Robin Benway Audrey, Wait

ISBN 13: 9780340970508

Audrey, Wait

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9780340970508: Audrey, Wait

California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, ?Audrey, Wait!,? a break-up song that?s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous!

Now rabid fans are invading her school. People is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can?t hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi.

Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, confronts her ex on MTV, and gets the chance to show the world who she really is.

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About the Author:

Robin Benway grew up in Orange County, California and attended college at both NYU & UCLA. At NYU, she won the Seth Barkas Prize for Best Fiction by an Undergraduate. She has worked at Ballantine, Knopf, Borders, and Book Soup in West Hollywood. Robin currently lives in Santa Monica. To the best of her knowledge, no one has written a song about her. Yet.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

“Don’t you just love goodbyes?” —Mew, “156”

The day I broke up with my boyfriend Evan was the day he wrote the song. You know, the song. I’m sure you’ve heard it. Maybe you danced to it at prom or sang it in your car on a Friday night when you were driving and feeling like you must be inhuman to be this happy, the windows down and nothing but air around you. Your mom has probably hummed it while cleaning the dryer’s lint trap, and your grandpa has most likely whistled a couple bars. If he’s the whistling type.

According to the poll on the front page of USA Today, sixty-three percent of Americans blame me for the breakup, so let me clear the air right now: they’re right. Sixty-three percent of Americans are no fools when it comes to knowing about my love life, which is really creepy and isn’t helping me sleep well. But it’s true: I broke up with Evan, and eight hours later, he had a song in his head and a guitar in his hand and it snowballed from there.

It took me forever to decide whether or not to break up with him, I can tell you that. It wasn’t like I just woke up one morning and was like, “Hey, let’s liven things up!” Please. I have enough on my plate without all this. I’m a junior, for God’s sakes! It’s not like I have to take the SATs this year or anything. But I had been thinking about it—breaking up—for a while.

“Make a list,” Victoria had said. She’s big on lists and has a folder full of them. They have titles like “Six Colors to Dye My Hair Before I Shrivel Up and Die” and “Five People to Banish From the Face of the Earth” (Evan, according to her, is now número uno). So the day I did it, I sat at Victoria’s kitchen table and wrote down the reasons why I should stay with Evan.

1.He’s a singer/songwriter with a band and actual talent.
2.He has excellent oral hygiene (that one is so important, I can’t even tell you. I can’t imagine ever kissing a non-flosser. So gross.).
3.He says he’s going to write a song about me.

And then I wrote the cons:

1.He smokes too much pot.
2.He’s always “practicing” or “gigging” with his band, the Do-Gooders, especially when I need him.
3.He says “gigging.”
4.He’s mellow about everything. Everything.
5.He makes me be the one to get condoms from the school nurse’s office.
6.He sucks his teeth after he eats, which makes horrible squeaking sounds, like a mouse dying.

And so on. I wrote so many cons that I needed a new piece of paper, and by the time Victoria saw me start a fresh page, she took it away and shook her head. “Audrey,” she told me, “save a tree.”

***

“Well, can we still be . . . I don’t know, friends? Or something lame like that?” Evan had been cross-legged on his bed when I broke up with him. I was on the opposite side of the room in his desk chair, sitting backwards. We were both crying, but he was the only one who needed tissues. Still, we passed the box back and forth.

“Friends would be great,” I said, and relief flooded through me. Friends were fantastic, friends were not angry at each other and wouldn’t reveal sexual secrets about each other in locker rooms. Friends still talked. Friends drifted apart. “I’d really like being friends.”

He fell on his bed for a minute before sitting back up. “Steve finally got the A&R guy to come to a show of ours. He set up a one-off tonight. You’re really killing my vibe.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, and I meant it. I really did.

“Will you still come?”

“If you want me to, sure.” Anything to make this conversation end, I thought.

Evan nodded and hugged his guitar tighter to him, and I have to admit that in the eleven months we were together, that guitar practically got more action than I did. (Reason number fourteen on the list of cons, by the way.) “You sure you want to do this?”

“Yeah,” I whispered. “I’m sure.”

We didn’t talk for a few minutes, and then I got up and said, “I’m going now.” When he didn’t respond, I left the room and was halfway downstairs before I heard him say, “Audrey, wait!” But I kept going, pretending I didn’t hear him calling for me.

***

That night, I enlisted Victoria and her boyfriend, Jonah, to come with me to the show for moral support. “Like I wasn’t already going?” Victoria said when I asked her. “I’ve already gotten about fifty million texts and thirty million MySpace bulletins about it. And besides,” she added, “I want details.”

During the drive over to the Jukebox in Jonah’s car (he has an awesome sound system with a subwoofer), she made me recount the breakup word for word, with Jonah wincing every few minutes. “Harsh, man,” he kept saying. “That is so harsh.” Victoria finally whacked him on the shoulder. “Can you please be more sensitive to Audrey’s situation?” she hissed.

