Monday, August 18, 2008

We Can Live Without Boys... Can't We?,
part 1

The following story probably would not have been written had I not discovered Linda Lewis's We Hate Everything But Boys. My friend Katie and I were OBSESSED with this book. We were always wanting to reread it, but it seemed to be perennially checked out from the library, and B. Dalton at the mall so did not stock it. Of course, this only added to its mystique.

My memory of this book was that three boy-gaga friends form a club called—you guessed it!—We Hate Everything But Boys, and basically spend the rest of the book trying to figure out if their crushes actually like them back. Mostly I remembered that one of the characters got "felt up," which Katie and I thought was scaaaaandalous at the time. So I decided—ahem, for the sake of the blog, that is—to hunt it down and reread it. Turns out the sordid boobie-touching doesn't even happen in this book! It must be in the next one, Is There Life After Boys? So I suppose my story was influenced by the pair—of books, that is, not Darlene's ta-tas. But don't worry! No prepubescent breasts will be fondled on my watch.

I have to say that on the reread, We Hate Everything But Boys is kind of... weird. When you think about it, even the club name is hilariously mind-boggling. They hate EVERYTHING but boys? Seriously? And the whole book has an autobiographical feel to it, and not just because the tomboy protagonist's name is Linda. It was published in 1985 and does not purport to be from an earlier era, but the girls do things like get club sailor hats (inside which they write the names of their "true loves"—the boys will surely never see that!) and purchase autograph books for the last day of sixth grade. And of course "everyone knows" the sixteenth page of your autograph book is for the one you love! ...Except that I was only a few years younger than these characters in 1985 and I had no clue what an autograph book was (we had this new-fangled thing called a "yearbook" in sixth grade), much less the significance of the sixteenth page.

Plus, there are all manner of irritating subplots that act as roadblocks to the real plot. Losing your teacher's subway tokens? Boooring! I don't care whether that happened to you in real life, Linda Lewis! Get back to the boy chasing! On the other hand, she uses the word "sexy" a lot, which is mildly creepy, as her characters are 11 years old.

However, I can see the appeal it had in fourth grade. In one book, Linda gets her period, buys a bra, AND kisses a boy! Actually, two boys!!! This last bit happens via a kissing game called Post Office, in which couples go in the bedroom to "deliver the mail." Sexy! Recipients can select either the regular (kiss on the cheek) or special delivery (kiss on the lips, whooooooo!).

Nothing at all similar happens in my book; mostly I just plagiarized the general idea of a boy-centric club—but in reverse. My characters hate BOYS but are cool with everything else. Well, not really, but they make at least a half-hearted attempt.

And check it out—this one has promo material! Though I'll warn you, it contains some spoilers:


Maggie and her friend, Sherry, make up the club, "WE CAN LIVE WITHOUT BOYS" to get back at the 2 boys they like and their nosy friend, Marsha. Soon they team up with Samantha and Kelly. Then Kelly's trouble making cousin, Emmy, comes to their school. Nothing could be better except Emmy dying. Then Brian moves in and Maggie falls in love, but Brian doesn't feel the same way. Maggie sees everything that's wrong in her life. She hates Kelly and feels like she's losing her best friend, Sherry. She feels left out of her family, and decides to run away. Nothing is going right.

Yes, you read that right: Nothing could be better except Emmy dying. Ahh, just like the marketing professionals.

[the telling ...CAN'T WE? was appended later]

The day started out pretty bad. Sherry, my best friend, had the 24-hour-flu. Then, rushing to catch my bus, I forgot to eat breakfast. I missed the bus anyway.

When I finally got to school my mom kissed me in front of the whole class (she had to give me a ride to school). Even Timmy Crane, the boy I have a gigantic crush on. Talk about embarassment.

