The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

like Broken Wings by that band, Mr. Mister. I don't even know, but I hope it was Broken Wings because it would make the story perfect."

"Keep going," I encouraged.

"Okay. Okay." He swallowed. "So, they've been going out for a long time, and I think they've even had sex before, but this was going to be a special night. She packed a little picnic, and he brought a boom box to play Broken Wings."

Patrick just couldn't get over that song. He laughed for ten minutes.

"Okay. Okay. I'm sorry. So, they have this picnic with sandwiches and everything. They start to make out. The stereo's playing, and they're just about to 'do it' when Parker realizes he forgot the condoms. They're both naked on this putting green. They both want each other. There's no condom. So, what do you think happened?"

"I don't know."

"They did it doggie-style with one of the sandwich bags!"

"NO!" was all I could really say.

"YES!" was Patrick's rebuttal.

"GOD!" was my counter.

"YES!" was Patrick's conclusion.

After we shook off the giggles and wasted most of the wine with spit takes, he turned to me.

"And you want to know the best part?"


"She was the valedictorian. And everyone knew it when she went up to give her speech!"

There's nothing like the deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons. It was that great.

So, Patrick and I shared all the stories we could think of.

There was a kid named Barry, who used to build kites in art class. Then, after school, he would attach firecrackers to the kite and fly it and blow it up. He's now studying to be an air traffic controller.

--Patrick's story via Sam

And then there was this kid named Chip who spent all of his money from allowance and Christmas and birthdays to buy bug killing equipment and he would go door to door asking if he could kill the bugs for free.

--my story via my sister

There was a guy named Carl Burns and everyone called him C.B. And one day C.B. got so drunk at a party that he tried to "fuck" the host's dog.

--Patrick's story

And there was this guy they called "Action Jack" because supposedly he was caught masturbating at a drunk party. And at every pep rally, the kids would clap and chant. Action Jack ... clap clap clap ... Action Jack!

--my story via my brother

There were other stories and other names. Second Base Stace, who had breasts in the fourth grade and let some of the boys feel them. Vincent, who took acid and tried to flush a sofa down the toilet. Sheila, who allegedly masturbated with a hot dog and had to go to the emergency room. The list went on and on.

By the end, all I could think was what these people must feel like when they go to their class reunions. I wonder if they're embarrassed, and I wonder if that's a small price to pay for being a legend.

After we sobered up a bit with coffee and Mini Thins, Patrick drove me home. The mix tape I made for him hit a bunch of winter songs. And Patrick turned to me.

"Thanks, Charlie."


"No. I mean in the cafeteria."


After that, it was quiet. He drove me home and pulled up in the driveway. We hugged good night, and when I was just about to let go, he held me a little tighter. And he moved his face to mine. And he kissed me. A real kiss. Then, he pulled away real slow.

"I'm sorry."

"No. That's okay."

"Really. I'm sorry."

"No, really. It was okay."

So, he said "thanks" and hugged me again. And moved in to kiss me again. And I just let him. I don't know why. We stayed in his car for a long time.

We didn't do anything other than kiss. And we didn't even do that for very long. After a while, his eyes lost the glazey numb look from the wine or the coffee or the fact that he had stayed up the night before. Then, he started crying. Then, he started talking about Brad.

And I just let him. Because that's what friends are for.

Love always,


May 17, 1992

Dear friend,

It seems like every morning since that first night, I wake up dull, and my head hurts, and I can't breathe. Patrick and I have been spending a lot of time together. We drink a lot. Actually, it's more like Patrick drinks, and I sip.

It's just hard to see a friend hurt this much. Especially when you can't do anything except "be there." I want to make him stop hurting, but I can't. So, I just follow him around whenever he wants to show me his world.

One night Patrick took me to this park where men go to find each other. Patrick told me that if I didn't want to be bothered by anyone that I should just not make eye contact. He said that eye contact is how you agree to fool around anonymously. Nobody talks. They just find places to go. After a while, Patrick saw someone he liked. He asked me if I needed any cigarettes, and when I said no, he patted my shoulder and walked away with this boy.

I just sat on a bench, looking around. All I saw were the shadows of people. Some on the ground. Some by a tree. Some just walking. It was so quiet. After a few minutes, I lit a cigarette, and I heard somebody whisper.

"You got an extra cigarette?" the voice asked.

I turned around and saw a man in shadow.

"Sure," I said.

I reached out to hand the man a cigarette. He took it.

"You got a light?" he said.

"Sure," I said, and I struck a match for him.

Instead of just leaning down and lighting the cigarette, he reached out to make a cup around the match with our hands, which is something we all do when it's windy. But it wasn't windy. I think he just wanted to touch my hands because while he was lighting the cigarette, he did it for a lot longer than necessary. Maybe he wanted me to see his face over the glow of the match. To see how handsome he was. I don't know. He did look familiar. But I couldn't figure out from where.

He blew out the match. "Thanks." And exhaled.

"No problem," I said.

"Mind if I sit down?" he asked.

