Note: This excerpt from Chapter 1 of the novel contains mild profanity and a couple of graphic references to the anatomy.
Evie Gomez woke up on Saturday morning with two things on her mind. The first was that her best friend, Raquel Diaz, was definitely no longer just that, a best friend. Raquel had proven herself to be, as of 10:32 A.M. that late September morning, a 100 percent pinche beyachee. And why? Because after two weeks of no phone, no friends, basically no life, Evie wasn't under her mother's house arrest anymore for coming home a piddly-ass twenty (okay, maybe it was forty) minutes past her curfew. Her ankle bracelet had been officially clipped off, but did her girl Raquel bother to call so they could celebrate Evie's first night of freedom? No. Raquel hadn't even had the decency to return any of Evie's phone calls, text messages, or the desperate IMs Evie had sent to SexyMexy08. Raquel was no Sexy Mexy, Evie decided, but she was definitely a bitch.
The second thing Evie realized was how light her head felt.
She ran her hand from the back of her neck and, yup, her long, dark brown hair was much shorter. She pushed up from her pillows and got a look at herself in her closet mirrors — her hair was now short, chopped in haphazard fashion with streaks of uneven blue. Cancun Blue No. 32 to be exact. But it should have been called Abuelita Azulita because it had come out the same exact blue tint you see on, well, abuelitas.
What had she done? She yanked down at the sides but they barely reached her shoulders. Who the hell cuts their own hair? Is this what happened to prisoners in solitary confinement?
After being isolated from their peers for too long, did they eventually go mad and commit self-inflicted acts of hair assault with Ginghar craft scissors, too? Evie looked hideous and she had no one to blame but... yes, Raquel. It was her fault that Evie had gotten grounded in the first place. Raquel had insisted they go to Tracy Tankerson's party two weeks ago.
It was the first party on the first Friday of the new school year and Raquel promised she'd have Evie home by her curfew.
But, as Evie should have known, by the time it was time to leave, Raquel was just getting her drink on. There was no way she was gonna get Evie home by her curfew, and she didn't.
Evie glowered at the sight of her reflection. Why, why hadn't Raquel just called her back last night? As a best friend, she owed it to her. When nine o'clock rolled around, it had become painfully obvious to Evie that she was going to spend another long night at home alone. And after clicking from one reality makeover show to the next, she realized it was she, not another midwestern housewife, who needed a change. She wanted something that demanded attention, respect. She wanted... hair the color of the Cancun ocean! And that's how The Reinvention of Evie Gomez, Mex-treme Makeover, Friday Night Home Edition came to be.
But as of now, Saturday morning, it was sadly evident that she had truly lost her senses the night before. Her rookie dye job screamed beauty-school flunk-out. The bleach she'd used to strip her brown wasn't dispersed as evenly as it should have been and now her head looked like a patchwork of beige, white, and blue, the national colors of... whatever country’s flag was beige, white, and blue. She looked like crap.
"What do you think, Meho?" she toed her male tabby, nestled at the foot of her bed. "Punk rock or goth-metal dork?"
But Meho couldn't care less about her state of blue disrepair.
He lifted up his hind leg and started to lick behind it.
"Cla-see," Evie smirked as she gave him a slight tap with the rest of her foot.
She heard Lindsay, the Gomez's housekeeper, turn up the volume of El Mercadito on the kitchen radio downstairs. Other than that, the house was quiet. She was sure her father, Ruben Gomez, had left hours ago for one of his several panaderías and her mother, Vicki, was probably in the pool doing her obligatory fifty laps.
Evie pulled her Dean Miller sheets up to her chin and looked blankly up at the ceiling. From her sister, Sabrina, who took eighteen credits a semester while maintaining presidency of the most prestigious Latina sorority at Stanford University to big ol' dopey Molesto (given name: Ernesto) — the Gomez's black labrador, who demanded his pre-poop walk around the perimeter of the block every morning at 6 A.M.- the Gomezes were a very focused, ambitious family. They accentuated the Go in Gomez, all of them, that is except for Evie, who felt more of a personal connection to the lagging z as in Gomezzzzzzzz... She yawned, lifted her Roxy T, and scratched her belly. It was now 10:45 A.M. Yeah, she could sleep a little bit more and deal with las dilemas later.
