I tell Brandy about my stepmom saying nothing good happens after midnight, which was the stupidest,
most Mom Phrase thing I’d ever heard, and it’s insulting since she’s not my mom and saying stupid shit
like that just makes it obvious she doesn’t know what she’s even doing and I’m not sure why dad thinks
she can be trusted to raise a hamster, let alone a 16-year-old human. Then Brandy says her actual mom
tells her exactly the same thing and I’m like, “Whatever. Of course she does.”
We’re sitting in Brandy’s car in the south parking lot where we can watch the junior varsity football
squad run drills because Brandy has the hots for the guy who just moved here from Brinkley, so this is
how we spend our afternoons now. It’s kind of lame but also whatever, because if I wasn’t here I’d be
home unloading the dishwasher or cleaning the cat box or some shit that’s supposed to make me
appreciate the value of hard work.
“So do you think there is an actual handbook?” Brandy laughed. “What if there really is a person at the
hospital who spends their day handing out books full of bullshit advice to every woman who pushes a
kid out to make sure they all say the same stupid shit to their kids?”
I snort laugh and curse when I spill cherry cola on my sweater. “No, that’s not it,” I disagree. “Because
Ellen isn’t my mom and hasn’t had kids so where would she get the book?” But for a second I wonder if
it’s possible dad just never cleaned out mom’s side of the dresser and maybe there is a book or a
pamphlet or something stashed in her underwear drawer with that copy of The Joy of Sex they don’t
know I know about?
“They’re done, let’s go!”
Brandy rolls another layer of gloss across her thin lips before she jumps out of the car because
Seventeen says boys like full lips but not everyone is lucky enough to have them. Accentuate the positive
and disguise your flaws Brandy tells me but I don’t bother because I don’t show up on boys’ radar
anyway so it’s more of a she has a great personality situation for me and that’s why I hate Rom-Coms.
The Brinkley boy lopes over to say hello the way boys do because Brandy is the only girl in town who
drives a muscle car. Her mom and dad wanted to buy her a car that had good gas mileage and a high
safety rating like a Nissan Sentra or some shit that grandmas drive to the bingo hall. But the Firebird cost
less than the spring break trip to Durango that Brandy’s sister got for graduation, so they finally caved.
They had her name painted in gold under the driver’s side window so while she rolls down the window
to talk to football team at Sonic after the game you can almost hear her name bouncing around inside
their freshly-showered, concussed heads before they say “Hey.”
My actual mom used to say if you hang around with a barber long enough you’ll end up with a haircut
and I always rolled my eyes and acted like I knew what she meant and thought it was lame but really I
didn’t know what the hell she was talking about and anyway girls don’t go to barbers so whatever, I