The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

. It's just that Craig doesn't really listen to her when she talks. I don't mean that he's a bad guy because he's not. It's just that he always looks distracted.

It's like he would take a photograph of Sam, and the photograph would be beautiful. And he would think that the reason the photograph was beautiful was because of how he took it. If I took it, I would know that the only reason it's beautiful is because of Sam.

I just think it's bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is. And I think it's bad when the most honest way a boy can look at a girl is through a camera. It's very hard for me to see Sam feel better about herself just because an older boy sees her that way.

I asked my sister about this, and she said that Sam has low self-esteem. My sister also said that Sam had a reputation when she was a sophomore. According to my sister, Sam used to be a "blow queen." I hope you know what that means because I really can't think about Sam and describe it to you.

I am really in love with Sam, and it hurts very much.

I did ask my sister about the boy at the dance. She wouldn't talk about it until I promised that I wouldn't tell anybody, not even Bill. So, I promised. She said that she has been seeing this boy secretly since Dad said she couldn't. She says she thinks about him when he's not there. She says they're going to get married after they both finish college, and he finishes law school.

She told me not to worry because he hasn't hit her since that night. And she said not to worry because he won't hit her again. She really didn't say any more other than that, although she kept talking.

It was nice sitting with my sister that night because she almost never likes to talk to me. I was surprised that she told me as much as she did, but I guess that since she's keeping things secret, she can't tell anybody. And I guess she was just dying to tell somebody.

But as much as she told me not to, I do worry a lot about her. She is my sister, after all.

Love always,


November 12, 1991

Dear friend,

I love Twinkies, and the reason I am saying that is because we are all supposed to think of reasons to live. In science class, Mr. Z. told us about an experiment where they got this rat or mouse, and they put this rat or mouse on one side of a cage. On the other side of the cage, they put a little piece of food. And this rat or mouse would walk over to the food and eat. Then, they put the rat or mouse back on its original side, and this time, they put electricity all through the floor where the rat or mouse would have to walk to get the piece of food. They did this for a while, and the rat or mouse stopped going to get the food at a certain amount of voltage. Then, they repeated the experiment, but they replaced the food with something that gave the rat or mouse intense pleasure. I don't know what it was that gave them intense pleasure, but I am guessing it is some kind of rat or mouse nip. Anyway, what the scientists found out was that the rat or mouse would put up with a lot more voltage for the pleasure. Even more than for the food.

I don't know the significance of this, but I find it very interesting.

Love always,


November 15, 1991

Dear friend,

It's starting to get cold and frosty here. The pretty fall weather is pretty much gone. The good news is that we have holidays coming up, which I love especially now because my brother will be coming home soon. Maybe even for Thanksgiving! At least I hope he does for my mom.

My brother hasn't called home in a few weeks now, and Mom just keeps talking about his grades and sleeping habits and the foods he eats, and my dad keeps saying the same thing.

"He's not going to get injured."

Personally, I like to think my brother is having a college experience like they do in the movies. I don't mean the big fraternity party kind of movie. More like the movie where the guy meets a smart girl who wears a lot of sweaters and drinks cocoa. They talk about books and issues and kiss in the rain. I think something like that would be very good for him, especially if the girl were unconventionally beautiful. They are the best kind of girls, I think. I personally find "super models" strange. I don't know why this is.

My brother, on the other hand, has posters of "super models" and cars and beer and things like that on the walls in his room. I suppose if you add a dirty floor, it's probably what his dorm room looks like. My brother always hated making his bed, but he kept his clothes closet very organized. Go figure.

The thing is, when my brother does call home, he doesn't say a lot. He talks about his classes a little bit, but mostly he talks about the football team. There is a lot of attention on the team because they are very good, and they have some really big players. My brother said that one of the guys will probably be a millionaire someday, but that he is "dumb as a post." I guess that's pretty dumb.

My brother told this one story where the whole team was sitting around the locker room, talking about all the stuff they had to do to get into college football. They finally got around to talking about SAT scores, which I have never taken.

And this guy said, "I got a 710."

And my brother said, "Math or verbal?"

And the guy said, "Huh?"

And the whole team laughed.

I always wanted to be on a sports team like that. I'm not exactly sure why, but I always thought it would be fun to have "glory days." Then, I would have stories to tell my children and golf buddies. I guess I could tell people about Punk Rocky and walking home from school and things like that. Maybe these are my glory days, and I'm not even realizing it because they don't involve a ball.

I used to play sports when I was little, and I was actually very good, but the problem was that it used to make me too aggressive, so the doctors told my mom I would have to stop.

My dad had glory days once. I've seen pictures of him when he was young. He was a very handsome man. I don't know any other way to put it. He looked like all old pictures look. Old pictures look very rugged and young, and the people in the photographs always seem a lot happier than you are.

