Excerpt: Confessions of a High School Disaster
(Part of Chloe Snow's Diary)
In the tradition of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a lovably flawed high school student chronicles her life as she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and love in a diary that sparkles with humor and warmth.
I’m Chloe Snow, and my life is kiiiiind of a disaster.
On the plus side, I got the lead in the musical!
On the down side…
1. I’m a kissing virgin (so so so embarrassing).
2. My best friend, Hannah, is driving me insane.
3. I think I’m in love with Mac Brody, the most popular senior guy, whose girlfriend is so beautiful she doesn’t even need eyeliner.
4. My dad won’t stop asking me if I’m okay.
5. Oh, and my mom moved to Mexico to work on her novel. But it’s fine—she’ll be back soon. She said so.
Mom tells me everything is copy. So I’m writing down all the horrible things that happen to me in this diary.
This is the worst year of my life so far, unless maybe it’s the best.
Hannah’s mom drove us to the mall. She was wearing a pink short-sleeved cardigan and cork wedges with pink straps. On the way there, we talked about Hannah’s older brother, Brian, who just left for his first semester at Dartmouth, which according to Mrs. Egan is the best school in the world.
“I’m telling you, Chloe, it’s all about the family dinner. Eating together as a family is scientifically proven to raise your SAT score, did you know that?”
Hannah hissed, “Mom.”
“Oh, honey,” Mrs. Egan said, looking at me in the rearview mirror. “Hannah told me about your mother.”
I gave Hannah a look of death.
“She’ll be back in December,” I said.
“Of course she will!”
I refused to talk to Hannah in the mall until she bought me a soft pretzel and a Diet Coke. Even then I was being a total B. I went to all the stores with her, but I wouldn’t try anything on. I sat in the armchairs they put there for boyfriends and husbands and pretended to fall asleep.
Even when Mom was here, we didn’t have family dinner. Usually Dad would make something for him and me, and we’d eat while Mom worked upstairs. Then she would eat carrots and hummus standing up at the kitchen counter. She can’t be on a regular schedule, because she’s an artist. I’ll do way better on the SAT than Brian. He’s the kind of guy who says “She’s driving with Mike and I” because he thinks “I” sounds fancier.
There’s nothing better than going to the pool. Here’s what to bring:
* Beach towel decorated with a picture of a New York City taxi, to help you dream up ways to escape the suburbs
* Pencil case with house keys and money for the concession stand
Then lie in the sun for hours, and do some breaststroke when you get too hot. Don’t feel like you’re being lazy, because you’re reading and working on your tan. I know it gives you wrinkles, but what if you die in a terrorist attack when you’re 20? Then you’ll regret wasting your time worrying about sun damage when you could have been living it up and looking cute.
Hannah came over seriously crying about our so-called fight. I felt like saying, “I have bigger fish to fry,” but I didn’t say it, first of all because that would be mean, and second of all because it would be a lie.
I said, “It’s not a big deal. Sorry I wouldn’t try on pants with you.” She almost fainted with relief. It was raining out, so we ate a bag of cinnamon-flavored pita chips and I told her about my kissing vow. She doesn’t understand how much I’m suffering, because she kissed Matt Welch last summer at Kayla Price’s birthday party, and so now she is a normal human teenager rather than an unkissed freak. No matter how much I ask, she can only describe kissing Matt as “too wet,” “kind of strange,” and “not what I thought it would be like,” which is so frustrating, because I’m dying to know every detail about nose placement and tongue texture and post-kiss facial expressions.
“Don’t overthink it,” she said, breaking off a corner of a pita chip. “When it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen.”
“No, I need a plan, Hannah. I need to take matters into my own hands. Now help me come up with a list of prospects.”
After hours of internet research, we had a list of 3 guys who are single, reasonably cute but not out of my league, popular enough but not Popular, not too druggy, not too mean, not too cocky, and not too player-y:
Zach Chen. Sophomore. Has a man bun (sexy, IMO), sings in an a cappella group (kind of dorky), and plays guitar in a rock band called Deposed Monarchs (again, sexy).
