Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Friendship: The Book

Once I realized I was writing a series, I knew I had to have a book that would prepare my readers for all of the boy craziness, girl bitchiness, and natural disasters that lay ahead. (All right, all right, so I never made it that far with the disasters. I still feel pretty confident that Friendship lies on a major fault line.)

I needed a Kristy's Great Idea, but by this time I had read Baby-sitters on Board! too, and I was powerless to resist the lure of the Super Special style. I mean, what better way to introduce my 100 characters than to let each of them narrate a chapter? Plus, the abundant narration might help to distract from the fact that my book had no plot. SOLD!

Actually, I'm not entirely sure what the plan was here, but I do have three chapters, each narrated by a different fifth grade girl. Bizarrely, while there are only three chapters, there are actually two drafts of the story in the folder. ?! It looks like I started a rewrite circa sixth grade. The differences between the two manuscripts are pretty negligible, put I'll be sure to point out any amusing changes.

Now, are you guys ready to start fifth grade? Again?

Friendship Books #1: Friendship Begins

Just the ten of us starring mom, dad, Toby, Syra, Gloria, Peter, Evie, Hope, Faith, and Patience Cuse. Today's show is about BBBBBBBIIIIIIIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

The first edit happened right off the bat. Maybe Just the Ten of Us was passé by 1990? I don't know, but I rewrote the opening paragraph as:

I was right in the middle of a very good dream about a fairy godmother who was letting me change my name. "When I say the magic words and tap you on the head with my wand." she said. "You will have a new name." I nodded. "Abracadabra hocus pocus." she chanted. She leaned over and was just about to tap me on the head when-


Combined, the intro paragraphs let us know that nothing much has changed with our old friend Syra Cuse: She still has an embarrassingly large family, and she still has an embarrassingly sucky name.

I leaned over and pressed the button to stop my alarm. Why does that always happen to me? Then I remembered, today was the first day of fifth grade and we were starting a new school today because our old one burnt down.

Apparently the school fire was a popular child author plot device. But hey, this presents something of a problem. This is supposed to be the first book in the series (as clearly indicated by the #1), and yet the preadolescent promo material for Syra Cuse describes events that happened prior to this: the Cuses moving to town, the birth of the triplets, etc. What gives? Well, either I was going to iron out these inconsistencies at some later date (probably the same hypothetical point in time at which I was going to finish writing all 852 of these stories) or, like any true series writer, I was prepared to throw chronological caution to the wind. Time was going to pass in Friendship, and at the same time it was not going to pass at all. Fifth grade 4-eva!

I heard mom walk into the bathroom and throw Toby's cat, Kal-Kan out. One of the triplets screamed and mom grumbled. I climbed down off the bunk-bed. I shook my 8½-year-old sister, Gloria. She opened her bright blue eyes and pushed her silky blond hair out of her face. Why didn't I look more like her?

"Friendship." said Gloria. She was wide awake. Friendship is the name of our new school. "I heard your alarm go off."

"Wake up Evie." I said as Gloria bounced out of bed. Evie (Evelyn) just turned 5 and she was starting kindergarten.

I ran into the bathroom
[Dude! Mrs. Cuse must be the world's fastest pee-er!] before Toby or Gloria could. Mom was waking up Toby (13) and Peter (6). Peter is the homeless boy we adopted. [Told you so.] He was starting kindergarten too.

I heard my baby sister triplets, Hope, Faith, and Patience gurgling. They are nine months now. Well, 8½.

My mom insisted that the triplets should really be named Faith, Hope, and Charity á la 1 Corinthians 13:13. But I totally ignored her because the Guns N' Roses single "Patience" was hugely popular when I authored this. The Bible or G N' R Lies? Please! There's no contest.

It was then that I noticed that there was rain beating on the house. But there was no thunder or lightning. We get so many bad storms around here, but why today? Of all days? Who knows.

I walked out of the bathroom and mom said, "You're going to walk to school today." I gave her a look and she said, "Go get dressed." [The rewrite changed this to, "Go get dressed, Syra," which allows the next paragraph to actually make sense.]

Oh yeah, you pronounce my name Sara, but my geeky mother thinks it's cute spelling it S-Y-R-A since our last name is Cuse and I was born in Syracuse, New York. We are always moving. We moved here last year. I met Murphy McBrien last year when we were both new and my other friend is Chelsea Burroughs who has lived here almost all her life and is very rich. Some people think she is a snobbishly spoiled brat because she spends her money on clothes. She has very exotic tastes.