My mother looks beautiful in old pictures. She actually looks more beautiful than anyone except maybe Sam. Sometimes, I look at my parents now and wonder what happened to make them the way they are. And then I wonder what will happen to my sister when her boyfriend graduates from law school. And what my brother's face will look like on a football card, or what it will look like if it is never on a football card. My dad played college baseball for two years, but he had to stop when Mom got pregnant with my brother. That's when he started working at the office. I honestly don't know what my dad does.

He tells a story sometimes. It is a great story. It has to do with the state championship for baseball when he was in high school. It was the bottom of the ninth inning, and there was a runner on first. There were two outs, and my dad's team was behind by one run. My dad was younger than most of the varsity team because he was only a sophomore, and I think the team thought he was going to blow the game. He had all this pressure on him. He was really nervous. And really scared. But after a few pitches, he said he started feeling "in the zone." When the pitcher wound up and threw the next ball, he knew exactly where that ball was going to be. He hit it harder than any other ball he ever hit in his whole life. And he made a home run, and his team won the state championship. The greatest thing about this story is that every time my dad tells it, it never changes. He's not one to exaggerate.

I think about all this sometimes when I'm watching a football game with Patrick and Sam. I look at the field, and I think about the boy who just made the touchdown. I think that these are the glory days for that boy, and this moment will just be another story someday because all the people who make touchdowns and home runs will become somebody's dad. And when his children look at his yearbook photograph, they will think that their dad was rugged and handsome and looked a lot happier than they are.

I just hope I remember to tell my kids that they are as happy as I look in my old photographs. And I hope that they believe me.

Love always,


November 18, 1991

Dear friend,

My brother finally called yesterday, and he can't make it home for any part of Thanksgiving weekend because he is behind on school because of football. My mom was so upset that she took me shopping for new clothes.

I know you think what I'm about to write is an exaggeration, but I promise you that it isn't. From the time we got into the car to the time we came home, my mom literally did not stop talking. Not once. Not even when I was in the dressing room trying on "slacks."

She just stood outside the dressing room and worried out loud. The things she said went all over the place. First, it was that my dad should've insisted that my brother come home if only for an afternoon. Then, it was that my sister had better start thinking more about her future and start applying to "safety" schools in case the good ones don't work out. And then she started saying that gray was a good color for me.

I understand how my mom thinks. I really do.

It's like when we were little, and we would go to the grocery store. My sister and brother would fight about things that my sister and brother would fight about, and I would sit at the bottom of the shopping cart. And my mom would be so upset by the end of shopping that she would push the cart fast, and I would feel like I was in a submarine.

Yesterday was like that except now I got to sit in the front seat.

When I saw Sam and Patrick at school today, they both agreed that my mom has very good taste in clothing. I told my mom this when I got home from school, and she smiled. She asked me if I wanted to invite Sam and Patrick over for dinner sometime after the holidays are over because my mom gets nervous enough as it is during the holidays. I called Sam and Patrick, and they said they would.

I'm really excited!

The last time I had a friend over to dinner was Michael last year. We had tacos. The really great part was that Michael stayed over to sleep. We ended up sleeping very little. We mostly just talked about things like girls and movies and music. The one part I remember distinctly was walking around the neighborhood at night. My parents were asleep along with the rest of the houses. Michael looked into all the windows. It was dark and quiet.

He said, "Do you think those people are nice?"

I said, "The Andersons? Yeah. They're old."

"What about those people?"

"Well, Mrs. Lambert doesn't like baseballs going into her yard."

"What about those people?"

"Mrs. Tanner has been visiting her mother for three months. Mr. Tanner spends his weekends sitting on the back porch and listening to baseball games. I don't really know if they're nice or not because they don't have children."

"Is she sick?"

"Is who sick?"

"Mrs. Tanner's mother."

"I don't think so. My mom would know, and she didn't say anything."

Michael nodded. "They're getting a divorce."

"You think so?"


We just kept walking. Michael had a way of walking quiet sometimes. I guess I should mention that my mom heard that Michael's parents are divorced now. She said that only seventy percent of marriages stay together when they lose a child. I think she read it in a magazine somewhere.

Love always,


November 23, 1991

Dear friend,

Do you enjoy holidays with your family? I don't mean your mom and dad family, but your uncle and aunt and cousin family? Personally, I do. There are several reasons for this.

First, I am very interested and fascinated by how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other. Second, the fights are always the same.

They usually start when my mom's dad (my grandfather) finishes his third drink. It is around this time that he starts to talk a lot. My grandfather usually just complains about black people moving into the old neighborhood, and then my sister gets upset at him, and then my grandfather tells her that she doesn't know what she's talking about because she lives in the suburbs. And then he says how no one visits him in his retirement home. And finally he starts talking about all of the family's secrets, like how cousin so-and-so "knocked up" that waitress from the Big Boy. I should probably mention that my grandfather can't hear very well, so he says all of these things really loud.

