Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
One of the highlights of our book tour was spending Valentine’s Day with hundreds of other awkward single people (and one couple that wouldn’t stop licking each other’s faces) at a live Mortified event in Los Angeles. It was everything we hope to someday achieve with a SMITH Slam—great writing, brilliant comedy, perfect projections and video pieces, plus a rockin’ band. The readers were painfully heartfelt but genuinely hilarious. You can’t return to that night (or bring home a one-eyed pink construction paper heart-man like I did) but you can buy Mortified: Love is a Battlefield and recapture the magic in your own home.
Below, David Nadelberg’s introduction and a Mortifying middle school diary.
Here, check out The Mortified Shoebox Show: Videos from the Vaults of Everyday Life.
Introduction: Mortified: Love is a Battlefield
As adults, we’re fascinated by the subject of love and lust. Ballads dominate pop FM. Sex scandals stalk CNN. Dating sites boast more subscribers than most magazines.
As kids, our curiosity about romance is even more intense. After all, we don’t just like someone. We like like someone. We don’t just flirt. We fixate.
The voices captured in the pages that follow are like brave little explorers surveying foreign soil, desperately hoping to make sense of the terrain. Some are cautious. Some are reckless. All are clueless. Imagine Lewis and Clark lost in the pages of a Judy Blume novel.
We spend our whole lives trying to understand that terrain. Hell, even asexual people—from monks to Morrissey—struggle to make sense of it. And regardless of whether we are pining for it, experiencing it, or alienated from it, each of us manages to emerge from the ashes of adolescence with our own personal interpretation.
From the first kiss to the first rejection to all the thrills that fall between, the following entries chronicle our early awkward attempts to understand the one word that we never quite master anyway: love.
Through delusional displays of celebrity obsession, prudish outbursts of hand-holding, and disturbing sexual awakenings, whatever we discover about romance during our adolescent expeditions is what we carry with us for the rest of our lives.
As such, we hope you’ll see this collection as we do: an overdue Valentine to those confused kids we left behind on the bright yellow bus.
After all, they deserve some action.
The New Girl
by Leonard Hyman
Least Likely to… Be Quarterback
Growing up in American Samoa, I was the smartest kid in my school. My parents had moved there as Baha’i missionaries, and education was important to them. So I became a star student. Along with my best friend, Josh, I enjoyed life at the head of the class.
But the summer before seventh grade, Josh moved away. Suddenly, I was alone.
And that’s when she arrived on campus.
Her name was Mele, and I have no idea where she came from or how or why. All I knew was that she bested me in every regard—she was instantly popular, devastatingly cute, and worst of all totally brilliant.
With my status as resident child genius threatened, I began to follow the wisdom of ancient philosophers: Keep your allies close but your enemies closer. Unfortunately, I took that to heart.
I love the 7th grade. I’m helping with the school newspaper, friends with the class and enjoying life! Weird! Wow! I just realized I never mentioned the geography bee! I won it! Anyway, back to the point. The newspaper is great! And the media instructor is cool!
I think Mele Parker is a witch. A WITCH!! So does Misa, Solip, Hes, Olita, and a few other people. So we are trying to come up with ways to make her feel bad. Any way, I just found out she likes me, I mean loves me. She’s a witch. Here’s the problem. Misa and Solip have this plan that I’ll like her and then dump her. But what if this backfires? What if she kisses me or asks me out (despite boys are supposed to ask girls.) My life will be ruined! My first date/kiss will be with a witch! Oh well, maybe I’ll read up on insults to blow off losers!
Finks! Misa and Solip are buttholes! They lied about Mele liking me and today they told Sani who told Mele that I like her! That is according to them. They lie so much. I don’t know what to believe. I may be worrying about nothing. Maybe Mele doesn’t have a crush on me and Misa never told Sani. But, what if they did tell Sani who told Mele. This is terrible if Mele likes me and if she doesn’t! Why me? The scary part is the fact that everything is unknown.
Brilliant idea: The thing we should fear most is the danger of the unknown.
Life sucks. Mele is getting popular. I think Mele really does like me and I pray she does so I can embarrass her and Misa and Solip instead of visa-versa. I hope tomorrow never comes.
