Girl 15, Charming but Insaneby Sue Limb
Like any self-respecting girl her age, Jess wants to be devastatingly gorgeous, popular, and intelligent. But unfortunately, her best friend, Flora, has beaten her to it. Now Jess needs a new focus. The stunningly gorgeous Ben Jones seems the obvious choice. But can Ben Jones focus on anything that takes longer than a free kick? Perhaps Fred, who's sweet and clever… See more details below
Like any self-respecting girl her age, Jess wants to be devastatingly gorgeous, popular, and intelligent. But unfortunately, her best friend, Flora, has beaten her to it. Now Jess needs a new focus. The stunningly gorgeous Ben Jones seems the obvious choice. But can Ben Jones focus on anything that takes longer than a free kick? Perhaps Fred, who's sweet and clever but really needs a haircut, will help Jess through her teen-life crisis. But what of Flora's long-held secret crush? With her particular combination of charm and insanity, Jess heroically tries to keep it all together—with hilarious results.
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VIRGO: A VERY FAT MAN
WILL SIT NEXT TO YOU ON THE BUS, AND HE WON'T HAVE HAD A BATH
Eyes, nose, lips. Jess was drawing a face on her hand. She should have been making notes for her history essay: a list of reasons why King Charles I was un-popular. But instead she was giving herself a love tattoo of the beautiful Ben Jones. A touch of Leonardo DiCaprio, a hint of Prince William, the merest suggestion of Brad Pitt . . . the flicked-up hair, the slanty grin . . . Oh no! It didn't look like Ben at all. It looked like a demented iguana.
Art wasn't Jess's strong point. She wrote "Ben Jones--or demented iguana?" under her tattoo, and coughed in a signal to her friend Flora that communication was desired. It was a kind of ring tone, a cough in the rhythm of the latest Justin Timberlake single. Flora looked up from the next desk, and Jess held the tattoo up to her. Flora smiled, but it was a kind of pretend smile, and immediately afterward Flora glanced furtively at Miss Dingle and sort of dived straight back into her work.
Miss Dingle--Dingbat to her fans--was glaring from the teacher's desk.
"Jess Jordan! What's your pwoblem?"
"Oh God, Miss Dingle, there are so many," sighed Jess, hastily pulling her sleeve down to hide the portrait-tattoo of Ben Jones the iguana. "Tragic broken home, hideous genetic inheritance . . . massive arse . . ." A few people giggled.
"Get on with your work," snapped Miss Dingle, trying to sound steely and terrifying, even though she had a weedy little voice and couldn't pronounce her r's. "If you showed half as much intewest in witing histowy pwojects as you do in twying to be amusing, you'd be the star pupil instead of the class dunce. You're going to fail misewably unless you pull your finger out! You think you're such a clever dick!"
Everybody hid their faces in their books and cracked up--as silently as possible, of course. The whole room shook. Miss Dingle always used this old-fashioned slang that sounded faintly obscene: pull your finger out and clever dick. "And the west of you!" shouted Miss Dingle. "Be quiet and get on with witing your list of weasons--unless you all want to stay behind after school! I'm quite tempted to put the whole gwoup in detention! Don't push me too far! I can quite easily pull out the Big One!"
There was a muffled explosion as everyone tried to avoid laughing out loud by eating their own tonsils, but frenzied scribbling was also resumed. Nobody wanted to stay behind after school. Jess picked up her dictionary and tried to look intelligent. She turned the pages, hoping for a rude word. Suddenly she had an idea. Maybe you could consult the dictionary, a bit like the tarot. Think of a question, then open it at random. Jess closed her eyes and concentrated. Will Ben Jones and I ever be an item?
Her finger jabbed at a word. "Parsley. A well-known garden herb, used for flavoring soup." Well, not a brilliant result, obviously. But maybe there was a hidden meaning. Perhaps you could make a boy fall in love with you by rubbing parsley behind your ears, or sprinkling chopped parsley in his pants while he was swimming.
Jess suddenly caught Dingbat's eye again. A dangerous moment. Hastily Jess copied down the title of the history essay: "Reasons Why King Charles I Was Unpopular." All she had to do was read chapter six of the history book. Jess flicked through the book and looked at the pictures. Charles I had sad, haunted eyes and a stylish goatee. Flora had told her that he had been only about five feet tall. Some kind of hobbit, obviously. And then he had had his head chopped off--pretty bad news for anybody, of course, but for a short guy clearly a disaster, stylewise.
Jess looked across at Flora, who was writing so hard, her whole body shook. Flora had written three whole pages already, and if Jess was going to catch up with her, she'd got to make a start. Jess picked up her pen and let her imagination run away with her. This was always dangerous.
Reasons Why King Charles I Was Unpopular
1. He never changed his pants.
2. He refused to grow.
3. He passed a law saying everybody taller than him had to have their legs cut off.
4. He slurped his soup.
5. He used to bottle his farts and sell them to the tourists.
Somehow at this point Jess's inspiration dried up and she began to think about Ben Jones again. She formed a plan to steal a bit of DNA from Prince William and Brad Pitt. Just the kind of work she would enjoy. With a dash of each, together with leg of toad and eye of newt, she ought to be able to genetically engineer a Ben Jones look-alike, in case the real one proved unavailable. She gazed in adoration at the tattoo of Ben the iguana. How she longed to have his babies. Or possibly lay his eggs.
Jess started another list. This was much easier than the history question.
Reasons Why Ben Jones Is Popular
1. Hair like golden grass (if only I could picnic on it)
2. Eyes blue enough to swim in (he's beginning to sound like a holiday destination)
3. A cute, slow, slanty smile that could defrost Antarctica
4. Doesn't speak much, i.e., not loud and trashy
5. Oozes mystery and charisma
Suddenly the bell rang. A massive sigh of relief spread through the room. Everybody put down their pens, yawned, and stretched. Tiffany, a plump dark girl with savage eyebrows, turned round to Jess and whispered, "Don't forget my party tomorrow night! Be there or else!"
"Sure," said Jess. "I was gonna stay in and darn some socks, but for you I'll make that major sacrifice."
Tiffany's family was quite rich--at least by Jess's standards--and Jess was quite looking forward to quaffing champagne and swinging from the chandeliers.
Jess's best friend, the goddess Flora, was the only person in the class who hadn't finished working yet. She scribbled away harder than ever, her golden hair glittering. One grain of her divine dandruff could make the blind see again, and revive small insects that had been trodden on.
Flora finished off her sentence with a flourish, tossed back her hair with a great flash of supernatural light, turned to Jess, and grinned. It's a good job the beautiful, overachieving bitch is my best friend, thought Jess, or I might just have to kill her.
"Jess Jordan!" thundered Miss Dingle in her tiny fairy's voice, above the noise of people packing up their bags. "Will you come up here and show me your list of weasons, please!"
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