wind energy and ethanol."
"Yes, but are you aware of the added damage and pollution to the environment as a result of harvesting extra corn to create ethanol?" retorted Andy. "The impact of the fertilizers and carbon dioxide released into the air from growing all that extra corn to meet demand is actually more than the carbon dioxide released by regular gas that cars use."
Cassidy couldn't resist anymore. "Do you two never talk to each about these issues?"
"Not really," said Andy, not breaking eye contact with her mother. "I try to avoid such polarizing topics, as a rule."
"Don't apologise, Cassidy," her mother said smoothly, "Andrea's always like this. Talkative, contrary, opinionated -- I see a lot of her in me, after all."
"Oh, don't kid yourself, Miranda. I'm nothing like you."
"Is it okay for me to ask about your stance on Iraq?" Cassidy cut in meekly.
"We never should have gone in the first place, and we should pull our troops out immediately," Andy snapped.
"Not before we fix the mess that we made in the first place," her mother snapped back.
Cassidy knew she should know better even as the question left her mouth. "Which candidate for president in 2008?"
Both women spoke at the same time.
"Hillary?" shouted Andy, standing up and shoving her laptop to one side. Cassidy squashed herself to the edge of the couch as Andy stormed past her. "You might as well vote Republican."
"As a matter of fact, I do vote Republican, but your response is indicative of the general misunderstanding surrounding Clinton's policies," came the cool reply. "As a matter of fact, she and Obama pretty much stand toe to toe on most issues."
"Then why not vote Obama? He actually represents some real change for this country!"
"What's wrong with wanting a woman in the White House?"
"Someone's lack of penis is not a good enough reason to vote them to be the next leader of our country --"
"But someone's lack of experience is enough to vote against them --"
"PC or Mac?" Cassidy tried desperately as a last ditch effort to change the subject, but it was too late. Her mother stopped briefly to say "Mac" even as Andy's mouth formed the words "Anything but Apple." Cassidy sighed and packed her stuff, slowly edging out of the room as Andy and her mother continued to bicker vigorously, practically spitting in each other's faces.
She met Caroline coming down the stairs when she reached the first floor. "Are you done already?" her sister asked in surprise.
Cassidy shrugged regretfully. "No, I didn't even get to the questions about religion and philosophy. You heading to the kitchen?" When her sister nodded, she continued, "I'd advise against it right now. They're fighting, and you know how they get when that happens."
Caroline blanched. "No way."
"You can hear them."
"Darn, I'm really thirsty," Caroline whined. "Oh, screw it, I'll take the chance."
"Don't say I didn't warn you," Cassidy called after her sister. She headed straight for the TV room.
Sure enough, in less than thirty seconds, Caroline came bounding back up the stairs and charged into the room without a drink in her hands. "FUCK," she screamed.
"Language, Caroline. You don't want Mom to hear that."
"I'm sure there's no way she can hear me right now," Caroline yelled, wearing a look of immense disgust.
"Oh boy. How bad?"
"Second base," Caroline shouted. "They were at second base."
Cassidy winced. "Gross. Already?"
Caroline was running up and down the room with her hands over her eyes. "I just saw Mom's breasts. Argh. And Andy's too. God, that girl is FAT."
"That's mean. She's pleasingly plump."
"God, god, god, why do they have to make out every time after they fight? I want to DIE."
"And they never make it back to their rooms for some reason. I found Andy's bra under the kitchen table last week."
"Oh, shit. I just thought of something. I found Mom's shirt in my bedroom a month ago. Do you think they in my bedroom --"
"Last time they were right outside the bathroom and I really needed to pee. It was torture. And they completely forgot I was in the house."
"They didn't notice me just now," Caroline shuddered, "Is it possible they're doing this on purpose to us?"
"God only knows. Shh, be quiet. Ugly Betty's back on." Cassidy turned the volume up. They sat and watched silently for a few minutes. At the next commercial break, Caroline said, "Let me read your notes." Cassidy handed her the Lifebook and Caroline skimmed it wordlessly. "Oh, this is wrong," she said after a while. "Andy's favourite city is New York."
"She said Paris, though."
"You probably made a mistake. Andy told me before her favourite city's New York because this is where she met Mom."
"Then why'd she say Paris?" Cassidy said plaintively.
"Dunno. Doesn't Mom like Paris?"
"I think she started to hate it since she went for Fashion Week right before she and Stephen got divorced."
"Oh right. And since when does Mom like New York? I thought she only lived here because she had to."
"Oh, whatever. I don't care anymore." Cassidy replaced the word "Paris" with "New York" under Andy's column. "At least now they have one thing in common."
"Show's back on," said Caroline. "Mm, Daniel Meade. Isn't he hot?"
"Yeah, he is," Cassidy agreed. "God, I love Eric Mabius."
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