The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

harlie, has anyone told you how it works?"

"I don't think so."

"Well, there are rules you follow here not because you want to, but because you have to. You get it?"

"I guess so."

"Okay. You take girls, for example. They're copying their moms and magazines and everything to know how to act around guys."

I thought about the moms and the magazines and the everythings, and the thought made me nervous, especially if it includes TV.

"I mean it's not like in the movies where girls like assholes or anything like that. It's not that easy. They just like somebody that can give them a purpose."

"A purpose?"

"Right. You know? Girls like guys to be a challenge. It gives them some mold to fit in how they act. Like a mom. What would a mom do if she couldn't fuss over you and make you clean your room? And what would you do without her fussing and making you do it? Everyone needs a mom. And a mom knows this. And it gives her a sense of purpose. You get it?"

"Yeah," I said even though I didn't. But I got it enough to say "Yeah" and not be lying, though.

"The thing is some girls think they can actually change guys. And what's funny is that if they actually did change them, they'd get bored. They'd have no challenge left. You just have to give girls some time to think of a new way of doing things, that's all. Some of them will figure it out here. Some later. Some never. I wouldn't worry about it too much."

But I guess I did worry about it. I've been worrying about it ever since he told me. I look at people holding hands in the hallways, and I try to think about how it all works. At the school dances, I sit in the background, and I tap my toe, and I wonder how many couples will dance to "their song." In the hallways, I see the girls wearing the guys' jackets, and I think about the idea of property. And I wonder if anyone is really happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are.

Bill looked at me looking at people, and after class, he asked me what I was thinking about, and I told him. He listened, and he nodded and made "affirmation" sounds. When I had finished, his face changed into a "serious talk" face.

"Do you always think this much, Charlie?"

"Is that bad?" I just wanted someone to tell me the truth.

"Not necessarily. It's just that sometimes people use thought to not participate in life."

"Is that bad?"


"I think I participate, though. Don't you think I am?"

"Well, are you dancing at these dances?"

"I'm not a very good dancer."

"Are you going on dates?"

"Well, I don't have a car, and even if I did, I can't drive because I'm fifteen, and anyway, I haven't met a girl I like except for Sam, but I am too young for her, and she would always have to drive, which I don't think is fair."

Bill smiled and continued asking me questions. Slowly, he got to "problems at home." And I told him about the boy who makes mix tapes hitting my sister because my sister only told me not to tell mom or dad about it, so I figured I could tell Bill. He got this very serious look on his face after I told him, and he said something to me I don't think I will forget this semester or ever.

"Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve."

I just stood there, quiet. Bill patted my shoulder and gave me a new book to read. He told me everything was going to be okay.

I usually walk home from school because it makes me feel like I've earned it. What I mean is that I want to be able to tell my kids that I walked to school like my grandparents did in the "old days." It's odd that I'm planning this considering I've never had a date, but I guess that makes sense. It usually takes me an extra hour or so to walk as opposed to taking the bus, but it's worth it when the weather is nice and cool like it was today.

When I finally got home, my sister was sitting on a chair. My mom and my dad were standing in front of her. And I knew that Bill had called home and told them. And I felt terrible. It was all my fault.

My sister was crying. My mom was very very quiet. My dad did all the talking. He said that my sister was not allowed to see the boy who hit her anymore, and he was going to have a talk with the boy's parents tonight. My sister then said that it was all her fault, that she was provoking him, but my dad said it was no excuse.

"But I love him!" I had never seen my sister cry that much.

"No, you don't."

"I hate you!"

"No, you don't." My dad can be very calm sometimes.

"He's my whole world."

"Don't ever say that about anyone again. Not even me." That was my mom.

My mom chooses her battles carefully, and I can tell you one thing about my family. When my mom does say something, she always gets her way. And this time was no exception. My sister stopped crying immediately.

After that, my dad gave my sister a rare kiss on the forehead. Then, he left the house, got in his Oldsmobile, and drove away. I thought he probably was going to talk to the boy's parents. And I felt very sorry for them. His parents, I mean. Because my dad doesn't lose fights. He just doesn't.

My mom then went into the kitchen to make my sister's favorite thing to eat, and my sister looked at me.

"I hate you."

My sister said it different than she said it to my dad. She meant it with me. She really did.

"I love you," was all I could say in return.

"You're a freak, you know that? You've always been a freak. Everyone says so. They always have."

"I'm trying not to be."

Then, I turned around and walked to my room and closed my door and put my head under my pillow and let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be.

By the way, I figure you are probably curious about my dad. Did he hit us when we were kids or now even? I just thought you might be curious because Bill was, after I told him about that boy and my sister. Well, if you are wondering, he didn't. He never touched my brother or sister. And the only time he ever slapped me was when I made my Aunt Helen cry. And once we all calmed down, he got on his knees in front of me and said that his stepdad hit him a lot, and he decided in college when my mom got pregnant with my older brother that he would never hit his kids. And he felt terrible for doing it. And he was so sorry. And he would never hit me again. And he hasn't.