Huh, maybe this is why I like Chelsea's outfits. I too must have exotic tastes.

I helped dress Evie and we went down to breakfast. Gloria was long gone.

Dad was reading the newspaper. "The sewer system is clogged and they're supposed to start work tomorrow. Sure hope this rain lets up."

"Hello, my name is Foreshadowing. So nice to meet you!"

Yes, there was going to be a flood. I know this for certain because there's also a sheet of notebook paper in the folder that says:

1) There will be a flood

And that's the only idea. You can see why my stories never got very far.

"Wow." Toby said sarcastically. He is always grumpy when he wakes up. He still looks good.
[Um, ew. Thanks, V.C. Andrews. You'll be happy to know that line got the axe in the rewrite.] He used to be real shy and skinny, but over the summer he got some muscle and loosened up. He has blond hair and blue eyes like Gloria.

"TOBEE." whined Evie
[the rewrite adds: in her pathetic little voice. So much sisterly love!] "Are you gonna walk me to school?"

"No." I answered. "I am. Toby goes to the middle school."

"I can answer for myself." growled Toby. "I'm in seventh grade and I go to the junior high, but it's right down the street from your school, so I'll walk with you, but I'm going to walk with Chris too." I rolled my eyes, but it was a lie
[in the rewrite it's a total lie] because I like Chris. He's stuck-up Michelle Brewer's big brother. He is really cute and popular and started hanging with Toby this summer.

There was a knock on the door. Little Miss Muffet
[oooooh, burn!] ran to get it. She opened the door. It was Chris.

"Knocker out of order." giggled Gloria. She think it's hysterical because we don't have a knocker and our doorbell isn't working.

Little Miss Muffet is a big pain. I mean hear is great-looking Chris looking better than ever and Gloria says her stupid joke. I was so embarassed.

Chris just grinned his beautiful smile at Gloria and sat down right across the table from me.

I was dazed.

I'm in love.




Admit it, you guys have missed those asterisks.

#2: Murphy McBrien




Toby opened the door. I turned to oatmeal. No, it was worse than oatmeal. I had melted into a slush puppy!

Now you all know how crappy I am at Photoshop. Actually, I'm lying. I don't even have Photoshop, so I was forced to whip that up in Paint. That's almost as embarrassing as Little Miss Muffet's "knocker out of order" joke. (Which I'm not sure I really get, by the way. Maybe you have to be in elementary school?)

"Come in, Murphy." he muttered. Was that a hint of love I heard there? Probably not. What would a nice, adorable, and sweet seventh grade boy like Toby Cuse be doing with a frizzy headed, clumbsy, boring
[crossed out: vengeful!] 5th grade girl like me? Don't answer that.

Well, Murphy may have low self-esteem, but you can't really argue with her about the hair.

"Knocker out of order." Gloria yelled. What a stupid joke. My best friend, Syra, was sitting across the table from and staring at Toby's popular friend, Chris Brewer. He's OK.

My friend Casey recently e-mailed me the following hilarious quote from her elementary school diary, which she used to characterize one of the boys in our class: "He's not a dream boy, but he's not barf." I think this is a genius description, and one I'm going to try to employ more often. Therefore, Chris Brewer: not a dream boy, but not barf.

"Earth to Syra." I said. Syra looked up at me and turned red. She told me about her crush on Chris yesterday.

"Hi, Fee." She said. "Have a seat."

I sat down next to her and Evie and across from Gloria. I didn't want to be that obvious. I glanced at Toby.

Slush puppy, I thought to myself.

"Time to head out." said Mrs. Cuse.

Syra grabbed her backpack and umbrella. My hair was soaked and it must've looked like a frizzy mop from all the rain.

"Your parents actually let you walk over in the rain."

"Yeah." I said to Syra. "They go to work earlier now." My parents are high school teachers. I wanted to stick my frizzy mop head into her hall closet.

"Oh, yeah." said Syra. "Toby and Chris are walking with us today."

I almost fainted.

"OK." I said calmly. "I told Chelsea we'd meet her at the corner."

I can't believe I'll be walking with my dream boy.

I can't believe ANYONE is walking in this weather. What neglectful parents! Plus, who doesn't take their child—not to mention their adopted homeless orphan—to school on their first day of kindergarten? I was under the impression that was a milestone of sorts. Sandra and Carl, you are horrible parents. First the punchline name, and now this.