My sister tries to fight him, but she never wins. My grandfather is definitely more stubborn than she is. My mom usually helps her aunt prepare the food, which my grandfather always says is "too dry" even if it's soup. And her aunt will then cry and lock herself in the bathroom.

There is only one bathroom in my great aunt's house, so this turns to trouble when all the beer starts to hit my cousins. They stand twisted in bladder positions and bang on the door for a few minutes and almost coax my great aunt out, but then my grandfather curses something at my great aunt, and the cycle starts over again. With the exception of the one holiday when my grandfather passed out just after dinner, my cousins always have to go to the bathroom outside in the bushes. If you look out the windows like I do, you can see them, and it looks like they're on one of their hunting trips. I feel terribly sorry for my girl cousins and my other great aunts because they don't really have the bushes option, especially when it's cold.

I should mention that my dad usually just sits real quiet and drinks. My dad is not a big drinker at all, but when he has to spend time with my mom's family, he gets "loaded," as my cousin Tommy says. Deep down, I think my dad would rather spend the holiday with his family in Ohio. That way, he wouldn't have to be around my grandfather. He doesn't like my grandfather very much, but he keeps quiet about it. Even on the ride home. He just doesn't think it's his place.

As the evening comes to an end, my grandfather is usually too drunk to do much of anything. My dad and my brother and my cousins carry him out to the car of the person who is least angry at him. It has always been my job to open doors for them along the way. My grandfather is very fat.

I remember there was one time that my brother drove my grandfather back to the retirement home, and I rode along. My brother always understood my grandfather. He rarely got angry at him unless my grandfather said something mean about my mom or sister or made a scene in public. I remember it was snowing really hard, and it was very quiet. Almost peaceful. And my grandfather calmed down and started talking a different kind of talk.

He told us that when he was sixteen, he had to leave school because his dad died, and someone had to support the family. He talked about the time when he had to go to the mill three times a day to see if there was any work for him. And he talked about how cold it was. And how hungry he was because he made sure his family always ate before him. Things he said we just wouldn't understand because we were lucky. Then, he talked about his daughters, my mom and Aunt Helen.

"I know how your mom feels about me. I know Helen, too. There was one time... I went to the mill... no work... none.... I came home at two in the morning... pissed and pissed... your grandmother showed me their report cards... C-plus average... and these were smart girls. So, I went into their room and I beat some sense into them... and when it was done and they were crying, I just held up their report cards and said... 'This will never happen again.' She still talks about it... your mother... but you know something... it never did happen again... they went to college... both of them. I just wish I could have sent them... I always wanted to send them... . I wish Helen could have understood that. I think your mother did... deep down... she's a good woman... you should be proud of her."

When I told my mom about this, she just looked very sad because he could never say those things to her. Not ever. Not even when he walked her down the aisle.

But this Thanksgiving was different. It was my brother's football game, which we brought a VCR tape of for my relatives to watch. The whole family was gathered around the TV, even my great aunts, who never watch football. I'll never forget the looks on their faces when my brother took the field. It was a mixture of all things. My one cousin works in a gas station. And my other cousin has been out of work for two years since he injured his hand. And my other cousin has been wanting to go back to college for around seven years. And my dad said once that they were very jealous of my brother because he had a shot in life and was actually doing something about it.

But in that moment when my brother took the field, all that washed away, and everyone was proud. At one point, my brother made a very big play on third down, and everyone cheered even though some of us had already seen the game before. I looked up at my dad, and he was smiling. I looked at my mom, and she was smiling even though she was nervous about my brother getting hurt, which was strange because it was a VCR tape of an old game, and she knew he didn't get hurt. My great aunts and my cousins and their children and everyone were also smiling. Even my sister. There were only two people who weren't smiling. My grandfather and I.

My grandfather was crying.

The kind of crying that is quiet and a secret. The kind of crying that only I noticed. I thought about him going into my mom's room when she was little and hitting my mom and holding up her report card and saying that her bad grades would never happen again. And I think now that maybe he meant my older brother. Or my sister. Or me. That he would make sure that he was the last one to work in a mill.

I don't know if that's good or bad. I don't know if it's better to have your kids be happy and not go to college. I don't know if it's better to be close with your daughter or make sure that she has a better life than you do. I just don't know. I was just quiet, and I watched him.

When the game was over and dinner was finished, everyone said what they were thankful for. A lot of it had to do with my brother or family or children or God. And everyone meant it when they said it regardless of what would happen tomorrow. When it came to my turn I thought about it a lot because this was my first time sitting at the big table with all the grown-ups since my brother wasn't here to take his seat.

"I'm thankful that my brother played football on television so nobody fought."

Most of the people around the table looked uncomfortable. Some looked angry. My dad looked like he knew
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