Today, I wore a neon pink shirt that I borrowed from the sixteen year old I know down the street - and I'm 32. My hair was shellacked into some kinda awesome side pony tail, and the only reason it stayed that way is because I used more hairspray than Jesus ever did.
And you know what? I walked into the grocery store after school like a boss. I forgot all about what I even looked like. And would you believe? No one said a dang thing.
I had a moment this morning. One of those stunners that makes you step back for a second and take a breath. I just finished a small lecture about Hemingway. His cats had thumbs! He survived airplane crashes! Think of him as the crazy uncle with the bushy white beard that has all of the cool stories! And then they were off - reading a short story that I love.
I sort of sauntered around the room - as a teacher does - and overhead a group of boys - as a teacher typically does. "You're such a freak," one said to another. And he was joking. I sincerely believe this boy was joking. He doesn't have a nasty bone in his body, and they're all friends.
But that word?
That word just graaaaaaates on me. With a ton of a's.
Timeout For One of My Most Embarrassing Stories of All Time:
Subtitled: I Can't Make This Stuff Up
I was at senior prom with a boy. He had highlighted hair like boys did in the early 2000s. Basically his head looked like a checkerboard. My dress was purple and I hate purple. My folding chair was cold and I hate being cold. And we were talking about how we were going to go to a truck stop for breakfast. None of that even matters for what I'm about to tell you.
Are you ready? Take a deep breath, mom.
In slow motion? Like it does in movies? I heard the (ADULT IN THIS BAD BAD BAD SITUATION) DJ call my name.
"And this one goes out to Becky from the entire senior class." *** Those are the kind of words a girl will never forget for the rest of her long Diet Mountain Dew fueled life.
Garrett? My date? Clutched my hand a little tighter, likely because he recognized the beginning of Super Freak faster than I did. And suddenly, there it was. A song that my class dedicated to me at my senior prom.
Super Freak. [Even though the lyrics are tacky, tacky, taaaacky.]
Because the really awesome thing here? That's kind of what people called me that year.
I remember Garrett leaning over and telling me we could leave.
I remember a girl that had graduated the year before trying to pull me onto the dance floor to dance with her.
I remember the laughing.
Sweet Jesus. The laughing.
Okay. Time back in - back to today:
I sat down on a desk near the boys. I looked at the kid that had just called one of his friends a freak. I shrugged my shoulders. "Do you see me? I'm wearing my hair like Tiffany did in her 'I Think We're Alone Now,' video and a shirt from my best friend's daughter. If he's a freak? Then I'm a freak." And then I may have included my small lecture about how he's a person, you're a person, I'm a person, we're all people.
I don't tell you this because of how I handled it, or even because I'm (not) upset with the boys.
I tell you this because the prom memory has shaped me - in some huge, vast, important kind of way. It is a Before. It is who I was in the Before - a powerless girl in a purple dress on a folding chair next to a boy that kept asking her what she wanted him to do.
Those Befores come at you like a rolling wave, you know? You never know where they're hiding, you never know where to step to miss the exploding mine, and you never know what it's going to look like - the glugging memory that's pulling at your fibers ... pulling at you to be less. Today it took a joking word and immediately, I could practically smell that rubber gym floor from 2001.
There are a lot of people that will probably not even remotely remember that second in our shared history happening. A lot of people that didn't have to push a fake smile on their faces, pretend that it didn't bother them, soften their wide eyes, and hang wildly onto someone else like a lifeline. But that doesn't mean for one second that they don't have any Befores.
I shut my classroom light off at the end of the day, called goodbye to a few coworkers, stopped to chat with my good friend Hutty, and I peaced out for the night. I stopped at daycare to pick up The General, and he was swinging. I brought his drumsticks to him and he clutched them and cuddled into my shoulder - exhausted from playing all day.
I put my car in drive, and slowly, carefully - like you do with these things, put another Before to bed.
*** Obviously, I now realize that it didn't come from the ENTIRE senior class. I figured it out shortly afterwards. Not errrrrrrbody jumped on the crazy train. :)
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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