The Straight Road to Kylieby Nico Medina
He's seventeen, out and proud, and ready to party through senior year with his posse of best girlfriends. But the year starts off with the wrong kind of bang when Jonathan -- in an inebriated lapse of judgment -- sleeps with a friend of his...a girl friend!
When word gets around that/i>
Life is fabulous for Jonathan Parish.
He's seventeen, out and proud, and ready to party through senior year with his posse of best girlfriends. But the year starts off with the wrong kind of bang when Jonathan -- in an inebriated lapse of judgment -- sleeps with a friend of his...a girl friend!
When word gets around that hot-but-previously-unavailable Jonathan might be on the market, the school's It girl approaches him with a proposal: pretend to be her boyfriend, and achieve popularity like he's never known. But popularity isn't what Jonathan wants. And suddenly, going back into the closet becomes Jonathan's only way to get what he's after -- a trip to see Kylie Minogue.
Gr 9 Up
Jonathan Parish, 17, is "out-and-proud." He spends his time gossiping, shopping, partying, and watching Golden Girls reruns with his best girlfriends. Then he drunkenly deflowers a young woman at a party. His crisis of conscience worsens when rich, gorgeous Laura Schulberg makes him an offer he can't refuse: pretend to be her boyfriend in exchange for a trip to London to see Kylie Minogue perform. In the process, he alienates two of his best friends and loathes himself for returning to the closet. Jonathan is fabulously self-aware, and his running commentary about his emotional state, dance music, fashion, and Target shoppers is canny and hilarious. His voice is campy without descending into stereotype, and his honesty and insecurities deepen this portrait. His energetic narration carries the plot briskly along, and the mood is giddy but thoughtful. The characters' cultural references are so timely and their language so believably littered with f-bombs that the author might be in high school himself. Medina's ear for dialogue, colloquialisms, and accents is flawless, and the sharpest interchanges involve Jonathan; his mouthy, bisexual black/Asian girlfriend; and his gay Latino coworker. Unfortunately, his two straight female friends fall a little flat, as if they're only present to set up conflict. The inciting incident-Lauren wants Jonathan and only Jonathan as her beard-seems forced, too, even as her motive is ultimately revealed. On the whole, though, this is a well-written, thought-provoking, and welcome twist on the coming-out story.
Johanna LewisCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Rachel Cohn, bestselling author of Gingerbread
- Simon Pulse
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- SIMON & SCHUSTER
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 2 MB
- Age Range:
- 14 Years
Read an Excerpt
I really wish I wasn't gay right now.
If I wasn't gay right now, I wouldn't be having sex with Alex.
No, not Alexander.
That's right, ladies and gentlemen. Jonathan Parish has done the unthinkable. Out-and-proud Christina Aguilera-worshipping, Diesel shoe-wearing, lover-of-large-sassy-black-women-and-skinny-white-heiresses Jonathan Parish is having sex with a girl!
These were the thoughts running through my head that insane night. I did not know what I was getting myself into.
Maybe I should recap.
My best friend, Joanna Marin, decided to throw herself a turning-eighteen birthday bash. Originally, her mom, Orlando-suburbanite-wishing-she-were-Winter-Park-Park-Avenue-chic divorcée Marsha Marin, was going to take her out for brunch and to a cute little boutique on Park Avenue. But, in true Marsha Marin fashion, she had to cancel on her only daughter to take over a fellow flight attendant's Orlando-Atlanta-Paris-and-back flights. This left Joanna alone on the weekend of her eighteenth birthday alone and angry...but with an empty house and a fistful of I'm-so-sorry money. What else was there to do but throw the party to end all parties to celebrate Joanna's official passage into adulthood?
When she'd told me just before sixth period that she'd gotten a voice mail from her mom about the change of plans, we'd agreed to meet at Aretha (my 249,982-miles-young '91 Volvo) after school let out to drive to Amigo's for chips, salsa, quesadillas, and some serious planning. After ruling out a day at Disney World (too young for us she was turning eighteen for Christ's sake!), Islands of Adventure (that was getting old we'd bought ourselves annual passes the year before), or the beach (it was possibly going to rain), we decided to throw a debaucherous alcoholic bingefest. Yes, we were quite the original duo.
