Reality Boy by A.S. King
They call him Crapper for a reason.
Interests/Topics: Reality television, anger management, family relations, friendship, survival, boxing, mental health
Curriculum Connections: Media Studies, Health and Physical Education
Blurb: I’m sure that there are a few people out there who don’t like birthdays, but almost everyone I’ve met LOVES them. Of course, I spend my days with young people who are excited about getting older. Take my niece Caitlin, for example. Her birthday is today and she has been talking about this day for months (literally). It’s not that we have a special trip or a big party planned or anything, it’s just the fact that today is her special day and she’ll get all the attention. That, and now that she’s eight years old she doesn’t have to sit in a carseat anymore.
Eight, 13, sweet 16, 18, 21…birthdays are exciting (although not so much once you’ve passed 30, or worse, 40). It’s a day just for you filled with well wishes, hugs, fist bumps, balloons, cake, and people who appreciate the fact that you were born. Pretty nice when you think about it.
Gerald Faust, in A.S.King’s book Reality Boy, isn’t too sure that anyone appreciates his existence which is why he asks his parents for a gas card for his birthday. Three hundred bucks worth of gas will get him as far away as possible from his sorry excuse for a life. It wouldn’t be all that bad if people would just stop calling him “Crapper” or if his sister wasn’t a psychopath, but seeing as neither of those facts has changed in more than 10 years, Gerald decides that it’s definitely better to get the hell out of dodge.
Gerald’s problem, though, is that he is recognized wherever he goes…people just don’t forget the face of a kid who crapped on his parents’ dining room table during the filming of a reality TV show.
How do you hide when your mother sold your soul for the sake of television fame?
Flavour: I’m the kid you saw on TV. Remember the little freak who took a crap on his parents’ oak-stained kitchen table when they confiscated his Game Boy? Remember how the camera cleverly hid his most private parts with the glittery fake daisy and sunflower centerpiece? That was me. Gerald. Youngest of three. Only boy. Out of control…. And no. It wasn’t excusable. I wasn’t a baby. I wasn’t even a toddler. I was five. I was sending a message.” (1)
“’If you had the chance to get out of the special education program, you wouldn’t take it?’ [the therapist] asked me during our monthly meeting last month.
‘No way. I love those guys.’ [I replied].
‘It’s not about them. It’s about you. You don’t need to be in the class, do you?’
‘I don’t know. Depends on what you mean by need,’ I said. ‘I need to not be on my guard all the time. I need to not have people call me names. I need a place where I don’t need war paint to survive. And that’s the SPED room. The war paint I wear just to get from my car to the SPED room. It’s for lunch. For the mainstream gym class I have to take. It’s just for being here and not somewhere else where no one knows who I am…like South America.’” (46)
“’So, you weren’t anything like the kid I saw on TV?’ she says awkwardly. ‘Like, you didn’t do those things or you did?’
I take a deep breath. ‘I did those things. But you guys never saw the real us. You only saw what they chose to show you to make it more entertaining. The nanny wasn’t even a real nanny. She was just some actress. Did you know that?’
‘Did you really punch her?’
That episode was widely publicized. ‘Yes,’ I say. ‘And I’d do it again, too.’” (178)
“[Our relationship] should be a reality TV show. Except nobody would watch because it’s no fun to watch normal people do normal things. Because happy stories aren’t all that interesting. Because everyone wants to eat the sh** sandwich, or watch other people eat it, along with exotic bugs and rotten eggs and diesel fuel and everything else producers can think of to keep viewers’ thumbs away from the channel button on the remote control.” (213)