"Sure thing, Fee." said Syra. How could she act so uninterested?

I won't lose my cool.

The ten of us walked outside. Evie shrieked at the rain. Gloria knocked on the door and used her joke. Peter jumped into a puddle. I slipped and Toby caught me.

My hero.

I think I'm going to melt.

"TOBY AND MURPHY SITTING IN A TREE K-I-S-S-I-N-G." screamed Gloria. I was blushing furiously. Toby kicked Gloria. [What a sweet seventh grade boy!] He wasn't embarrassed.

It's hopeless.

I have no social life.

I want to sink into a puddle and die.

I really want to die.

I look at Toby.

Well, maybe death can wait!

Chelsea was at the corner, waving furiously. She was wearing a new black and hot pink jacket and a tight black mini skirt.

EXOTIC! Well, exotic dancer maybe?

She gets away with murder. She lives with her dad and he lets her do just about anything she wants. So Chelsea takes advantage of that.

I don't blame her.

We met Chelsea at the corner. She was chattering non stop until Gloria shrieked when the wind blew her dress up.

The wind was so wild now and we all had trouble walking except for Chelsea and the boys.
[I don't know what Chelsea's secret is. Her miniskirt has wind-repelling powers, perhaps? She's actually the smallest of the three girls.]

Then it blew Chelsea's hot pink umbrella so far away that it was useless to chase it. Chelsea swore under her breath.

We closed our umbrellas.

There was a sudden gust of wind. I grabbed Peter, Syra grabbed Evie, and Toby grabbed Gloria. All of us ducked under a tree as the wind blew off a large branch that almost landed on Chelsea.

Terrible, terrible parents all around.

There was rumble of thunder and jagged lightning cut through the sky.

Someone across the street screamed.

A cliffhanger!

#3: M*I*C*H*E*L*L*E B*R*E*W*E*R

"Shut up." hissed Ellen, but we were all in hysterics.

I was walking to school for the first time. I had always been bused before, but we lived closer so now I could walk to our new school, Friendship. I was walking with my two best friends, Kristin Seals and Ellen Irving.

Kris had just screamed because she saw the Cuse's, Murphy McBrien, Chelsea Burroughs, and my brother walking to school.

She probably scared the life out of them.

"I wonder," said Kris. "How Syra, Murphy, and Chelsea are actually walking to school with Toby and Chris."

"Me too." breathed Ellen. "They're so cute."

Definitely not barf!

I gagged myself. My brother? Cute?

There must be some mistake.

"You guys are really some gross-outs." I said.

"Oh, give it up, Michelle." said Ellen.

"They're hunks." shrieked Kris
[13-year-old hunks, yeow!], but I knew she wasn't too interested in them because she really likes Ryan Lorber.

"Completely." squealed Ellen.

"Gross-out." I muttered.

I glanced over at the Brady Bunch. I noticed Chesty's new outfit, complete with matching coat.

CHESTY?! Having seen the illustrations, I'm going to have to disagree.

"Check out Chesty's clothes." I said. "What a slut."

I promised you girl bitchiness, and by God, I'm going to deliver!

"I know." whispered Ellen. "She is such a spoiled brat."

"What gets on my nerves is her always showing off." said Kris.

"Tell me about it." moaned Ellen.

Crossed-out it says: Now we were tired of gossiping about the Geek-o's, Chesty mainly. That so needs to be added back in.

"Hey Ellen, your mom really let you walk when you might catch a COLD." gasped Kris, changing the subject like she always does.

We all giggled.

Ellen's mom is soooo overprotected.

It's totally grossed-out.

Just so you know, Michelle, your catchphrase is wearing awfully thin.

"Only one more block 'til school." Kris announced.

"You mean Friendship." I reminded her.

"Yeah, Friendship." Kris repeated.

"There is water squishing into my shoes and my toes are all gooey." said Ellen.

"Mine too." agreed Kris.

"You guys are complete and total GROSS-OUTS." I announced.

Okay, that time it was valid.

Ellen and Kris just giggled.

How immature.

Rain started to pour down.

"Raindrops keep falling on my head!" sang Kris.

"Will you two just shut up. You're being really immature and it's not funny." I said.

Oh, blah blah, Michelle. You're TEN! You're not supposed to be mature!

"Oh really." said Ellen. "Well, Miss Perfection, I can see how mature YOU are."

"I know you can." I told her.

