Sample text for Girls for breakfast / David Yoo.

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10:00 AM

I'm standing on top of the water tower behind my house, thinking about my death and the inevitable bronze statue the graduating class will erect in my memory. Today is supposedly the most important day of my life so far because I'll be graduating from high school this afternoon--and yet here I am, the only senior skipping commencement rehearsal right now. The rest of my class has fanned out in waves into the woods beyond the football field in a frantic search for me. Some are joking at first, grateful to have a break from sitting on metal folding chairs in the hot sun, but before long it's obvious this is serious: Nick Park is missing.
The rumor mill has started churning, based on lies, but nobody knows the truth, so they have to rely on a nameless student hollering that he witnessed me entering the woods to take a leak. An hour passes before I'm finally discovered; word spreads quickly that I was attacked in midpiss by a bear in heat or something. Is there still time to dedicate the graduation ceremony to me, or have the programs already been printed?

Renfield High School
Commencement, June 18, 19
Dedicated in loving memory of Nick Park
(July 6, 19__-June 18, 19__)
Senior Nick Park, who for four years was the number one tennis player at Renfield High, was mauled to death by a Kodiak Long Cut bear, just hours prior to this ceremony. The cause of death is precisely how we should always remember Nick: courageously fighting a semistarved and therefore far more aggressive than usual man-eater. Preliminary autopsy reports of the bear's intestines suggest--since all the bones in both hands and feet were broken prior to being playfully gnawed at and eaten--that Nick refused to turn himself into a ball and instead went down swinging and kicking. Tragic as this morning's events have been, it is fitting that Nick, in death, has once again personified all that is great about this year's graduating class. The Class of__refused to bow to the frustration of having to use temporary lockers for one semester, and took the initiative and handled the reconstruction of the cafeteria during the spring with aplomb by creating the Brown Bag picnic series, which will continue at Renfield High in the future; Nick similarly refused to cave in to unfortunate circumstances and fought for what is just, in this case the right to urinate in peace and with dignity.

The statue will be unveiled this fall in a private ceremony at the edge of the woods behind the football field. All the football players will tap or head-butt it for luck before running out onto the field at the start of home games. I'll become a local folk hero for simply peeing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Toxicology reports released to the public will detail the abnormal amount of adrenaline in my system; I did everything I could to fend off the bear, even as I slipped in and out of consciousness following the first in a series of strangely alligatorish, furry death rolls.
I'm having trouble picturing the statue. It depicts the final struggle, teenager versus bear, but it's hard to picture my face--specifically, my eyes. I have to admit I'm picturing myself wearing sunglasses, further proof that I am a banana: white on the inside, yellow on the outside, because surely only a banana or a blind guy would picture a bronzed likeness of himself wearing fucking sunglasses.
Though after last night I'd be lucky to be memorialized in balsa.

I'll admit there's something majorly wrong with me if a bronze statue depicting my graphic mauling feels like an acceptable alternative to entering the real world this fall. Tilsen College--a small liberal arts school in upstate New York--is the ultimate microcosm of today's society, where I'll get my first taste of something besides sheltered New England life based on the fact that the student body is composed of prep school and public school kids from thirty-six states; where I'll be surrounded by at least 9 percent blacks, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders (i.e., Samoans and me); where I'll share community bathrooms with flaming gays who aren't necessarily members of the drama club and tall girls, truckloads of really tall girls that I'll think are beautiful, because college is when I'll finally start appreciating them. My surroundings will be different, and hopefully so will I.
So then why am I all alone on a water tower during the rehearsal for what should be the greatest celebration of the most significant day of my life up till now? That much I do have an answer to: it's because I can't stop thinking about what happened last night.
The majority of my shortcomings can legitimately be blamed on the town I live in and my clueless parents. I'm just your average guy. I like girls, therefore I like parties because that's where girls are, therefore I am forced to give two shits about popularity. That doesn't make me shallow--it makes me normal. And how can a normal guy find himself completely alone on the last real day of high school?
This, my friends, is the question.
It wasn't until my first year here that I noticed that being Asian meant being different, and it coincided with the start of a lifelong proclivity toward lying. This was also around the time when I first noticed girls, which I guess means it was when things started to fall apart.

From the Hardcover edition.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Korean Americans -- Juvenile fiction.
Asian American high school students.
Korean Americans -- Fiction.
Popularity -- Fiction.
Schools -- Fiction.
Identity -- Fiction.
Racism -- Fiction.