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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Valentine Tale to Warm Your Heart <3

This is me circa 1998 before 8th grade formal. We're at o'Charleys. And, yes, I did have my sideburns curled into tight, spiraly ringlets (who didn't) and I did dance with a boy for the first time at that dance. And it was very, very awkward.

After my ridiculously healthy lunch of raisin bran, chex mix, and a bowl of fresh blueberries, I am now contentedly blogging and watching The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants II. Naturally, I have already read all four books. But that is no surprise to you, since you already know about my adoration of YA lit.
Speaking of YA lit, I recently came across Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume. It's a compilation of essays by some amazing women writers describing how the Era of Blume affected them growing up. Now, I certainly didn't rely on Judy for everything (I had a pretty involved mom who kept me in the know), but I loved and still love the controversial Judy Blume. While Summer Sisters is my standard re-readable beach text, I could totally relate to the awkwardness of many of the middle-school-aged-characters, and have had many a cringe-worthy moment paging through my own journal entries from that pubescent period in my own life.

Awkward is describing that time in my life mildly. Just thinking about being 12 and 13 again sends my gag reflexes retching. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I was a total nerd, content reading The Babysitter's Club long after my own age passed that of it's All-American characters. My friends and I would sit, phone in hand, anticipating our first call, after having passed out our own BBC fliers throughout the neighborhood.

Furthermore, I was happy in my naivety that Santa Class actually existed when I was 13, and believed that if I prayed hard enough I might never have to endure my first period or have to ask my mom to buy me a bra. Double cringe. I remember my mom giving me a copy of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret and my cheeks flushing when I read its content. I immediately decided I would NOT read it. My prayer was more like, Are you there God? DON'T EVER LET ME GROW UP! I wanted to stay a little kid forever and I NEVER wanted boys to so much as notice me.

Socially, I was a middle school Quasimodo. I transferred my 7th grade year to a school whose hierarchy of those-who-are-popular and those-who-are-not had been established way before I made my way onto the scene. Moreover, the division of popular girls wore Tommy Girl perfume and sported the latest Nike Air Maxx on their feet, and I wore K-Mart knock-offs and tapered jeans that barely reached my ankles. (Praise be to God the year long, bootcut jeans were invented.) I distinctly remember sitting in class and a boy asking me if I was waiting for a flood. The nerve.

And then there was the Year of the Candygram, which will forever be a pivotal point in my adolescence. You see, every year around Valentine's Day, the student council (which I, of course, was on) would sell Candy Grams for $1. Candy = oversized lip lollipops Gram = personalized message that included a lot of LYLASs, BFFs, and TTYLs. I bought like $20 worth of them - which was actually a lot of my babysitting money that I earned from my rather successful club that included mainly me. My theory was this: if I send Candy Grams to all of the popular kids, I will then earn their friendship and become popular myself. Because, when you're a second class citizen at 14, this is all you desire.

To make a long story short, utter devastation followed when I received a fraction of the Candy Grams that I sent out, mostly from my nerdy comrades. To top things off, the same day we received these special treats was the same day as the Sports Banquet. (I played volleyball. My towering height had to be good for something.). While I sat at a table with my parents and the parents of a fellow player, everyone else sat at a table with their friends. I was the only kid at a table full of adults, further exemplifying just how big of an outcast I was. Or at least that's how it appeared to me when I was 14. And the whole massacre of a day doesn't end there.

I won the award for Most Improved Player. My coach prefaced my introduction by telling the entire audience that I would get so nervous before each game that I would have to go the bathroom multiple times before I would hit the court. Ahhhhhhh! Can you even believe that?! Blood is rushing to my face as I type.

It was from that night on that my sole goal in life was leaving my nerdiness behind to pursue a career worthy of popularity...

I would become a cheerleader.

As pathetic as it sounds, I devoted the rest of 8th grade, and much of 9th grade to trying out, and eventually making, the cheerleading squad at my high school. I left a promising volleyball career with potential scholarships, for a backhandspring I would never perform without a spot and the attention I so desperately craved from the popular girls. This would go on to be a slumber party topic I would broach frequently when I made it into their ranks (along with, WHY DIDN'T YOU SEND ME A CANDYGRAM IN 8th GRADE?!) And, after I conquered my own insecurities along with realizing the shallow lives that many "popular" people lead, I made a sincere effort to be friends with everyone from that point forward - popular or not.

Now you know the rest of the story.

And thank you for listening to the cathartic rehashing of my unabashedy awful middle school years.


Nat said...

oh my gosh we had very similar middle school years... and summer sisters is my favorite book!

Anonymous said...

Personally, my favorite middle school note acronym was LYLARS (love you like a REAL sister). When you used that one you knew it was for real! haha. I also enjoyed Clinique Happy and Cool Water in middle school. Oh and as for candy grams, I was a total loser as well.

Also, your side ringlets are MUCH sexier than my middle school "Screech" hairdo. I mean people thought I was a boy.

Loved the post and love you!


michelle said...

This sounds sooo familiar! I hated middle school. I was also a nerd and then gave up basketball for cheerleading. I really wish that I would have stuck with sports. I was actually pretty athletic (believe it or not!). =)

Amy said...

wow...we were living twin lives and never knew it...

PS a shout out to the awkward hall of fame at 578 would have been appropriate here!

Jessica said...

I love your blog, and I tried wearing Tommy Girl until my dad said I smelled like I belonged on the street corner (thanks Dad). i quit a promising dance career and also went the cheerleader route... funny how traumatizing those years were, huh?

Sallie said...

Abby! I was so excited to find you on here also! Your blog is amazing and HILARIOUS! Seriously, I sat down this weekend and read most of it. Your son= ADORABLE! Keep up the blogging, you have yourself another fan.
Sallie (Moles) Kenney

Anonymous said...

I too suffered throughout my middle/high school years wearing Tommy Girl, Clinique Happy and my current-forever purfume White Musk (which you buy at Wal-Mart). I was in the marching band and actually had a tambourine solo one year....are you impressed?

Anonymous said...

You were such a hottie..

Unknown said...

you have a real talent. I love reading your blog although I am FAR removed from the baby years. I feel like I know "sweet precious" and can't wait to meet him this summer. You will be published some day.
Aunt Lynn
PS I never thought you were a nerd, still can't believe it.

Mama Suz said...

Ohhh I can just SMELL the Tommy Girl perfume and Tommy Hilfiger cologne that plagued the halls of my middle school back in "the day." You are hilarious. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe when I was 12 and 13. I was humiliated by a boy in my class who constantly asked me if the floods were coming. So, I decided on my next run to Value City, I would buy a pair of MEN'S Nautica jeans in a 34" pant length. They fit horribly but I thought I was halfway cool sporting the name brand. Doesn't it scare you that our little ones will have to go through this stage of life? Love and miss you!