We were going 30 in a 25 mph Stoneybrook crossing lane, my dad’s hands clenched white against the wheel while I could practically hear him grinding his teeth all the way in the backseat. I was sitting next to my older sister Janine, who had spent the last three days on some sort of cleanse diet because she was, in her words, “packing on the pounds like I was the one eating all the junk food.” Or because someone had switched out her carefully hidden birth control pills with orange Tic Tacs last month. Either one.
My mom was crying in the front seat and if you knew my dad you’d know he never goes above the speed-limit, it’s just like one of those “never happens” scenarios, which I would probably ascribe to the fact that his daily dose of Valium that he thought he was hiding so well from the rest of the family had been dumped down the drain earlier in the week and replaced with Blue M&M’s. My mom’s Prozac prescription? Tiny crushed up pieces of Certs, inserted carefully back into gel-cap casings after I dumped out all her Happy Pills and let the Newton’s dog lick it up off the floor. Without their carefully regulated diet of feelings, my family was on the verge of a major meltdown. I caught myself smiling in the rear-view mirror and had to reapply my mask of “ambiguously ethnic inscrutability,” as Janine might call it.
Earlier at Kristy’s house I had been entirely on edge as our mein fuhrer tasked out assignments and then barely paid attention when Mary-Anne went to the bathroom to puke up her lunch. Some great friend, Kristi. Some great club we have going here. Still, it was better than being at home, especially now that my dad decided it was time to put my Grandma Mimi in a nursing home and told me that if my grades didn’t improve they would up my Ritalin dosage to 10 mgs and take away my art supplies. Yeah right. All those non-generic prescriptions that my parents think I dutifully take every morning actually get tongued and later used -spittle and all – for an art piece I’m working on. I’m going to title it “The Haloperidol Generation,” even though I don’t really know what Haloperidol is. I read about it in this amazing book I took out from the Stoneybrook public library: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
I knew the Stoneybrook board was thinking about removing the book completely because of all the negative press it was getting, but I thought it was fantastic. Mr. Ellis was currently my hero because he really spoke to how I felt: Like everyone was some happy robot going along with their fake little lives, but inside they secretly wanted to murder everyone. One day, I think I’d like to lose my virginity to Bret.
“What are you smiling about?” Janine hissed, one hand over her double-C cups (and growing by the day), “Do you know mom and dad are totally going to flip out when they find you used their new curtains to sew together that hideous sweater you made? Not to mention, you made it, like, 8 sizes too small, even for you. It looks like it belongs on a baby.”
“Oh right, it’s for a doll Laura Perkins wanted me to make,” I replied smoothly. I couldn’t wait to be an Aunt.
(Bret Easton Ellis is the acclaimed author of American Psycho, Less Than Zero, and Rules of Attraction. His books have been published in over 40 languages, and banned in 8 countries. This is his first attempt at writing young adult fiction.)