Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Junior high

Amazing how those two words can make the average adult cringe.

Couldn't quite manage the word count, but here again, I'm not organized yet....still figuring out when the prompts are. Didn't realize this one was given to us on Friday, so I just now dashed off what's below. I definitely still have it in me.

Prompt: Finding Beauty in Awkwardness


I wasn’t a popular kid, wasn’t an outcast either. I wasn’t worldly back then either, by any stretch of the imagination. My parents were emotionally stunted individuals, and my siblings and I were raised in a sheltered environment.

So when I was in 9th grade, and I got a phone call from a boy, B, in 8th, who said he thought I was pretty and intelligent and did I want to meet up with him the next day at school, I was floored. Who in the world would take notice of a mouse like me? I had an only OK body in my opinion, and I was too shy to speak out in class; and I didn’t come from the town where all the cool kids lived.

I remember being overwhelmed with nervousness, both as I talked to him on the phone and as I thought about my situation afterward. We were to meet before lunchtime, in front of the display case in the English hallway.

I paid special attention to my wardrobe that evening, probably laid out clothes the night before...a nice top, a straight skirt, my beige Grasshopper flats. I took pains to look nice that day, which didn’t help my nervousness, but did help me feel pretty.

At lunchtime the next day, I went to the display case in the hallway where the English classrooms were.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The second bell rang…and it became clear that I had been stood up. I was confused, and I didn’t even think of it as “being stood up” at first. I really didn’t have a clue about social interaction at that age. I wondered what had happened to him, if he was alright. Like maybe he had to go to the nurse’s office?

I headed to the lunchroom, got my lunch, and sat down with my usual girlfriends, C and H.

And H, who had a personality gift for sounding superior and making you feel like you were 5 inches tall, asks me, “so, how was your date with B?”

I was stunned. I asked her, “how did you know about that?”

She responded, “oh, T was telling everyone about how he played this trick on you…”

I blocked out her remaining words as my face flushed red and I blinked back tears. I was so embarrassed I wanted to disappear, but I wouldn’t give H the satisfaction of seeing that reaction. H belonged to the cool clique. H was sharing in their merriment at my expense. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and go to my next class.

My face still burning, H scoffed, "you didn't get dressed up just for him, didya?" Luckily, I had the presence of mind to laugh and say "of course not!"

In class after lunch, the embarrassment still stung hard; it would take me quite a while to get over those emotions and bury the rest. The resentment shaped my feelings about that whole crowd for the remainder of my time at that school.

But as I looked back on it, I also remembered the nice top I wore, the favorite skirt, and how pretty I felt. And I knew that B had missed out on something special.

RemembeRED is an exercise from Write On Edge.


angela said...

I really felt your anticipation of the meeting and the care you took to get ready.

I think this would have been just a smidge stronger if you wouldn't have used your current perspective to show the beauty in the moment. I got that part of it through your descriptions, and I think you did a great job of showing it without needing to "tell" us that part.

Gina said...

The brutality of kids that age when really everyone is just trying to fit somewhere. Good for you that you felt pretty that day...that special feeling was for you and not that stupid B!

Anonymous said...

I cringed for you, hoping the reason he stood you up wasn't what I expected.

What a painful memory. I would have liked to have seen it told entirely from your teenage POV to bring the reader INTO the story.

Overall, though, great job!