In science, our teacher felt we were mature enough to dissect worms. YUCK. Just when I felt I totally was going to barf, Marsha slipped me a note. I gave her a grateful smile. She raised her eyebrows. I opened it. It said: HE'S LOOKING AT YOU. I swiveled around to find Jon Peterson staring at me. Then, he pushed his glasses up on his nose and pretended to be interested in his worm. I looked at Marsha and we rolled our eyes. What a nerd, I mouthed.

The bell rang. In the back of the room, Robby Mandel let out a shriek of delight. Marsha giggled. She likes Robby. Why she does is beyond me. In my opinion, Robby is totally GROSS.

I thought I was going to miss the bus on the way home, too. Everyone was pushing and shoving. Robby and Marcus Kramer were fighting and Marsha was at Robby's side through the whole thing shouting, "GO, ROBBY, GO". At least I didn't miss the bus this time.

This day doesn't really sound that horrible. I mean, it sounds like a bad day for Sherry, what with the puking and all.

When I got home I grabbed some cookies and rushed to Sherry's. Mrs. Marks let me in. I bowed. She said, "Sherry's in her room."
"Thank you, madame."
"Am I that old?"
"Old enough to be my mother."
She laughed. "GET" she said.

I opened Sherry's door. Rock stars were all over her bed.

I believe this means her bed is covered with issues of BOP and Tiger Beat, not that George Michael and Simon LeBon are her nursemaids.

I cleared a space.

24-hour flu be damned! These girls need to gossip!

"Is this seat taken?" I asked.
"Only by you."
"Jon was looking at me again."
"Boy," she said "he really has a thing for you."
"Ha ha. Robby and Mark were fighting."
Sherry gasped. "What did Marsha say?"
"She should be a cheerleader."
"Only if Robby's there to cheer for. I hear he's moving."
"What did Marsha say?"
"I didn't tell her."
"Oh, it'll break her heart."
"Who'll be class clown?"
"Don't look at me."
"Maggie, your ma wants you home." called Mrs. Marks.
"OK" Sherry yelled for me.
"Are you coming to school tomorrow? You seem well to me." I told Sherry, getting up off the bed.
"Well," she said "If ma'll let me."
"See you tomorrow, Sherry." I shrieked, running downstairs.
"Oh, Maggie, you are such a tease." Sherry yelled back.

Back at home, Cassie was painting her toenails. I groaned. I hate it when she does that. It takes up too much space.

Seriously, how much space can that possibly take up?

"Not again" I yelled.
"Shut up, you over-grown twirp." Cassie threw a pillow at me.
"Oh," I shouted "The joys of having an older sister."

Cassie aimed another pillow at me. Her aim is not that good. She knocked a bottle of nail polish over. She screamed. I jumped. Patrick walked in. His eyes were wide and full of amusement.

In this book, most emotions are conveyed strictly through the eyes.

Following Patrick was Steph. Following Steph was Mitchell. Mitch whistled. Following Mitch was Hilda, THE HOUSE CLEANER.

Remember when I talked about Marilyn Gould's book Friends True and Periwinkle Blue? Yeah, that book features a housekeeper named Hilde. Coincidence? I highly doubt it.

"OK" said Hilda "Cassie, clean up this mess. How many times do I have to tell ya." She shook her head shamefully.

As Cassie picked up her stuff I thought I heard her mumble something about a house full of cuckoos. Cassie is so DUMB. Hilda stopped her before she got upstairs. She made her wipe it up with a wet rag. Her nail job got ruined.

Mua ah ah ah ah!

"HEY" called Mitch "PHONE"
"THANKS, MITCH THE ITCH" I called back.
It was Marsha. "Listen," she said. "Robby invited me to the movies. Isn't that great? I just can't wait. He said he had something serious to tell me."
"You're lucky." Poor Marsha. She's so excited.
"I'm so excited. I thought maybe we could go on a triple date. You know, Me-Robby, You-Timmy, Sherry-Drake. Timmy and Drake were busy. Robby said it was for the better."
"Maybe," I said "This is the beginning of a heavy relationship."
Heavy, yes. Long, no.
Marsha giggled. "Maggie," she said "You are such a tease."
Why do people keep calling me a tease, I wondered.
"Look, Mags, I gotta go, OK? 'Bye."