Luke Powers. Junior. Hockey goalie. Has a beautiful flowing hockey mullet like it’s the 1970s. At least 6’2” and ripped. Hannah thinks I’m punching above my weight class on this one, but not everyone appreciates his hair, plus his Twitter reveals he’s suuuuuper into Settlers of Catan, which, again, is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Griffin Gonzalez. Fellow freshman. Has the best name in our class by a mile. Reads a ton, like me. Does a lot of eye rolling and sighing in English class when nonreaders talk. Gives off a vibe like he’s counting the days until his PhD program starts. I’m scared of him and think he’s a snob but desperately want him to like me. Little do these guys know that one of them will make out with me before the year is over.
I went to the pool alone. I like doing stuff by myself. It’s easier to observe the world when you’re not trying to keep a conversation going.
When I went to the concession stand to get a rocket pop, I had to pass this big bunch of older boys. They got quiet as I walked by, but I didn’t look at them, so I’m not sure if it was a natural pause in the conversation or if one of them was, like, making a hand job gesture in my direction while everyone died of silent laughter.
After I got my Popsicle, I turned around to head back, and there was 1 of the guys, in line behind 2 shivering kids wrapped in striped towels. When he looked at me and I looked at him, I felt like a key sliding into a lock.
“You didn’t get me anything?” he said.
“What? Oh, no, I didn’t, um . . . Sorry. I don’t—”
“Calm down,” he said. “I’m messing with you. Wait for me, we can eat together.”
While he ordered a SpongeBob ice cream, I studied him. I don’t think Hannah would consider him cute. He has a face like bread dough, with raisins for eyes. Plenty of zits on his chin. His hair goes down to his shoulders, and I’m pretty sure it’s in dreads. He’s extremely tall and about the size of a riding mower, and he has big muscles in his arms and legs. I’m not talking about gym muscles, either. Baling-hay muscles, not that there’s any hay to bale around here.
I waited for him to pay, and then we went and sat on the bench by the sign-in sheet. It seemed weird that a few seconds earlier, I had never seen this person, and now we were sitting side by side and acting like it was normal. Maybe it was normal. I don’t know, because I never meet any new guys. I’ve known everyone in my class since kindergarten.
“Do you go to MH?” he said.
“I’m starting in the fall.”
I must have looked petrified, because he said, “There’s nothing to worry about.”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how horrible is it?”
“2.” He was biting his ice cream instead of licking it, which looked so freaking manly.
“You must be popular,” I said. “Otherwise you would never say 2.”
“Oh God.” He waved SpongeBob in the air. “That stuff is so stupid.”
“You are popular!” I said.
“You’re not?” he said.
For a second I considered lying, but I realized he would find out the truth on —that is, if he even deigns to notice me at all.
“Nope,” I said. “I’m not, like, a loser, but I’m not famous, either. I’m just kind of there.”
“I find that hard to believe,” he said. I’m pretty sure he was being gallant.
We walked back to the pool together. All his friends stared at us like we were on fire. One of them yelled, “Ask to see some ID!” and they all laughed.
“Ignore those idiots,” he said. He walked me back to my chair and said, “What’s your name, by the way?”
“Chloe. I like it. I’m gonna call you Chloe Jo.”
“Because it’s cute, just like you.”
I think my mouth was hanging open in shock. He reached over and messed up my hair. “I’m Mac, by the way.”
I noticed a whole group of young mothers watching us through their big sunglasses. I hate this town. It’s teeming with snoops and gossips.
I pretended to read for about an hour, and then Mac and his friends left, and on his way out, MAC BLEW ME A KISS.
Excerpted from CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH SCHOOL DISASTER © Copyright 2017 by Emma Chastain. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
About the author
Emma Chastain is a graduate of Barnard College and the creative writing MFA program at Boston University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.