"Thank you," Dan says -- graciously, note, like a person who has heard of gratitude and etiquette -- "But you know I already have a subscription." (Of course you do. I bet the Humphreys sit around reading his copy every week discussing the shows they will never see, the shallow society happenings than which they are better, the foreign-language films they discuss at length but cannot understand. And those damnable cartoons: How they bewilder!) You might be forgiven for assuming that a simple copy of a readily available magazine would suffice, given Dan and Vanessa's shared pride in poverty, but you would not be correct. Vanessa hands the magazine to Serena, to more fully realize her triumph, and asks her to read the letter -- on official New Yorker letterhead! -- contained therein. "Dear Mr. Humphrey: We are pleased to advise you that we would like to publish your short story in our summer fiction issue featuring 'Twenty Under Twenty.'" It's a contest for young unknown writers such as Dan Humphrey, Vanessa explains over Dan's ejaculations, and she has procured (through foul lies and sneakthievery) and submitted a bit of Dan's no-doubt passionate prose, to the magazine's rousing acclaim. Which may or may not be believable, but we are not here to celebrate the mundane and believable, and besides, in the books these things happened with hilarious frequency. These kids were constantly inspiring new fragrances, pop songs, getting published or acquiring venture capital or the occasional three-picture Hollywood deal. This is one of the many wondrous things about Gossip Girl. (In the books, the piece published in the magazine was a poem called "SLUTS," and it was so awesome. I would reproduce it for you, dear reader, if I felt like combing through the archives here in my garret, but I'm afraid the chill Austin winter has sapped me of my ability to care quite that much. You'll have to trust me.)
Dan just about loses consciousness, and Serena's just dying for him, so kind and tender are her affections. "I haven't even read one of your stories!" she says excitedly, and Vanessa -- to be sure -- sticks her stupid face right up in there: "Oh, don't worry. He doesn't show them to anyone. I swiped this one out of his drawer on the pretense of borrowing a stapler." Which she did not return. I'm sure she bartered it at the Farmer's Market for a copy of Le Petit Prince in the original French, or a hand-dyed yak yurt, or whatever the hell she gets up to when not shadowing our principals like a deranged wife out of the misty Gothic heaths. Well, she's not that "into things," as we'll see, so perhaps she traded the stapler away for Annoying Lessons. Or free-trade organic shade-grown magic beans. Serena notes that the story in question is entitled "10-8-05," but as in her hazy Rolodex of memory, all she sees is that she spent October drunk off her ass, and thus cannot connect the dots, she wonders aloud what the story might reference. (It has to do with mermaids, as one might already figure, should one have ever seen a television show before.) Dan ignores the question, the better to lavish yet more gratitude and attention on Vanessa, unto calling it "the best present ever," which it totally is, not least because of how violently improbable it is. Vanessa's huge smile is gorgeous and agenda-free, but Serena's Spidey-sense begins kicking in sometime around 4-6 weeks too late, and behind them all, the Constance Billard Choir continues to pop, lock, crunch, creak, and weave their hurly-burly. Imagine, if you will, that the Pussycat Dolls were finally diagnosed and able to compete in the Special Olympics, and imagine further that synchronized musical performance were an event: their fiercest competition is now finishing their set, in the varied and delightful Charlie's Angels silhouettes favored by professional performers the world over. Strike a pose! Mm, you look weird. Strike a more flattering pose! ...No?