Today I started daydreaming about the problem and Ms. Willis said I was spacing out and Olita said I was daydreaming about my girlfriend. Mele’s head jerked up. Does she know something, or is she hoping I do, or don’t? Then Ms. Willis told us to talk about personal affairs outside of class. I said “Yeah!” Smooth move. Then they teased and said that I really had a girlfriend.
I am weird.
Everything is weird.
Except my life…
The world hates me. The Misa, Solip, Mele incident is over and Mele hates me. And most of the class does, too. In the words of Bill Nye the science guy, “consider the following.” Maybe I should runaway. I wish I didn’t have a conscience. Then I’d… do a lot of things.
What if my life ends up like my childhood, a total zip? I need a friend or a girl or both. I’m lovesick. I’m falling in love with every girl I see and expecting love in return. Would you believe I even liked Mele for about a half an hour? I should be out having fun, instead I’m here explaining my thoughts to myself. I’m a kid for gosh sakes. I NEED A LIFE! I’m young and restless.
I’ve fallen in love with… Mele. Yes, the same Mele I called a witch. Now that I’ve become a better person, I’ve seen her good side and oooh! She’s cute, funny, smart, talented, and beautiful. What a bod OOOH-WEEEE! I love her, more than I loved Sala. I now realize that Sala was toying with me. But now I love Mele. The soap opera continues… I think I may have a chance with her but I’ve thought that with all of my crushes with the same amount of conviction. Oh well, I love Mele Parker.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
I’m speaking of Josh and Mele. I’ve only been gone from her a day, but I love her. She is just so missable. Josh, oohh, now Josh, I could, mmmph, him one or two. He’s off having a life, with a girl. Well, that’s according to the Ouija board. But if he is, man! He’s having a life while I’m in the armpit of the universe! I’m going nuts! This whole I love Mele and don’t have Josh have totally ruined my whole #@* life! I love her. She may/may not love me. Oh, by the way, there’s going to be a new girl in our class on Monday. For some reason, I’m really excited. It may be my love for people, I don’t know. Life’s going to lead me to a disappointment, I know it. Oh well. I’m so joyful and happy. Let’s not ruin it.
Well I was right, I was disappointed about the new student. Liz, the new girl, has now joined Sara’s “I’m uncool” club! One mistake can ruin your life, and Liz has made that mistake. I think she likes me (but then in my mind everyone does.) She kept staring at me during song practice. Oh well, I don’t like her. She’s creepy. Oh, by the way yesterday Mele put her arms around my neck to reach the keyboard. Her chest was very close. Oooh-wee! It’s hot!
Liz likes me still. Jun Wong thinks so too. He’s not a very reliable source, but still. I’m trying to be friends with her at least but they still think I like her. She keeps coming up to me and saying little things like, “The zipper on your bag is open.” Or some other little remark. She always seems to be looking at me too. Oh, well.
I’m starting to like Liz, as a friend mind you, nothing more. I think that’s the way she likes me, as a friend. I’m just afraid I may start to like her, which could ruin everything. I feel strange… as if nothing matters, life goes on, life seems so pointless. What if I end up a squat? I feel alone… alone.
Despite what it sounds like, I still love Mele. We were teasing each other and we both really kept our cool even though I wrote on the computer, “Mele Parker is a lesbian prostitute who is having an affair with Madonna.” She wrote something about me going to a surgeon and getting my dick cut off. Well, well, well. Aren’t we sane? I love her, though.
She says she’ll get me on Monday. I hope she does. I just wish something would happen in my life, you know? Something new. A date, a friend, something! My life just seems so… pointless!
My life sucks! However on the lighter side of my life, uh, uh, er, um, well, hmmmmmmm.
Well there is one thing kind of. Liz. According to Sara and my intuition, she likes me. I also like her. The thing is, I’m 11 she’s 12. It would never work. She’s different though. She isn’t as pretty as Mele and not as mean or annoying as Sala. She’s smarter, less girlie, and I love her.
Life is like a Rubik’s Cube. It has so many sides, so many shades, and seems impossible.
Text copyright © 2008 by David Nadelberg. Published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.