Grrrls On The Side By Carrie Pack
The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up.
At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a place to belong. But just as Tabitha is settling in with her new friends and beginning to think she understands herself, eighteen-year-old Jackie Hardwick walks into a meeting and changes her world forever. The out-and-proud Jackie is unlike anyone Tabitha has ever known. As her feelings for Jackie grow, Tabitha begins to learn more about herself and the racial injustices of the punk scene, but to be with Jackie, she must also come to grips with her own privilege and stand up for what’s right.
About the Author
Never one for following the “rules,” Carrie Pack is a published author of books in multiple genres, including Designs on You, In the Present Tense and the forthcoming Grrrls on the Side (2017). Her novels focus on characters finding themselves in their own time—something she experienced for herself when she came out as bisexual recently. She’s passionate about positive representation in her writing and has been a feminist before she knew what the word meant, thanks to a progressive and civic-minded grandmother. Coincidentally that’s also where she got her love of red lipstick and desserts. Carrie lives in Florida, or as she likes to call it, “America’s Wang.”
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Cherie does her usual spiel calling the girls down to the front, and the crush of bodies closes in on us. It’s hot and sweaty, but I don’t care. Jackie squeezes my hand, and we share a smile just as Shut Up rips into their first song.
My friends are cool. They’re in a band and they are legitimately, undeniably cool. And not in an abstract, I-like-this-music kind of way. But in an own-the-stage, make-you-want-to-start-your-own-band kind of way.
Dancing comes easier this time. I raise my hands over my head and thrash with the crowd, not caring what I look like or who’s watching. This is my territory… and theirs. In this moment, girls own this place and that’s powerful. For the first time in my life, I’m part of something bigger than myself. It may not solve world hunger, but it matters. Just like Kate’s obsessive need to protest, and Marty’s passion for Riot Grrrl, and Cherie’s unapologetic femininity, everything has its place. Even “Flabby Tabby” dancing at a concert is part of it.
I look around to take it all in. Jackie and I are once again front and center, but this time we are surrounded by dozens of girls who came to see Shut Up play. I recognize a few of them, but most are just here because they heard about a punk girl band and want to be a part of the moment. I can’t believe it. I’m part of something, and it’s not dorky or cheesy. It’s real. I’m real.
What is your name? Do you have a nickname?
My name is Tabitha Marie Denton and I’m definitely NOT a fan of nicknames. Just call me Tabitha.
Who are your friends and family? Who do you surround yourself with? Who are the people you’re closest to? Who do you wish you were closest to?
My mom is an amazing woman. She sells real estate and is super focused on her career. She raised me all by herself after my dad split. I also have some pretty great friends. We are in a group called Riot Grrrl and we get together to talk about stuff that matters to girls. My friends Marty, Cherie, Kate and Venus are in a band called Shut Up. Jackie and I help out with their zine sometimes. I’m probably closest to Kate, but I wish I could get to know Jackie better.
Where were you character born? Where have you lived since then?
Born and raised in Decker, Illinois. It’s a suburb of Chicago and the armpit of the Midwest — dull as dirt. I can’t wait to graduate high school so I can get out of here.
Have you been in love? Had a broken heart?
I don’t really want to talk about that. It’s a sore subject.
What is on your bedroom floor right now?
Dirty clothes. Lots of them. And probably my dog, Sparky. We’ve had him as long as I can remember and he slobbers on everything. So there’s probably drool on my floor too.
Look at your feet. Describe what you see there.
I’m wearing these awesome black boots I got at a thrift store. They’re steel-toed and perfectly broken in so I wear them pretty much every day. They’re kind of scuffed, but I think that gives them character. There’s this one scratch on the left toe that I got in the 7-Eleven parking lot when I kicked the curb. I like the idea of leaving my mark on someone else’s property.
It’s Saturday at noon. What are you doing?
Probably hanging with my friends while they rehearse. It’s been so long since I had best friends, so I probably overdo it a bit. Thankfully my mom works a lot of weekends, so she doesn’t notice that I’m hardly home. Usually we’re at the rec center in Decker while the band rehearses. The girls are probably arguing about their set list while Jackie and I crack jokes about it.