Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Summer of Swimming, Fun, and Boys

Before we get into my sequel, I need to take a minute to discuss Is There Life After Boys?, the sequel to We Hate Everything But Boys.

This book is actually less about eating ice cream with boys (check out the dude with the feathered hair!) than it is about growing apart from old friends. And aside from having the word "Boys" in the title, it has nothing to do with my book—but I happened to find a copy of it at Goodwill over the weekend, so I just reread it. And I have to clear the air. You may recall that I had strong memories of one of the 12-year-old girls in this book getting "felt up." I am simultaneously ashamed and relieved to report that this does not happen. So I've either been confusing it lo these many years with some other book with a getting-to-second-base plotline (entirely possible) or else I just fabricated the whole scenario. Which has me a bit worried. At any rate, I do not want to spread rumors about Darlene. She may have grown a rack earlier than the other girls, but that doesn't mean she lets the boys touch it.

Onward now to my sequel, which—I'm gonna tell it to you straight—is kind of a letdown. There are none of the runaways, broken limbs, or tween prostitutes we've come to expect.
Granted, it quite possibly would have become amazing had I given it the time to develop (with "Swimming" in the title, I think a near-drowning is pretty much obligatory, don't you?) , but I had moved on to bigger and better books before it had the chance. But can we just jump ahead and ignore the further adventures of Maggie and friends? Nay, I say. NAY.


My name is Sherry Marks. I'm about to tell you about one summer I'll never forget.

My friends, Sam(antha) Trainline, Kelly Marti
son, and Maggie Kertz, and I started a club called, WE CAN LIVE WITHOUT BOYS. We had to change it when Kelly started going with this guy, Brian. So it turned into, WE CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT BOYS.

Well, I got home from Brian's end of the year party. I was excited because all 4 of us had gotten our first kisses that night.

So, like a good season premiere episode on TV, this book picks up right where the last one left off. Only this time we're treated to the POV of Sherry. Is she as obnoxious as Maggie? Is such a thing even possible? I'll let you be the judge.

"Sherry," called my mom. "Come here." I slowly strolled into the living room. Did I look like I'd just been kissed? I hope not.

Ummm... not unless you have a hickey or something. Which, seriously, I don't even want to imagine a fourth grader with a hickey... and now I just did. Bleeeeccchhhh.

"Your grandpa in New York just had a heart attack." my mom said solemnly.

"You mean dad's dad?" I asked.

She nodded. "He just left a few minutes ago."

"This," I said. "Is going to ruin our vacation plans."

Yes, he knew you were planning on going to Disney World, so he clogged his arteries ON PURPOSE just to spite you, Sherry! Mua ah ah ah ah! (If, you know, it's possible for one to muster up evil laughter whilst in the ICU.)

"We've changed them. Go pack. We're leaving for New York tomorrow morning after breakfast." replied my mother.

"Watch out, New York. Cause here we come." said my 8-year-old sister, Dia.

This is the kind of sassy dialogue I would hear on TV and then try to incorporate into my everyday vernacular with less-than-stellar results.

"This ought to be good." I said to Dia. We were packing. I was helping her and she was helping me.

"What do you mean?" Dia asked me.

"What I mean is, we're ruining a perfectly good vacation to take care of a half-dead grandfather we don't even know."

Mua ah ah... wheeze.

"You always look at things so negatively." Dia told me. Negative was one of her last vocabulary words. "Think positive." Another vocabulary word.

"You're right." I said. "He's probably fully dead by now."

You guys, it's not that Sherry's lacking in compassion, it's just that they don't know him. So you can see why they wish their dad's father would just hurry up and DIE already so they can hit up some Space Mountain and chillax with adults dressed like cartoon characters. (Confession: I've never actually been to Disney World, so all of my Disney information comes from the first BSC Super Special.)

"We're staying at your cousin's house. You know, the Fletcher's." mom said. We had just gotten on the road.

"Are the Fletcher's the ones with the family of frogs?" asked Dia.

"No." answered my mother. "The Fletchers don't have frogs."

"Then what do they got?" Dia wanted to know.

"Have." corrected mom. "They're the ones we didn't visit last year."

"Oh no." I groaned. "Not the ones with the 5 boys."

"Yea." she said. "The ones with the 5 boys."

Wait, wait, wait—the titular "boys" are her COUSINS? I feel cheated! And when is the "fun" going to kick in? So far it's more like a summer of cousins, whining, and palliative care.