"Michelle, give it up already. You're not pretty or sophisticated.
You don't even get good grades like me and Kris. You're just one big bossy thinks-she's-perfect snob. Just like Chelsea Burroughs. Maybe even worse." screamed Ellen.

Damn, Ellen! It's like an insult volcano just erupted.


Worse than Chesty?

Chesty Burroughs?

The biggests, richest, snobby, show-off, spoiled brat?
[This sentence... I don't even know. Biggests?]


That really did it.

"You are one big baby, Ellen. That's why your mom treats you like one." I said.

"DON'T TALK ABOUT MY MOTHER." hissed Ellen. I had never seen her this mad before.

Whoa. Either Ellen forgot to take her antipsychotic this morning, or she has been pissed off at Michelle for, like, years. Anyway, Michelle was clearly insulting Ellen, not her mom. It's not like she busted out with: "Yo momma's so stupid, it took her two hours to watch 60 Minutes." Or "Yo momma's so fat, she makes Shamu look like a tic-tac." Or "Yo momma's so stupid, she thought Grape Nuts was an STD."

Okay, okay, I'm stopping.

"I'll talk to you later Kristen." I said as I stomped off.

I'll never speak to her again.


I can't believe we were ever best friends.

What a brat.


And that's where it ends. Although it looks like there was going to be not only a flood, but a DANCE as well. At least that's what this drawing seems to indicate:

Either that or Murphy and Chelsea are handcuffing Syra and carting her off to a fancy-dress girls' prison.

You can see that Chelsea's sugar daddy has once again scored her the best outfit. Syra's dress kind of looks like it went through a paper shredder and got sewn back together. And look! She's still wearing her friendship anklet! But I do like how Murphy and Syra are rocking varying degrees of side pony. Yes, girls, there's totally enough side pony to go around.

And even though this gives us serious proof of Chelsea's lack of chestiness, I will admit that Chesty makes for better name-calling than Little Miss Muffet, The Brady Bunch, and The Geek-o's combined.

NEXT TIME: Holiday-themed journal entries. Because there's no reason why we can't get festive and nostalgic.

Until then, you should definitely check out Deathycat's blog, Cradle to Coffin, for plotless playwriting, poo-filled poetry, and V.C. Andrews books re-enacted by Bratz dolls. It's even awesomer than it sounds.


carey said...

i wonder how many people were inspired by the super specials in the same way? (i know i was--i think i've told you already about my eighth grade masterpiece that shamelessly rips off babysitters on board in every possible way--with troll dolls.)

i really thought you might be kidding about the adopted homeless boy. i love it.

chesty the geek-o is definitely my new band name.

and i'm looking forward to the holiday journal entries! i found one in my 1988 journal the other day that described a christmas party as "ultrafinarly." i do not even know.

NoseInANovel said...

Your slush puppy pictures make my day.

Sada said...

Holy crap, I had almost forgotten about the troll dolls! Were they people-sized? Did they have neon hair? Am I going to have nightmares about this tonight?

zanne said...

Those Slush Puppy pictures are hilarious!

Super Specials were the best. I was so excited to find out that even the Sleepover Friends had one! I got it on ebay.

1) There will be a flood

HA! For some reason, I just found that hilarious.

Also find it funny that they adopted a homeless boy. Reminds of me of the tv show 7th Heaven.

Sada said...

Maybe 7th Heaven is written by 10-year-olds! That would explain SO MUCH.

I can't wait to read about the Sleepover Friends Super Special! Yeah, I was obsessed with Super Specials. Even after I stopped reading the regular series, I could always be temporarily sucked back in by a Super Special.

halle said...

caption choices for the 3 girls illustration: BEWITCHED, BOTHERED & BEWILDERED or WHAT IS TIM'S (FROM PROJECT RUNWAY)TAKE?

Cory said...

I agree that Ellen must have some rage issues or something. She's seems very unbalanced. I love how she and her friends just start bad-mouthing each other over nothing.

Deathycat said...

I feel like such a celeb being mentioned on your blog. ^_^ The slush puppies are hilarious. Chesty. :P I used a flood once. People were killed.

Jay said...

Ellen's insult outburst reminds me of Clueless and "You're just a virgin who can't drive."

Sada said...

Oh my god, SOMEONE IS STILL READING THIS BLOG?!?! Also, thank you -- from the bottom of my heart -- for comparing my terrible 10-year-old writing to Amy Heckerling.