"Not really."

He sat down. And said a few things. And it was his voice. I recognized his voice. So, I lit another cigarette and looked at his face again, and thought hard, and that's when I figured it out. It was the guy who does the sports on the TV news!

"Nice night," he said.

I couldn't believe it! I guess I managed to nod because he kept talking. About sports! He kept talking about how the designated hitter in baseball was bad and why basketball was a commercial success and what teams looked promising in college football. He even mentioned my brother's name! I swear!

All I said was, "So, what's it like being on television?"

It must have been the wrong thing to say because he just got up and walked away. It was too bad because I wanted to ask him if he thought my brother would make it to the pros.

Another night, Patrick took me to this place where they sell poppers, which is this drug you inhale. They didn't have poppers, but the guy behind the counter said that he had something that was just as good. So, Patrick bought that. It was in this aerosal can. We both took a sniff of it, and I swear we both thought we were going to die of a heart attack.

All in all, I think Patrick took me to about every place there is to go that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. There was this karaoke bar on one of the main streets in the city. And there was this dance club. And this one bathroom in this one gym. All these places. Sometimes, Patrick would pick up guys. Sometimes, he wouldn't. He said that it was hard being safe. And you never know.

The nights he would pick up someone always made him sad. It's hard, too, because Patrick began every night really excited. He always said he felt free. And tonight was his destiny. And things like that. But by the end of that night, he just looked sad. Sometimes, he would talk about Brad. Sometimes, he wouldn't. But after a while, the whole thing just wasn't interesting to him anymore, and he ran out of things to keep himself numb.

So, tonight, he dropped me off at home. It was the night we went back to the park where men meet. And the night he saw Brad there with some guy. Brad was too into what he was doing to notice us. Patrick didn't say anything. He didn't do anything. He just walked back to the car. And we drove in silence. On the way, he threw the bottle of wine out the window. And it landed with a crash. And this time he didn't try to kiss me like he had every night. He just thanked me for being his friend. And drove away.

Love always,


May 21, 1992

Dear friend,

The school year is just about over. We have another month or so to go. But the seniors like my sister and Sam and Patrick only have a couple of weeks. Then, they have prom and graduation, and they are all busy making plans.

Mary Elizabeth is taking her new boyfriend, Peter. My sister is taking Erik. Patrick is going with Alice. And Craig agreed to go with Sam this time. They have even rented a limo and everything. Not my sister, though. She's going in her new boyfriend's car, which is a Buick.

Bill has been very sentimental lately because he can feel his first year of teaching coming to an end. At least that's what he said to me. He was planning on moving to New York and writing plays, but he told me that he doesn't really think he wants to anymore. He really likes teaching kids English and thinks maybe he can take over the drama department, too, next year.

I guess he's been thinking about this a lot because he hadn't given me a new book to read since The Stranger. He did ask me to watch a lot of movies, though, and write an essay about what I thought of all those movies. The movies were The Graduate, Harold & Maude, My Life as a Dog (which has subtitles!), Dead Poets Society, and a movie called The Unbelievable Truth, which was very hard to find.

I watched all the movies in one day. It was quite great.

The essay I wrote was very similar to the past few essays I wrote because everything Bill tells me to read or see are similar. Except the time he had me read Naked Lunch.

Incidentally, he told me he had given me that book because he had just broken up with his girlfriend and was feeling philosophical. I guess that's why he was sad that afternoon when we talked about On the Road. He apologized for letting his personal life affect his teaching, and I accepted because I didn't know what else to do. It's strange to think about your teachers as being people even when they're Bill. I guess he has since made up with his girlfriend. They're living together now. At least that's what he said.

So, in school Bill gave me my final book to read for the year. It's called The Fountainhead, and it's very long.

When he gave me the book, Bill said, "Be skeptical about this one. It's a great book. But try to be a filter, not a sponge."

Sometimes, I think Bill forgets that I am sixteen. But I am very happy that he does.

I haven't started reading it because I am very behind in my other classes because I spent so much time with Patrick. But if I can catch up, I will end my first year with straight A's, which makes me very happy. I almost didn't get an A in math, but then Mr. Carlo told me to stop asking "why?" all the time and just follow the formulas. So, I did. Now, I get perfect scores on all my tests. I just wish I knew what the formulas did. I honestly have no idea.

I was just thinking that I wrote to you first because I was afraid about starting high school. Today, I feel good, so that's kind of funny.

By the way, Patrick stopped drinking that night he saw Brad in the park. I guess he's feeling better. He just wants to graduate and go to college now.

I saw Brad in detention the Monday after I saw him at the park. And he looked just like he always looks.

Love always,


May 27, 1992

Dear friend,

I've been reading The Fountainhead for the past few days, and it's an excellent book. I read on the back cover that the author was born in Russia and came to America when she was young. She barely spoke English, but she wanted to be a great writer. I thought that was very admirable, so I sat down and tried to write a story.

"Ian MacArthur is a wonderful sweet fellow who wears glasses and peers out of them with delight."

