Shane and Jenny and Jo and Amy

The L Word, for all its flaws, was at least able to meaningfully address the Jo vs. Amy problem by making Jo and Amy (Shane and Jenny) fuck and fall in love, an absolutely correct response that is unfortunately not available to the characters in Little Women.

“Oh, Shane, you are not going to wear that awful hat? It's too absurd! You shall not make a guy of yourself,” remonstrated Alice, as Shane tied down with a red ribbon the broad-brimmed, old-fashioned leghorn she had been sent as a joke.

“I just will, though, for it’s capital, so shady, light, and big. It will make fun, and I don't mind being a guy if I'm comfortable.” With that Shane marched straight away and the rest followed, a bright little band of Los Angelenos, all looking their best in summer suits, with happy faces under the jaunty hatbrims.

Billie ran to meet and present them to his friends in the most cordial manner. The lawn was the reception room, and for several minutes a lively scene was enacted there. Bette was grateful to see that Miss Dani, though heterosexual, was dressed with a simplicity which lesbians would do well to imitate. Shane understood why Billie ‘primmed up his mouth’ when speaking of Dana, for that young lady had a standoff-don't-touch-me air, which contrasted strongly with the free and easy demeanor of the other girls. Jenny found Marina a well-mannered, merry, little person, and after staring dumbly at one another for a few minutes, they suddenly became very good friends.

[N.B. For this to work, you have to imagine Shane is literate, rather than a gloriously featureless himbo. Good luck!]

When they got home, they found Jenny reading in the parlor. She assumed an injured air as they came in, never lifted her eyes from her book, or asked a single question. Perhaps curiosity might have conquered resentment, if Tina had not been there to inquire and receive a glowing description of the play. On going up to put away her best crop top, Shane's first look was toward the bureau, for in their last quarrel Jenny had soothed her feelings by turning Shane’s top drawer upside down on the floor. Everything was in its place, however, and after a hasty glance into her various closets, bags, and boxes, Shane decided that Jenny had forgiven and forgotten her wrongs.

There Shane was mistaken, for next day she made a discovery which produced a tempest. Bette, Tina, and Alice were sitting together, late in the afternoon, when Shane burst into the room, looking excited and demanding breathlessly, “Has anyone taken my book?”

Bette and Tina said, “No,” at once, and looked surprised. Jenny poked the fire and said nothing. Shane saw her color rise and was down upon her in a minute.

“Jenny, you've got it!”

“No, I haven't.”

“You know where it is, then!”

“No, I don't.”

“That's a lie!” cried Shane, taking her by the shoulders, and looking fierce enough to frighten a much stronger child than Jenny. But Jenny adored making Shane fierce, and was no more frightened than if she were a cat.

“It isn't. I haven't got it, don't know where it is now, and don't care.”

“You know something about it, and you'd better tell at once, or I'll — make you.” And Shane gave her a slight shake, which was of course quite the wrong thing to do to Jenny if you wanted her to stop doing anything.

“Scold as much as you like, you'll never see your silly old book again,” cried Jenny, getting excited in her turn.

“Why not?”

“I burned it up.”

“What! My little book I was so fond of, and worked over, and meant to finish before Kit got home? Have you really burned it?” said Shane, turning very pale, while her eyes kindled and her hands clutched Jenny nervously.

“Yes, I did! I told you I'd make you pay for being so cross yesterday, and I have, so...”

Jenny got no farther, for Shane’s temper mastered her, and she thrust Jenny away, crying in a passion of grief and anger...

“You wicked, wicked girl! I never can write it again, and I'll never forgive you as long as I live.”

“Good,” Jenny said, throwing the nearest dinner-plate into the fire. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

On New Year's Eve the parlor was deserted, for the two younger girls were out entertaining themselves and the two elder were absorbed in the all-important business of ‘getting ready for the party.’ Simple as their arrangements were, there was a great deal of running up and down, laughing and talking, and at one time a strong smell of burned hair pervaded the house. Alice wanted a few curls about her face, and Shane undertook to pinch the papered locks with a pair of hot tongs.

“Ought they to smoke like that?” asked Bette from her perch on the bed.

“It's the dampness drying,” replied Shane confidently.

“What a queer smell! It's like burned feathers,” observed Jenny, smoothing her own pretty curls with a superior air.

“There, now I'll take off the papers and you'll see a cloud of little ringlets,” said Shane, putting down the tongs. “They teach you about drying smells like, the first week of hairdressing school.”

