The story opens with our heroine as a five-year-old brat who, of course, is different from the very start from her mundane peers.
our hundred-year-old teacher, Mrs. Peevish.
This pretty much sets the tone for subtlety and tolerance in the whole book.
Anyway, Mrs. Justifiably-Peevish asks them what they want to be when they grow up, and various other kids give cliche answers like firefighters, nurses, cops, etc etc. And finally she gets to the annoying brat heroine.
"Raven, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
- Holy crap, this Sue is actually called "Raven." Could a mall-goth have a more stereotypical name than that?
- Well, I suppose she could be called "Ravyn."
- Seriously, just check on google and you'll find a million really bad Sues named that.
Anyway, our Sue refuses to answer the question and so the poor teacher is reduced to guessing various professions. Finally she answers with a job description that isn't really a job description.
"I want to be…a vampire!" I shouted, to the shock and amazement of Mrs. Peevish and my classmates. For a moment I thought she started to laugh; maybe she really did. The children sitting next to me inched away.
I spent most of my childhood watching others inch away.
And here we have the first example of Ellen Schneider shoveling out the bullshit like a professional farmhand. First, there's the laughable idea that five-year-olds are oh-so-spooked by noncomformists who like OOHSPOOKYSTUFF. Little kids are all about the gruesome, weird and spooky. They scare themselves all the time - and it takes more than a little girl who claims to want to be a vampire to disturb them.
And there's no way the kiddies would start inching away. They would laugh at her and tell her "there's no such thing as vampires, dummy!" or say "Cooooool, like Dracula?" but not be frightened by her gawthey self. Actually, I can't think of ANY age group that would actually find a five-year-old vampiric ambitions DISTURBING, except as a possible sign of future school murders.
Follow this up with some painful TMI:
I was conceived on my dad's water bed—or on the rooftop of my mom's college dorm under twinkling stars—depending on which one of my parents is telling the story.
And we totally wanted to know this. After all, isn't our Gawthe Sue so fascinating and speshul that we want to know everything about her life, right back to sperm-meets-egg?
They were soul mates that couldn't part with the seventies: true love mixed with drugs, some raspberry incense, and the music of the Grateful Dead. A beaded-jeweled, halter-topped, cutoff blue-jeaned, barefooted girl, intertwined with a long-haired, unshaven, Elton John-spectacled, suntanned, leather-vested, bell-bottomed-and-sandaled guy.
- Precisely how old is our Sue meant to be? It sounds like they were pretty young when they produced GawtheSue, and it also sounds like they spend most of their time before that in the early seventies. Wouldn't that put TeenGawtheSue solidly in her late thirties at the youngest?
- What kind of seventies hippies name their kid "Raven"?
- Also, GawtheSue sounds creepily pleased by the idea of her parents... um... intertwined. Most kids would rather give themselves a lobotomy with a spoon rather than even THINK about their parents having sex.
I could have wanted to be a beaded-haired hippie werewolf! But somehow I became obsessed with vampires.
.... a hippie werewolf? That's actually the first halfway decent idea she's come up with.
Anyway, she describes the hippie-dippie idyllic life they had when mommy and daddy wised up enough to get an apartment - lots of flower posters, lava lamps, and eating Twinkies late at night. I wonder how many cavities GawtheSue has, since apparently she had "cool" parents who let her do whatever the fuck she wanted.
Anyway, she got her start on vampirophilia by watching old Dracula movies and Dark Shadows, but apparently she was too dumb to realize that mommy was pregnant. And for some insane reason, her parents didn't tell her. Yes, obviously this ridiculously, over-the-top eccentric family is supposed to be superior to the mundane ones even though they don't mention a little detail like an impending baby. Great trust they've got. Clearly Mommy and Daddy were too stoned to bother telling her.
Everything changed when she gave birth to the playdough—only it wasn't Play-Doh. She gave birth to Nerd Boy! How could she?
The nerve! Don't they know that GothSue is the center of the universe, and everything must revolve around her? So her parents want another kid... how dare they put their own desires ahead of hers! What spoiled brats they are!
Seriously, this would be a normal reaction for a small child, but Schneider does something really weird with it. Even though this is years in the past, she has GothSue still simmering with rage and contempt over her brother DARING to invade her private kingdom, and still refusing to see him as an actual human being. She isn't looking back with embarrassment or indulgence - she's looking back with the exact same emotions as a preschooler brat who thinks it all revolves around her bloated head.
Sounds very familiar.
So basically our alleged heroine is a raging narcissistic bitch. In the first chapter. Which isn't even over yet. This is not promising, people.
How could she destroy all the Twinkie nights?
OH THE HUMANITY! WOE, DEATH AND DESTRUCTION UPON YOU ALL!!!!!!!!
Now she went to bed early, and that creation that my parents called "Billy" cried and fussed all night.
I'm sure as a baby, GothSue was a perfect angel who only cried when they turned Dark Shadows off, and never slept so her parents could stay up into the wee hours. Oh, and she crapped gold, which is how her parents were able to afford to never actually do any work.
I was suddenly alone. It was Dracula—the Dracula on TV—that kept me company while Mom slept, Nerd Boy wailed, and Dad changed smelly diapers in the darkness.
Because heaven forbid she actually sleep. We can't have that. When would she be able to go all emo?
