The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I was right, but he didn't want to say anything because it wasn't his family. My mom was nervous about what her dad would do. Only one person at the table said anything. It was my great aunt, the one who usually locks herself in the bathroom.


And somehow that made it all right.

When we were all getting ready to leave, I walked up to my grandfather and gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He wiped my lip print off with his palm and gave me a look. He doesn't like the boys in the family to touch him. But I'm very glad that I did it anyway in case he dies. I never got to do that with my Aunt Helen.

Love always,


December 7, 1991

Dear friend,

Have you ever heard of a thing called "Secret Santa?" It's this activity where a group of friends draw names out of a hat, and they are supposed to buy a lot of Christmas presents for whatever person they choose. The presents are "secretly" placed in their lockers when they're not there. Then, at the end, you have a party, and all the people reveal who they really are as they give their last presents.

Sam started doing this with her group of friends three years ago. Now, it's some tradition. And supposedly the party at the end is always the best of the year. It happens the night after our last day of school before the break.

I don't know who got me. I got Patrick.

I'm really glad I got Patrick even though I wished for Sam. I haven't seen Patrick in a few weeks except in shop class because he has been spending most of his time with Brad, so thinking about presents is a good way to think about him.

The first present is going to be a mix tape. I just know that it should. I already have the songs picked and a theme. It's called "One Winter." But I've decided not to hand-color the cover. The first side has a lot of songs by the Village People and Blondie because Patrick likes that type of music a lot. It also has Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, which Sam and Patrick love. But the second side is the one I like the most. It has winter kind of songs.

Here they are:

Asleep by the Smiths

Vapour Trail by Ride

Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel

A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum

Time of No Reply by Nick Drake

Dear Prudence by the Beatles

Gypsy by Suzanne Vega

Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues

Daydream by Smashing Pumpkins

Dusk by Genesis (before Phil Collins was even in the band!)

MLK by U2

Blackbird by the Beatles

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

And finally...

Asleep by the Smiths (again!)

I spent all night working on it, and I hope Patrick likes it as much as I do. Especially the second side. I hope it's the kind of second side that he can listen to whenever he drives alone and feel like he belongs to something whenever he's sad. I hope it can be that for him.

I had an amazing feeling when I finally held the tape in my hand. I just thought to myself that in the palm of my hand, there was this one tape that had all of these memories and feelings and great joy and sadness. Right there in the palm of my hand. And I thought about how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. And how many people enjoyed good times with those songs. And how much those songs really mean. I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. I bet if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud. I hope the people who wrote those songs are happy. I hope that they feel it's enough. I really do because they've made me happy. And I'm only one person.

I can't wait to get my driver's license. It's coming up soon!

Incidentally, I have not told you about Bill in a while. But I guess there's not a lot to tell because he just keeps giving me books that he doesn't give his other students, and I keep reading them, and he keeps asking me to write papers, and I do. In the last month or so, I have read The Great Gatsby and A Separate Peace. I am starting to see a real trend in the kind of books Bill gives me to read. And just like the tape of songs, it is amazing to hold each of them in the palm of my hand. They are all my favorites. All of them.

Love always,


December 11, 1991

Dear friend,

Patrick loved the tape! I think he knows that I'm his Secret Santa, though, because I think he knows that only I would do a tape like that. He also knows what my handwriting looks like. I don't know why I don't think of these things until it's too late. I really should have saved it for my last present.

Incidentally, I have thought of my second gift for Patrick. It is magnetic poetry. Have you heard of this? In case you haven't, I will explain. Some guy or girl put a whole bunch of words on a sheet of magnet and then cut the words into separate pieces. You put them on your refrigerator, and then you write poems while you make a sandwich. It's very fun.

The gift from my Secret Santa wasn't anything special. That makes me sad. I bet you anything that Mary Elizabeth is my Secret Santa because only she would give me socks.

Love always,


December 19, 1991

Dear friend,

I have since received thrift store "slacks." I have also received a tie, a white shirt, shoes, and an old belt. I'm guessing that my last gift at the party will be a suit coat because it's the only thing left. I was told by a typed note to wear everything I had been given to the party. I hope there is something behind this.

The good news is that Patrick liked all my gifts very much. Gift number three was a set of watercolor paints and some paper. I thought he might like to get them even if he never uses them. Gift number four was a harmonica and a book about playing it. I guess it's probably the same gift as the water colors, but I really think that everyone should have watercolors, magnetic poetry, and a harmonica.

My last gift before the party is a book called The Mayor of Castro Street. It is about a man named Harvey Milk, who was a gay leader in San Francisco. I went to the library when Patrick told me he was gay, and I did some research because I honestly didn't know much about it. I found an article about a documentary movie about Harvey Milk. And when I couldn't find the movie, I just searched for his name, and I found this book.