"We'll need a handle of vodka," I said, starting out our list.
"So go ahead and put cranberry and orange juice on there," Joanna added.
Joanna and I loved making lists. For anything. Party supplies. Party CDs. Guest lists. To us, the most exciting part of a party was hunkering down and writing out the lists. Über-cool, right? "If we're getting limes already, why not tequila and salt for body shots?" Joanna suggested. She had a tear in her eye, I think. Nothing made her happier than people licking her stomach. Give her a few drinks, and she soaked up the attention like a sponge.
"Okay. But I'm gonna want beer, too. How many people are we inviting?"
"I don't know. Do we have to know that right now?"
"Absolutely!" And I was dead serious.
Joanna blew out a horsey kind of sigh. "You are way too anal."
"People who live in glass houses and make lists for fun shouldn't throw stones."
Joanna took a gulp of her Diet Pepsi and let out a belch in response. The chips-and-salsa boy whom both Joanna and I had been drooling over since we were able to get to Amigo's on our own replenished our supply and chuckled. Joanna was mortified.
"Oh my God, Jonathan," she whispered. "What do you think he thinks of me now? I mean, how disgusting am I?"
Yay. Damage control. Why did my best friend in the world have to be so typically outgoing, but so spastic around cute members of the male race?
I mean, Joanna is pretty, a natural beauty who looks amazing with or without makeup but she still feels she has to wear it to get guys to notice her. (It's always sort of bugged me.) She's got shoulder-length dirty-blonde hair that bounces when she walks, just like shampoo commercials say that hair should. Her skin is TV-star flawless, and she has pale blue eyes. She works relatively hard on her body, and that coupled with a rapid metabolism shows in her tight, fat-free frame. At five-foot-eight, she stares right into my matching blue eyes. But despite what she's got going for her, she never seems to get the good guys. Call it dumb luck or a curse or whatever, but it can really get to her. Which then sometimes leads to wallowing in self-consciousness, and still not getting the good guys it's a vicious cycle, really, but if I told her about it, I'm afraid she might kill me. She doesn't take to criticism too well, no matter how constructive.
While we're on descriptions, I'll go ahead and say toot, toot! goes my own horn that I am also pretty, with or without makeup (although a little eyeliner for special occasions never hurts). I've got an okay body (flat tummy, cute little biceps, hard legs and ass, thank you very much), dark brown hair, and bright blue eyes. Everyone says that's the best part about me the dark hair-light eyes combo. And even though I'd always sort of wanted to be a blond, I had to agree.
But back to my damage-control duties...
"Don't call me 'sweetie,' okay?" she interrupted. "I love your gayness and all, but if you start using 'sweetie' then the next step is capri pants and excessive eyebrow-tweezing. I can't have a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy correspondent for a best friend."
"Easy, killer," I said. "And besides, capris went out years ago. Sweetie."
"So...can I take your order?" Perfect timing. Did they train waitresses for this? Oh, well. At least it wasn't the cute chip boy.
"Oh...uh...m'kay," Joanna stammered, turning a bright shade of Amigo's-signature-salsa red. "I'll take the...uh...veggie quesadillas."
"Chicken chimichangas, please," I ordered.
The waitress collected our menus and told us it'd be just a few minutes. Joanna's face returned to its normal shade.
"Anyway, let's get to that guest list," she said. Apparently, spitting out a vulgarity in front of our waitress made her forget about not-so-daintily belching in front of our favorite chips-and-salsa boy. Wow. No more damage-control responsibilities. It must have been my lucky day.
If only the luck could have lasted through the weekend.
"Not too many, right?" I asked. "We don't want it ending up like some cliché high-school party from the movies, do we?" It just wasn't our style.
"Good. Let's do it, ho."
Our parties usually had anywhere from ten to thirty of our closer friends, plenty of booze, sometimes other substances (nothing nasty), nonstop party mixes, and usually a lot of dancing. I, being the good best-gay-friend that I was, was usually the ringleader for the dance portion of the party. I'd pull people off the couch and out of their shells, and put them right up to my waist to grind the night away.