Just then the buddy alert on her computer dinged, signaling to Evie that one of her online buddies was available to chat. Raquel?... Finally.
Evie pushed off her blankets and went over to her desk.
But it wasn't Raquel. It was Shaggy who had already instantmessaged her.
ShaggyMA (10:46 AM): Hey, U up?
RioChica (10:46 AM): Yup. U just wake up, too?
ShaggyMA (10:47 AM): No. Just got in from surfing. Did Dawn Patrol this morning. Crazy. Surfer magazine was there and took photos of us.
Evie felt jealous. Did everyone have a more exciting life than she did? During her períod of home internment, she had met Shaggy via a chat room for MASA. No, not masa, as in dough, but MASA as in the Mexican-American Surfing Association. Evie hadn't even known such a thing existed, but ever since she’d caught Blue Crush on cable with Raquel over the summer, she had become a mad active surfer. On the Internet, that is. Raquel wasn't so hot on independent study after seeing the film, so Evie researched all things surf on her own. How could she live in California and not surf? All those years as a kid at the beach and not once ride a wave? As a fourth-generation Cali girl she at least looked the part, from her sixty-dollar Hollister Ts to her Roxy hibiscus-print board shorts. Evie had even gone so far as to buy a surfboard, a white nine-foot, five-fin custom long board, especially shaped for her by the one and only Max of Santa Barbara. But truth was, Evie had yet to even get the pricey stick wet and, to be dreadfully direct, she could barely even manage a boogie board in waist-high whitewater. Que scandalous, no?
RioChica (10:50 AM): What do you think of the color blue?
ShaggyMA (10:50 AM): One of my sticks is blue.
RioChica (10:51 AM): Cool enough.
ShaggyMA (10:51 AM): Hey, gotta go.
RioChica (10:51 AM): Sure, TTYL!
Sigh. Evie was alone, and bored, again.
Suddenly the latest Moz (Given name: Steven Patrick
Morrisy) download, blared from her cell phone. Evie got up from her desk and grabbed the phone off her nightstand. She saw Raquel’s face on the screen, her long hair pulled over in front of her shoulders and her chin drawn down. Ugh. Evie reluctantly flipped open her phone.
"Heeey," drawled Raquel's gravelly voice. Apparently Raquel had gone out the night before. Without Evie. WTF?
"Oh, hey," Evie said trying to sound just as casual.
"So...," Raquel started. Evie could sense a smile on the other end. "You got your phone back."
"Uh, yeah," Evie said. "I actually got it back yesterday, as of five P.M."
"Oh, yeah." Raquel paused. "That's right."
"So what happened?" Evie asked. "You said we were gonna do something, go out. I left you like a gazillion messages."
"Yeah." Raquel let out a moose-sized yawn. "Sorry about that. I completely spaced. My parents went out and then Jose came over with a six-pack. We ended up kicking it, watching Fuel all night. Boring." The moose yawned again.
"Oh." Evie tried to sound calm, but she was burning up inside. "That's cool. Did Alex or Mondo go out?"
"Nah," Raquel said. "Nobody did nothing."
Evie relaxed. At least she hadn't missed anything, but that didn't really surprise her. The five Flojos — herself, Alex, Mondo, Raquel, and her boy Jose — shared one thing in common and that one thing was the absolute, all-consuming, unending desire to... do absolutely nothing. Was it the cliche teenage rebellion against their workaholic fathers? Too many spins (and lyric interpretations) of Cypress Hill on Mondo's Technics turntable? Wherever they were, be it poolside or oceanside, and whatever you called it, trifling or chilling, the Flojos did nada together. Never mind Generation Y. The Flojos were in a generation of their own-Generation YBother?
Coincidentally, flojo (correct Spanish pronunciation: flowho) means lazy in English, but it's also what you call flip-flops (correct South Cali pronunciation: flow-joe) and as everybody knows, flip-flops are a pretty lazy excuse for a shoe. But the Flojos were hard-core when it came to their flip-flops and wore them 24/7/365. From high-end Havaianas ($118) to lowend plastic bin specials from Savon (true flojos, Alex claimed), nothing came between Flojos and their flojos.
