Rachel, Kyle, and I rocked up to El Shack del Tacos straight from seventh period. My boyfriend, Brian, and his posse had been there for hours. This was their last day of high school ever,
and they’d commemorated it by ditching, which didn’t make sense to me. Because then yesterday was their last day. Whatever, I always tried to be fun, cool girlfriend and not logical, naggy girlfriend, so I didn’t mention it.
Brian’s posse was really tight. They were all a year older than Rachel, Kyle, and me, and always reminding us of t. They call themselves “The Hombres.” I know–eye-roll central.
I was sitting next to Bri, who was dressed in the typical hombre uniform: khakis and a lame slogan tee. Today’s read I Like Girls Who Like Girls.” What can I say? That’s my boy! Captain Classy. We’d been together for nine months officially and, I guess unofficially, ten and a half, and I couldn’t believe he was leaving at the end of the summer. Sure, he’d only be two hours away in Albany, but I knew things were going to be different between us. The official
plan was to stay together. My
plan was to savor this summer and hope for the best when he packed up and headed off to college in the fall.
Luckily, we were both going to be lifeguarding at the swim club this summer, so we’d be able to hang out between adult swim and kids crapping the pool. My parents were really pushing this “summer internship in New York” idea for a while. One of Mom’s “Golf Gals!”–that’s what they call themselves. Yes, with the exclamation point. And no, not to be funny, either–said that she could set me up with some kind of internship at a branch of her company in New York. And I have to admit, a summer of pink drinks and high heels in Manhattan would have been pretty awesome, but I decided to stick with my chlorine-and-flip-flops summer here in Bridgefield. New York was always going to be New York, and I could go there another summer. But who knew with Brian? I kind of wanted to carpe diem while the diem was good with him. Pathetic or romantic? I couldn’t decide.
I looked over at Rachel, who was all up on Warren, her apparent crush of the moment, sitting on his lap and feeding him taquitos. And poor Mister Sister Kyle, as always, was just kind of lingering around the periphery of The Hombre bunch, twisting his kabbalah bracelet uncomfortably. I knew he didn’t like Brian or The Hombres–they didn’t exactly follow Perez Hilton the way he did–but he sometimes pretended to for my sake. Not today, though. I heard him sigh loudly and then mumble something to Rachel about asphyxiating on all the testosterone. She looked at me and twirled her finger around in the air. I nodded back and reached for my bag. The finger twirl was our code that it was time to leave. Rachel’s uncle taught it to her. It was some military sign that meant start up the choppers . . . or missiles are coming or something. Whatever–it worked. Surprisingly, Bri took a last gulp from his soda and announced that he was going to leave with us.
“Rach, you think you’re gonna have enough room for me?” Brian asked between belches. “I ate an extra taco. I’m feeling a little bigger than usual.”
We all laughed at the thought of Rachel’s battleshipsized car. The girl drove a bona fide mom-mobile station wagon, complete with a “Bridgefield Elementary Super Speller” bumper sticker. The thing was so huge, it pretty much had its own zip code. I was jealous that she had a car at all, but it wasn’t exactly the Nissan Z she was hoping for on her Sweet Sixteen.
Kyle hopped in front with Rachel and I scooted next to my still-belching bf in the back. As she turned the key to start up the bus, “Ring of Fire” blared from her speakers and we sped off, going at least twenty miles above the speed limit, as usual. Rachel tried to compensate for the fact that she drove a covered wagon by going 120 miles per hour on Ridgeline Drive.
“Lady, it’s two-forty-five p.m.,
not a.m. We’re not late for curfew or anything. Slow down before we turn into a driver’s ed cautionary tale.”
“Fine, Emma,” Rachel snapped at me, and rolled her eyes, slowing down by about four miles per hour. I still felt like I was on the Bezerker.
“Honey, will you do something about this music, puhleeze
Even Kyle’s whines were sassy. “I need to be celebrating the last day of junior year. This shit would make my Latin oral exam sound like music. I need to work this out, bitch!” He did his signature body wave. It totally didn’t go with the Johnny Cash blasting out of the speakers.
Rachel slapped his hand as he reached down to find another song on her playlist. “Don’t you dare, Ky. Johnny Cash stays on. I’m doing research.”
“On what, Professor Wolfe? How long it takes before country music will make a brother’s ears bleed?” Unless Kyle was talking to one of his siblings, he surely was not a brother. Yes, he was darker than Rachel and I were, but that had more to do with self-tanner than minority status. And
Lancôme Flash Bronzer does not a black man make.
“According to Danny’s MySpace page, Johnny Cash is now his favorite artist,” she said matter-of-factly. “By the time we’re on the bus up to camp together, I’ll be a total expert.” She turned up “Folsom Prison Blues” and pretended to sing along, but I’m pretty sure “Get this party started” isn’t part of the lyrics.
She was what some would fondly call “boy crazy” and others would not-so-fondly call “stone cold psycho.” Either way, Rachel Wolfe was a seventeen-year-old on a mission to find a boyfriend. And “tall, dark, and handsome” were not on the checklist for her ideal mate. “Funny, intelligent, and rich” were missing, too. But “bar mitzvahed, circumcised, and from a nice family?” Check, check, and check!From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpted from Hot Mess: Summer in the City by Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester. Copyright © 2008 by Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.