To: Headmaster Richmond and the Board of Directors
Alabaster Preparatory Academy
I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind
the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full
responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order -- including the library
lady, the doggies in the window, night of a thousand dogs, the canned beet
rebellion and the abduction of the guppy.
That is, I wrote the directives telling everyone what to do.
I, and I alone.
No matter what Porter Welsch told you in his statement.
Of course, the dogs of the Order are human beings with free will. They
contributed their labor under no explicit compunction. I did not threaten them
or coerce them in any way, and if they chose to follow my instructions, it was
not because they feared retribution.
You have requested that I provide you with their names. I respectfully decline
to do so. It's not for me to pugn or impugn their characters.
I would like to point out that many of the Order's escapades were intended as
social criticism. And that many of the Order's members were probably diverted
from more self-destructive behaviors by the activities prescribed them by me. So
maybe my actions contributed to a larger good, despite the inconveniences you no
I do understand the administration's disgruntlement over the incidents. I see
that my behavior disrupted the smooth running of your patriarchal establishment.
And yet I would like to respectfully suggest that you view each of the Loyal
Order's projects with the gruntlement that should attend the creative civil
disobedience of students who are politically aware and artistically expressive.
I am not asking that you indulge my behavior; merely that you do not dulge it
without considering its context.
Frances Rose Landau-Banks, class of 2010
Though not, in hindsight, so startling as the misdeeds she would perpetrate
when she returned to boarding school as a sophomore, what happened to Frankie
Landau-Banks the summer after her freshman year was a shock. Certainly enough to
disturb Frankie's conservative mother, Ruth, and to rile several boys in
Frankie's New Jersey neighborhood to thoughts (and even actions) they'd never
Frankie herself was unsettled as well.
Between May and September, she gained four inches and twenty pounds, all in the
right places. Went from being a scrawny, awkward child with hands too big for
her arms, a frizz of unruly brown fluff on her head and a jaw so sharp it made
Grandma Evelyn cluck about how "when it came to plastic surgery, it never hurt
to do these things before college" to being a curvaceous young woman with an
off-beat look that boys found distinctly appealing. She grew into her angular
face, filled out her figure, and transformed from a homely child into a loaded
potato all while sitting quietly in a suburban hammock, reading the short
stories of Dorothy Parker and drinking lemonade.
The only thing Frankie herself had done to facilitate the change was to invest
in some leave-in conditioner to tame the frizz. She wasn't the kind of girl to
attempt a makeover. She had been getting along okay at Alabaster Prep without
one, despite the fact that their boarding school was (as her older sister Zada
pointed out) an institution where the WASPs outnumbered the other protestants 10
to 1, the Catholics were pretty much in the closet and the members of the tribe
had largely changed their names from things like Bernstein to things like Burns.
Frankie got by at Alabaster on the strength of being Zada's little sister. Zada
was a senior when Frankie started, and though she'd never been outlandishly
popular, Zada had a solid crew of friends and a reputation for speaking her
mind. She let Frankie tag along with her group of juniors and seniors for the
first part of the school year, and made it clear to everyone that Frankie was
not to be messed with. Zada let her little sister sit with her at lunch on an
as-needed basis, and introduced her to people from the crew team, the lacrosse
team, student government and the debate team. This last group Frankie joined --
and proved to be a surprisingly sharp competitor.
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