What It's About
The Story Behind the Story
What It's About
For Camille Tafoya and Jane Goodall "Jiggy" Yearling, the summer before their senior year was supposed to be awesome.
Meaning, they were supposed to be spending it doing whatever they wanted. But due to circumstances beyond either girl's control (okay, maybe Camille could have studied a tad for the SATs), their parents have decided what they need is parental supervision—lots of it. So, instead, they're being shipped out to sea on the cruise ship Camille's father captains. But this isn't a party cruise; they are being forced to work on a boat full of old farts. If they screw up, you can bet the captain is going to hear about it.
When they leave the port, Camille looks around and decides maybe this won't be so bad. Sure, most of the passengers aren't under the age of fifty, but the guys who work on the ship are more her age. Maybe this is a party cruise...
But then Jiggy's partying gets out of hand, and Camille does all she can to rein her in. By doing so, Camille discovers a little about herself, Jiggy, and what it really means to be a friend.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Simon Pulse/May 2006
The Story Behind the Story
Miracle of miracles, the first thing that came to me about this story was the title, and only because it cracked me up. Okay, that NEVER happens to me. The title thing? Never. But this time it did, and I decided I wanted to set it on a cruise ship somehow.
I've been on two cruises—one around the Hawaiian islands (conveniently) and another through the eastern Caribbean. Couple that with the fact that I'd just spent twelve days in Hawaii, on the Big Island (Kona side), and the parts and pieces of this book began to fall together.
While we were staying at the Fairmont Orchid resort, we had dinner several times at their premiere restaurant, and our waiter was an adorable nineteen-year-old Hawaiian guy on whom I based the character of Makaio.
I wanted to explore what happens when a girl totally screws up her life for a guy who turns out to be a jerk, because let's face it—IT HAPPENS. And also a girl who felt like a stranger in her own family. Those two angles intrigued me.
I'm making it sound like I had this grand plan for the book, but the truth is all my inspiration comes during the writing process, and I often get to points where I sincerely don't know what's going to happen next. That happened a lot with this book, but it all ended up just as I planned it in my head. (Right. Sure. HA!)
"Chicks Ahoy is a novel about friendship, finding your true self, and learning from your mistakes. Lynda Sandoval creates a cast of characters that are easy to relate to and the reader is able to witness each girls' obstacles firsthand. A coming-of-age novel that is perfect to read while lying on a beach or while on a cruise."
Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for www.TeensReadToo.com
How I'm Going to SpendWas Supposed to SpendMy Summer Vacation
by Camille Tafoya
THIS ASSIGNMENT BLOWS. Just FYI.
Not that any teacher in the history of formal education has ever given a rat's ass what we (students) think about THE DUMBEST ESSAY TOPIC EVER CONCOCTED, i.e., this one. ARGH!
How about an essay on Why Guys Totally Suck? I could fill volumes on that one, as could—I'm sure—half the school. More precisely, the FEMALE half. Alas, no. We are forced to fall back on the LAME 'ol, SAME 'ol topics, year after freakin' godawful year.
I mean, come on. "How I'm Going to *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* Spend my Summer Vacation???" Sorry, but...does Mr. Wilmington really think this is a clever enough twist on that tired-ass, played out cliché of an subject that we won't notice his extreme lack of teaching creativity? Newsflash, Big Guy: not so much.
Can I just mention, while I'm feeling indignant and the rant is fresh, that promoting boredom-induced brain cell death and forcing environmentally-conscious students to participate in global deforestation via needless paper wasting—all for the sake of BUSY WORK—is NOT an example of world class education?!
My summer plans? SHAHHHH, EXACTLY what I want to write about. Yeah, NOT. I don't even want to THINK about them.
Okay. Fine. Wilmington's an adult and I'm a lowly minor without a vote, so I'm writing. I'M WRITING! (Under duress). However, since I don't actually have to turn in this ridiculous essay-that-is-really-just-a-time-killer-so-Wilmington- can-work-on-his-sci-fi-novel-during-class, what with it being an EXTRA CREDIT assignment I don't NEED two weeks before the end of the school year (DUH!), I'm going to lay it all on the line. And then, of course, burn every page so no one ever reads it.
