The titular characters have been best friends since Althea's dad or Oliver's mom (I forget which, but I think the latter) asked the other to watch their kid for whatever reason when the youngsters were ten or so. They've been friends, but as one might imagine that a heterosexual friendship between a 17-year-old boy and girl, one or both might want to be more than friends. In this case the wanter is Althea. She's an angry loner whose whole world in Oliver. Then Oliver falls asleep for a month, leaving Althea alone with his friends. At first she's hesitant to go out without him,
Althea frantically calculates the ramifications of Valerie's invite. Whereis this band practice? How long with this band practice last? To how many hours is she committing if she says yes? What is she supposedto do when she gets there, just sit and watch the band? If so, that might be okay, she could do that, but if not? Then what? Wto, three, maybe four hours of beer and conversation--would it be so bad? Absolutely. It sounds profoundly awkward. She wants to go home, return to her sketchbook and her vigil.
Relatable. Except I always went to my friends' dumb band practice, and that's what Althea did, too. Mostly so she could tell Oliver she'd done it, but whatever the motivation, Althea began to spend time with people other than Oliver, Oliver's mom Nicky, and Althea's dad, Garth.
Nicky is an Alphabet City expat, who moved with her now-dead husband to Wilmington, North Carolina with Oliver when Oliver was young. She still thinks of NYC, though. She's not much of a cook and misses urban takeout. She observes,
"People talk about how expensive New York is," she says as they carry their plates to the front porch. "But you can still get two slices and a root beer for five bucks. It's about all you can get for five bucks, but, you know."
And twenty years laters, that's still true. Many street pizza places have two slices & a soda for $5 deals, and there are lots of $1 slices shops. Though in the 1990s, most plain slices were a dollar.
There's sex that happens that you could argue is rape and that further stresses A & O's friendship. It's never fully unpacked, but it is more or less forgiven. A & O do eventually unpack the dynamics of their lopsided friendship, with Althea asking Oliver,
"Would you rather be the crazy person, or would you rather be the crazy person's best friend? Would you rather be driving the fucked-up bus, or would you rather be the fucked-up passenger?"
It's interesting becuase it's Oliver with the disease, but Althea that is the mess in most people's minds. And she's the one who drives, with Oliver sitting inthe passenger seat, except when Althea totally loses it on someone, and Oliver has to take the wheel.
Last quotation--I love the way Moracho thanks zine girl turned YA author Sarah McCarry,
Love, thanks, and heartlights to Sarah McCarry, beloved jarmate and boon companion--it doesn't matter that I wrote it before I met you; I wrote it for you anyway.
♥ ♥ ♥