By the time our food arrived luckily while Joanna was behaving we had a list of thirty-three names. Probably around twenty-five would show. Figure that with the vodka, tequila, and rum (newly added to the alcohol list), everyone would consume around two and a half beers on average, which made a little more than sixty-two beers. Round it up to seventy-two to buy six 12-packs. We could always have a leftovers party. We had this down to a science. Who said math was useless?
- One handle vodka Smirnoff
- One biggish bottle of rum Bacardi Limón
- One biggish bottle of tequila Jose Cuervo
- Two 12-packs Bud Light
- Two 12-packs Amber Bock
- One 12-pack Smirnoff Twisted Orange (They taste like Flintstone's Push-Pops. I had to add it.)
- One 12-pack Killian's Irish Red
- One bottle sour mix
- One bottle triple sec
That was the list for my brother to take care of. Jesse's a senior at UCF majoring in Civil Engineering, with a minor in Providing Alcohol to His Kid Brother. He takes his studies seriously.
The list for Joanna and me to take care of was:
- Six limes
- Orange juice
- Cranberry juice
- Diet Coke
- Five bags chips (Unspecified hey, we couldn't plan everything. Some things have to be left to decide on a whim, right?)
- Three gallons water
It was three thirty, Thursday afternoon. I was in charge of the party mixes; Joanna was in charge of the phone calls. We'd both follow up with everyone at school on Friday. We should do this for a living.
Thirty minutes later, I was heading toward the on-ramp for the East-West Expressway after dropping off Joanna. In order to afford the spacious, grandiose home that matched her impossible taste, Joanna's mom had to buy so far from the actual city of Orlando that it was practically on the coast. Forty minutes to the east was the beach and Kennedy Space Center. Forty minutes to the west was Disney. And smack-dab in the middle of her far-out house and Disney were the cities of Orlando and Winter Park, and our school Winter Park High.
Our school is pretty much your typical high school. Jocks. Nerds. Drama Nerds. IB Kids (International Baccalaureate our magnet program for "exceptionally exceptional" students from the area). Normal kids. A couple of (out) gay kids. A few more (closeted) gay kids. A few poor kids. Middle-class kids. Rich kids. A few very rich kids. And then the super-rich kids who didn't even know what to do with Daddy's American Express Black Card.
Winter Park has a lot of rich residents. All sorts of well-off people: big-shot lawyers, Orlando Magic players, Carrot Top (seriously). Rumor had it that even Madonna bought a house near Park Avenue for, like, two seconds, before she resold it. Winter Park's welcome/city-limits sign, which reads welcome to winter park, please drive with extraordinary care, more often than not has the last E of "care" crossed out. Cute, huh?
My group of friends is pretty much right in the normal, middle-class middle of the student body. We drive used and hand-me-down cars from the decade of our birth, but at least we have cars to drive. And we live in nice houses in good neighborhoods, but for the most part not extravagantly. I live right where northeast Orlando meets Winter Park, on the Winter Park side. Carrie and Shauna live out east, toward UCF. Others are scattered around my neighborhood and Winter Park Pines, right by the high school. And then there's Joanna, who's way out in BFE (Butt-Fucking Egypt, in case you were wondering).
I cursed her mother's affected Park Avenue tendencies and inexplicable need for a four-bedroom house for two people as I waited in the sweltering heat to get on the East-West Expressway, the heavenly stretch of highway that would whisk me back to civilization in twenty minutes.
My old beat-up Aretha might break down all the time and definitely not have air-conditioning, but at least she has a stereo. Driving (and life, for that matter) means nothing to me without my music. And life is hardly worth living without my favorite Australian pop princess (queen, actually, in my opinion) Kylie Minogue. I pulled out two CDs and considered them: Kylie's Fever and Garbage's Version 2.0 (my favorite album by my favorite band hands-down, the best album ever made, and I don't care if Lauryn Hill won the Grammy that year!). Seeing that it was over ninety degrees and humid, I decided that the weather called for Kylie's "Burning Up." So I put Version 2.0 away for the moment and popped in Fever, skipping to the twelfth track.