How I will actually spend the all-important vacation before senior year is totally up in the air at this point. Instead, let me fill you in on how my best friend, Jiggy Yearling, and I were supposed to spend our summer and why the whole plan went straight to hell in a matter of a couple of crappy weeks. Brace yourself, because it's a big, ugly, convoluted tale of woe. The subtitle of my essay is, ironically enough, Why Guys Totally Suck. So, here goes:
The whole fiasco began just before Spring break of junior year, right in the middle of the main "promenade" (hallway, in less pretentious public school terms) of Midwest Academy, which is Jiggy's and my snooty private high school, a place you really have to GET to fully grasp my dilemma. So, here are a few details about the ol' Mausoleum:
MA is comprised of a number of stately red brick buildings that sit in the middle of a sprawling green campus near Madison, Wisconsin. It boasts proud academic and sports histories which are photo-chronicled for the world to see, should they so desire, all along the wide promenade of the main building.
Most of the students are filthy rich and perfect and drive nicer cars than either of my parents. The rest of us—mostly the offspring of local academics—huddle in the shadows of this glowing social nucleus, sort of trying to bask in the feeble rays reflecting off their veneered teeth and Tiffany bling-bling.
Though my family doesn't hurt for cash, I am neither filthy rich nor veneered. In short, I would probably fit in much better at the public school, not that the parentals have listened to my reasoning about that. Why would I ever prefer to attend public school after being accepted into the über-prestigious, super competitive MA? they wonder.
Yeah, here's the bottom line. There are exactly THREE reasons I was accepted to the joint in the first place: (1) because my mom is a well-known, well-published archaeologist and a prof at nearby University of Wisconsin (GO BADGERS!), and (2) because my ultra-personable cruise ship captain dad serves on the city council and knows, basically, everyone. (Not to mention, everyone harbors the misconception that he can get them discounts on cruises. WAKE UP! HE CAN'T!). But mostly, (3) I was accepted at MA because my maternal grandpa, the venerable Virgil Voss, left the school boatloads of cashola in his will.
Number three was the true deciding factor, because we're talking BOATLOADS of cash, with a capital B. Like, basically, ALL of it. Why lie?
I mean, sure, it's wicked cool that the science lab at our school is named after my gramps. But along with that distinguished legacy comes a mondo gigungous ball-and-chain of PRESSURE to live up to the family name. Since day one at MA, I've been expected to set an example, which completely cramps my style and totally isn't fair anyway. Just because Gramps was an exemplary scientist and well-respected philanthropist doesn't mean I inherited any of his positive traits.
Yadda, yadda, I could go on, but I won't. That's my life at MA in a nutshell.
I have always occupied a nondescript but very comfortable position on the "not quite up there, honey, but nice try" B-list of the school's unspoken (but very real) social class strata.
Then...along came BRETT.
I HAAAAAAAAATE admitting how stunned and sort of humbled I was when BIG time popular, looks-like-Johnny-Depp-except-not-old, Brett Mason asked me out that day before Spring break, because it makes me sound like I need a self-esteem support group and one of those Chicken Soup for the Unpopular Dork's Soul books (and maybe I do). But, I kid you not, this hook up came out of left field, and come on—guys like Brett Mason (veneered) DO NOT ask out girls like me (not even decoupaged), which should've been my first clue.
But, that's the point. I had no clue. All I had was LUST.
And a lot of flattery-induced tunnel vision.
I can safely say I was penciled in on the A-list for those few short Brett months, even though I was WELL AWARE my temporary list appearance was nothing more than a cool-by-association deal. Still. So, yeah, here's a tip:
Never let a GUY—even a top-shelf, A-list, überhottie like Brett—keep you from studying for an important test like, ohhhh, the freakin' SAT. The results of thinking with your hormones rather than your BRAIN have far-reaching ramifications, wayyyyyy beyond just having to sit through that excruciating, butt-numbing, eye-glazing, repetitive-stress-injury-causing test more than once.
What? you ask. Repeat the SAT?
Sadly, yes. The ugly and pathetic truth is, I was so consumed by this unexpected, social-boundary-crossing BOYFRIEND of mine that—I'm ashamed to say—my SAT studying slipped into the unimportant category until it was WAY beyond too late. I won't even torture you with my scores. But to say I blew the SAT is...well, a gross understatement.
And it's not just the test scores that bit the dust, either. My life took some totally unexpected twists and turns during the whole Brett era, spitting me out at the end in a completely different place than I'd ever imagined. It's sort of unbelievable when I lay it all out.
While things were—I stupidly thought—going well between Brett and me, I'd begun plotting my entire pre-senior summer vacation around staying in Madison to spend time with him, which would've taken some serious lobbying on my part. Dad's on the ship every summer, and my mom goes on archeological digs with grad students during break, so I always fly out to Boulder, Colorado to stay with Grams Tafoya while they're away. It usually rocks; I've done it since I was a kid. Even better, the last three summers, Jiggy has gone with me, because her parents have weird jobs, too (which is what brought us together at the beginning—a whole 'nutha story), and she was set to go with me again this year. But, when I explained my desire to stay near Brett, Jigs was totally up for hanging out in Madison, too. She's way go-with-the-flow, which is one of the many reasons I love her to death.
