the wrong side of the bed

Sunday, June 27, 2004

perhaps it is time to rethink my strategy

fifth grade* was rough. i think of all my years in school, it may have been the hardest, though i didn't do well in kindergarten or any of the years from 4th to 9th. there was a small, happy time when i had two pretty down-to-earth friends in 1st and 2nd grade, but then problems in the oil biz sent people packing away from houston and i lost my friends to oklahoma and alaska. fourth grade was particularly rough on me, and i was shell-shocked in fifth grade. i could barely look a person in the eye for fear that any attention i drew to myself might result in cruelty.

fifth grade saw the end of the cabbage patch craze. it was also a time of giant bangs. my mother, sister, and i were not terribly gifted with curling irons, so my bangs were rather limp (i might not have been using enough Aqua Net, either). my mom had a brilliant time saving idea. she had the front of my hair permed, but not the back, so that it would (hopefully) look like i had spent hours curling my hair every morning. instead, i looked much like the cabbage patch dolls that we fifth graders were trying to rid ourselves of in an effort to be more grown up. the hair, coupled with my chubbiness and dimples, earned me an obvious nickname.

most of the popular girls were quite mean, but one or two were actually sort of sweet. karen silverberg was nice to me, when i actually bothered to interact with her. later in high school, i would tease her that in fifth grade i would muse that her parents must have owned stock in glitter because all of her assignments (if you recall, fith grade was all about dioramas and posters) looked like vegas showgirls. karen was glittery, sweet, nice, and popular. i scowled a lot and looked like last year's plaything. through some bizarre twist of fate, karen and i had matching purses (i never had anything that the cool kids had). the boys in my class used to tease the girls by grabbing their purses and threatening to look through them. they never did this to me because, thankfully, i was off their radar by this time (had they still noticed me, it would have been to throw sand in my eyes i'm sure). one day, john grabbed my bag thinking it was karen's. "karen, i have your purse." he said, "karen, i'm gonna look in it!" when she said that she had her purse and i told him it was mine, he dropped it, expressionless, and walked away. i was completely a non-entity. i think i cried.

this morning, i was walking with carey and lisa. we were talking about a friend of ours who is out of the country right now. some of my friends had been teasing her before she left about all of the hot, accented boys she was going to get to make out with, "oh, don't get me wrong," she said, "i fully intend to make out with a lot of cute boys!" while present, i was not one of the people encouraging this behavior. these friends of mine are so much girly-er than i am. when carey mentioned that our friend does indeed have a date coming up with one of these exotic beauties, i said, "i don't understand you guys. i just don't understand how you do it! but, then again, i don't even know how to flirt..."
"no, it's like those boys in elementary school who used to pull your pigtails..."
"but, boys didn't do that to me! they just told me i was a fat cow! that was not some cryptic sign of affection, it was just plain mean."
"you misunderstand me, dorotha. you are the boy. that's how you flirt. pulling pigtails."
"i guess you are right. it's not a great strategy, let me tell you."
"but it is! you don't want a sweet boy anyway."
"no, i guess i don't."

* why are there only titles like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade? when will someone write The Prelim Ate my Gym Shorts or The Fourth Year of Grad School Sucked Out my Will to Live?
10:06 AM


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