That was the first sentence. The problem was that I just couldn't think of the next one. After cleaning my room three times, I decided to leave Ian alone for a while because I was starting to get mad at him.

I've had a lot of time to write and read and think about things this past week because everyone is busy with prom and graduation and schedules. Next Friday is their last day of school. And then prom is on Tuesday, which I thought was strange because I thought it would be on a weekend, but Sam told me that every school can't have their prom on the same night or else there wouldn't be enough tuxedos and restaurants to go around. I said it felt very well planned. And then Sunday is their graduation. It all feels very exciting. I wish it were happening to me.

I wonder what it will be like when I leave this place. The fact that I will have to have a roommate and buy shampoo. I thought how great it would be to go to my senior prom three years from now with Sam. I hope it's on a Friday. And I hope I will be a valedictorian at graduation. I wonder what my speech would be. And if Bill would help me with it if he didn't go to New York and write plays. Or maybe he would even if he was in New York writing plays. I think that would be especially nice of him.

I don't know. The Fountainhead is a very good book. I hope I am being a filter.

Love always,


June 2, 1992

Dear friend,

Did you have a senior prank? I'm guessing you probably did because my sister said it's a tradition at a lot of schools. This year, the prank was as follows: Some seniors filled the swimming pool with about six thousand packages of grape Kool-Aid. I have no idea who thinks of these things or why, except that the senior prank is supposed to signify the end of school. What this has to do with a grape pool is beyond me, but I was very happy not to have gym.

It's actually been a very exciting time because we've all been busy finishing up the year. This Friday is the last day of school for all of my friends and my sister. They've been talking about their prom nonstop. Even the people that think it's a "joke" like Mary Elizabeth can't stop talking about what a "joke" it is. It's all very fun to witness.

So, by this time, everyone has finally figured out which schools he or she is going to next year. Patrick is going to the University of Washington because he wants to be near the music there. He says he thinks he wants to work for a record company someday. Maybe be a publicist or a person who finds new bands. Sam finally made her decision to leave early for the summer program at the college of her choice. I love that expression. College of my choice. Safety school is another favorite.

The thing was that Sam got into two schools. The college of her choice and a safety school. She could have started at the safety school in the fall, but in order to go to the college of her choice, she had to do this special summer program just like my brother. That's right! The school is Penn State, which is so great because now I can visit my brother and Sam with one trip. I don't want to think about Sam leaving just yet, but I did wonder what would happen if she and my brother ever started dating, which is stupid because they are nothing alike, and Sam is in love with Craig. I have to stop doing this.

My sister is going to a "small liberal arts college back East" called Sarah Lawrence. She almost didn't get to go because it costs a lot of money, but then she got an academic scholarship through the Rotary Club or Moose Lodge or something like that, which I thought was very generous of them. My sister is going to be second in her class. I thought she might have been valedictorian, but she got a B when she was going through that tough time with her old boyfriend.

Mary Elizabeth is going to Berkeley. And Alice is going to study movies at New York University. I never even knew she liked movies, but I guess she does. She calls them "films."

Incidentally, I finished The Fountainhead. It was a really great experience. It's strange to describe reading a book as a really great experience, but that's kind of how it felt. It was a different book from the others because it wasn't about being a kid. And it wasn't like The Stranger or Naked Lunch even though I think it was philosophical in a way. But it wasn't like you had to really search for the philosophy. It was pretty straightforward, I thought, and the great part is that I took what the author wrote about and put it in terms of my own life. Maybe that's what being a filter means. I'm not sure.

There was this one part where the main character, who is this architect, is sitting on a boat with his best friend, who is a newspaper tycoon. And the newspaper tycoon says that the architect is a very cold man. The architect replies that if the boat were sinking, and there was only room in the lifeboat for one person, he would gladly give up his life for the newspaper tycoon. And then he says something like this...

"I would die for you. But I won't live for you."

Something like that. I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people. Maybe that is what makes people "participate." I'm not really certain. Because I don't know if I would mind living for Sam for a while. Then again, she wouldn't want me to, so maybe it's a lot friendlier than all that. I hope so anyway.

I told my psychiatrist about the book and Bill and about Sam and Patrick and all their colleges, but he just keeps asking me questions about when I was younger. The thing is I feel that I'm just repeating the same memories to him. I don't know. He says it's important. I guess we'll have to see.

I would write a little more today, but I have to learn my math formulas for the final on Thursday. Wish me luck!

Love always,


June 5, 1992

Dear friend,

I wanted to tell you about us running. There was this beautiful sunset. And there was this hill. The hill up to the eighteenth green where Patrick and I spit wine from laughing. And just a few hours before, Sam and Patrick and everyone I love and know had their last day of high school ever. And I was happy because they were happy. My sister even let me hug her in the hallway. Congratulations was the word of the day. So, Sam and Patrick and I went to the Big Boy and smoked cigarettes. Then, we went walking, waiting for it to be time
Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via [email protected]