Authors: J. Minter
an insiders girls novel
by j. minter
Summer is supposed to be about sunbathing in grassy parks or rooftop gardens and window-shopping in the West Village with your girlfriends and obsessing over that big crush until one day he shows up at your house with a pretty bunch of yellow lilies. At which point, summer becomes all about making time to do all those things with him. Right? So then why was I, just days away from turning fourteen and a few measly weeks from being done with junior high forever, looking at summer and fearing that it was going to be a total wash?
Or, to put it another way, why had all my friends gone to Europe, or L.A., or suddenly decided that they were friends with high school sophomores who “really know how to party,” or realized that they were East Village punkettes and stopped showering?
Or, to put it a third and last way, why, on the verge of what
be the most boy-packed summer of my life, was I sitting in my bedroom staring up at the wall collage of pictures of me and my very recent, very jerky ex, Remy Traubman? Remy was one of those guys who was six feet tall at eleven years old, and he has curly dark hair and olive skin, so he looks sort of like an Italian playboy or something even though he is so not. But you get the picture: He's cute and he knows it, and he doesn't bother hiding the fact that he thinks a lot of himself. All of which I realized after he stepped on my heart.
So there I was, on a perfectly beautiful Friday afternoon, in the most exciting city in the world (that would be New York, of course) mooning over these pictures of this guy with a head of hair that wouldn't be out of place on
America's Next Top Male Model
, if there were such a thing. This guy who had just dumped me in the most painful way possible.
Yeah, see, there was a real Italian playboy at our school this year, except that she was a play-girl, named Allegra Reggio, whose dad is like some international businessman or something. She's already started to do some modeling, but her parents wanted her to stay in normal school
until she turned fifteen, which is how she ended up blessing us all with her presence. She always looked kind of like a starved child to me, but I guess Remy thought she was more glamorous or wild or fun or something than I was, because at some point we weren't going out anymore and it was obvious she was his girl.
I guess if I were somebody else, looking in through my bedroom window at me looking at these old pictures, seeing how sorry I was feeling for myself and all that, I might not think I was glamorous or fun to be around, either.
And just to really put some nail polish remover in that wound, as I was staring up at my unbearably dorky, and clearly made by a girl who was still thirteen, ex-boyfriend homage/wall decoration, I could hear the sounds of my older brother, Patch Flood, and his group of guys, having fun downstairs. They're all juniors at different private schools in the city, and they are always doing wild guy things like going to parties at three in the morning and exchanging one beautiful girl for another.
Oh, you've heard of them, right? Sometimes people call them the Insiders, but they always get all weird when they hear that.
Patch is like the aloof surfer dude among
them, and he's the guy whoâI swear I don't think this just because he's my brotherâthe rest of them kind of wish they were. Maybe that's because he's self-sufficient, or lucky looking, or because he has our family's bone structure, but it's just kind of true. Mickey Pardo is the crazy one. He looks kind of like a Cuban Jack Black, but he's so charmingly screwed up that girls are always really into him. His father's a big famous sculptor named Ricardo Pardo, and my parents have all of this work of his up at our house in Connecticut. Arno Wildenburger is the hot, vain, dumb one, and David Grobart is the nice, quiet one, who is actually handsome if you look at him long enough.
And then there's Jonathan. I don't know which type he is, except that he always looks clean and put-together, and when his brown eyes look into your eyes, you feel like he's actually seeing you, and he is kind, but not boring kind, because you can talk to him about all sorts of random stuff. And I guess I should also say that he's the one who I kind of went out with for a little while way back at the beginning of the year.
They were all in the living room, and all the windows were openâI could tell by the level of noise coming from outside and floating up the
trellis along with the ivy toward my bedroom window.
Me and Patch and my big sister, February, live in this really nice town house on Perry Street, filled with big, comfy, neutral-toned couches and lots of crazy modern art. Our parents live here, too, when they're in town. I know that sounds weird, but I'm the youngest of three New York City kids, so I guess when they got around to me they felt like they'd already seen it all and maybe didn't have anything to worry about so much anymore. So I kind of raised myself with help from Patch and Feb. Anyway, because our parents are up in Connecticut or traveling a lot, our house is perpetually the place to hang out.
