Chapter 1 Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 513

On New Year’s Eve, 1987, teenaged friends Teddy and Jude smoke pot beneath the stadium grandstand of a small college in Lintonburg, Vermont. Teddy and Jude have been best friends since seventh grade, when Teddy moved to Lintonburg with his mother Queen Bea and his half-brother Johnny. Both Teddy and Jude have been abandoned by their fathers; Teddy never knew his, and Jude’s adopted father, Les, left for New York City when he was nine. 

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The grandstand fills up with fans, not something the boys expected. Jude takes an umbrella from beneath the seat of one unsuspecting fan, and tries to use the umbrella’s hook to filch wallets and purses. But the owner of the umbrella, a girl around the boys’ age, peers down and sees what they are up to. She comes down beneath the grandstand and demands her umbrella back, and the boys comply.

Earlier that day the boys discovered that Queen Bea, Teddy’s alcoholic mother, has left town, taking her all her money, liquor, and personal possessions, as well as a new bong given to Jude as a birthday present by his hippy mother Harriet.

After leaving the football game Teddy and Jude go to the mall in town. Jude wants to acquire some money and party supplies for the evening. The daughter of Jude’s father’s girlfriend is coming into town and Jude has promised to meet up with her and show her a good time. Outside the mall’s entrance, Jude’s mom has set a booth where she sells handblown glass art. Jude asks Harriet for money, but Harriet doesn’t have any money to give as business has not been good that day. They enter the mall and find Jude’s younger sister by only nine months, Prudence, at a bookstore. They ask Prudence for money too but she refuses to give them anything. Then they proceed to the Record Room, a music store in the mall where two of their friends, Kram and Delph, are employees. Kram and Delph are older, former friends of Teddy’s brother Johnny.

Teddy talks to Kram and Delph about Johnny, specifically about how he has claimed to go straight edge and how he is playing in a band in New York and running an illegal tattoo parlor out of his basement apartment. Teddy and Jude plan to move to New York, where Jude’s father and Teddy’s half-brother Johnny live, as soon as they are both sixteen (today is Jude’s birthday and Teddy will be sixteen in a few months.) Jude asks Kram and Delph for money for party supplies, and Teddy asks for enough money to buy a bus ticket to New York, but the two older boys are equally broke. Delph does promise to give Jude a free dime bag of marijuana, however, later in the evening.

After leaving the mall the boys go back to Jude’s house, a converted schoolhouse which Les planned to renovate but never completed. Teddy and Jude sit in the unfinished basement and huff turpentine. 

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