Jiggy and I had big plans...chilling on the union terrace listening to live music, playing Frisbee at James Madison Park, boating on Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, FINALLY getting to attend the Rhythm and Booms fireworks show on July 4th...not to mention sneaking into the High Noon Saloon every now and then if we could work the whole fake ID angle.
And Brett. My biggest plan was BRETT.
So, as much as we WANTED to stay with Grams for the summer, we also wanted to stay home. I just didn't know how to break it to anyone, and more than anything, I didn't want to hurt my grandma's feelings. Turns out, I didn't have to.
Get freakin' this:
Grams shocked the hell out of all of us by ELOPING just after Christmas, and I'm not even kidding. She's, like, seventy-something! It sounds like some ridiculous soap opera story line, but it's TRUE. She hooked up with this rich guy, 20 years her junior, who owns some kind of a dot.com empire that HOPEFULLY doesn't have anything to do with porn (Dad's checking into it). After a whirlwind courtship that pretty much none of us knew about, they road-tripped to Las Vegas and got hitched in a little white, neon-illuminated chapel, just like Britney and what's-his-face—that guy from her hometown—did, pre-Federline. I AM SO NOT KIDDING! Only, Grams's marriage wasn't annulled 55 hours later. In fact, I've never seen her happier, and she SO deserves it. My dad met his new step-dad (trippy!) and approves, so none of us are worried about Grandma's welfare like we were when we initially found out.
But the point is, after the elopement, when she told us all she wanted to go on a lavish six month around-the-world trip with Step-Grandpa Lotta Bucks, I was all, "YOU GO, GRAMS!", because it worked perfectly with my secret plans. I could launch my campaign to stay in Madison, and Grandma didn't even have to know that I hadn't 100 percent wanted to stay with her for the summer.
So, during Brett and pre-SAT but after Grandma got her groove back (you still with me?), Jiggy and I somehow convinced our parents we were responsible and mature enough to be unsupervised for the summer. The facts were, (1) we couldn't go to Grandma's; (2) Jiggy doesn't have grandparents who are still alive, because her parents are older; (3) we're almost eighteen, and total non-problem children, so (4) it only made sense to allow us to stay in Madison for the three short months before senior year began.
I mean, Jiggy and I would be together—and everyone knows our personalities balance each other out quite well. Her parents are primatologists, and they head off to Tanzania or where-the-hell-ever for three months each year to do field work with the chimps. Plus, neither of us has ever complained that our parents have basically gone AWOL for several months a year since we were kids. THAT was the guilt-trip trump card in our Pre-Senior Summer in Madison campaign. We both DESERVED this bit of freedom. It was the whole, showing your parental trust thing. Paybacks. Whatever.
And we HAD IT locked up.
Riiiiiiiight up until Mom and Dad got a load of my dismal SAT scores, at which point that whole "summer lovin'" plan went straight out the window.
Bye-bye, fun parent-free summer in Madison. Bye-bye romantic evenings with Brett. Bye-bye, Rhythm and Booms fireworks show.
So, life sucked enough, right?
Ha. And I thought things couldn't get suckier...
Mere DAYS after the SAT debacle, I found out that Brett only asked me out in the first place because he and his cretinous buddies had a running BET about "how many virgins they could bag" before graduation, if you can believe that. It's SO much like one of those tacky teen sex-and-toilet-humor movies, which are awesome to watch, but you don't want your life to resemble one!
Turns out he never really liked me at all. I was just one more meaningless virgin conquest in a long line of them. UGH. And, while I'm on the topic, HOW EXACTLY DID THEY KNOW I WAS A VIRGIN ANYWAY?!? Was it just an unfortunate assumption? Was it how I dress? Or walk? Or worse—do I exude some sort of LAYDAR that shows everyone how sexually inexperienced I am? Yeah, dude, how about Camille Tafoya? I guarantee no guy has slipped it to HER. UGH! The indignity.
The sad and unfair truth is, Brett is HOT. And charming, in that whole Tom-Cruise-in-Top-Gun kind of way, if you even remember that flick. He really had me snowed, which does NOTHING for my self-esteem. For the record, I DID NOT sleep with him, but—and I admit this with profound regret—I came as close as a person can without actually going all the way. GLUG. (Use your imagination, because I am not committing the details to paper, now or ever.)
Brett—gutless sociopathic ASS that he turned out to be—deemed our little tryst "close enough," added me to his list of bagged virgins, and moved on. AND THEN TOLD EVERYONE. I shit you not. EVERY-freakin'-ONE.
