Monday, May 24, 2010

Middle School Musical

I've been trying to ditch you since middle-school

So it may have taken twenty-seven years, but I am finally considered cool by the 12-year old demographic.

Let me explain.

Middle school was miserable for me. First of all I was younger than everyone else because I had decided it was a good idea to skip fifth grade. Secondly, I happened to be one of the most awkward pre-teens in all of history, in addition to being a straight-up nerd. And I'm not saying this in a supermodels say they were awkward in high school but they were really just tall and misunderstood, kind of way. I was truly awkward.

I was ridiculously scrawny in a manner that only a 12-year old gangly girl could be. And unfortunately for me, this all occurred during the early 90s when we still thought 80s fashion was acceptable daily attire; basically it was the era of spandex. And it was too big for me. So all the neon and patterned tights and shorts I tried to pull off that were meant to be skintight were baggy on my chicken legs. To top it all off, I wore giant, round, red tortoise-shell glasses, had braces, and was so flat-chested I wore an AAA training bra until I was 15.

To this day I cannot look at pictures of myself in middle school without wanting to cringe. Fortunately for me, the summer before high school I got contacts and my braces off, had a slight growth spurt, and stopped wearing neon tights, so high school was a breeze compared to my junior high years.

All of this obviously made me a target for ridicule and I was picked on in middle school so much that the guidance counselor started making regular appointments to see me. Anyone else who has lived through female mental warfare will concur that surviving it is pretty much a miracle.

So why was I recalling the unpleasant low point of my adolescent years? One of my cousins is twelve, in seventh grade, and I helped her and her three best friends get ready for their second dance. Since they go to an all girls' school, the first dance introduced them to the all boys' school and irrevocably, the concept of interest in boys, so they were in a flurry getting ready for the second dance. Their conversation is highlighted below:

Preteen #1: Who do you think is going to be there tonight?

Preteen #2: I don't knooow, I hope there are lots of people there.

Preteen #1: We should call Charlie and ask him!

Preteen #2: Yeah let's call Charlie!

Preteen #3: No I don't want to call Charlie!

Preteen #1: Then I'll call Charlie. Do you think he'll recognize my number?

Preteen #2: Maybe, just call him!

Preteen #3: Whatever.

Lots of girly giggling and calling Charlie, but he doesn't pick up. Major let down

Preteen #1: I want to dance with someone at the dance tonight. I've never slow-danced with a boy.

Preteen #2: Didn't you slow-dance with Ryan last time?

Preteen #1: No, he asked me to dance after the slow dance. I'm the only one who hasn't slow-danced yet.

Preteen #2: What? (To Preteen #3) Who did you dance with last time?

Preteen #3: Charlie...

Preteen #2: Oh yeeeaaah, are you going to slow dance with him again?

Preteen #3: Ew, no! I don't like him!

Me: Oh, that Charlie.

Preteen #1: Do you know Charlie?

Me: Er, no, of course not. I was just joking.

All the girls look at me strangely. Lose all street cred.

Preteen #2: Well, who do you want to dance with?

Preteen #1: I don't know. I wish it could be...Zac Efron!

Preteen #2: Oh he's so, so cute.

Me: The guy from High School Musical?

Preteen #1: Um, that was so three years ago.

Preteen #2: Yeah, I think you mean High School Musical 3.

(That's right. I was just shut down by 12-year olds. And yes, they really did say that.)

Me: Right. Anyway, him. I saw him once outside my apartment building. I took a picture to send to my sister.

Silence and gaping.

Preteen #1: SHUT. UP.

Preteen #2: What??!?!

Preteen #1: HOW? And what was he like?!?!

(Side Note: For anyone who is not in the Hannah Montana demographic, Zac Efron is a young star made famous by his lead role in High School Musical. And although I am unsure why, apparently he makes tween girls, and sometimes not-so-tween women like my sister and my friend S and Kathy Lee Gifford, go batshit crazy. I attribute it to his constant state of oompah-loompah orange tan and hair that appears to effortlessly fall into his face. I'm quite sure that his bathroom closet is stocked exclusively with spray-on tan and hair gel.)

Me: I was walking home and he was filming something at the studio down the street from my apartment. So I stopped to take a picture. He seems fine, I guess.

Preteen #1: That is SO amazing.

Preteen #2: I am so jealous!

Feeling pretty proud of myself, I decided I had hit my high note with this crowd and it might be best for me not to speak for the remainder of the evening. Which prevented me from commenting during the following when the dog entered the room.

Preteen #1: I saw him doing something gross before.

Preteen #3: Like what? Peeing? That's what dogs do.

Preteen #1: No! He was humping the couch, you know, with his thing.

Preteen #2: Ew, gross!

Preteen #1: I know, if you look, you can see his...penis!

Preteen #2: Ewwwwwwwwww!

Lots of giggling from the girls. More stifled giggling from me.

Preteen #2: I think I accidentally touched it once.

Preteen #3: What, the dog?

Preteen #2: Noooo, you know, his thing!

Preteen #1: Ewwwww!

At this point, I couldn't take it anymore and thought I might choke from all the laughter I was holding back, so I pretended to go to the bathroom just to crack up and mentally document what had just happened.

A few days later after we picked up my cousin from school she said to me in passing, "Oh by the way, my friends liked you. They thought you were funny."

To which my uncle chimed in, "Oh yeah, one of them mentioned to me she thinks you're really cool."

My cousin concurred, "Yeah another one also told me that she thinks you're cool."

That's right, ladies and gents. It may be fifteen years too late, but preteens finally consider me to be cool. I am no longer the geeky nerd whose spandex sparkle shorts are too big for her; I have officially been deemed COOL by 12-year olds.

It may be one of the prouder accomplishments of my life to date. I am considering adding it to my resume.

Looking back on it, I am comforted by the girls' innocence. After all, when I was their age the big scandals consisted of girls giving blowjobs and one particular eighth grader getting knocked up, so their discovery that the dog had a penis was adorable in comparison.

However, there was a part of me that was saddened by the whole thing and wanted to tell them, "Hey, slow down! You have your whole life to date boys and think about penises, hopefully ones that aren't canine... There's no need to rush it right now! You will all have boyfriends and slow dance with someone someday and for many years after that, but you will never ever get to be young again."

But even as cool as I am, I couldn't have pulled it off without sounding preachy and I recall people telling me the same thing when I was 12 and just rolling my eyes and ignoring them because they didn't get it, so I doubt it would have accomplished much.

All things considered, there is absolutely nothing, and I mean NOTHING, no amount of money in the world, that could entice me to go back to being a 12-year old again. You're too old to be a kid just having fun and too young to actually be able to do anything fun like drive cars and drink and make out (well at least you should be).

And for every good memory I have, like my first kiss (on my eighth-grade school trip to Washington D.C. in front of the Lincoln Memorial), there are about five terribles ones to match, likes the time a girl pulled a chair out from under me in French class which led to a hairline fracture in my right elbow (causing me to be in a cast for the next three months, including that trip to D.C. where another girl had to help me with the clasp on my training bra).

Yeah, there's nothing like hanging out with middle schoolers to make you appreciate being in your twenties. So I recommend the next time you're feeling down about your age, just pick up this book and let that feeling rapidly pass:

Oh, and just in case you missed it the first half a dozen times I mentioned it, the message you should walk away from this post is that pre-teen girls think I am totally cool. Suck it Justin Bieber.

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