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Name: Portia Hitchcock-Fredrickson
Date of birth: 15 September 1981 (has an identical twin sister, Juliet)
Place of birth: Atlantic City
Year I created her: 1998
Role: Main character in ensemble cast
I just knew my dear Portia would be the topic of my P day. Even though she starts out as a rather unlikeable person because of her self-absorbed materialism and haughty attitude, she really grew on me, and she’s just so fun to write, like Daphne. A lot of her behavior is just so over the top and silly it’s meant to be funny. And beneath it all, you know she’s fiercely devoted to her identical twin Juliet. After a misguided suicide attempt, a horrible, last-ditch effort (inspired by a soap opera no less!) to try to make her decidedly un-mutual crush notice her, she finally starts to grow up, become more mature and self-aware, not be so impulsive and childish.
She spends Summer 1997 in France, and it’s a very healing experience for not only Portia, but also Juliet, who’s just had an abortion and dumped her longtime boyfriend Dylan. And when she comes home, because of her improved attitude and much more tasteful wardrobe, her crush Matthew finally notices her and starts going out with her. When we put out positive energy and are true to ourselves, we get rewarded back in kind.
Portia and Juliet are the surprise late-life children of Violet, who’s already had two sets of triplets and one set of twins. She grows up surrounded by ancestral wealth, and can’t believe anyone would deliberately shun a rich lifestyle if they were born or married into money. Portia is also all about the latest fads and fashions, and having the perfect reputation. People who dress conservatively, don’t like the latest musical stars, who care about non-material things, and who live a hippie lifestyle (like her sister Rose’s family) are freaks and deserving of mockery in her book. She’s also quite hard on Dylan because he’s so shy and quiet, instead of being more traditionally masculine and assertive.
In an attempt to make Matthew (the late-life child of Violet’s friend Helouise) notice her, she starts wearing very slutty clothes and makeup. This of course earns her all the wrong kind of attention from other guys (and girls), but it doesn’t deter her. Several of her much-older cousins are horrified that she’s inspired their own, even-younger daughters to start dressing like that too. Portia adds fuel to the fire by performing her own navel piercing when the mall piercer refused to pierce her at only twelve years old. She’s even more of a laughingstock when the self-piercing becomes horribly infected and lands her in the hospital.
And then, hoping one last time to make Matthew notice her and love her, she slits her wrists in the school bathroom on Graduation Day 1997. Her young Deaf niece Clarissa puts two and two together while reading a soap opera update and seeing the same story Portia referenced in regard to what she was planning to do to get Matthew’s attention. Afterwards, she’s like the King of Cyprus waking up from a dreamlike state when rebuked by the Gascon woman in The Decameron. Her former life was folly, and now she’s on the path to take steps to reform herself, both inside and out.
Just a small sampling of typical/favorite Portia lines:
“Everyone in fourth grade laughs at us!” Portia shouted. “And the boy in third grade I have a crush on asked me why my big sister Rose and her kids are hippies!”
“How dare you, Juliet! Just for that, I’m telling Mother that you have a crush on Dylan!”
“It could be worse,” Portia shrugged. “They could be boinking goats.”
“Wealth traitor,” Portia hissed.
“Go move to San Francisco,” Portia sneered.
“Did you even know where to put it, Cadmar, after twenty-eight virginal years?” Portia laughed.
“Matthew shall me my heart’s only desire until I die.”
“I’m an old maid at eleven,” Portia sulked forlornly.
Portia came by wearing tight, low-cut jeans and a tank top. “Wait till I spread it around school that my sister Rose is still breastfeeding her non-infant children! Jerod starts kindergarten next year. His life’s gonna be Hell.”
“I’d never wear hippie rags or a nightgown.” Portia sauntered off to the mall.
“The Sixties ended, like, twenty-four years ago.” Portia went out the door looking like a slut.
“You don’t obey orders well, do you?” Portia opened up her snakeskin purse and threw a few Madisons up into the air. “I told you already what I want for my birthday.”
“That’s twenty-five thousand right there, and if that’s not enough, my mother also has a few Jemmy Madisons to spare. We own this town, us, the Sewards, and the Greens.”
“Where is that stoner brother-in-law of mine? He should be arrested for child abuse!”
“I still think it’s disgusting how you’re marrying your cousin,” Portia announced. “We’re not Southerners.” (The couple in question, Jerry and Lillian, are actually first-cousins once-removed.)
“Oh, Matthew will be mine before long. My bustline’s getting bigger, I’m beautiful, and all my goodies are outlined in my tight clothes.”
Portia had also excused herself from the party and gone up to the nursery. She scoffed at the Pop Art posters hanging on the wall and took one of Mike’s diaper pins. With the aide of the long mirror propped up against a wall, she pulled her skintight jeans down a bit and stuffed a washcloth in her mouth. Then she pushed the safety pin into her upper navel. She took a size zero like her 64-year-old mother still did, so there wasn’t much skin to have to push through. Portia ignored the blood seeping out and proceeded to insert a silver ring with a pink stone, which she’d bought at the piercing place at the mall. She’d told them it was a present for Randi.
“I have my dream. After this heals, I’ll get it redone. And then I’ll snag Matthew.”
“I am planning something bound to earn his attention and get him to truly see what folly there is in him ignoring my sad plight. If he doesn’t ask me out after that, nothing will get to him.”
“I’d gain a thousand pounds if it’s what Matthew wanted!”
“You’re inviting yourself to our party? The old me would’ve been flattered, but now I’m finally over my obsession with you.”
You know I haven’t altered my personality that much. I still like fashionable clothes, fast food so long as it’s not beef, and the singers on MTV.”