“Sorry, Aud.” Jonah smiled at me in the rearview mirror. “Sensitivity controls now engaged.”

“And could you not sound like a dork when you do it?”

“It’s one or the other, babe.”

“Don’t worry about it, Jonah,” I told him. “It’s all good.”

Victoria just shook her head and hung over the backseat. “Either way,” she said, “I cannot believe you agreed to go tonight.”

***

Half an hour later, packed like sardines inside the Jukebox, we were still talking about it. “Did Evan actually say ‘kill his vibe’?” Victoria asked. By now, she was on her third Diet Coke and I could see the caffeine starting to shoot out of her eyes.

I crossed my arms in front of me and stood by the side of the stage, hoping the Do-Gooders would hurry up and play so we could go home and skip the traffic. “Those words exactly,” I told her. “Plus some other choice phrases.”

“What? Like, ‘Fuck you’?”

“No, more like, ‘How could you do this to me?’ ‘I thought we were gonna be together forever.’ That kind of stuff.” I stirred my melted ice with my straw.

Victoria rolled her eyes in solidarity. “Please. He must be a closet romance novel reader. I’m surprised he didn’t break out a lute and try to woo you.”

“If he had done that, I would’ve been more interested.” I took her drink from her and set it down. “You’re making me nervous with all the addictive stimulants. Don’t you know that NutraSweet can give you cancer?”

“So can sunlight.” She took her drink back and made a big deal out of slurping the rest with her straw. “I hope Jonah’s getting me another one of these.”

“I hope he’s also getting you a side of tranquilizers.” I looked over my shoulder and saw a third of our class standing behind us. No one seemed too interested in me. Yet. “Do you think people know we broke up?”

“Have you told anyone besides me and Jonah?”

“Nope. But Evan might have.”

“You’ve totally ruined the pool that people had going for Cutest Couple in the yearbook, by the way. Not to guilt you out or anything.”

“What?”

“Not me, I mean. I saw this one coming a long time ago. But people were laying two-to-one odds that you and Evan would be cutest couple.”

“People are betting on yearbook superlatives? Really?”

Victoria nodded. “Now the smart money’s on Dan Milne and Janie Couper. She’s worse than static cling.”

I was about to comment on Janie Couper’s static-clinginess, but just then I saw Sharon Eggleston across the room. Even if you’ve never met Sharon, you know her. Every school, I’m sorry to say, has a girl like her. She’s pretty or hot or whatever word you want to use, and she has this weird ability to make every guy worship her.

Every guy, that is, except Evan.

At least, that was the scuttlebutt (PSAT word) when Evan and I first hooked up. Sharon had apparently set her sights on him, he set his sights on me, I set my sights right back on him, we got together, and Sharon found herself on the outs before she was even on the ins. As you can imagine, she wasn’t thrilled. Even to this day, she still shows up to all the shows and smiles at Evan in the halls and generally is an annoying little gnat. And when I saw her across the room at the show that night, she smiled and did that little wave thing that showed off her French-manicured silk tips.

“What are you looking at?” Victoria asked, craning her neck to see, but luckily Jonah elbowed his way back to Victoria and me with her Diet Coke and my cranberry juice with lime. “See, now, Evan wouldn’t have done this,” Victoria pointed out as she took her drink. “He wouldn’t have noticed that you were even thirsty, much less that I was. I mean, you could both be walking in the goddamn Sahara desert and you’d be dying of thirst and he’d be like, ‘Hey, Aud, I’ve got this killer idea for a song.’ Totally useless.”

I swirled my ice with the straw. “Evan used ‘killer’ last year. This year, everything’s ‘fool-ass.’”

“Okay. Audrey? Let me introduce you to something called The Point. You are missing it.”

It should come as no surprise that when Victoria is asked to spell her name, she says, “Like the queen.” She was on a roll now. “I’m just saying that you’ve been really patient with Evan. More patient than I would’ve been—”

Jonah snorted and then became really interested in his drink.“—and I think you just deserve someone who makes you feel special and wonderful and all those good things that you see on TV.”

“I thought you weren’t watching TV anymore.”

Victoria shrugged. “I fell off the wagon.”

If you ever meet Victoria, do not call her Vick, Vicky, Victor, Victrola, Vicious, or anything other than Victoria. If you’re feeling both immortal and bored, though, call her Vicks VapoRub.

Onstage, Jon, the Do-Gooders’ drummer, started to do a halfhearted sound check. If there is a hell, there will be a drummer sound-checking there, I guarantee you. “Oh, God, kill me now.” Victoria rolled her eyes again.

