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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 6, 2006

From the heart to 'Chicken Soup'

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Matthew Chee

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"Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: The Real Deal Friends" by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Deborah Reber

Published by Health Communications Inc.



On the web


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It all began one normal day,

When everything was fine.

The new girl sat down next to me,

Her heart beat close to mine.

We often said "hello" and "hi,"

Talked about things so dumb.

I never would have guessed then that

Such good friends we'd become.

Together we talked and laughed,

We knew what the other liked and desired.

She was funny, pretty and smart,

And that was everything I admired.

"Best friends 'til the end" we promised,

And soon the months passed.

You grew on me, I grew on you?

Time flew by so fast.

I took the plunge, I held my breath,

I meant those fateful words.

You said, "Can't we just be friends?"

But "no" is what I heard.

My heart was crushed and torn in half,

It was the moment that I'd dreaded.

You left me with no other choice,

So just friends we'll stay instead.

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Little did 16-year-old Matthew Chee realize that his heartache would be felt by hundreds of teenagers worldwide.

A poem he wrote about having a crush on a friend who, unfortunately, only wanted to remain just that was selected for the latest teen-targeted "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: The Real Deal Friends" (HCI, $12.95).

Chee's "Just Friends" is the only contribution from a Hawai'i writer in the latest installment, a collection of stories and poems that give the "real deal" on the ups and downs of friendships geared toward teens.

The recently released book explores all facets of friendship: making them, keeping them, fighting with them, helping them, competing with them.

It's not a lecture, just straight-talk from teens for teens.

And Chee's poem is about crushes and rejection topics teens can relate to.

"It happens to everybody," said Chee, a junior at Maryknoll School. "It's not something that only happens rarely."

He writes about a guy who develops more-than-just-friend feelings for a girl he knows. But when he professes his affection, she delivers the much-dreaded blow: "Can't we just be friends?"

It really did happen to Chee, who said he based the poem on his experience only. (His friend has no idea it's about her.) Soon after, he sat down and wrote the poem. That was in 2004.

Early last year, Chee searched for a publication to submit it to. He stumbled across the Web site for the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series. On a whim, he sent it in.

That summer he got a letter from the publishing company saying his poem was selected for the book. He couldn't believe it.

"I really wasn't expecting it," said Chee, who lives in Waipahu. "I just forgot about it."

Despite his publishing success, Chee isn't interested in pursuing a career in forlorn poetry. He's looking at engineering or economics instead.

But he's not ruling out writing for publication again.

"Not anytime in the near future," said Chee. "But I wouldn't rule it out."

Reach Catherine E. Toth at ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.