And if that wasn't bad enough, suddenly they sent me to a place that wasn't my apartment, that didn't have wild 3-D flower posters on the walls,
Considering that most of the world fits that qualification, I'd be wondering if this brat had ever been allowed OUT of the apartment. Isn't that child abuse? It's certainly not healthy.
So they go to kindergarten and Gawthe Sue is horrified by the non-gawthe non-hippie surroundings.
It was overcrowded with Sears catalog girls in frilly dresses and Sears catalog boys in tapered pants and perfectly combed hair.
BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, it's official - Schreiber has never actually encountered a five-year-old child. No sane parent would send a girl to kindergarten in a frilly dress, or a boy in tapered pants. And to keep a five-year-old boy's hair "perfectly combed," you'd need to lacquer it in place.
Also note the not-so-subtle snobbery in talking about "Sears catalog." Schneider later reveals that she doesn't mind trashy, cheap and skanky, as long as it isn't in any way "normal."
So basically she gets all emo and whiny about waaaaaaaa having to be away from her goth-hippie cave for a few hours.
Somehow I made it through the day. Cutting and gluing black paper on black paper, finger painting Barbie's lips black, and telling the assistant teacher ghost stories,
Have you clued in that she's a Gawthe yet? It should be obvious, given that poser gawthes ALWAYS want everything to be black and have no personal interests that don't have to do with death and spookery.
while the Sears catalog kids ran around like they were all cousins at an all-American family picnic.
Note the subtle message on conformity: if your mother puts you in a pretty dress, you're a mindless sheep who shouldn't even talk to the Emo Goth Sue.
That night she found me with my lips pressed against the TV screen, trying to kiss Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula.
"Raven! What are you doing up so late? You have school tomorrow!"
"What?" I said. The Hostess cherry pie that I had been eating fell to the floor, and my heart fell with it.
How the hell could she smooch the TV and eat a cherry pie at the same time? Especially without getting sugary cherry goop all over the screen. And doesn't a daily diet of Hostess crapola count as child abuse? If it doesn't, it SHOULD.
So of course she drops into an Emo Woe Of Angst about having to leave her apartment and associate with GASP normal people on a daily basis. Nothing is expected of her except to behave, and she acts like they've announced, "Oh by the way, you insufferable brat, we've decided to sell both your kidneys to a millionaire. Enjoy your last night of life."
That night Nerd Boy couldn't hope to compete with my dramatic wailing and crying. As I lay alone in my bed, I lay alone in my bed, I prayed for eternal darkness and a sun that never rose.
- What a brat.
- What a drama queen.
- Shut your noise hole.
I longed to be around at least one person that I could connect with. But I couldn't find any, at home or school.
Because as everyone knows, vampirophiles and goths are total loners. They hate everyone because nobody understands their Deep Angst And Darkness, and because the world is filled with shallow sunny people who dress in NORMAL CLOTHES and occasionally watch movies about something OTHER than vampires. The horror!
At home the lava lamps were replaced with Tiffany-style floor lamps, the glow-in-the-dark posters were covered with Laura Ashley wallpaper, and our grainy black-and-white TV was upgraded to a twenty-five-inch color model.
So basically her parents became typical yuppies. But of course, I'm sure this is the sign that she's being abandoned by people who are not the dreaded Norm. Which of course makes her all the more speshul.
At school instead of singing the songs of Mary Poppins, I whistled the theme to The Exorcist.
... because she'd totally lose her goth cred if she did anything that wasn't spooky. And what kind of sick bastards show The Exorcist, a movie that regularly scares the crap out of adults, to a kindergartener?!
And then there's the introduction of Trevor Mitchell, who we know is evil because he has neat blond hair and weak blue eyes, and who of course hates the heroine because only she is brave and tuff enough to stand up to him. Draco Malfoy, he ain't. Oh yes, he's also a rich brat. Only vampires are allowed to be both rich and good, which cements how evil he is (and of course means that our heroine is soooooo independent for standing up to him).
Anyway, our little brat Raven gets upset because he hadn't bitten her, which she thought would turn her into a vampire. Schneider doesn't seem to realize how dumb this makes her heroine seem, since apparently despite watching umpteen vampire movies Raven hasn't figured out that just getting bitten by a random kid won't turn you into a vampire.
So anyway she pinches the kid and he bites her, and she's delighted by that. So she leaps off the swings at top speed and starts bawling because she failed to turn into a bat and fly. Yup, we officially have a genius on our hands.
With my bite trapped under ice, Mrs. Peevish sat me against the wall to rest while the spoiled snot-nosed Trevor was now free to play.
Which, amazingly, is supposed to be his fault, rather than the dimwitted girl who thinks anyone biting her will turn her into a vampire (all vampire lore aside). Good thing she didn't want to be a werewolf, or she would have started throwing stones at dogs until they bit her, and spent the next full-moon night running naked through the woods howling, "I'm a werewolf! Grrrr!"
I stuck out my tongue and called him a name I had heard a mobster say in The Godfather. Mrs. Peevish immediately sent me inside. I was sent inside a lot during my childhood recesses. I was destined to take a recess from recess.
Naturally, of course. When you're a surly, self-destructive, antisocial little brat, it's just a sign of your endearing "differentness."