I let the infectious disco-y beats popping out the speakers mix with the impossibly heavy heat sinking into my car, and embraced the sweat pouring down my body as I danced my ass off and Kylie sang about summer madness. Although it was technically fall, it was early October in Central Florida, where summer weather could stretch until Halloween the heat and humidity were just things I had to embrace. The cars in the right-turn lane inched toward the on-ramp. The music slowed, cooled, broadened, stretched out. My car was up to the red light. I was next.
As the song exploded into its grand finale, the light turned green and I gunned it (as best I could) onto the highway. The rushing air rejuvenated me, and I glanced down at the odometer and smiled as dirty old Aretha hit a quarter of a million miles. The song wound to a close, and I decided it was time to celebrate the act of motion by singing and dancing to some "Dirrty" by Christina Aguilera. Out came Fever, in went Stripped. A day this sweaty called for X-Tina.
I pulled out my faux-drag-queen act, singing, dancing, and hand-motioning as much as anyone can do while driving a one-ton stick-shift Swedish tank of a car down an expressway. Not that I'd actually seen a real-life drag queen in person before, but I'd watched them on TV and YouTube and stuff. Song ideas for the party CDs crackled and sputtered in my brain as I drove toward the Orlando skyline. "Impressive Instant" by Madonna. "Cherry Lips" by Garbage. The Britney Spears-Chris Cox MegaMix! "You Gotta Lick It Before We Kick It" by 20 Fingers and Gillette! I'd expose these people to some culture, dammit!
As soon as I got home, I ran into my room to get started on the party mixes. I couldn't let my excitement die down. I threw my bag onto my bed and kissed Kylie hello. Kylie's picture, that is.
See, I have this wall.... So when those Christmas gift calendars go on sale on January second, I raid the malls of Metro Orlando to gobble up all the ones of Kylie Minogue. They're tough to find, but I find them. Not to mention, of course, the CD cases, album advertisements, stills from when she played the Green Fairy in Moulin Rouge, and magazine articles. Needless to say, the resulting Kylie Wall is fabulous. And it makes me happy no matter what mood I'm in. I come in after a shitty day at school, Kylie greets me all cute and sexylike from her motorcycle in the desert, and all is right in the world. So naturally today, glimpsing Kylie in her fabulous one-piece on the rocky beach only heightened my already happy mood. She was so cute I could pinch her!
Joanna hated the wall. She said it creeped her out, which I can sort of understand. I think the straw that broke the faghag's back on that one, though, was the stand-up cut-out of Kylie from her Fever era (thank you, eBay!) that hung out in front of the Kylie Wall. Joanna always makes me store her in my closet when she sleeps over, saying, "I can't deal with one more set of Kylie eyes looking at me!" Please. She should be so lucky.
I thought it was perfectly natural for a boy like me to have such an adorable Kylie shrine. And, what with my perpetual lack-of-boyfriend, it was nice to have something to give a little kiss to every day....
I remember when I came out to my parents and older brother and how unsurprised and sweet and supportive they were till my dad asked me, "But, Jonathan? What about Kylie?" To which my brother just chuckled in response.
I settled myself into my desk chair and started going through CDs to burn.
This party was going to be the best.
I absolutely could not wait.
Friday at school was a blur. I was way too excited about the next night to concentrate on anything. Being a senior (finally!), planning/having/throwing parties was what I lived for lately, so the unit test in statistics; the bullshit skit my Spanish group and I had thrown together and performed (involving a cheating husband and an angry esposa throwing a grande glass of agua on him); and the lectures on God-knows-what, the cardiovascular system, and the legislative branch, in English, anatomy, and government classes kind of melted together for me. I probably couldn't tell you the difference between a capillary and an artery, or exactly how many seats there are in Congress, but I could tell you the track list for "JOANNA TURNS 18 PARTY MIX 1," since that's what I was really listening to all day. In my head, anyway.
Whatever. I had a four-point-oh average and I was allowed to have a BS day.
I'd checked in with Joanna in Spanish before our skit, during lunch, and after school in the parking lot, and we had twenty-three yeses, eight nos, and two maybes.
"Carrie is coming, though, right?" I asked. "I haven't gotten a chance to ask her myself." Besides Joanna, she was the most important person to me. "Oh, and Shauna?" Shauna was Joanna's best girlfriend, and was quickly becoming one of my favorite people.
