Wednesday, August 29, 2012


If you see your name in this post, don't worry. It's not you. It's another (fill in the blank.)  ;)

A few years back, a group of young girls walked around the neighborhood with a yellow tablet, surveying and scoring the local children as they tallied who was “popliar” and who was not. My six year old daughter came home sobbing, as they had declared she was “not”. And I knew exactly how she felt, because my entire young life had been spent in pleading with the heavens that I could belong to that ephemeral group.

I recall sitting cross legged in the bed of the little pick-up truck, a couple of feet away from Cindy and Shannon. We were heading to a spook alley, then a video party in somebody’s basement.

They were popular. 

I was trying to be. 

It wasn’t going so well.

Junior high turned out to be a far cry from my elementary school glory days. In sixth grade, my boyfriend gave me his lunchtime orange every day, I never warmed the bench in P.E. Dodge Ball and pretty much I had set the school standard for artwork, on account of my mad coloring skills. 

I won Reflections contests, perfected the ideal tilt for penmanship and had cheated my way into straight A’s—not proud of that one, but it is what it is, people, and now it’s too late to prosecute. Anyway, I think it’s safe to say I was kind of a big deal, thus, so were my expectations for the future. 

Unfortunately, as I pushed open the front doors of North Davis Jr. High, some sort of black magic wind whipped me in the face and all at once, I tripped on an imaginary rock, my nose started to bleed and awkward conversation spilled like chunks of rancid milk from my mouth. When the clock struck 8:00 am, I was left with one glass slipper and the realization that I was now subject to the Girls from South Weber—and my, but they were a cruel master. 

Leap over 600+ days of social misery and pain, and there we are, 9th grade, sitting in the back of the truck. Shannon eyeballs me, leans into Cindy and whispers, “Why is Lisa here? I can’t stand her!” Cindy answers back, “I felt sorry for her.”

And I’m looking right at them.

Shannon realizes her voice has carried that very, very substantial two feet, and says to me, “Not you. Another Lisa.”

Oh, well, okay then. As long as it’s another Lisa. Man, I’d hate to be her. So glad I’m the other one.

You’ll be surprised to find out the evening was less than pleasant. Agonizing, really, as it was made crystal clear that I was unwelcome...even though I was the other Lisa. Seems I wouldn’t sanctify their cruddy decisions, which earned me the title: Goody Two Shoes. I called my mom from their home, under the guise of checking to see how long I could stay. We had a special code—it went something like this:

“Hi, Mom. Can I stay longer?”
“Do you want to come home?”
“Yes, I really do. Please?”
“Okay. You have to come home right now.” 
“MOM! Gosh! That’s not fair! Why can’t I stay longer?”
“We’re eating a big pile of candy and watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Love you.”

Then I hung up the phone, put on a petulant expression, and told them how mad I was that I had to go home, all the while beyond grateful that my mother didn’t need to be popular, too. 

Now, if this were a Disney episode, by the end of the hour, the mean girls would have had pig guts or something spilled on their heads, and I would have waltzed away in the arms of the cutest boy on campus, because he could see past my awkward facade and know that someday, I would be a world famous humor columnist for The Islander. But you and I both know that punishment and reward are seldom meted out in a timely matter. 

I’d like to say I now wish them all well, but I don’t really. I am yet to be perfected in this life, my friends. And that is why there is a lopsided grin plastered on my face whenever I see their pictures on Facebook with faux wood panelling and black velvet Elvis paintings in the background. Bless their big haired hearts.

Which leads us to the here and now, as we find ourselves, once again, about to embark on the Back to School journey. Whether you loathe it or love it, there are universal truths to bear in mind; seeds planted will eventually bear fruit, whether good or evil; parents, your days of popularity are long past—this is the time for you to be the bad guy; and lastly, if living well is the best revenge, having a column to name names is a close second. 

Worried? should be. (wink)


wendy said...

Hi...came over here to visit you from MiMi Sue's Cottage (blog)

Great post...Oh my how I remember THOSE days. Agonizing. I was never "part of the cool crowd" either. I am so glad that at this stage of my life, I am HAPPY with who I am, and if you don't like it ,I'll throw rabbit poop at you,

(ha ha, which had me laughing as that was your drug of choice)

Anyway, I raised 5 kids through all those school years, and the fitting in drama. Now I have 10 grandchildren who I'll have to see endure it also.

p.s.....I LOVE that you are a Loud Spirit trying to subdue yourself. Best description ever. Don't subdue it...Live Loud and Strong.

Mimi Sue said...

You're gonna love Wendy. She's our kind of girl! And I don't feel sorry for her. My husband used to say that he wished we could take our kids out in the backyard and bury them when they were about in the 5th grade and then dig them up when they were juniors in high school. Personally I would have let them ferment a little bit longer but whatever. Jr. High is the worst on so many levels. Seems like you turned out just fine. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a pile of candy? Sounds like the perfect evening. Mimi

Salt H2O said...

Unpopular kids make the most awesome adults. Popular kids turn out to be boring, unless they were popular because they were really nice to everyone and ridiculously good looking- or hilarious. And unless they're unpopular because they were into star trek and didn't bathe frequently- then there's a 25/75 shot at being an awesome adult- but I digress, talk to anyone you think is spectacular and they'll most likely tell you they were a total social outcast at one point in their youth.

Krista said...

So glad I wasn't popular! I don't have to keep up ANY appearances. Oh, the pressure to be perfect and discount other people....whew! I bet Shannon and Cindy are sad their best days have past. ;)