Read The Boy Recession Online

Authors: Flynn Meaney

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction / Social Issues / General

The Boy Recession (8 page)

BOOK: The Boy Recession
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“Raise your right hand if you’re a little gingerbread boy who got injured on the bench,” I say to Eugene.

It’s Friday night, and I’m standing on the football field sidelines, holding Eugene’s helmet by the face mask with one hand and a bag of Cracker Jack in the other. In front of me, Eugene is lying on a white stretcher in his full football uniform—cleats, white pants, and white home jersey with green number 53 on it. His uniform is so clean he could be in a Tide commercial, but he’s groaning in pain and his right arm is crossed over his chest.

“You know I can’t raise my damn hand,” Eugene says, glaring. “Look at me!”

Since he doesn’t seem to be really hurt, I feel free to mock him.

“That’s
righhhhht
,” I say, grinning really wide. “You
can’t
raise your hand. Which, ironically,
makes
you the little gingerbread boy.”

“I’m the little gingerbread boy!” Eugene says. “Fine, I admit it. I’m the damn gingerbread boy!”

He’s red in the face. I hope I’m aggravating that ulcer of his. Man, I’m sorry I missed all this crap last year. I
love
homecoming.

Up until Eugene’s injury, the actual football game was a nonevent. I guess the Julius athletic directors were looking for a team who wouldn’t beat us at our homecoming, so we’re playing a team called the Farmers: two lame mascots and two lame teams.

“This is like the Olympics of incompetence,” Dave said during the second quarter, after their receiver dropped a pass.

“I think it’s so great,” I said, stuffing my face with Dave’s Cracker Jack. “It’s like watching the bloopers show on ESPN.”

Damian was leaning forward and analyzing all the action.

In the stands, there were girls drinking brownish-orange liquid out of Tropicana bottles. The contents were probably 4 percent Tropicana and 96 percent Captain Morgan, booze provided by Eugene. Close to halftime, we actually scored a touchdown, and everyone went berserk.
Derek started snatching Cracker Jack out of Dave’s giant bag and throwing it all over the people around us, yelling, “
Ticker-tape parade! Ticker-tape parade!

“Stop,” Dave grumbled, swatting at Derek’s hand. “Stop throwing a parade. I bet there’s a flag on the play.”

But there wasn’t a flag on the play. Down on the field, Josh, who scored the touchdown, was running toward the bench… right at Eugene, who was waiting to give him a high five.

Except Josh wasn’t going for a high five. Josh was going for the chest bump. And that’s when Eugene went down.

The kid went down so
hard
, I’m telling you. According to Chung, who was right there next to them, there was this
crunch
sound, like what you hear when you sit on a bag of pretzels. That was Eugene’s collarbone.

So here we are. The paramedics are taking Eugene’s insurance information when Josh comes jogging over.

“Oh my God, dude,” Josh says, coming around the side of the stretcher with his helmet jammed under his arm. “I am
so
sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Eugene says in a dramatic, croaky voice. “It was for the good of the team.”

Josh leans in toward Eugene.

“Hey, uh… Eugene?” Josh says in a low voice. “You’re not gonna, like…”

“Die?” I suggest loudly, spitting a few pieces of Cracker Jack out of my mouth.

“… sue me,” Josh finishes. “You’re not gonna sue me, right? Because last month I smashed my dad’s car, and I’m still paying off—”

“Hey, hey,” Eugene interrupts. “We’re teammates. We’re, like, brothers.”

“Italian silk,” Josh says, smiling.

“Italian silk,” Eugene agrees. Then he crosses his left hand over his body and extends his fist toward Josh. They fist-bump. Apparently, Eugene can fist-bump adequately. It’s just the chest bump he can’t handle.

Just as Josh leaves, Bobbi wobbles toward us in her dumb high-heeled shoes. It probably took her twenty minutes to climb down from the bleachers and get across this grass.

“How is he?” she asks me first, gripping my arm like we’re outside an operating room together or something.

“Uh…” I’m confused, so I just gesture to Eugene. “He’s… right there.”

When the paramedic steps away from his side, Bobbi approaches Eugene.

“Does it hurt
so bad
?” she asks, with huge eyes.

“I’m toughing it out,” Eugene replies. The croaky voice is back now.

“Do you have to go to the hospital?” Bobbi asks, looking at the ambulance, which has its back doors open.

“The emergency room,” Eugene says.

I think Bobbi is actually about to cry.
Holy shit. Maybe she actually
likes
him.

“Can I come with you in the ambulance?” Bobbi asks. She takes his hand.

“I don’t want you to see me like this,” Eugene tells her.

“Do you think you’ll make it to the party at Pam’s house later?” Bobbi asks.

“I might be in a cast,” Eugene warns her. “But I think I’ll make it.”

“I’ll be waiting there for you,” Bobbi says. “Text me?”

“I will,” Eugene says.

Then something happens that’s even more mind-blowing than a touchdown by our crappy football team. Bobbi kisses Eugene. And it’s not a one-second “bye” kind of kiss, either. This kiss lasts a solid five seconds.

Then the paramedics roll the stretcher away and load Eugene into the back of the ambulance. Halftime is over, so the players are back on the field. As for me, I just stand there shaking my head, eating Cracker Jack, and thinking,
Well done, little gingerbread boy.