So I listened to the guys, shouting about girls and making fun of each other and talking about all the great things they were going to do when school was finally out. My ex-boyfriend was on the wall, and my ex-ex-boyfriend was downstairs, and they were both more fun than I was.
I could have sat there feeling sorry for myself all dayâif I'm being completely honest, it's happened before. But instead, I made a decision. I took a deep breath, and I promised myself that somehow, someway, fourteen was going to be bigger and better and wilder and more fun than
thirteen. I swore to myself that once my birthday rolled by next week, I wasn't going to be the little sister that one of the guys used to sort of date anymore.
My name is Flan Flood. Don't forget it, okay?
I ripped down all those pictures of Remy. Surprise! It felt amazing. At first I was just ripping them off the wall, but then I got into it and started ripping them in half, and then ripping the half of the picture with him in it into smaller and smaller pieces. And, I'll admit it, I even yelped a little bit while I was doing it. I might have gone on doing this for hoursâin fact, it might have gotten sort of psycho eventuallyâbut my cell phone interrupted me.
See? You take one little self-respecting step like that, and all of a sudden you're a person to call.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hey, Flan? It's Liv,” the voice on the phone said.
Liv?” I said. I could hardly believe it. Olivia Quayle was my best friend from elementary school, but I hadn't seen her in two years because she went to this super-elite boarding school in Montana, called the Cattington School, for seventh and eighth grade.
“Yeah, what other Liv do you know?” she said.
Kind of sharply, I thought, although clearly I was in a sensitive place what with all the ripping up of pictures. “I'm coming back to New York. Tomorrow. Can I stay at your house?”
“You want to stay at my house?”
“Yeah, my parents don'tâI mean, they're in the Hamptons,” she said, “and they don't want me staying by myself.”
“Okay, but my parents aren't here, either,” I said. “They're in Connecticut, I think.”
“That's fine. Just so long as they don't think I'm alone.”
“Oh, okay,” I said. My first reflex was to be bummed, because after my big resolution to be more spontaneous and fun, hanging out with a friend from sixth grade didn't seem very bold, especially since Liv was kind of mousy when I saw her last. But then it dawned on me that, next to Liv, who had always been such a Goody Two-shoesâand I know this isn't nice, but yes, honestly, this is what was going through my mindâI was going to look cool. Like, fourteen- or maybe even fifteen-year-old cool. “Well, I'm so excited!” I said.
“Oh, me too,” Liv said. “I'll call you tomorrow?”
“Okay,” I said. “Kisses!”
Then I hung up, and I realized that the wall above my bed looked really bare now, especially with a guest coming. So I thought about all the things I could put up there that would represent the new meâthe me I was going to transform intoâand then I knew what I should do. I took the free poster out of my new Leland Brinker CD, and taped it up, and then I got sort of creative and cut pictures of him out of different magazines and stuff. He's this really young singer-songwriter. Leland plays songs about staying up all night and then walking down New York City streets with the sun coming up and stuff, and he would be a senior in high school if he hadn't dropped out when he was fifteen. And I suddenly felt that he sang about the kinds of experiences the new me might have.
When I was done, I lay back on my bed and appreciated how much more sophisticated the room looked. I could still hear those guys, being all raucous downstairs, but I just lay there and smiled and waited.
Because sooner or later, they were going to meet the new me. My name is Flan, and this time around, I get to tell the story.
For the old me, a movie worthy of my tears and mint chocolate chip ice cream would have been all I asked of my Saturday night. But since I was feeling a little sassy, and cleansed of the whole Remy thing, and since an old friend of mine was coming in from out of town in a couple of hours, I thought I'd ask my older brother, Patch, what was going on that night.
Patch's clique of guys gets talked about all the time, and invited to like every party worth going to, even though really he just likes riding the subway and seeing random stuff happen and eating real Mexican food in Queens and places like that. But because of his friends, and also because (I have to admit) he's kind of magnetic, Patch is always being quasi-forced into Saturday night madness. I thought I'd try to get him to tell
party was going to be, so I could take Liv and the new me there.