He's just stern sometimes.

Love always,


October 15, 1991

Dear friend,

I guess I forgot to mention in my last letter that it was Patrick who told me about masturbation. I guess I also forgot to tell you how often I do it now, which is a lot. I don't like to look at pictures. I just close my eyes and dream about a lady I do not know. And I try not to feel ashamed. I never think about Sam when I do it. Never. That's very important to me because I was so happy when she said "Charlie-esque" since it felt like an inside joke of sorts.

One night, I felt so guilty that I promised God that I would never do it again. So, I started using blankets, but then the blankets hurt, so I started using pillows, but then the pillows hurt, so I went back to normal. I wasn't raised very religiously because my parents went to Catholic school, but I do believe in God very much. I just never gave God a name, if you know what I mean. I hope I haven't let Him down regardless.

Incidentally, my dad did have a serious talk with the boy's parents. The boy's mother was very very angry and screamed at her son. The boy's father kept quiet. And my dad didn't get too personal with them. He didn't tell them they did a "lousy job" raising their son or anything.

As far as he was concerned, the only important thing was getting their help to keep their son away from his daughter. Once that was settled, he left them to deal with their family and came home to deal with his. At least that's how he put it.

The one thing I did ask my dad was about the boy's problems at home. Whether or not he thought the parents hit their son. He told me to mind my own business. Because he didn't know and would never ask and didn't think it mattered.

"Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it's no excuse."

That's all he said. And then we went to watch television.

My sister is still mad at me, but my dad said I did the right thing. I hope that I did, but it's hard to tell sometimes.

Love always,


October 28, 1991

Dear friend,

I'm sorry I haven't written to you in a couple of weeks, but I have been trying to "participate" like Bill said. It's strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book. Also, when I write letters, I spend the next two days thinking about what I figured out in my letters. I do not know if this is good or bad. Nevertheless, I am trying to participate.

Incidentally, the book Bill gave me was Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. I know what you're thinking. The cartoon Peter Pan with the lost boys. The actual book is so much better than that. It's just about this boy who refuses to grow up, and when Wendy grows up, he feels very betrayed. At least that's what I got out of it. I think Bill gave me the book to teach me a lesson of some kind.

The good news is that I read the book, and because of its fantasy nature, I could not pretend that I was in the book. That way I could participate and still read.

In terms of my participation in things, I am trying to go to social events that they set up in my school. It's too late to join any clubs or anything like that, but I still try to go to the things that I can. Things like the homecoming football game and dance, even if I don't have a date.

I cannot imagine that I will ever come home for a homecoming game after I leave here, but it was fun to pretend that I was. I found Patrick and Sam sitting in their normal spot in the bleachers, and I started acting like I hadn't seen them in a year even though I had seen them that afternoon in lunch when I ate my orange, and they smoked cigarettes.

"Patrick, is that you? And Sam... it's been so long. Who's winning? God, college is such a trial. My professor is making me read twenty-seven books this weekend, and my girlfriend needs me to paint signs for her protest rally Tuesday. Let those administrators know we mean business. Dad is busy with his golf swing, and Mom has her hands full with tennis. We must do this again. I would stay, but I have to pick my sister up from her emotional workshop. She's making real progress. Good to see ya."

And then I walked away. I went down to the concession stand and bought three boxes of nachos and a diet coke for Sam. When I returned, I sat down and gave Patrick and Sam the nachos and Sam her diet coke. And Sam smiled. The great thing about Sam is that she doesn't think I'm crazy for pretending to do things. Patrick doesn't either, but he was too busy watching the game and screaming at Brad, the quarterback.

Sam told me during the game that they were going over to their friend's house later for a party. Then, she asked me if I wanted to go, and I said yes because I had never been to a party before. I had seen one at my house, though.

My parents went to Ohio to see a very distant cousin get buried or married. I don't remember which. And they left my brother in charge of the house. He was sixteen at the time. My brother used the opportunity to throw a big party with beer and everything. I was ordered to stay in my room, which was okay because that's where everyone kept their coats, and it was fun looking through the stuff in their pockets. Every ten minutes or so, a drunk girl or boy would stumble in my room to see if they could make out there or something. Then, they would see me and walk away. That is, except for this one couple.

This one couple, whom I was told later were very popular and in love, stumbled into my room and asked if I minded them using it. I told them that my brother and sister said I had to stay here, and they asked if they could use the room anyway with me still in it. I said I didn't see why not, so they closed the door and started kissing. Kissing very hard. After a few minutes, the boy's hand went up the girl's shirt, and she started protesting.

"C'mon, Dave."


"The kid's in here."

"It's okay."

And the boy kept working up the girl's shirt, and as much as she said no, he kept working it. After a few minutes, she stopped protesting, and he pulled her shirt off, and she had a white bra on with lace. I honestly didn't know what to do by this point. Pretty soon, he took off her bra and started to kiss her breasts. And then he put his hand down her pants, and she started moaning. I think they were both very drunk. He reached to take off her pants, but she started crying really hard, so he reached for his own. He pulled his pants and underwear down to his knees.

