In honor of Street’s second annual Fiction Issue, I’ll now take you on a journey back to my adolescence. I was a wee bit shorter (as in 5’1”, not 5’2”), bespectacled and perpetually in love with the boys in my books.
I was one of those nerdy kids who loved to read. I crushed on the Hardy Boys and later into my adolescence I read those cheesy tween books made for girls in Skechers.
The teen male characters were built for girls like me to pine over. They were neat, droopy–haired, heartfelt, could obviously play an instrument (electric guitar, please) and would drop names like Dave Eggers in a heartbeat. I like to think that these Sarah Dessen and Judy Blume chapter books were written with me in mind. I, and presumably all other readers, were just tweenage girls in love with the idea of love.
We felt a longing towards hearts drawn on covers and lead singers of fictitious bands. We felt akin to girls who wrote in diaries. In other words, we were the epitome of teen clichés.
But even now in my older and (probably not at all) wiser stage of life, I’m still drawn to the grown up version of these characters: the mopey, going nowhere, blue–eyed men who drive cross country to find their inner Kerouac. They make (capital b) Big (capital g) Gestures and steal women away from the bad boys riding motorcycles.
Well, Street’s winning short story (p.8) features no such boy. Our leading man is the definition of a melancholy — troubled but not in an appealing way. He’s an investment banker with a simple name. We’ll let you meet him for yourselves.
So even if books aren’t your thing and you’re not hopelessly in love with people who don’t exist (p.6), maybe you’ll find solace in the friendly face of our Ego of the Week, the Quaker man (p.4).
Are you there God, it’s me,