I have not read it myself, but the description on the book seemed very good. I hope that it means something to Patrick. I can't wait for the party, so I can give Patrick my party present. Incidentally, I have taken all my finals for the semester, and it has been very busy, and I would have told you all about it, but it just doesn't seem as interesting as these other things that have to do with holidays.

Love always,


December 21, 1991

Dear friend,

Wow. Wow. I can paint the picture for you if you like. We are all sitting in Sam and Patrick's house, which I had never seen before. It was a rich house. Very clean. And we were all giving our final presents. The outside lights were on, and it was snowing, and it looked like magic. Like we were somewhere else. Like we were someplace better.

It was the first time I had ever met Sam and Patrick's parents. They were so nice. Sam's mom is very pretty and tells great jokes. Sam said she used to be an actress when she was younger. Patrick's dad is very tall and has a great handshake. He is also a very good cook. A lot of parents make you feel very awkward when you meet them. But not Sam and Patrick's. They were friendly all through dinner, and when dinner was over, they left so we could have our party. They didn't even check on us or anything. Not once. They just let us pretend it was our house. So, we decided to have the party in the "games" room, which had no games but a great rug.

When I revealed that I was Patrick's Secret Santa, everyone laughed because everyone knew, and Patrick did his best impersonation of being surprised, which was nice of him. Then, everyone asked what my last gift was, and I told them it was a poem I read a long time ago. It was a poem that Michael made a copy of for me. And I have read it a thousand times since because I don't know who wrote it. I don't know if it was ever in a book or a class. And I don't know how old the person was. But I know that I want to know him or her. I want to know that this person is okay.

So, everyone asked me to stand up and read the poem. And I wasn't shy because we were trying to act like grown-ups, and we drank brandy. And I was warm. I'm still a little warm, but I have to tell you this. So, I stood up, and just before I read this poem, I asked everyone if they knew who wrote it to please tell me.

When I was done reading the poem, everyone was quiet. A very sad quiet. But the amazing thing was that it wasn't a bad sad at all. It was just something that made everyone look around at each other and know that they were there. Sam and Patrick looked at me. And I looked at them. And I think they knew. Not anything specific really. They just knew. And I think that's all you can ever ask from a friend.

That's when Patrick put on the second side of the tape I made for him and poured everyone another glass of brandy. I guess we all looked a little silly drinking it, but we didn't feel silly. I can tell you that.

As the songs kept playing, Mary Elizabeth stood up. But she wasn't holding a suit coat. It turns out that she wasn't my Secret Santa at all. She was the Secret Santa to the other girl with the tattoo and belly button ring, whose real name is Alice. She gave her some black nail polish that Alice had had her eye on. And Alice was very grateful. I just sat there, looking around the room. Looking for the suit coat. Not knowing who could possibly be holding it.

Sam stood up next, and she gave Bob a handcrafted Native American marijuana pipe, which seemed appropriate.

More people gave more gifts. And more hugs were exchanged. And finally, it came to the end. No one was left except for Patrick. And he stood up and walked into the kitchen.

"Does anyone want any chips?"

Everyone did. And he came out with three tubes of Pringles and a suit coat. And he walked up to me. And he said that all the great writers used to wear suits all the time.

So, I put on the suit even though I didn't feel like I really deserved to since all I write are essays for Bill, but it was such a nice present, and everyone clapped their hands anyway. Sam and Patrick both agreed I looked handsome. Mary Elizabeth smiled. I think it was the first time in my life I ever felt like I looked "good." Do you know what I mean? That nice feeling when you look in the mirror, and your hair's right for the first time in your life? I don't think we should base so much on weight, muscles, and a good hair day, but when it happens, it's nice. It really is.

The rest of the evening was very special. Since a lot of people were going away with their families to places like Florida and Indiana, we all exchanged presents with the people we weren't Secret Santas for.

Bob gave Patrick an eighth of marijuana with a Christmas card attached. He even wrapped it. Mary Elizabeth gave Sam earrings. So did Alice. And Sam gave them earrings, too. I think that is a private girl thing. I have to admit, I felt a little sad because other than Sam and Patrick, nobody got me a present. I guess I'm not that close with them, so it makes sense. But I still felt a little sad.

And then it came to my turn. I gave Bob a little plastic tube of soap bubbles because it just seemed to fit his personality. I guess I was right.

"Too much," was all he said.

He spent the rest of the night blowing bubbles at the ceiling.

Next was Alice. I gave her a book by Anne Rice because she is always talking about her. And she looked at me like she couldn't believe I knew she loved Anne Rice. I guess she didn't know how much she talked or how much I listen. But she thanked me all the same. Next came Mary Elizabeth. I gave her forty dollars inside a card. The card said something pretty simple: "To be spent on printing Punk Rocky in color next time."