“I’m a weak, spineless girl, what can I say?” I was quickly downing the cranberry juice and wishing it had a kick to it. The problem with the Jukebox is that it’s so local the bartenders know all of us and, more specifically, how old we are, so alcohol’s not happening. Which is why everyone gets wasted in their driveways afterwards. “Plus, the A&R guy’s here and Steve kept promising that he would come and I want to see him in person.”

A word about Steve: Three months ago, the Do-Gooders played a show at the Jukebox, the one where part of the ceiling caved in during their set and it knocked out their amps and they kept playing anyway. (Maybe you saw the article in the local paper. I was there too, and if you look closely at the picture, you can see my hand in the bottom part of the picture—I was cheering them on with the rest of the crowd. I spent the rest of the night picking insulation out of my hair.)

Anyway, Steve was at the show that night. Steve is a freshman at UCLA who smokes tons of weed, goes to class occasionally, downloads MP3s, and has an uncle who knew someone who did A&R at a record label. Steve thought the Do-Gooders were “a-may-zing dude, fucking a-may-zing!” and after the ceiling collapsed and the amps gave out, they all went and hung out at Steve’s dorm room, where they dreamed big, bet each other $20 to drink the bongwater, and agreed to let Steve manage them. As far as I could tell, though, getting the A&R guy to come to the show was the first managerial thing that Steve had done for them.

It wasn’t the first time that someone from a record label had shown up at the Jukebox. I mean, every third person in our school is either in a band, starting a band, managing a band, or breaking up with his or her band. Most of those bands, however, suck. A couple of years ago, there were three seniors who were way into ska and managed to get signed to some tiny label in San Francisco, but I heard the trombone player started doing way too much cocaine and sold his trombone for a couple of grams of something that killed him.

This fame thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Take it from me and the trombone player.

“Do you think they comp the A&R guy’s drinks?” Jonah wondered.

“Of course not,” Victoria replied. “He blows the bartender like everyone else.”

Both Jonah and I cracked up and Jonah looped his arm around her neck and pulled her into him. She is so tiny that when they hug, you can barely see her. She has to stand on the very tips of her toes just to squeeze his neck. “My crazy, slutty girlfriend,” Jonah said, then kissed the top of her head, and for the first time since I broke up with him that morning, I missed Evan. Not that he would’ve kissed me in public, especially before a show, but sometimes it’s just nice to know there’s potential.

I knew Evan was backstage now, or at least what passes for “backstage” at the Jukebox: the loading dock behind the venue. It always smells like beer and piss and garbage, but there’s something exciting about being back there, adrenaline and nerves rushing around and cramming into your heart. Whenever he was about to play a show, Evan’s hands would shake and he’d hold them out to me and I’d see his fingers vibrate like hummingbird wings. “You’re fine,” I would tell him. “You’re gonna be great.” Sometimes I lied when I said it; other times, I meant it so much that it killed me more than lying.

I was about to say something to Victoria about it, something about how weird it was to be in the crowd before a Do-Gooders show rather than backstage with Evan, when she grabbed my arm. “Space!” she cried, and shoved me about six feet toward the speaker.

If you really want to know something about me, you should know this: I like my music loud. I mean loud. I’m not talking the kind of loud where your parents knock on your bedroom door and ask you to turn it down. Please. That’s amateur hour. When I say loud, I mean you-can’t-hear-your-parents-knocking-and-the-neighbors-are-putting-a-FOR-SALE-sign-on-their-house-and-moving-to-another-block-because-they-can’t-handle-the-constant-noise-anymore loud. You have to turn it up so that your chest shakes and the drums get in between your ribs like a heartbeat and the bass goes up your spine and frizzles your brain and all you can do is dance or spin in a circle or just scream along because you know that however this music makes you feel, it’s exactly right.

If you are not this kind of person, then I don’t think we’ll be great friends.

Victoria and I always turn things up to ten. In fact, it’s getting to be a problem because we’ve already blown out the speakers in my car. Twice. The first time, my parents took pity on me and replaced them, but now I have to dig up the cash to fix it. So Victoria and I use Jonah for his car, or we just ride in mine and sing really loud until we laugh so hard, we want to throw up, and Jonah ducks down in the backseat and pulls his hoodie tighter around his head and looks like he wants to just die.

The lights finally went out and the crowd started whistling and clapping. Next to me, Victoria was grinning and wriggling around. She lives for this moment at shows, when the lights are cut and all you can see is the dim outline of a stage and empty mics waiting to be picked up and abused. When the Do-Gooders came out, shaggy and skinny with their heads down, the applause got louder. Even I let out a few whistles.

“Here comes trouble,” Jonah muttered behind me when Eva...

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ISBN 10: 0340970502 ISBN 13: 9780340970508
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Benway, Robin
Editorial: Razor Bill/Penguin (2008)
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