Jul 15, 2013

Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend Excerpt

Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend 
by Louise Rozett

  • From the book


    "Jump, faggot! Jump!"

    And just like that, summer is over. Symbolically, anyway.

    I've been at this party for sixty seconds and already the tyranny of the swim thugs is so suffocating, it's like I never even had summer break to detox from freshman year.

    Not that summer can really be considered a break when you spend the whole thing either folding clothes at the Gap or in therapy. With your mother. Talking about how you had every right to go behind her back and build a memorial website for your dad.

    Who's dead.

    Obviously. Hence, memorial. "Come on, homo! Let's go!"

    Mike Darren's backyard is packed with students from every level of Union High's caste system, but it's obvious that this is a swim-team-initiation party. As Mike struts around checking the beer level of the bottomless red plastic cups that were given only to the prettiest freshman girls when they skittered through the tiki-torch gauntlet, Matt Hallis and the rest of the swim thugs are lined up on the edge of the pool like a firing squad. A freshman swimmer dressed in a red polo shirt, rolled-up white jeans and loafers with no socks stands on the diving board, backing away from them, inching closer and closer to the end while looking down at the water every other second. Matt ceremoniously raises his arm in the air and then shows off those leadership qualities that got him elected swim captain even though he's just a sophomore: he fires the first shot, hurling his cup of beer at the freshman.

    Thanks to the fact that Matt is an annoyingly talented athlete whose parents paid for him to spend the whole summer in a weight room, it's a perfect throw with a ridiculous amount of force behind it. The beer splatters on the freshman's blond head, the impact nearly knocking him backward as liquid pours down his cheeks, nose and neck, drenching his perfectly pressed shirt. His legs shake a little with the force of the blow and he jostles the diving board. For a second I think he's going to fall--loafers and all--into the kidney-shaped pool with blue floodlights shimmering just beneath the waterline. He throws his arms out to the sides and steadies himself, and I can tell by the relieved expression on his face that he thinks he survived, that the hazing wasn't so bad after all.

    He slowly lowers his arms and takes a defiant step toward the firing squad. The relief on his face disappears as Matt's underlings lift their cups in the air to follow their leader's example.

    "Jump or die, fag!" yells Matt, his drunken slurring making his speech sound even less intelligent than usual, which is hard to do. The cups nail the freshman like a spray of bullets, and he staggers backward, arms pinwheeling as he tries to cope with the beer in his eyes and mouth. He missteps and falls into the water on his back. The thugs cheer as loafers pop up and float on the pool's surface.

    Ironically, "Take it Off" by Ke$ha starts playing.

    "What are we doing here?" Tracy asks next to me as she watches her ex-boyfriend parade around collecting high fives. It occurs to me that this is exactly the kind of party that Matt spent time at last summer, before freshman year, which is probably what turned him from the nice guy he was in eighth grade to the total jerk he is now.

    I look at my best friend. A year ago, all she could talk about was how she couldn't wait to be at parties like this in her cheer-leading uniform with her swimmer boyfriend. Now, she's dressed like a normal person--well, a very fashionable normal person--and she can't remember why she wanted to be here in the first place.

    I'm so proud of...