"Carrie said she'd be there with tassels on her nipples and nothing else, and Shauna said she wouldn't miss it for the world. Now let me see those mixes."
I handed her the six CDs I'd slaved over until two a.m. the night before. Maybe that's why everything had been such a soupy, foggy mess that day.
Carrie Adams and I had met by the vending machines on the first day of junior year. I'd just come out of the closet that summer and was ridiculously paranoid that it somehow showed. Like some big, gay snake shedding its outer closeted skin to reveal a bright and shiny-new rainbow-colored layer. I felt like everyone was watching me, judging me (or loving me, depending on the person). As if not everyone in school didn't already think I was gay but it just felt different.
Eventually, though, word got around. Pretty quick, actually. Because first I had to tell the most important friends, then it turned into my closest, like, fifteen friends...and then before I knew it, it was all over school. Not that that was a bad thing, really, since I didn't feel like I had to parade around school with a sash over me that read out and proud to get the point across. No. Everyone just suddenly knew.
Admitting to my friends and family that I was gay didn't feel wrong; in fact, it felt wonderful. I was happy to be an out-and-proud sixteen-year-old. But my pride went only so far. I still lived in the South (as liberal as Orlando can seem, it definitely has its Pensacola moments really, they should just hand the Panhandle over to Alabama, in my not-so-humble opinion). I still knew hardly any out gay kids my age. And the closeted ones were...let's just say they didn't have enough self-esteem. I still had no idea how to meet other gay kids (except, of course, for the Internet but there was no way I was gonna get into that). And it was all still so very new to me.
I fed my quarters into the vending machine, and as I bent down to retrieve my Diet Coke, I felt a hand slap my ass. Hard.
"Oh, baby, is this seat taken?!" some girl yelled.
Startled, I whipped around to see a tall, wild-haired, gorgeous girl in flip-flops (she got written up for those later), Seven jeans, and a tight thrift-store T-shirt that read carnival cruise lines: i'm in ship shape! She had some major ass-kickin' Asian features with her severe jaw line and high cheekbones and kind of looked like a badass female samurai, but with this big, fantastic Afro of jet-black hair. I loved her instantly. But I suppose my shy smirk didn't really show it.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I mean, you're gay, right? All my gay friends at my old school loved it when I did that, and I thought it was a better way of introducing myself than the usual hi-how-are-you? kind of thing. So boring. And I'm bi anyway, so it's only, like, half offensive if I slap your ass."
I was still too dumbfounded to say anything. This girl was awesome.
"Shit...you are...gay, right? Well, if you are, my name's Carrie. And if you're not, my name's still Carrie, but maybe we could go out sometime. Ha-ha-ha-ha!"
Somehow, hearing a perfect stranger say out loud that I was gay wasn't as bad as I'd thought it could be. Carrie had an incredible vibe to her, and I instantly wanted to be her friend. Not to mention that she had just said "all my gay friends." So I loosened up, let out a laugh, and stuck my hand out for her to shake.
"Hi, Carrie. I'm Gay, but you can call me Jonathan. Care to share some of my Diet Coke?"
She took my hand in hers, lifted it to her face, and kissed it.
"And before you ask," she said, "it's half Korean and half black. And no I will not do a Margaret Cho impersonation for you, and no I will not do Wanda Sykes for you, either."
"Marilyn Manson again?" an annoyed Joanna said, yanking me suddenly out of my reverie. "Jonathan, are you trying to ruin this party?"
"It's his cover of 'Personal Jesus,' Joanna," I said. "Come on! Who wouldn't appreciate that?"
"Me! And it's my birthday." She had her arms crossed and was pouting at me.
"But, look all your favorites are on there, too," I said, pointing out various tracks on the CD OutKast, Ludacris, Ciara, Cher. "You know I aim to please." I reached out and pinched her butt.
"Ouch!" she screeched, slapping my hand away.
A couple of guys from the football team saw this and were laughing. "Go, Parish!" they yelled. I didn't know quite how to take it.
But Joanna did. "Shut the hell up!" she yelled at them. Then, to me, "But what's all this other stuff on here for? Placebo? Peaches? Goldfrapp? The Faint ?"
