Kody Keplinger: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

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Kody Keplinger The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
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    The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
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Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

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Carefully, I lifted each piece of clothing and folded it with embarrassing precision. Then I stacked the shirts, jeans, and underwear in separate sections on the floor. Somehow, the act of folding the wrinkled clothes soothed me. As I made the perfect piles, my mind cleared, my body relaxed, and my irritation from the night of loud music and obnoxious, rich, sex-obsessed pigs ebbed. With every even crease, I was reborn.

When all of the clothes were folded, I stood up, leaving the stacks on the floor. I pulled off my sweater and jeans, which stank from the sweltering parties, and tossed them into the hamper in the corner of my room. I could shower in the morning. I was too tired to deal with it tonight.

Before crawling under my sheets, I took a glance at the full-length mirror across the room. I searched my reflection with new eyes, with new knowledge. Uncontrollable wavy auburn hair. A long nose. Big thighs. Small boobs. Yep. Definitely Duff material. How had I not known?

I mean, I’d never considered myself particularly attractive and it wasn’t hard to see that Casey and Jessica, both thin and blond, were gorgeous, but still. The fact that I played the role of the ugly girl to their luscious duo hadn’t occurred to me. Thanks to Wesley Rush, I could see it now.

Sometimes it’s better to be clueless.

I pulled a blanket up to my chin, hiding my naked body from the scrutiny of the mirror. Wesley was living proof that beauty was only skin-deep, so why did his words bother me? I was intelligent. I was a good person. So who cared if I was the Duff? If I were attractive, I’d have to deal with guys like Wesley hitting on me. Ugh! So being the Duff had its benefits, right? Being unattractive didn’t have to suck.

Damn Wesley Rush! I couldn’t believe he was making me worry about such stupid, pointless, shallow bullshit.

I closed my eyes. I wouldn’t think about it in the morning. I wouldn’t think about Duffs ever again.

Sunday was fantastic-nice, quiet, uninterrupted euphoria. Of course, things were usually pretty quiet when Mom was away. When she was home, the house always seemed loud. There was always music or laughter or something lively and chaotic. But she never seemed to be home for more than a couple of months, and in the time that she was gone, everything grew still. Like me, Dad wasn’t much for socializing. He was usually buried in his work or watching television. Which meant the Piper house was pretty much silent.

And, on a morning after I’d been forced to withstand all the racket of clubs and parties, a quiet house was the equivalent of perfection.

But Monday sucked.

All Mondays suck, of course, but this Monday really fucked up everything. It all started first block when Jessica slumped into Spanish with tear-stained cheeks and running mascara.

“Jessica, what’s wrong?” I asked. “Did something happen? Is everything okay?”

I’ll admit it; I always got really freaked out on the rare occasions when Jessica came to class looking anything less than perky. I mean, she was constantly bouncing and giggling. So when she came in looking so depressed, it scared the shit out of me.

Jessica shook her head miserably and collapsed into her seat. “Everything’s fine, but… I can’t go to Homecoming!” Fresh tears spewed from her wide chocolate eyes. “Mom won’t let me go!”

That was it? She’d gotten me all freaked out over Homecoming?

“Why not?” I asked, still trying to be sympathetic.

“I’m grounded,” Jessica sniffed. “She saw my report card in my room this morning, and she found out I’m failing chemistry, and she flipped out! It’s not effing fair! Basketball Homecoming is, like, my favorite dance of the year… after prom and Sadie Hawkins and Football Homecoming.”

I tilted my chin down and looked at her teasingly. “Wow, how many favorites do you have?”

She didn’t answer. Or laugh.

“I’m sorry, Jessica. I know it must suck… but I’m not going either.” I didn’t mention that I considered the whole practice of school dances degrading or that they were just giant wastes of time and money. Jessica already knew my opinions on the matter, and I didn’t think reminding her would help the situation. But I was pretty happy I wouldn’t be the only girl skipping. “How about this: I’ll come over, and we’ll watch movies all night. Will your mom be cool with that?”

Jessica nodded and wiped her eyes with the cuff of her sleeve. “Yeah,” she said. “Mom likes you. She thinks you’re a good influence on me. So that’ll be okay. Thanks, Bianca. Can we watch Atonement again? Are you sick of it yet?”

Yes, I was getting very sick of the mushy romances Jessica swooned over, but I could get over it. I grinned at her. “I never get tired of James McAvoy. We can even watch Becoming Jane if you want. It’ll be a double feature.”

She laughed-finally-just as the teacher made her way to the front of the room and began obsessively straightening the pencils on her desk before calling roll. Jessica tossed a glance at the scrawny instructor. When she looked back at me, her dark brown eyes sparkled with a few fresh tears. “You know what the worst part is, Bianca?” she whispered. “I was gonna ask Harrison to go with me. Now I’ll have to wait until prom to ask him to a dance.”

Because of her sensitive state, I decided not to remind her that Harrison wouldn’t be interested because she had boobs-big ones. Instead I just said, “I know. I’m sorry, Jessica.”

Once that little crisis was behind us, Spanish went by smoothly. Jessica’s tears cleared up, and by the time the bell rang, she was laughing giddily while Angela, a friend of ours, told us about her new boyfriend. I found out that I’d made an A on my last prueba de vocabulario. Plus, I totally understood how to conjugate regular present subjunctive verbs. So I was in a pretty damn good mood when Jessica, Angela, and I walked out of the classroom.

“And he has a job on campus,” Angela rambled as we pushed our way into the crowded hall.

“Where does he go to school?” I asked.

“Oak Hill Community College.” She sounded a little embarrassed, and she quickly added, “But he’s just getting his associate’s degree there before he goes to a university. And OHCC isn’t a bad school or anything.”

“That’s where I’m going,” Jessica said. “I don’t want to go too far from home.”

Jessica and I were such polar opposites, it was sort of funny sometimes. You could always predict what one of us was going to want to do just by picking the reverse of the other. Personally, I wanted to get the hell out of Hamilton as soon as possible. Graduation couldn’t arrive soon enough, and then I’d be off to New York for college.

But the idea of being so far away from Jessica-not seeing her bounce by me every day or hearing her jabber about dances and gay boys-suddenly scared me. I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d handle it. She and Casey kind of balanced me out. I wasn’t sure anyone else would be willing to put up with my cynicism once I left town.

“We should get to chemistry, Jess,” Angela said as she shook her long black bangs from her eyes. “You know how Mr. Rollins gets when we show up late.”

They scampered off to the science department, and I started down the hallway heading toward AP government. My mind drifted to other places, to a future without my best friends to keep me sane. I’d never considered that before, and now that I was thinking about it, it made me really nervous. I knew they’d tease me for it, but I would have to find a way to keep in constant touch.

I guess my eyes lost contact with my brain, because the next thing I knew, I ran smack into Wesley Rush.

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