This morning, for whatever reason (i.e. my iPhone needed a charge) I was looking through my old school year books and lamenting on what a strange, strange child I was. I was so miserable too -- I just wanted to be like 'everyone else' and I failed desperately. The weird thing is, now as an adult, sometimes I look at myself and I'm like, "Ugh, why am I so typical?!" Learning to be happy with yourself is a tough, tough thing! Anyway, here are some of the highlights from my younger years:
A STRANGE, EARLY OBSESSION WITH THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES:
PBS used to have a fondness for showing the Woodstock documentary about once a year, and sometime in my late elementary years I watched it for the first time and I was totally, 100% hooked. I would go to bed crying about how cruel it was that I wasn't alive during Woodstock and I listed exclusively to music from the era. I made peace sign necklaces out of old margarine lids, had a backyard 'pottery class' that I forced neighborhood kids to attend called "Be Free" and I even had my mom make me a "Jenny Dress" after the one that Jenny wore in Forest Gump and I wore it pretty much ever other day. The highlight of this whole phase was an outright, groupie-like obsession with the band Three Dog Night. I drew frogs named Jeremiah on every single surface available and never missed an opportunity to remind people that "one is the loneliest number." This all culminated when I got my entire sixth grade class banned from the school's annual multicultural celebration because I convinced them that it would be funner to sing "Joy To the World" rather than practice our Chinese dragon dance. Of course if I'd known that all those glorious hippies were seriously hopped up on some major psychedelics, I probably would have ran screaming from anything patchouli scented.
Oh god, the life long drama that is supposed to be my 'crowning glory.' Let's start in the late 80's shall we? ALL of the cool girls had "spiral perms" which they would gel each day to optimum stiffness. Not to be outdone, I went to my mom requesting a trip to the salon the preferred 'do. My mom, the thrifty, crafty maven that she is, got together with her sister and they devised a way to do a spiral perm at home. This involved dowels and tubing from the local hardware store as well as a home perm kit. So when my entire family got together for Super Bowl Sunday at my grandpa's house, all the guys went downstairs to watch the game and all the girls stayed upstairs and dumped industrial grade chemicals on my baby fourth-grader locks. The immediate result was burns to my eyebrows and neck. To this day I have a scar below my left eyebrow which I like to think makes me look mysterious. My hair was left a frizzy, dry, damaged mess which eventually started falling out in giant clumps. It was seriously seriously bad. The only solution was to take me to an actual salon and get a deep condition and try to shape whatever was left of my hair into something that didn't leave me looking like a chemo patient. And by 'shape' I mean cut my hair into a mullet, complete with little girl sideburns. Yes, they actually had to SHAVE THE SIDES OF MY HEAD because there was no hair left. Thankfully, it was the end of the most fashionably backwards decade in history so people would just say 'interesting' when they saw me.
By high school all the hair that had fallen out grew back into a thick, wavy uncontrollable brown mop. I tackled this problem with a 1-2 punch of blonde hair dyes and banana bangs. I didn't know what the heck I was doing with the dye so I'd just randomly pick out a color at the drugstore every 3 months or so and go to town on my hair. The result was a multi-shaded stratum of hair that went from almost platinum to brownish red. I would blow dry my rainbow tresses to the extent of severe drought every day and then I would curl my bangs under with a giant curling iron. The problem is that sometimes I would get some of my normal hair in with the bangs and so rather than separating it out, I would just cut the stray strands to bang length and move on with my day -- resulting in the most jagged bang part in the history of bang parts.
In an effort to shatter every single image of a cheerleader in the history of cheerleaders ever, fate, for some reason bestowed upon me a mini-skirt and some pom-poms. And by "fate" I mean "my auntie was a judge at cheerleading tryouts." I'm sure the only reason I got on the team is because she felt bad about the fact that she'd destroyed my hair 5 years prior. On top of the fact that I was a messy-haired chunker of a wierdo kid, I also had the coordination of a newborn hippopotamus. I could barely jump, I never remembered my routines and I was always, always in the back row. One time all the other cheerleaders even got together and tried to vote me off the squad because they felt I made everyone look bad. When it came to stunting I was a 'base' meaning I literally let other girls stand on top of me, or more often a 'spotter' meaning that I stood behind the stunts in case a girl fell she would have somebody to land on. Nobody ever wants to be the spotter. And through all this I was totally oblivious to how terrible I was. I went around saying things like "CHEERLEADING IS LIFE" and "LIFE IS SHORT, CHEER HARD." I think my mom and I spent a lot of time hoping that the whole cheering thing would some how make me less socially awkward, but in actuality it just put it on display.
THE BUTT OF ALL THE JOKES:
I'll be honest, even as a kid I had a little extra padding in the booty era. Nowadays everyone wants a big butt, but back then I really didn't know what to do with all the junk in the trunk and it was always getting in the way of everything. My first major booty incident happened in 7th grade. I was in science class doing some project and for some reason I needed loads and loads of reflective tape. Have you ever used reflective tape? It's known for its ability to be REALLY REALLY reflective, it's also kind of brittle, so when you are using massive amounts, it has a tendency to flake off in chunks all over the place. This is not good news if you don't look where you are sitting and you manage sit on a whole bunch of it. Even worse when your mid school crush comes running at you from across the campus to let you know that you are blinding everyone with your backside bling.
The first time I had ever appeared in the local newspaper happened to be a picture of my cheerleading squad performing at the 4th of July parade. Inexplicably, my back is to the camera while everyone else is facing it, and in that same twist of fate, my skirt happens to be flipped all the way up, exposing my bloomered butt to the entire town. Another time in high school I was walking up a hill wearing what I thought to be a totally cute little outfit, only to be informed by a girl behind me that my backpack had hiked my skirt all the way up and everyone could see that I had a wedgie. Finally, the first college party I ever went to got broken up by the cops, since I was underage I ran outside with a whole bunch of other and jumped a chainlink fence, however due to my aforementioned lack of coordination, I didn't make it all the way over the fence and caught the butt of my jeans on the top -- ripping them all the way down the back. When the cops left and we went back into the party somebody duct taped my pants back together. The best part is that the gate to that darn fence was unlocked.
Of course this is just a tiny sampling of the major awkwardness that was my youth. Of course, looking back, I'm pretty sure that everyone else was just as awkward, so in that sense I guess I really was just like everyone else.