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Dear Readers, How exciting that you chose to read this book! My book! I have so much to tell you! First, I have found myself on the brink of love with The Boy. And then there's my job with a Real Writer, my adventures in rock climbing (or perhaps I should replace the word "adventures" with "misadventures"), and my work as the advice columnist for the Mulgrew Sentinel, which I know is just a small stepping stone on my path to becoming a Real Writer myself. But why am I telling you about these things when you could be reading them all for yourself? Enjoy! Sincerely yours, Lily M. Blennerhassett
Lily B. on the Brink of Love
It's nice work, if you can get it. Not that I, future world-famous writer Lily Blennerhassett, intend to stay too long with a publication like our middle school's paper, the Mulgrew Sentinel (circulation: 517). But humble beginnings make great first chapters in biographies, as Future Biographers recording my life and work will attest. And frankly, I like the job description. Lily Blennerhassett, Advice Columnist.
In case you are worried, Dear Readers, that at age fourteen I cannot possibly have suffered enough to have acquired sufficient wisdom for advice dispensation, let me assure you that I have. Good spot for a little history lesson. You see, I met these people last summer at a wedding, these really cool people I now refer to only as La Famille LeBlanc, and I kind of got sucked into their world. Like I was a bug, and they were a giant, glistening Venus flytrap. And I got kind of hung up on how sleek and trendy they were and totally bought into this so-called environmentalist work they said they did. Maybe you would have seen it coming. You seem like discerning, cautious readers. But I went in blind as a bat in a lightbulb factory, and I tried to do something really nice, generous, and biodegradable for them. And let's just say I got myself and my family into a nice big mess. You know -- the kind where lawyers get called in and your parents walk around pale and silently hysterical. Suffice it to say justice was done in the end, and here I am, no worse for the wear, having learned the very important lesson that you Cannot Judge a LeBook by Its Cover. End of sermon.
Back to my new job. My best friend, Charlotte, of course, felt impelled to issue warnings.
"You can't take this job seriously enough, Lily," she said, adjusting her glasses and letting her hand linger on them so that she looked like she was posing for an author photograph for a physics textbook. This was not the way an eighth grader usually warmed up for a Wiffle ball scrimmage. I know. A Wiffle ball scrimmage probably seems a little too lame for eighth-grade gym. But Mulgrew is a "Safety First" establishment. If you want to play with heavy artillery, you do it in intramural sports after school. Hopefully by the time I'm generally acknowledged throughout the world as the nation's brightest literary star, Wiffle ball will be long obsolete and forgotten and you, Dear Readers, will require a detailed description of its plastic bat and hollow ball full of aerodynamic holes meant to enable toddlers to enjoy the motions of Major League Baseball without the cumbersome, expensive, and potentially lethal adult equipment. But at the time of this writing, it is still sadly contemporary.
Charlotte never warmed up for Wiffle ball or any other gym-related activity. Charlotte McGrath. Future Corporate Executive and Longtime Reader of The Economist. Close friend and associate of Lily Blennerhassett, current Advice Columnist. Charlotte peered at me intently.
"Just because we're only in middle school doesn't mean we can't have real and significant problems," she stated.
I gave her a look that was meant to remind her of my recent Real and Significant Problems with La Famille LeBlanc. Then I touched my toes in case the gym teacher was watching (okay, I got close to touching my toes. I air-touched them. My knees definitely experienced contact). Charlotte ignored me, or maybe the glare on her lenses was impairing her vision.
"You could potentially be some of these people's last, best hope," Charlotte continued.
Last? Best, of course, goes without saying, but last? In the confusing maelstrom of stormy adolescence, surely Blennerhassett is the most immediately obvious Beacon of Aid Blinking in the Black of Night.
"This is going to require great compassion, objectivity, and attention to detail," Charlotte went on. She wasn't touching her toes, she wasn't even trying, and no one except me was noticing. "Not to mention discretion. Really, Lily, you cannot take your new responsibilities seriously enough."
"You're forgetting one very important thing," I told Charlotte, doing a little jogging in place. Charlotte looked genuinely baffled. She never forgot anything important.
"What?" she asked.
"Lipstick," I said firmly. "Does it fit the job description or not? If so, what shade? What make? Waterproof? Nonanimal tested? Hypoallergenic? With or without sunscreen? What does Hilary Duff wear? Can I get her people to call me?"
Charlotte gave me a familiar, patronizing smile.
"No lipstick," she said firmly. "Lipstick is infantilizing."
"What? Tantalizing?" I asked.
"Infantilizing!" Charlotte shouted. I felt a tiny thrill. The word had fantastic potential! Provided I could get a definition. I did a deep knee bend. Most of one.
"What does that mean?" I asked her as I squatted waiting for some kind of second wind to help me up.
Charlotte took a moment to look both superior and pleased in her corporate, prebusiness major sort of way.
"To infantilize," she said, "is to make something childish. To turn a grown-up thing into a baby thing."
Now you and I are both thinking, aren't we, Dear Readers, that babies don't wear lipstick. The Future Corporate Executive had MISUSED a word! But oh, what a fabulous word! I jotted it down in the small spiral-bound notebook I had especially for moments like this. I know it isn't sophisticated; Palm Pilots are sophisticated. And laptops are efficiently high-tech. I'd spent months longing for a laptop before finally getting one for my birthday, and I use it at every available opportunity. But you can't bring one to gym class. On the other hand, notebooks -- and I mean the kind from the olden days with actual paper and spiral bindings -- are in the Stone Knives and Bearskins category. Read: primitive and uncivilized. But think quaint. And think budget. So I use a notebook. Because a journalist must record information while she is On the Go. I couldn't wait to use the word "infantilize" in my first advice column.
Excerpted from Lily B. on the Brink of Love by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, Elizabeth C. Kimmel All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.