I started to write a letter to Maggie:

Dear Maggie,

You wouldn't believe it. We're staying at my cousin's. Those cousins are 5 boys. UGH. There names are Adam, Ben(jamin), Chuckie, Don(ald), and Ernie. Write and see if I survive.

Half-dead but still trying,

I also made a chart that looked like this:


I really loved a good chart. There are MANY later books that have charts... but often no actual narration. When you already know everyone's names and ages, who needs it?

Great, I thought. I'm closest in age to Ben. Dia's with Chuckie. It's unbelievable that the 5 boys are each 2 years apart. I also think it's dumb to name them in alphabetical order.

It's too bad Sherry doesn't have an opinion!

A letter to Sam:

Dear Sam,

How's California? Guess what, I'm stuck in New York with 5 boy cousins. GRODY. Ben is 10, like me. Chuckie is 8, like Dia. I'll keep you up-to-date.

Slowly Dying,

Spending the summer with five boys is obviously a fate worse than death. Also, I like how all of the club members' families left on their vacations the absolute SECOND that school let out. Do you think Sam has gotten Kirk Cameron's autograph yet???

"We're there." shouted mom, pulling into a driveway.

"A pool." shrieked Dia.

"Wow." I said. I sniffed. Sure enough, Dia's ultra-sensitive nose had picked up the chlorine scent.

"Joy, Luke," called mom. "We're here."

Two little boys burst through the front door.

"My name," said the taller one, "Is Don. This is Ernie." He pointed to the other boy.

"I'm Dia. That's Sherry. I smell your pool."

Why does that sound like a euphemism for something dirty?

Just then the 3 other boys came out.

"I'm Adam." We shook hands.

Cousins: kind of like business associates.

"I'm" We nodded.

"I'm Ben. Wanna go for a dip?" We jumped into the pool.

I loved that beautiful feeling of the cool water covering my body. Their pool had a diving board and a slide. I couldn't believe that, Ernie, 4 years old, could do perfect backward dives. It was amazing.

Okay, at least the swimming part wasn't a lie.

"Get out of that water." shrieked Aunt Joy. At that, my mom ran off the porch from talking to Uncle Dave.
[Um, wasn't his name Luke, like, a second ago?] "Children these days," continued Aunt Joy. That's when Uncle Dave strolled over. "You'd think they'd have enough sense to.... well enough decentcy to..... not jump into pools with their clothes on." Aunt Joy finally finished.

"My god..." gasped mom. WHY? Then I realized why. Dia and I were wearing our brand-new outfits she bought us. "Ooooooops." I muttered.

Dia clamped her hand over her mouth.

Jumping into a pool while fully clothed? That was the highest drama I could come up with? This sucker was doomed from the start.

The 3 older boys put on innocent faces. Don picked the toe-jam from between his toes.
[Uh, GRODY!] Ernie sucked his thumb.

Not such a hot first day, huh?

A letter to Kelly:


you lucky, lucky ducky
you've gone to Connecticutty
while I'm stuck in New York (not the city)
with 5 boys
instead of Florida
playing with toys in Disney World

help me,

And that's it. After Sherry wrote the same letter for the third time (with half-assed limerickish flair this go-round), I gave up on this crap. I actually thought so little of this sequel that it didn't even get its own manila folder! That speaks volumes, no?

NEXT TIME: My obsession with detective work leads me to write the world's most unmysterious mystery.


zanne said...

That's it? I wish there was more! I think this story had definite potential.

I can't wait for your next story! I have always loved mysteries.

carey said...

all of my disney world information comes from babysitters on board! as well. also, i love sherry's habit of inserting various symbols between the letters of people's names, and i think i'm going to have to use that from now on. thanks, s?a?d?a!

nancy said...

gosh, maggie is not the only tease around here! that was so exasperatingly short, it ended just as i was getting ready for a good incestuous storyline, dammit.

-loved sherry's reaction to her grandpa's heart attack, what a bitch. i'm surprised her mother didn't tell her where to go.

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Lol, LOVE your stories. I too thought Sherry's reaction to her grandad being in hospital was hilariously cold.

Anonymous said...

The only felt up scene I remember in particular was from "Deenie" Judy Blume's book that made me want scoliosis at age 11, so I tried to fail the screening in 6th grade... =/