He might as well have taken out an ad in the paper.
The entire school is now aware that (1) I was pinpointed by a gaggle of horny senior guys as a pathetic virgin in need of bagging, and (2) I was actually naïve enough to believe Brett Mason would ever genuinely like me, but worst of all (3) that I gave it up to the dude in a matter of WEEKS.
So, to make a long story...well, totally LONG, I quite possibly blew my shot at admission into CU Boulder, over this lying, reputation-destroying, morally-reprehensible, virgin-bagging creep. I'm still sorta beating myself up over the whole thing. Especially because...I really thought I cared about the guy. And, yes, I thought it might actually be mutual. Yeah, I know, GULLIBLE. I am fully aware that I raised the bar on DUMBASS behavior.
The only positive aspect to this major BOMB Brett dropped into my world is, I no longer have any reason to stay in Madison for the summer, which is a damn good thing considering my parents have no intention of letting that happen.
But WHERE Jiggy and I will end up is ANYONE'S guess!
TIME: 4:11:59 p.m., CST
SUBJECT: Just rambling
Hi Big Bro!!
It's me, Jigs, your WAYYYYYYYYYY littler sister, comin' at you cyber-live from lovely Madison, Wisconsin. How are things in gorilla land? Hope you're singlehandedly stopping the evil poachers and doing your utmost to curtail the illegal bushmeat trade in your part of Rwanda. (HOO-RAHH! Go Dr. Yearling!
Mom and Dad have already left for Tanzania, but you probably already knew that. I'm sure they emailed you, even though I haven't exactly heard from them since they got there. I'm sure they're too busy to let me know they got there alright. But, you guys probably talk all the time, right? If so, let them know I'm thinking about them and that they can drop me an email if they want to say hi.
I'm living with the Tafoyas again—remember my best friend, Camille? I don't know if Mom and Dad mentioned that, but I'm sort of assuming they didn't. Camille and I were supposed to stay here in Madison for the summer alone. That's right, your little sister was supposed to spend three MONTHS completely free of adult supervision! We were going to make a Girls Gone Wild/Pre-Senior Summer video, sleep around with incoming jocks at UW's football camp, and sample every illegal drug on the black market.
I'm JUST KIDDING! Don't get on the horn to Mom and Dad. Not that they'd care. Or NOTICE. Besides, it turns out we're NOT going to stick around in Madison alone, because Camille screwed the pooch BIG TIME on her SAT, and her parents are freaking out. She has to retake it in the fall so she can get into a decent college, and they think she needs adult supervision to Stay On Task with her studying. (They're probably right, but don't ever tell Camille I said that.)
Anyway, I'm home (at the Tafoyas) alone at the moment, and I'm just sitting here thinking about life. Our lives. And suddenly, a question that has nagged me for years popped into my mind once again. Doesn't it ever strike you as ODD that our parents named us after famous primatologists (or paleontologists, or whatever the frick your namesake was)? I mean, DUDE, they named you Louis Leakey Yearling. YOUR MIDDLE NAME IS LEAKEY, for God's sake! That CAN'T POSSIBLY be a date-getter for a guy.
And then my name—JANE GOODALL Yearling. I don't know how YOU feel about yours, but this bothers me, and it's nothing against Ms. Goodall, who is an awesome, amazing, admirable person. But, HELLO, I'm not her. I'm ME, but as it turns out, that equates to NOBODY. It's like M&D couldn't even see us as unique individuals, with our own identities. They just wanted little clones of their career idols or something. I mean, think about that for a moment. They couldn't turn their attention away from their all-important careers even for a MOMENT to see the unique little babies they created or to choose names that would celebrate that individuality. I have someone ELSE'S name—someone more important to my own parents than I am. CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW THAT MAKES ME FEEL?
It's weird, and if you want to know the truth, it makes me feel invisible. All of you make me feel invisible, as a matter of fact, and ya know what, bro? What the hell? I'm just going to tell you EXACTLY what I've been bottling up for what seems like forever.
You're all so caught up in your Important Life's Work, I feel like I'd have to dress up in a hairy black or brown primate costume to even catch your attention for a MINUTE. One of my teachers is pregnant, and when she told the class that she loved teaching, but that the most important job of her life would be raising her children, I committed the socially-crippling faux pas of bursting into tears and fleeing the room like some loser!
Did any of you ask me what I would be doing this summer? Mom and Dad didn't even ask me! It's like they just assume I'm going to trundle along doing the right thing, making the smart choices, just like ALWAYS. They can shove me here, or pack me off there, and I'll just go with the flow without a single word of complaint. I'm SEVENTEEN, and they didn't even give me the requisite no drinking, no drugs, no sex lecture before they left. For three MONTHS!
