Teenage Cake

Annalynne goes to an all-girls high school where she's surrounded by snobby girls who think "good-looking" is a quality to put on a resume. A chance encounter with a boy at a party leads Annalynne to a coming-of-age experience.


2. Red Velvet




      Later that day, Annalynne stood in Joanna’s kitchen and selected snacks from the cupboard. The two girls piled leftover Halloween candy, packets of Pop-Tarts, pretzels, and mini marshmallows into a large mixing bowl. Joanna put a bag of popcorn in the microwave to pop. The girls were getting ready for a Sex and The City marathon on HBO. Annalynne liked going to Joanna’s house. For one thing, Joanna’s family had cable and her family didn’t. But more importantly, Annalynne just liked being anywhere except her own house.

      Joanna’s dad barreled into the kitchen and looked at Annalynne in surprise. “Oh hi!” Her friend’s dad was an old geezer in his sixties who always seemed slightly high. Annalynne secretly suspected he couldn’t distinguish between any of his daughter’s friends.

      “Joanna, you didn’t tell me you were inviting someone over!”

      “Yes I did, dad,” Joanna whined. “Only about twenty times.”

      He peered at Annalynne and scratched the top of his gray head. “How old are you?” he asked.

      “Fifteen,” she answered.

      Joanna’s dad began rummaging in the fridge and pulling out ingredients for a roast beef sandwich. “You know, when I was your age, I had just been sent to prison. Bayview. For what?” He didn’t stop to let her guess. “For nothing. A simple robbery. I was there for three years.” He began energetically putting together his sandwich. “Good god, those prison years were the best. If I’d gone to high school, I’d’ve been in there with kids; I wouldn’t’ve learned a thing. But in prison I got an education from the old men on Death Row. Spoke to those people! Man, they knew books. Kierkegaard, Hegel, Nietzsche. Ate up books like mad. That was the best! It was right around the time Eisenhower started sending kids to Vietnam. Got me out of the draft too.”

      Annalynne nodded, pretending to be interested. Joanna’s dad told her about his prison days every single time she came over, and this was about the third time she’d heard the story. This little history lesson was interesting and all, but she really couldn’t give a fuck. The Sex and the City marathon was starting any minute.

      Joanna grabbed both the snacks and Annalynne’s elbow and dragged them both to the living room. “Dad! Stop harassing my friend! You know no one cares about your dumb stories!”

      Annalynne flopped on the couch and switched on HBO. The two girls quickly became engrossed in the love triangle between Carrie, Big, and Aiden. They were well into the first episode when Annalynne felt her cell phone vibrate against her leg. Mom. Of course she calls at the most inconvenient time, she thought bitterly. She was tempted to ignore it, but then her mom might worry and show up at Joanna’s house. Reluctantly, she answered the phone.

      “Hey mom. I’m really in the middle of something so what do you want?”

      “Hi hon. I just wanted to see if one of Joanna’s parents could drop you off at home when you girls are done. And not too late; you have school tomorrow!”

      She frowned. “Dad said he’d pick me up.”

      “Your father’s busy right now,” her voice dropped to a whisper and she got into her gossipy voice. “You remember your dad’s friend Marwan who runs the gas station? The Armenian? He used to give you candy when you were little? So his wife just brought her son over from Armenia and Marwan gave him a job at the gas station and everything. Well! The boy stole two-hundred and seventy dollars worth of lottery scratchers from the store, and used them all! Can you believe it?”

      Annalynne was hardly listening, distracted by what was happening on the screen. “That’s great mom. I’ll get a ride. Talk to you later.”

      Her mom sighed. “Have a good time. I’ll pray for you.”

      She wanted to say, don’t fucking pray for me bitch! “Thanks mom. Love you.”

      Her mom was so clueless. Little did she know, but every morning, Annalynne’s dad walked into his office, shut the door, and checked his eHarmony account. Her dad was the kind of man who was perpetually dissatisfied with everything in his life. Back when he and his wife were still dating, he had broken up with her a couple times so he could fool around with other girls and see if he was missing out on anything better.

      Today he had a well-paying job with health benefits and a pension, a large house in a nice neighborhood, and an attractive family-- but he still kept one eye constantly scanning the horizon, looking for something better. One time, her dad had gone to California for business and ended up having an affair with a yoga instructor from Santa Barbara, home of the most irresistible women in the world.

      Annalynne and Joanna sat on the couch for six hours, munching their way through the entire bowl of goodies and getting completely lost in the lives of the four Sex and the City women and the men they slept with. Twelve episodes later, Annalynne stretched and glanced at her cell phone. It was after ten. “I guess I should ask your dad to take me home now,” she suggested reluctantly.

      Twenty minutes later, Joanna’s dad was pulling up to Annalynne’s house. “Thanks for the ride,” she said, unbuckling her seat belt.

      “Wait Anna, I have something for you.” Joanna’s dad reached behind the seat and handed her a book. “I think you’ll like this” he said to her, his bright blue eyes burning intensely into her. She looked down to see a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in his outstretched hand. Annalynne thanked him, but didn’t accept it. She told him she’d already read the book, which was a lie. So many shrinks and guidance counselors had given her the same book that she could guess what it was about: alienation, loneliness, lack of interest in school, breaking the rules. People assumed that reading the book might somehow change her life. Maybe she’d feel less alone. Maybe it would give her perspective. Maybe she’d realize that her experience was not so unique.

      She preferred nonfiction.



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