But it wasn't just attitude or a common footwear philosophy that had brought the Flojos together. Evie and Raquel had been friends since growing up in Rio Estates and last year when they were freshmen, Raquel hooked up with Jose. He was a tall, lanky sophomore with the Mars Volta 'fro and black titanium chin labret piercing that gave him a devious look that Raquel fell for hard. Once they started dating, his sidekicks Mondo (he who had a "delivery job") and Alex (he who actually did some surfing) came automatically included in the package. Of course, it was pure prestige points for Evie and Raquel to hang with upperclassmen. Besides, few students at Villanueva Preparatory High School were like them — rich kids whose family crests — that is, if they had crests — contained the letters x, y, or z (read: Latino).
Evie's family had a crest, sorta. If you counted the small, peach-tinted seashell logo for her father's successful business, Conchita's Bread. Years ago her father started Conchita's and thanks to his hard work (along with Evie's great-grandma Conchita's secret pan dulce recipes), the Gomezes had arrived where they are now: a big ol' Spanish-style house with a swimming pool in the back and her father's Escalade in the front. Not quite ransom-worthy rich, but the Gomezes, like a lot of the families in Rio Estates, were pretty well off.
"So," Evie continued. She took a deep breath. "I chopped off my hair."
"What?" Raquel said.
"My hair," Evie repeated. "It's gone."
"What do you mean?"
"I hacked it off. And..." Evie paused for dramatic flair. "I dyed it blue, sorta." Evie felt proud and a bit smug. She liked the idea that she'd done something so radical, on her own, and without consulting Raquel. It was so un-Evie of her.
"Yeah." Raquel yawned. "I dyed my hair blue one time."
"Really?" It was so Raquel of Raquel to try and outdo Evie. And Evie wasn't sure she was buying it. "When?"
"One time when I was up in the Bay Area, like two summers ago. It totally clashed with my complexion. Brownies can't be sporting blue. I changed it back the next day."
"You never told me that," Evie said, still suspicious.
"'Cause it was really no big deal."
Evie felt herself getting annoyed. "So," she said, changing the subject. "What's the plan for tonight?"
"Um." Raquel yawned again. "Jose heard about some party out near Bard. You in?"
"Definitely," Evie said. Actually, she hoped they would drive down to L.A., do something covert, crazy. Rio Estates was just sixty miles north of Los, but it was still suburbia and, of course, painfully uneventful. Even though she was a Flojo, Evie had always felt the slight tug of wanting something more, to do something outside of the 805.
But Raquel did say that the night's party was "out near Bard," so that could mean anything.
"As long as I'm home by twelve thirty," Evie reminded Raquel. "I mean, not even twelve thirty-two in the driveway.
My mom will freak if I'm late again."
"Yeah, and we don't wanna freak out ol' Vicki," Raquel said in a tone meant to show she was so over mothers and curfews.
"She must have crapped bricks when she saw your hair, huh?"
"Not really," Evie lied. "Like you said, it's really no big deal."
But Evie was starting to worry. What would her mother say about her hair? Vicki Gomez was known for possessing the legendary Gomez fury, unleashed when something didn't go her way.
Just then, someone knocked on Evie's bedroom door. She sank into her bed and quickly pulled the sheet over her head.
Well, at least she wouldn't have to wait any longer — she was about to find out how her mother felt about having a Smurf for a daughter.
Whew. It was only Lindsay. "Are you awake?" she asked from the hallway.
"Si, si, Lindsay," Evie called out, making sure to keep her head covered. "Come in." She told Raquel she had to hang up.
"Oh, hey...," Raquel started. "One last thing."
"Yeah?" Evie asked.
"Did you dye your pubes, too? 'Cause if you'd done your shrub, now, that woulda been real crazy ass."
"Good-bye, Raquel." Evie rolled her eyes and flipped her cell phone shut before tossing it onto the floor. Yup. No doubt about it. Raquel was definitely a bitch.