An excerpt from the novel Meeting Dennis Wilson by Max Harrick Shenk
Setting: 1976, a spring Saturday morning in Quaker Valley PA. 16-year-old narrator Brian and his best friend Margo are in the student store at Quaker Valley College, and Brian needs to make a purchase for himself and his girlfriend Christy…
…Margo patted my shoulder once, twice; I felt like I could feel her friendship spreading out through my body from the spot that she touched. “And look… speaking of being careful…”
I knew exactly what was next. We’d passed the display on the way in and she’d said, “Look, Bri…”
I sighed. “I don’t feel like buying them today,” I said.
“Brian… this might be the perfect time. You look collegiate.” She glanced toward the registers. “They’re right out up there, up with the cold meds. You don’t even have to ask anyone for them.”
I shifted a little where I was standing. “I know… I just…”
“You just… what?”
I glanced at Margo –blue jeans and red QUAKER VALLEY SOFTBALL windbreaker, straight blonde hair streaming down her back– and then past her at the cash register, where a petite, brunette Annie Pierce lookalike was absentmindedly pricing a stack of textbooks, next to a display of aspirin, bandaids, cough drops, cold meds, vitamins…
…and six or seven different brands of condoms.
“I might not have to ask anyone for them,” I said, “but I’d have to pay someone for them.”
Not just someone. A girl. A girl would have to ring up my condom purchase.
What do you say then?
Oh, I’m using them for a science fair project.
These things make the best water balloons.
These? Nahh… they’re for my parents.
It was anyone’s guess why the idea of a girl –any female, in fact… even a total stranger, like this girl in the college store– knowing that I was buying rubbers made me so deathly afraid, but it did.
“So she’s a girl?” Margo repeated. “You know her?”
“Well, then what’s the big deal?”
“It still makes me nervous–”
Margo TSKed. “You just get nervous about that because you don’t want to get nervous about what you’re getting them for.”
“Plus…” Margo continued, “you buy those magazines. Which you also say you get nervous about.”
“That’s different,” I said, not really sure why it was different.
But I could count on Margo to tell me why.
“Yeah… you’re right they’re different,” she huffed, her voice getting a little loud. “The magazines say, ‘I’m a lonely pervert,’ and the rubbers say–”
“–Could you maybe keep it down?” I said.
Margo laughed once and looked around, blushing a little bit. “Sorry,” she said, her voice toned down a little. “Rubbers,” she continued in a near-whisper, “say ‘I care about whether or not my woman gets pregnant.’ You know? Trust me: girls–” She glanced toward the register “–any girls… will respect that.”
Meeting Dennis Wilson by Max Harrick Shenk…
“Today marks the day that I officially add Meeting Dennis Wilson to my ‘Favorite Coming of Age Books’ list. I adore John Green and his work [and] I fell in love with this book just as easily as I fell in love with Paper Towns or An Abundance of Katherines. Meeting Dennis Wilson can easily be compared to a teenager who’s just coming of age: awkward, quirky, hilarious, and loads of fun to be around.Meeting Dennis Wilson is incredibly comical, sweet, and ultimately feel-good.”
(The Literary Connoisseur)
Meeting Dennis Wilson is available in both softcover print and Kindle editions, in either seven serialized installments or as an omnibus edition gathering all seven books.