Read The Boy Recession Online

Authors: Flynn Meaney

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction / Social Issues / General

The Boy Recession (4 page)

BOOK: The Boy Recession
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But it’s not—it’s Hunter. He opens one of the practice-room doors.

“Hunter?”

Hunter stops short, then comes toward me, laughing.

“Oh, crap,” Hunter says, laughing. “You scared me! I feel like this is forbidden territory now, or something.”

“I know,” I say. “I guess it is. No more band.”

“I didn’t think Julius could be any more cheap,” Hunter says. “They’re still using Office 95 in the computer labs.”

“Do you think Dr. Nicholas sold the practice instruments on eBay?” I ask him, pointing to the empty cubbies.

Hunter steps back, looking at the cubbies.

“Whoa!” he says. “I didn’t even notice that. Man, this sucks. This was my only extracurricular.”

Hunter hops up onto the grand piano, which is covered in a black quilted cover, and swings his legs, kicking the bench with his untied Chuck Taylors.

“Do you remember beginner band?” I ask Hunter. “In third grade? They won’t have it for the third-graders now.”

“Yeah, that was when I played the drums for the first time,” Hunter says. “I think it was good for me. It really mellowed me out.”

“It was good! We need stuff like that!” I say. “They can’t cut arts programs. This isn’t some Disney Channel movie where the Jonas Brothers throw a benefit concert at the end to save the day.”

Hunter laughs.

“Ya know, my mom works at another high school,” he says, “where the seniors teach the freshmen music. It’s called peer music… something.”

“Peer music something?” I say. “Is that PMS for short?” We both laugh, then I say, “That’s actually a good idea, though. We should have something like that!”

“We should definitely have PMS.”

“I bet that would work!”

“I dunno.” Hunter shrugs. “I’m not sure if it actually works. I think the school just can’t afford real teachers.”

“We can’t afford real teachers!”

Then the door opens again, and Hunter and I have a
moment of mutual panic. He puts his finger to his mouth, slides down from the piano, crouches on the floor, and lifts up the black piano cover, motioning to the space underneath. I climb down from the director’s chair, glancing over behind the bandstand, and then crawl under the piano. Hunter follows me.

Turning my head back toward him, I half mouth, half whisper, “How did you think of this?”

“I get in trouble a lot,” Hunter whispers.

I start to laugh but bring my hand to my mouth to keep quiet. Hunter reaches around me and carefully lifts the front of the piano cover so we can see who just walked in. It turns out we’re squeezed under this piano for no reason; it’s not a teacher. It’s a boy who looks really young—I guess he’s a freshman, because I’ve never seen him before. He’s kind of cute, actually, in this interesting way. He has dark curly hair, and he’s wearing khakis, a sweater—and clogs. Are guys supposed to wear clogs? Is anyone who’s not a dancer in the Appalachian Mountains supposed to wear clogs? He’s nice-looking, though, even with the clogs, and… is that a man purse? Or a pencil case? Or…

“The piccolo!”

I say it out loud without meaning to, and Hunter, with his shoulders shaking, puts his finger to his mouth. There’s no teacher in here, and we don’t have to worry about getting caught, so we shouldn’t be under the piano, but now we have to worry about getting caught under the piano.

As we watch, the boy comes up close to the piano, looks
up at “Rhapsody in Blue” for a minute, sighs, and walks away, the little piccolo case swinging from his hand.

“Poor bastard,” Hunter says, shaking his head, which makes his hair brush against my ear. “He’s gotta be taking this hard.”

CHAPTER 4: HUNTER

“Skankology: How Female Desperation Has Altered the Julius Hook-Up Scene”

Aviva Roth for
The Julius Journal
, September

L
et me tell you about Julius P. Heil High School. This place is pretty much a joke. Even the guy it’s named after was a joke. Julius P. Heil was the governor of Wisconsin back in the day. I did a report on him freshman year, and according to my report, which I mostly got from Wikipedia, Julius was “known for clowning and silly antics.” The guy our school is named after was known for being a clown. He did do some good stuff, though. Apparently, he really liked dairy products and promoted Wisconsin’s cheese, which is really good cheese. Our school cheese is pretty awesome, too. Our cafeteria makes these amazing bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches that I eat almost every morning.