"Please. Dave. No."

But the boy just talked soft to her about how good she looked and things like that, and she grabbed his penis with her hands and started moving it. I wish I could describe this a little more nicely without using words like penis, but that was the way it was.

After a few minutes, the boy pushed the girl's head down, and she started to kiss his penis. She was still crying. Finally, she stopped crying because he put his penis in her mouth, and I don't think you can cry in that position. I had to stop watching at that point because I started to feel sick, but it kept going on, and they kept doing other things, and she kept saying "no." Even when I covered my ears, I could still hear her say that.

My sister came in eventually to bring me a bowl of potato chips, and when she found the boy and the girl, they stopped. My sister was very embarrassed, but not as embarrassed as the girl. The boy looked kind of smug. He didn't say much. After they left, my sister turned to me.

"Did they know you were in here?"

"Yes. They asked if they could use the room."

"Why didn't you stop them?"

"I didn't know what they were doing."

"You pervert," was the last thing my sister said before she left the room, still carrying the bowl of potato chips.

I told Sam and Patrick about this, and they both got very quiet. Sam said that she used to go out with Dave for a while before she got into punk music, and Patrick said he heard about that party. I wasn't surprised that he did because it kind of became a legend. At least that's what I've heard when I tell some kids who my older brother is.

When the police came, they found my brother asleep on the roof. Nobody knows how he got there. My sister was making out in the laundry room with some senior. She was a freshman at the time. A lot of parents came to the house then to pick up their kids, and a lot of the girls were crying and throwing up. Most of the boys had run away by this point. My brother got in big trouble, and my sister was given a "serious talk" by my parents about bad influences. And that was that.

The boy named Dave is a senior now. He plays on the football team. He is a wide receiver. I watched the end of the game when Dave caught a touchdown thrown from Brad. It ended up winning the game for our school. And people went crazy in the stands because we won the game. But all I could think about was that party. I thought about it quiet for a long time, then I looked over to Sam.

"He raped her, didn't he?"

She just nodded. I couldn't tell if she was sad or just knew more things than me.

"We should tell someone, shouldn't we?"

Sam just shook her head this time. She then explained about all the things you have to go through to prove it, especially in high school when the boy and girl are popular and still in love.

The next day at the homecoming dance, I saw them dancing together. Dave and his girl. And I got really mad. It kind of scared me how mad I got. I thought about walking up to Dave and really hurting him like maybe I should have really hurt Sean. And I think I would have, but Sam saw me and put her arm around my shoulder like she does. She calmed me down, and I guess I'm glad she did because I think I would have gotten even madder if I started hitting Dave, and his girl stopped me because she loved him. I think I would have gotten even madder about that.

So, I decided to do the next best thing and let the air out of Dave's tires. Sam knew which was his car.

There is a feeling that I had Friday night after the homecoming game that I don't know if I will ever be able to describe except to say that it is warm. Sam and Patrick drove me to the party that night, and I sat in the middle of Sam's pickup truck. Sam loves her pickup truck because I think it reminds her of her dad. The feeling I had happened when Sam told Patrick to find a station on the radio. And he kept getting commercials. And commercials. And a really bad song about love that had the word "baby" in it. And then more commercials. And finally he found this really amazing song about this boy, and we all got quiet.

Sam tapped her hand on the steering wheel. Patrick held his hand outside the car and made air waves. And I just sat between them. After the song finished, I said something.

"I feel infinite."

And Sam and Patrick looked at me like I said the greatest thing they ever heard. Because the song was that great and because we all really paid attention to it. Five minutes of a lifetime were truly spent, and we felt young in a good way. I have since bought the record, and I would tell you what it was, but truthfully, it's not the same unless you're driving to your first real party, and you're sitting in the middle seat of a pickup with two nice people when it starts to rain.

We got to the house where the party was, and Patrick did this secret knock. It would be hard to describe to you this knock without sound. The door opened a crack, and this guy with frizzy hair looked out at us.

"Patrick known as Patty known as Nothing?"


The door opened, and the old friends hugged each other. Then, Sam and Bob hugged each other. Then, Sam spoke.

"This is our friend, Charlie."

And you won't believe it. Bob hugged me! Sam told me as we were hanging up our coats that Bob was "baked like a fucking cake." I really had to quote that one even though it has a swear.

The party was in the basement of this house. The room was quite smoky, and the kids were much older. There were two girls showing each other their tattoos and belly button rings. Seniors, I think.

This guy named Fritz something was eating a lot of Twinkies. Fritz's girlfriend was talking to him about women's rights, and he kept saying, "I know, baby."

Sam and Patrick started smoking cigarettes. Bob went up to the kitchen when he heard the bell ring. When he came back, he brought a can of Milwaukee's Best beer for everyone, as well as two new party guests. There was Maggie, who needed to u
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