I told Sherry the whole conversation with Marsha.
"Ya know what I think? I think Timmy an' Drake are chicken."
"I think they hate us." I answered.
"We'll get 'em."
"I don't like Drake anymore." said Sherry.
"I don't like Timmy either." I said.
"Why did we ever like them?" Sherry asked me.
"I dunno. But, I can live without BOYS."
"Me too." agreed Sherry.
"WE CAN LIVE WITHOUT BOYS." we shouted in unison as we ran down the street toward the bus stop.

Well, that was an abrupt about-face. Also, can we pause for a second here? Because... DRAKE? I named Sherry's (anti)love interest DRAKE? The hell?

The bus smelled faintly of grapefruit and rotten eggs.

Oh, the memories...

Sherry and I held our noses as we walked down the aisle toward our regular seat. I sat down by the window because if Sherry does she will get sick to her stomach. I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

It probably has more to do with the grapefruit and rotten eggs than her proximity to a window.

Sherry and I are glad Marsha doesn't ride the bus. If she did, we wouldn't be able to talk about her. That would be terrible because we do it a lot.

This is our first major clue that these are Not-So-Nice Girls.

"How come Marsha was the first to get a guy and a date?" Sherry questioned. Sherry looked puzzled by the puzzled look on my face.

"I thought we could live without them."

Her face brightened. She smiled a big, warm smile. "Oh, we most certainly can." I could tell Sherry had something up her sleeve. I tried to drag it out of her but, the only thing I suceeded in doing was changing the big, warm smile into a small, deep frown.

At school we tried to dodge Marsha but, somehow she always popped up when not wanted. Sherry and I were getting pretty mad. Fed up, too. All Marsha talked about was her, Robby, and their everlasting relationship. Sherry and I tried hard to hide our smirks.

The day of Marsha' big date. UGH. Sometimes it is hard to be friends with Marsha. I don't know how I do it myself. It's really that hard. Hey, maybe it's even harder than that. I just don't know.

I'm sure sainthood is riiiiiiight around the corner, Mags.

"GUYS, WAIT UP." called Marsha. She finally reached us. She stopped to catch her breath. "Ya know," she continued "It seems like you guys have been avoiding me all week." Sherry and I stifled our giggles and tried to put looks of innocece on our faces. Marsha's face was mad.
"I KNEW IT." Marsha cried. "WHY? YOU'RE JUST JEALOUS."

Amen, Marsha. A-freaking-men.

"ARE NOT. AND YOU KNOW IT." Sherry yelled back.
"OH," she screamed. "IS THAT WHAT I AM?"
"YEAH." agreed Sherry. "SPOILED ROTTEN BRAT."
Marsha narrowed her eyes into slits and yelled out, "I'LL GET YOU IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO."

You tell 'em, Marsha!

So I'm realizing that this one starts off a little slow. But I promise you, it becomes entirely ridiculous. Sit tight.

NEXT TIME: New kids, smoking, and a truly horrifying Halloween costume idea. Oh yeah, and somewhere along the line the club gets formed.


Colie said...

Dude, this is epic! I can't believe you were able to write a 20 page story in Year 4. I would have got to page 2 and dropped off mid-sentence ;-)

zanne said...

I think this story is great so far! I can't wait to read the rest. None of my stories were ever this long--I am impressed!

Ellie said...

This is great already! There's some great dialogue, very sassy!

LongWinter said...

I quite like the idea of a nursemaid Simon Le Bon.

I can't wait for the next episode!

NoseInANovel said...

@longwinter: I agree. next time I'm ill, I think I'd like Bon Jovi to be there.

Jessica said...

How did I totally miss this sexy book?

linley said...

I can see where your use of CAPS for EMPHASIS began. Haha.

BadKat said...

Dissection in 4th grade, whoa! Never in a million years would my class have been given knives!