And she looked at me funny. Then, they all started to look at me funny except for Sam and Patrick. I think they started feeling bad because they didn't get me anything. But I don't think they should have because I don't think that's the point really. Mary Elizabeth just smiled, and said thanks, and then stopped looking at me in the eye.

Last came Sam. I had been thinking about this present for a long time. I think I thought about this present from the first time I really saw her. Not met her or saw her but the first time I really saw her if you know what I mean. There was a card attached.

Inside the card, I told Sam that the present I gave her was given to me by my Aunt Helen. It was an old 45 record that had the Beatles' song "Something." I used to listen to it all the time when I was little and thinking about grown-up things. I would go to my bedroom window and stare at my reflection in the glass and the trees behind it and just listen to the song for hours. I decided then that when I met someone I thought was as beautiful as the song, I should give it to that person. And I didn't mean beautiful on the outside. I meant beautiful in all ways. So, I was giving it to Sam.

Sam looked at me soft. And she hugged me. And I closed my eyes because I wanted to know nothing but her arms. And she kissed my cheek and whispered so nobody could hear.

"I love you."

I knew that she meant it in a friend way, but I didn't care because it was the third time since my Aunt Helen died that I heard it from anyone. The other two times were from my mom.

After that, I couldn't believe that Sam actually got me a present because I honestly thought that the "I love you" was it. But she did get me a present. And for the first time, something nice like that made me smile and not cry. I guess Sam and Patrick went to the same thrift store because their gifts went together. She took me to her room and stood me in front of her dresser, which was covered in a pillowcase with pretty colors. She lifted off the pillowcase, and there I was, standing in my old suit, looking at an old typewriter with a fresh ribbon. Inside the typewriter was a piece of white paper.

On that piece of white paper, Sam wrote, "Write about me sometime." And I typed something back to her, standing right there in her bedroom. I just typed.

"I will."

And I felt good that those were the first two words that I ever typed on my new old typewriter that Sam gave me. We just sat there quiet for a moment, and she smiled. And I moved to the typewriter again, and I wrote something.

"I love you, too."

And Sam looked at the paper, and she looked at me.

"Charlie... have you ever kissed a girl?"

I shook my head no. It was so quiet.

"Not even when you were little?"

I shook my head no again. And she looked very sad.

She told me about the first time she was kissed. She told me that it was with one of her dad's friends. She was seven. And she told nobody about it except for Mary Elizabeth and then Patrick a year ago. And she started to cry. And she said something that I won't forget. Ever.

"I know that you know that I like Craig. And I know that I told you not to think of me that way. And I know that we can't be together like that. But I want to forget all those things for a minute. Okay?"


"I want to make sure that the first person you kiss loves you. Okay?"

"Okay." She was crying harder now. And I was, too, because when I hear something like that I just can't help it.

"I just want to make sure of that. Okay?"


And she kissed me. It was the kind of kiss that I could never tell my friends about out loud. It was the kind of kiss that made me know that I was never so happy in my whole life.

Once on a yellow piece of paper with green lines

he wrote a poem

And he called it "Chops"

because that was the name of his dog

And that's what it was all about

And his teacher gave him an A

and a gold star

And his mother hung it on the kitchen door

and read it to his aunts

That was the year Father Tracy

took all the kids to the zoo

And he let them sing on the bus

And his little sister was born

with tiny toenails and no hair

And his mother and father kissed a lot

And the girl around the corner sent him a

Valentine signed with a row of X's

and he had to ask his father what the X's meant

And his father always tucked him in bed at night

And was always there to do it

Once on a piece of white paper with blue lines

he wrote a poem

And he called it "Autumn"

because that was the name of the season

And that's what it was all about

And his teacher gave him an A

and asked him to write more clearly

And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door

because of its new paint

And the kids told him

that Father Tracy smoked cigars

And left butts on the pews

And sometimes they would burn holes

That was the year his sister got glasses

with thick lenses and black frames

And the girl around the corner laughed

when he asked her to go see Santa Claus

And the kids told him why

his mother and father kissed a lot

And his father never tucked him in bed at night

And his father got mad

when he cried for him to do it.

Once on a paper torn from his notebook

he wrote a poem

And he called it "Innocence: A Question"

because that was the question about his girl

And that's what it was all about

And his professor gave him an A

and a strange steady look

And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door

because he never showed her

That was the year that Father Tracy died

And he forgot how the end

of the Apostle's Creed went

And he caught his sister

making out on the back porch

And his mother and father never kissed

or even talked

And the girl around the corner

wore too much makeup

That made him cough when he kissed her

but he kissed her anyway

because that was the thing to do

And at three A.M. he tucked himself into bed

his father snoring soundly

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