the wrong side of the bed

Friday, August 06, 2004

girls and boys

yesterday i was thinking about those girls in my high school with giant smiles. the cheerleaders, dance team, student council, and activities girls all smiled with all of their teeth showing. molars and all. i hated smiling when i was young, and when i laughed i would cover my mouth with my hand. it had nothing to do with my teeth, and everything to do with the big, round cheeks i inherited from my mother's side of the family. when i smiled, my eyes would become tiny slits. in school pictures, i always looked sort of creepy. my mouth would be closed, pulled tightly to the sides in an effort to show hapiness, and my eyes would be as wide as i could make them. i would practice this wide-eyed grimace in the mirror after school when i had the house to myself. sometimes i would try to smile like those big-mouthed girls, but i seemed to have come equipped with fewer teeth. too bad popularity was contingent on this, at least for girls. boys didn't have to smile as much.

but, i wouldn't have wanted to be a boy. forget the physical reasons that being a boy would suck, the emotional consequences of being as unpopular as i was would have been seriously detrimental. lets just say that there were a few boys wearing trench coats in my high school. one such boy, david, was moved into my english class part way through my freshman year. i didn't know david at all, but some of the other kids had been in classes with him before and knew that he was... gasp... WEIRD! he carried a tackle box with him to school which contained, among other things, razor blades. this would not fly in this day and age, but in 1990, we were so much more innocent. our teacher told us that david was going to be joining our class. the other students had a discussion and decided that, as the least popular member of the class, i should be an emissary to david and tell him that we didn't want him being too weird in our class. they told me that i should be most able to relate to him and that i would also be less threatening to him since i was such a big loser myself. i was not happy with this, but i didn't know what to do. my ninth grade english class marked the first time that i willingly spoke out loud to my classmates. i really enjoyed the teacher and the friendly banter he encouraged between students. i didn't want to jeopardize that. so on the day that david entered our class, i sat next to him (we didn't have assigned seats). i couldn't tell what the others saw wrong with him, he was friendly enough. that day, no one sat near us. they wanted to be far away from what might be the fall out of my message, but there was no crazy reaction on david's part because there was no way i was going to do what the class had nominated me to do. instead, i just talked to him during class. he was pretty funny. afterwards, i was asked how it went and i said fine.
9:27 AM


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