"Don't you dare say anything about Kylie or Garbage," I threatened.
"Wouldn't dream of it," she said, rolling her eyes. "But the list goes on: Thunderpuss? Muse? Hooverphonic?" She paused. "Hooverphonic? Is that what happens when a vacuum cleaner and a phone have sex?"
"I refuse to cohost a party where the music is all stupid, predictable Now-That's-What-I-Call-Music-Volume-Eighty-Three crap. You know I have to expose these people to something different!" I smiled. "It's my lot in life."
I saw the corner of her mouth move up slightly into a half smile.
"It all works great as background music, too," I lied. That was always the way to get her.
"Fine. As long as your brother doesn't back out on buying the alcohol."
This little music battle, like the list-making, was another party ritual of ours. She pretended to hate my music, I pretended to care, and she eventually caved. The CDs were always a hit, and we both knew it. This time would be no exception. I had even made smooth, slow, background-music types of CDs for chilling out in rooms other than the main living room. This party was going to be the party to end all parties somehow I just knew it.
Copyright © 2007 by Nicolas Medina
Meet the Author
Nico Medina is the author of The Straight Road to Kylie, Fat Hoochie Prom Queen, and Go Ahead, Ask Me. He works at a publishing house in New York City.
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I loved reading this book. It was especially aimed for teenagers and the author's description of Dade caught me like vines on a garden's fence! This book could've been a five star if the ending wasn't so simple though. But either way, it was still great. I definitely recommend this book to any teenager that's 'coming out' or just any teenager at all!
Jonathan Parish, the ALL OUT Kylie Minogue lover, has done the unexpected. He slept with a girl. Okay, that may seem normal to most of us, but not for Jonathan--since he is gay and everyone knows it. This wouldn't have happened if Joanna's mother hadn't canceled their plans, then Jonathan and Joanna wouldn't have had to come up with a birthday party, which meant that they wouldn't have had to invite their friends, including Alex (not as in Alexander but as in Alexandra), which wouldn't have led to Jonathan sleeping with Alex. Of course, Jonathan had a choice to say no to Alex, but he was just too drunk and Alex just persuaded him in the right way.
After "that night" happened, Jonathan believed that the whole ordeal was over, that is until he discovered that the whole school found out about it. Now all the girls seem to be looking at Jonathan in a new light. Everyone, including the richest and the most popular girl in school, and also his math buddy, Laura Schulberg. But Laura has bigger plans for the both of them; if Jonathan becomes Laura's boyfriend, not only would she keep her own social status but Jonathan would become popular, too. At first Jonathan isn't buying it, until Laura bribes him with tickets to go see Kylie Minogue. How can he say no to that?
Before he knows it, Jonathan finds himself back in the closet, trying to keep up the charade as being Laura's boyfriend. Which isn't so hard, until Jonathan's friends begin to turn their back on him and he then finds the guy of his dreams. Can Jonathan survive being straight just to see his idol?
THE STRAIGHT ROAD TO KYLIE is NOT funny but is HILARIOUS. The journey that Nico Medina writes is one of a high school kid, trying to find out who he really is, and that is what makes THE STRAIGHT ROAD TO KYLIE one of the greatest books that I have ever read. The obstacles that Jonathan faces will make you laugh out loud. Not only that, but the problems that he faces shows us all how the lives of teens are so hectic and full of so much drama. Lets just hope that Jonathan's adventures don't end here, and that the road continues.
I love this book! I dont often read this type of book but now I do!
When i first started to read it it kind of threw me off and i didn't like it but once i got into the book it brought it all back together and made it an amazing book. i think it is one i would like to read again.
I read the first six chapters or so and was very disappointed. The description could've been better. I was thinking it was gonna be different from what it turned out to be.
What happene to dade?
So, my friend got this book from the library and she loved it and had everyone in our group read it. I love it so so so much!! I'd read it a million times.
I like how this book was about a kid who everyone already knew was gay but because of one drunken night then everything changed. It has its twists and turns but some of the descriptions could have been better. The begining was rather slow but once you get into it everything falls into place. I was pretty shocked that the ending ended that way but the overall book was good. I would definately read it again!