Other than our bacon-egg-and-cheeses, though, this place is a joke. There are about two hundred fifty kids
total, so our principal likes to go around bragging about how much “individual attention” we all get, like it’s a good thing. Individual attention is a
terrible
thing. If you skip one class, everyone knows about it. The teacher will track you down, or one of the guidance counselors will track you down and ask if you’re smoking pot. According to the geniuses running this place, the only reason you would skip class is if you’re smoking pot, though I actually find my classes more enjoyable when I’m high.

At Julius, it’s easy to track down someone who’s skipping class, because the building is a square made up of four hallways. You get trapped in it like a lab rat in a maze. So instead of skipping classes, I try to sleep through them instead. People think it’s risky to sleep in class, but to be honest with ya, I manage to do it a lot.

Of course, the best you can hope for in class is a few five-to seven-minute catnaps. If you want some hardcore REM-cycle sleep, you gotta find some place out of the way. I used to sleep in the library, but then they installed cameras in the back of the library after an “incident.” Apparently, someone got jerked off on the F volume of the
Encyclopædia Britannica
. Which is the most appropriate letter, I guess.

I tried out a bunch of different napping spots—cafeteria, gym locker room—but this year, I found the nirvana of the in-school napper: the band practice rooms. The rooms are pretty small, but they’re good for sleeping. I actually am bummed out about the band. I really liked to play the drums.
I always got really into it. I mean, how many classes are there when you can sit in the back of the room banging on stuff? For me, just two: band and Mr. Castellano’s computer class.

But I guess everything has a silver lining. There’s no band, but there is a place for me to sleep.

“Huntro!”

Or not. Today I wake up to Eugene banging his hand against the glass door and staring at me. I’ve been sleeping stretched out in a chair with my feet up on the music stand.

“Let me in!” Eugene says.

“What time is it?” I ask Eugene as I open the door for him.

“The last bell just rang,” Eugene tells me.

As soon as I let him in, I sit down and put my feet back up on the music stand. “Crap,” I say. “I was supposed to go back to study hall.”

“Here, look at this.”

Eugene drops an envelope onto my stomach. When I open it, all this sparkly shit falls out of it and gets all over my shirt.

“What the hell is this?” I ask, standing up and brushing off my shirt.

“It’s an invitation!” Eugene says, moving a music stand out of his way.

“No—what is this crap on it?”

“Glitter,” Eugene says impatiently. “But read it! Read it!”

While I look at the invitation, Eugene bounces up and down on the balls of his feet.

“Back-to-school barbecue?” I say.

“It’s the student senate’s first social event of the year. A back-to-school barbecue for juniors and seniors. And you and I are going,” Eugene tells me.

“What? We don’t go to shit like this. We don’t go to… glitter… activities.”

I hand the invitation back to Eugene as he leads the way out of the practice room and into the main band room. I follow him out and sit on the lowest level of the bandstand.

“We are going,” Eugene lectures me, waving the invitation in my face. Some glitter gets in my eye. Damn.

“This invitation was hand-delivered to me by
Bobbi Novak
.”

Ahh, Bobbi Novak.
It’s kind of hard to describe how hot Bobbi Novak is. She’s got these tits they should invent some kind of Nobel Prize for.

“She told me, ‘I really, really hope you’ll be there,’ ” Eugene says, with this dumb smirk on his face.

“She’s on student senate. She organizes this kind of stuff,” I tell him. “She wants everyone to show up.”

Eugene leans against the grand piano and crosses his arms over his chest.

“I think she kinda likes me.”

I shake my head. “There’s no way in hell.”


Last year
, there was no way in hell,” Eugene says, pointing his finger at me. When he makes speeches, Eugene gets really expressive, pacing the floor and waving his hands around like a politician.


Last year
,” Eugene repeats. “There was no way in hell. But this year, Bobbi’s single. Justin Messina was her last boyfriend, and he’s away at school. And a bunch of other guys are gone. All the McKennas are gone. All the Devines are gone. Huntro, we are in a boy recession.”

Because I’m still picking glitter out of my arm hair, I’m only half paying attention.

“Huh? What?”

“We are in a boy recession,” Eugene repeats. “There’s been a sudden, drastic decrease in the male population at this school. And I’m gonna take advantage of it.”

“Does a boy recession make you less ugly?”

