Dress Down Sunday: Election by Tom Perrotta

published 1998 chapter 2


“What do you think?”

Her hair was down and the glasses were gone. I knew from swimming that she had a cute figure, but the red silk heightened everything. Her skin seemed to glow.

“Wow,” I said.

“I know.” She bit her lip and looked bashful. “I stole it.”

She turned around. The slip was so short it didn’t really cover her butt. I couldn’t believe I was looking at Tammy.

“Go in my room,” she told me. “There’s something for you on the bed.”

The thing I found there looked like a transparent bathing suit, filmy black and weightless. Slipping into it was like climbing into someone else’s skin.

“Turn around,” she said from the doorway.

No one had ever looked at me like that.

“You’re so pretty,” she said.

My body felt hot, like there was this tiny sun burning in my chest, giving off light and energy.

observations: There are multiple narrators in the book, and this is Lisa Flanagan being bicurious. Tammy is one of the candidates for high school president, as is her brother Paul. Lisa will go it a bit with Tammy, then decide that’s wrong for her: fine, but then she will do the unforgiveable and get off with Paul instead.

Tammy is a lovely character, tough and convincing. You can see she would drive you up the wall as a daughter or friend, but she’s still very sweet. She appeals to the students who are not popular (like Paul) or over-achieving (like Tracy). For such a chirpy, enjoyable book, a lot of the characters end badly, and poor Tammy is not going to break the pattern.

The 1999 film of the book is excellent, and was deservedly successful – Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick was particularly noteworthy.

Links up with: the book has featured before. Bridget Jones’s minibreak wardrobe contained a similar black item, and there’s more black silk in other Dress Down Sunday entries – click on the label below.

The pictures is by Carlos Sayadyan, who made the image available on Wikimedia Commons.