Do they think I'm a Girl Scout or something??
Like, how do any of you know whether or not I'm sexually active? Or whether or not I drink? Or do drugs? Incidentally, I'm not, unfortunately; I don't; and I don't, but THAT IS BESIDE THE POINT. I could be a big, giant, smack-shooting, pole-smoking slut, and none of you would even notice.
I feel like a ghost in my own life, Louis. Mom and Dad just walk through me, and they might feel a little cold chill, but they never stop to investigate where it's coming from.
I'm not sure if you remember, since you were already in college at that point, but do you know, they dressed me up as a damn baby chimp for EVERY SINGLE HALLOWEEN until I was able to pick my own costume? Hell, I swear they'd be happier right this very minute if Mom had given birth to BONZO rather than to me, and let's face it: I was a HUGE oops baby. A career woman like Mom doesn't just VOLUNTARILY get pregnant at 46-years-old. I'm surprised they didn't just get rid of me before I was born. I'm a nobody in this family, and I'm a nobody to you. And it's not FAIR!!!!!!! And I don't CARE if I sound like a tantrum-throwing seventh grader right now! Why do I always have to hold in my feelings?
All I've done my WHOLE life is be obedient, study hard, stay out of trouble. I'm a GOOD KID, and even that doesn't earn me any kudos. What do I have to do to get noticed in this family???? Commit murder? Get knocked up by the art teacher? Boink the whole UW football team? Pass out with alcohol poisoning at a frat party I sneaked into UNDERAGE?
I'm asking you, Louis, because I'm totally bumming about this right now. I've waited and waited and waited my WHOLE life for things to change between me and our parents, and nothing EVER does. I'm almost an adult, and I still feel like the kid no one wanted! I'm an afterthought. Forget branch—I'm not even an ORNAMENT on our family tree. I'm not even the cheesy metal hook for the ornament. I feel like I've missed growing up in a real family.
I'm busting my ass trying to choose a college, but it seems like Mom and Dad aren't even interested because I'm not getting a degree in primatology like you did. It's like the three of you are in this little closed society and I'm on the outside looking in. ALWAYS on the outside. I hate it.
I want real parents.
I want to be lectured and have a curfew. I want Mom to tell me I'm wearing too much make-up, and I want Dad to bark, "no way are you leaving the house in that get-up!" when I'm heading out to a house party in some trampy outfit. I want them to sniff my purse to check if I've been smoking and to give every guy who comes near me the third degree. I've never even been GROUNDED, and it's not because I haven't deserved it, it's just because they don't even NOTICE me enough to discern when I might need to be on house arrest! I want household rules so I can rebel against them, just like every other teenager! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK????????
sigh, Who am I kidding? I'm never going to send this.
Back sloooooooowly away from the rant, JIGGY! Let's take this stupid email from the top.
TIME: 4:33:37 p.m., CST
SUBJECT: Hello from your little sister
Hi, big brother. Hope all is well with you in Rwanda. Everything is fine here, same as usual. School's out after this week. For me, that is. Mom and Dad are already in Tanzania and I'm living with my best friend, Camille, for the summer, like usual. We usually stay in Colorado with Camille's grandma, but this year we were supposed to stay in Madison. It looks like things might change, though. Long boring story. I don't know where we'll be for the next three months, but I'll keep you posted.
Well, I guess that's all for now. Be careful of the evil poachers, and write me back when you get a free moment.
P.S. Say hi to Mom and Dad from me if you talk to them
Those of you who read my blog regularly have heard this topic before, but hey, it's MY blog and MY blog rules. For those of you who fell into my blog world for the first time, the rules are:
1—I can blog about whatever I want, as often as I want to, even if I'm obsessing. Therefore—
2—If you don't want to read my blog, feel free to leave.
3—I have been the nice one my whole LIFE. Hence, I don't have to be nice in my own blog universe.
4—The only opinion that counts in my blog universe is mine.
In short, I can whine if I wanna. If you don't agree, well, don't let the cyber-door hit you in the cyber-ass as you leave. Sayonara—get your own damn blog. Still, I'll keep it short this time because I don't have anything new or earth-shattering or insightful. Just the standard rant: Parents Suck Ass. Brothers Suck Ass. Being in a family sucks ass, especially if you're me. This blog entry sucks the most ass of all, so I'm outta here until I have something more intelligent to say about the topic.
Have a suckass day.
Love, The Goddess of NobodyGetsJiggy.com
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