From where I’m sitting, I grin up at Eugene. I call Eugene ugly to his face all the time. It sounds pretty harsh, but whatever, we’re dudes. Plus, he has a crapload of money, so he can deal with me calling him ugly.

“No,” Eugene says, pretty much ignoring my comment. “But a recession changes people. They don’t have the same options they did before. They have to reexamine their priorities.”

“You mean lower their standards?”

Eugene stops pacing to glare at me.

“No,” he says. “Because of this boy recession, Bobbi has the chance to see me in a different way. Sure, I’m not an athlete. I’m not on the student senate. I’m not—”

“Tall, good-looking, funny, sexually experienced…”

From the second level of the bandstand, where he’s been pacing, Eugene kicks me in the back. “Stop!” I tell
him, falling over onto my side, half laughing. “Stop! I think those are my kidneys!”

“Seriously, Huntro,” Eugene says, sitting down next to me. “I’ve been investing in the stock market since I was eleven, and I know a good opportunity when I see one. This is my chance. I’m going to that barbecue, and I’m gonna show Bobbi that I’m a good guy. I would do anything for this girl, Huntro. Anything.”

I look over at him. He’s completely serious, despite the glitter on his face.

“All right, Mr. Pluskota,” I say, kicking off my leather flip-flops. “I’ll go with you. When is it?”

“Tomorrow night.” Eugene claps me on the shoulder. “Your confidence means a lot, man.”

I don’t tell him the reason I’m gonna go to this barbecue is to watch him crash and burn. But who knows? It doesn’t have to be a disaster. Bobbi Novak’s a pretty nice girl. I think she’ll let him down gently.

“So what’s the plan?” I ask. “What’s the game plan, stud?”

“I’ve been asking around to find out what girls are into,” Eugene tells me, really pleased with himself. “So I’m gonna get a spray tan and make red-velvet cupcakes.”

Well, this barbecue should be interesting.
I’ll get to see if Eugene’s boy-recession theory pans out. And if it doesn’t, at least I’ll get a cupcake out of it.

CHAPTER 5: KELLY

“Boy Recession 101: How Julius Girls Can Make the Best of a Bad Ratio”

Aviva Roth for
The Julius Journal
, September

I
’m gonna punch Diva Price in the face,” Aviva announces, coming back from the s’mores table with three marshmallows on a big pointy stick, which she’s waving around in a way that makes her threat actually threatening.

The back-to-school barbecue is the only Julius event other than graduation during which it’s warm enough to wear short shorts—which is why it’s Aviva’s favorite. It’s one of my favorites, too. I love that good bonfire smell, the picnic setup, and the s’mores, especially the ones with marshmallows that are burned on the outside and super-gooey on the inside. I’ve eaten two of them already tonight, and I want another one.

“Hey, watch that thing.” Darcy grabs the end of Aviva’s
stick. “No one is losing an eye tonight.
Or
getting punched in the face.”

I guess Darcy wants to keep marshmallow-related violence to a minimum, seeing as it’s her first back-to-school barbecue as school president. But she kept a pretty close eye on things last year as vice president, because Charlie Devine was too busy popping the collar of his polo shirt to be very effective.

“What did Diva do?” I ask Aviva, pulling the top marshmallow off her stick and popping it into my mouth.

“She Tweeted that I lied about being biracial now that it’s cool because of Obama.”

“It’s not
cool
because of Obama,” Darcy says. “The fact that we have a biracial president has political ramifications beyond—”

“Just ignore her,” I tell Aviva, cutting Darcy off. “Diva is so ridiculous with her Tweeting and her creepy close-up Facebook pictures. The only reason anyone friends her is to mercilessly mock her.”

Diva Price is one of the notorious Julius spandexers. Her name is actually Dina, but after she starred in a lice-shampoo commercial when she was nine, she started making everyone call her Diva because she considers herself an actress/model. None of us consider her an actress or a model, seeing as that lice-shampoo commercial was her only gig ever, but we do consider her to be a diva, so that’s what we call her. Diva is the chief inquisitor of the panty-line persecutions, and she squeezes herself into the tightest
synthetic pants possible and wears them stubbornly through the Wisconsin winter, when everyone else throws in the towel and turns to long johns and unflattering thermal layers. Right now, Diva is over by the s’mores table, posing for a picture with this cute senior, Peter Chung, both of them holding sticks with marshmallows on them.

BOOK: The Boy Recession
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