She did take off the papers, but no cloud of ringlets appeared, for the hair came with the papers, and the horrified hairdresser laid a row of little scorched bundles on the bureau before her victim.

“Oh, oh, oh! What have you done? I’m spoiled! I can’t go! My hair, oh, my hair!” wailed Alice, looking with despair at the uneven frizzle on her forehead.

“Just my luck! You shouldn't have asked me to do it. I always spoil everything femme. I'm so sorry, but the tongs were too hot, and so I've made a mess,” groaned poor Shane, regarding the little black pancakes with tears of regret.

“It isn't spoiled. Just frizzle it, and tie your ribbon so the ends come on your forehead a bit, and it will look like the last fashion. I've seen many girls do it so,” said Jenny consolingly. “And Shane, you’re a professional hairstylist; quit pretending like femme shit is somehow too complicated for you to understand.”

After a minute, when Alice’s tears did not subside, Jenny crossed over to their couch and picked up the scissors, heaving a great sigh as she did so. “There,” she said with satisfaction, cutting off her plait, “Now no one will be talking about your hair tonight. Can we go?”

Jodi, having dutifully gone to college to please her grandfather, was now getting through it in the easiest possible manner to please herself. A universal favorite, thanks to money, manners, much talent, and the kindest heart that ever got its owner into scrapes by trying to get other people out of them, she stood in great danger of being spoiled, and probably would have been, like many another promising lesbian, if she had not possessed a talisman against evil in the memory of the kind old bisexual who was bound up in her success.

Being only ‘a glorious human boi,’ of course she frolicked and flirted, grew dandified, aquatic, sentimental, or gymnastic, as college fashions ordained, hazed and was hazed, talked slang, and more than once came perilously near suspension and expulsion. But as high spirits and the love of fun were the causes of these pranks, she always managed to save herself by frank confession, honorable atonement, or the irresistible power of persuasion which she possessed in perfection. In fact, she rather prided himself on his narrow escapes, and liked to thrill the girls with graphic accounts of her triumphs over wrathful tutors, dignified professors, and vanquished enemies. These classmates were heroes in the eyes of the girls, who never wearied of the exploits of ‘our fellows,’ and were frequently allowed to bask in the smiles of these great creatures, when Jodi brought them home .

Jenny especially enjoyed this high honor, and became quite a belle among them, for her ladyship early felt and learned to use the gift of fascination with which she was endowed. Bette was too much absorbed in her private and particular Tina to care for any other lords of creation, and Dana too shy to do more than peep at them and wonder how Jenny dared to order them about so, but Shane felt quite in her own element, and found it very difficult to refrain from imitating their gentlemanly attitudes, phrases, and feats. They all liked Jo immensely, and most of them fell in love with her, some of them worrying that this made her less gay, and the rest worrying this made themselves gayer than they’d ever planned on being — though very few escaped without paying the tribute of a sentimental sigh or two at Jenny’s shrine.

“I don't get it,” Dana said one afternoon. “I mean, what does Shane have that I don't have?”

It has to do with her attitude,” said Tina.

“I’ve got attitude,” protested Dana, flinging down her embroidery and scowling. Marina attempted to soothe her: “It’s because she’s so withholding.”

“No, it’s because she’s confident,” Tina said, careful not to betray either for the sake of the other.

“No,” Dana said, “it’s because she’s so stupid and stupid people are too dumb to be insecure.”

Jenny stirred and sighed in her sleep, and as if eager to begin at once to mend her fault, Shane looked up with an expression on her face which it had never worn before.

“I let the sun go down on my anger. I wouldn't forgive her, and today, if it hadn't been for Nikki, it might have been too late! How could I be so wicked?” said Shane, half aloud, as she leaned over Jenny, softly stroking the wet hair scattered on the pillow.

As if she heard, Jenny opened her eyes, and held out her arms, with a smile that went straight to Shane’s heart. “Shane,” she said all in a rush, “You know that it was you, right? When I said that you broke my heart? I was talking about you. You know, when I said it I felt like my—my—my heart was breaking. I tried to tell you all week how sorry I am. I’m not ever gonna hurt you like that again. I also realized that I’m in love with you. Now I’m like all those stupid girls.”

They hugged one another close, in spite of the blankets, and everything was forgiven and forgotten in one hearty kiss.

You can pre-order my next book, Something That May Shock and Discredit You (forthcoming February 2020), here or here.