You guys really are obnoxious jerks.

When I was in middle school, somehow or another I fell in love with Obnoxious Jerks. Not guys who treated me poorly, but The Obnoxious Jerks (or Obnoious Jeks), a book about a group of intelligent guys who made it their goal to shake up the status quo by doing things like performing the school song badly (and on kazoo) in the school talent show, bringing a fancy meal to school one day a week for lunch (and keeping jackets in their lockers to dress up for it), serving brains at the school International Festival, and, their tour de force, the day they wore skirts to school to protest the dress code. I loved the Obnoxious Jerks. There are still several phrases in my vocabulary because of them (although I usually just say them to myself, because no one has any idea what I’m talking about).

The summer I was at Governor’s School, I hung out with a group of girls that were pretty varied. We were kind of the group that didn’t really fit in elsewhere, which was fun and stretching all at the same time. I remember one afternoon we were hanging out, talking about the disgusting cafeteria food, when Emily said, “Looks like a booger, smells like a booger, tastes like a booger . . . ” and I finished, “It’s a caper, sure it is.” We looked at each other with wide eyes of understanding, and knew our friendship was meant to be. To be honest, Emily and I were only friends for another year or so, but every time I see the book on my shelf, I think about her. She’s the only other person I knew who read it (we made some of the other girls read it that summer, but they did not love it as much as we did. It is a particularly middle school book, I think. I don’t think I ever asked Mike to read it, exactly for that reason).

I have to admit that I have always been a fan of secret clubs of friends, even to the point of trying to start my own. Several times. Maybe that’s why the idea of the Obnoxious Jerks was so appealing to me – while I never went to school with guys like that, it was nice to imagine that they existed, and that they cared enough about things to try to shake them up. It’s the kind of person I wanted to be in high school (let’s face it -I probably would have benefitted from breaking the rules a little bit more), I just couldn’t find anyone else to be an Obnoxious Jerk with me. (And then there’s the whole issue of women in the group.)

When I made the link to the title, I was particularly saddened to see that it’s not in print anymore. A huge, influential piece of my growing up, gone forever. I wrote this, in part, to point out that, while I do favor books that are more . . . girly . . . I, too, can appreciate the appeal of an Obnoxious Jerk. So much so that I started the book last night. Eldest can wait. The Obnoxious Jerks wouldn’t have that kind of patience.

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