CHAPTER 10: KELLY

“Is She Really Going Out with Him? What Julius Hotties See in Grimy Guys”

“The Boy Recession©” by Aviva Roth,
The Julius Journal
, October

F
ive dollars,” Amy Schiffer tells us at the barn door.

“We have to pay five dollars to hang out in someone’s barn with a bunch of pig shit?” Darcy asks, crossing her arms over her blazer.

“It’s
organic
pig shit,” Amy informs her.

This is homecoming in Wisconsin. Whitefish Bay is definitely suburban—it’s just north of Milwaukee—but, for some reason, whenever homecoming rolls around, we end up on the semirural outskirts of town, like all those stereotypes of the Midwest. In a good year, the party is at someone’s lake house. In the worst years, everyone drinks in a field or the woods. I guess this year is in between—we’re at the two-story barn in back of Pam’s family’s organic farm. They have a lot of property on the edge of
town, and to get back here we had to walk through yards and yards of mud in our new boots.

Plus, it’s freezing. I can see my breath, and Aviva is looking down her shirt, checking for goose bumps in her cleavage. Aviva pushes in front of Darcy, unzips her wallet, and asks Amy, “Do you take credit cards?”

“Seriously?” Amy says, zipping her bomber jacket up to her neck. So I take ten dollars out of my purse and hand it to Amy. The money was from my mom, who thinks that I was going to Applebee’s before spending the night at Aviva’s house.

“Here. That’s for me and Aviva,” I tell Amy. “Darce, do you have cash?”

Just then a group of freshman boys comes up behind us.

“Hey, guys!” Amy says, sounding very perky all of a sudden. “Welcome to the party! We’ve got a huge selection of drinks in there. There’s a keg and a bunch of cups near the door, and there’s a whole table of hard lemonade and local beers and stuff. Help yourselves!”

Then she opens the door, smiles, and ushers them in. The smell of Axe body spray lingers in a trail behind them.

“Excuse me!” Darcy pushes up to Amy as she’s closing the barn door. “Why didn’t
they
have to pay?”

Amy takes her place as barn bouncer again and crosses her arms.

“They’re guys,” she says.

“So what?”

“Girls have to pay to get in,” Amy says. “Guys don’t.”


Those
guys?” Aviva says. “They’re freshmen. And they’re stinky! They’re
stinky freshmen
.”

Reaching into her enormous purse, Aviva pulls out a full glass bottle of Ralph Lauren perfume. She starts spraying it in the air between Darcy and Amy.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Amy says, waving the perfume away. “In case you guys haven’t heard, we’re in a
boy recession
.”

“What?” I ask. I choke on Aviva’s perfume. “Where did you hear that—the boy recession?”

“Eugene told Bobbi, and Bobbi told us,” Amy says.

Ah.
She heard it through the spandexer grapevine.

“But it’s true,” she adds. “You’ll see when you go in there.”

Inside, the barn actually looks very girly. Pam strung up these red Christmas lights on the walls to decorate it, so the whole place has a pinkish glow, and the spandexers bought a bulk case of plastic cocktail glasses, so I guess they’re drinking cosmos. I have no idea what’s in a cosmo, but I’m pretty sure Carrie Bradshaw never drank one in a barn while wearing UGGs.

It doesn’t just look like a boy recession in here, it
sounds
like a boy recession. From a rung of the loft ladder, a pink iPod is blaring Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” Pam, who obviously started drinking back when she
put up those Christmas lights, is grabbing any senior she can find and announcing, “This is, seriously, our
last
homecoming!”

“You wanna play How Many Minutes ’Til She Pukes?” Darcy asks me, nodding at Pam.

This is our favorite Julius party game.


Hmm
, I don’t know if I can do minutes,” I say. “But I’ll give her one and a half more Wisconsin cosmos.”

Darcy, Aviva, and I veer off to the closest corner of the barn and end up by the keg. We don’t drink, but a lot of people in Wisconsin do. So in order to be loyal to our state, Darcy, Aviva, and I hold red Solo cups and pretend to get into the spirit of things.

“Watch it,” Derek Palewski says, seeing me looking at a bottled drink that has a label printed in Japanese. “That Tokyo Pomegranate Surprise was imported by Eugene for Bobbi only. But”—he cheers up and smiles—“you may select from any of our other delicious beverages.”

“Are you the bartender?” Aviva asks him.

“I delivered all this crap,” Derek says. “I work for Eugene now. He paid me in beers. You can have one of mine, if you want.”

Derek holds out the can he’s drinking from, and Aviva reads the label.

“Milwaukee’s Second-Best?”

“Is that a real brand?” I ask him.

“MSB? Hell, yeah, it is,” Derek says. “Official beer of slackers.”

Derek tilts his head back to take a gulp and then lets out a huge burp. Darcy says, “Ew,” glaring at him.

“Sorry, wife,” Derek says as he comes around from behind the table to sling his arm around Darcy’s shoulders.

When Derek was in freshman bio class with us, he told our teacher he had to sit out the evolution unit because his parents were evangelicals. When our teacher found out that Derek lied and the Palewskis are full-blown Darwinists, Derek was forced to catch up on the entire unit in three days. Darcy was his tutor. He promised he’d pay her back by marrying her someday.

Now, when Darcy pushes his arm off, Derek wheedles, “C’mon, we could be a power couple. You’ll be president, I’ll be a rock star….”

BOOK: The Boy Recession
2.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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