There's a bow tied around my neck and I'm dying for a smoke.
Tonight's the senior prom and there's no way I'm going to get through this
ordeal sober. I wouldn't be going at all, but I promised my girlfriend, Emily.
She said the prom only happens once in your life and I'd regret it if I blew the
whole thing off. "Humor me," she said. On the off chance she's right,
I agreed to take hera decision I now regret.
I figure if I catch a buzz before I pick her up, maybe the night won't be a
total disaster. Emily always says she can't stand being around stoners, but then
again she can never tell when I'm stoned.
Besides, there's no use complaining now. I have the whole thing lined upthe
black tux, the white limo, the red corsage. I even rented a room at the Hyatt.
It's something you're supposed to do, I guess. It's not like I think some cheesy
hotel room will make Emily want to sleep with me. I know she won't. It's not
even worth trying. I probably won't even tell her I got it. If she ever wants to
go all the way, she'll let me know. Her parents left her home alone for an
entire weekend last month and she still wouldn't put out. A hotel room isn't
going to make any difference.
The most we ever do is kiss, sometimes until our lips are chapped. Every time I
try to push it a little farther, she pulls away and I stop. Supposedly, most
guys don't. Like the guys she used to go out with. From what I can figure, they
didn't take no for an answer and I don't want to be like them, so I always
apologize and say, "Whenever you're ready." You might think that makes
me a good guy, but most people around here would say it just makes me a pussy.
I've heard people say that Emily was a slut at her old school, Fairview High.
It's only a couple miles away from Chelsea. News gets around and sometimes I
listen. Not that it really matters. People say a lot worse about their so-called
From the very beginning she told me she wanted to take things slow and that was
fine with me. After three years of high school I'd never even been on a date, so
going slow sounded a lot better than going nowhere at all.
I'm pretty sure Emily doesn't care about the prom anyway. She wants to shed her
old skin. Going to the prom is really about making a new memory to replace the
old ones she wants to forget. Deep down I'll bet she knows it's a big joke, but
you'd have to ask her. That's the only way you ever know what's going on in
someone else's head and even then you can't be too sure.
Emily doesn't talk about her past much, just in bits and pieces. She once told
me how her dad found her drunk at Larry's down on High Street, sitting in some
guy's lap. Another time she got so wasted at a Beastie Boys concert she had to
have her stomach pumped. She's been arrested for shoplifting, but she won't tell
me what she stole. Like she says, it doesn't matter. But if you put all the
pieces together it looks like a blur, a girl out of control. She's not like that
anymore; so maybe going to the prom is a small price for me to pay.
My sister, Annika, on the other hand, cares a lot about the prom. Even though
she's only in the fifth grade and I'm about to go to college, in a lot of ways I
think of her as my best friend. I can tell her anything and know she'd never rat
me out. That's a lot rarer than it ought to be. In a few years she'll drift
away. When she gets into sixth grade, it'll all change. That's when girls start
thinking about boys. That's when they turn mean.
Last week Annika was begging me to help pick out my tux. Not that she had to, I
would have taken her anyway. Without her or someone else from the family in the
car, I'm not allowed to drive. Dad says driving is not a right but a privilege.
He says he's doing it for my own good. If I had a gallon of gas for every time I
heard that, I could have escaped to California by now. Dad figures with Annika
in the car I won't try anything stupid and if I do, he's under the false
impression she'll report back to him. The truth is, I'm really not such a bad
driver; I've just had some bad luck.
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