High point: In first grade I was moved into the reading class for super smart kids. This made me feel totally superior to my classmates (see also: first day of creative writing class in college when professor took me aside afterwards and extolled my virtuous gifts for the written word, etc etc, such and such, no big deal).
Low point: In fifth grade I was tested for the Gifted and Talented program. I remember doing some word problems, which I fucked up, and then, like, having to talk about shapes. I probably fucked that up, too. Anyway, the proctors made it very clear that I was a person who would never ever be admitted into West Freehold Elementary’s Gifted and Talented program. Actually, I had another creative writing teacher later on who said I would amount to nothing more than a waitress, probably. So, education.
In 4th or 5th grade we all got to choose instruments for music class. Even though the drums sounded cool and everyone was doing the trumpet or the sax, I chose the flute, because I thought it would make me look ladylike and beautiful. I quickly learned that I hated the flute and was terrible at it (mostly because I never practiced). Subsequently, I was last chair in flute, which meant that I was the worst and everyone knew it. Whatever.
Anyway, I have a vivid memory of being at a recital, and sitting in my last chair ALL the way in the back. Seriously, they might as well have stuck me in the bathroom down the hall. I had no idea how to play my flute or even read music, so I basically just sat there and hummed into the thing. I think my mom was pissed that she spent money on the flute. Or she didn’t care. I basically did the same thing with piano lessons.
In sixth grade I took up my mom’s old violin, and Kristin Alberts and I were tied for first chair, because we seriously blew everybody else out of the fucking water. We were so good and we played the hardest shit. I remember Kristin was really into the band Hole that year, which was still something that was over my head. Anyway, the middle school I went to the next year didn’t offer violin, so although Kristin and I took a few lessons over the summer, we basically just gave up on our divine gift of music-playing. Oh well.
In elementary school my coolness and originality was called into question by my peers (I know, right?), so my fellow schoolchildren held a mock trial wherein I was called to defend myself against accusations that I wasn’t as cool or original or creative as [REDACTED]. Like I said, elementary school. The trial was held on the playground and I failed miserably at defense. Even my best friend at the time would not step up and testify on the behalf of my coolness. This was when I realized that I would be terrible at law, and also that I didn’t actually have any friends.
When I was in kindergarten, my best friend was a girl named Colleen, and she lived in a cemetery. Hers was my favorite house to play at, because we would run around the gravestones and hide from each other but we were never scared of ghosts (even though they are real). So anyway, Colleen was in love with a boy in our class named Tommy Gambino. I’m only including his whole name because I think it’s kind of a funny name.
So, at Colleen’s, she decided we should make cards for Tommy, expressing our love (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t really care for Tommy). I just remember that the cards involved soccer balls, which maybe he was into, but we probably just thought it was a thing that all boys generally liked. The next day at school, we chased him around the classroom and tried to kiss him, which again, I didn’t even really care about.
For a long time after that, I wondered that because I wasn’t into Tommy Gambino (he was kind of a dreamboat), that I probably wasn’t into boys at all.
I used to be obsessed with the PBS show “Ghostwriter.” I liked mysteries and writing and I wished that I had a cool group of racially-diverse friends. I still thought Brooklyn was a ghetto, though, so I also felt bad for the characters for the deal that life handed them.
Anyway, in real life, there used to be a store called Imaginarium in the mall, and they hosted a meet-and-greet with the actors Blaze Berdahl (she played Lenni, who was a teen rapper) and William Hernandez (he played downtrodden youth Hector… but you may also remember him from his later turn in “The Real World: Philadelphia” as “the gay one”). I got to meet both of them and tell them how much I loved “Ghostwriter” and they signed my “Ghostwriter” books. This still remains the best day of my life.
(Addendum: My mom spent awhile talking to another mom, and it turned out to be Blaze Berdahl’s mom, and I was, like, super excited that they would be best friends, and in turn, Blaze Berdahl would be my best friend.)
In elementary school, I brought my mom’s old Ouija board to lunch. I got in trouble for that with the lunch ladies because it was “the devil’s game.” Later in life (okay, fourth grade maybe), I was convinced that a ghost touched me this one time that I was sleeping in a sleeping bag on my sister’s floor (why was I doing this anyway?) I don’t believe in ghosts, but I would like to.
In elementary school, I brought my mom’s old Ouija board to lunch. I got in trouble for that with the lunch ladies because it was “the devil’s game.”
Later in life (okay, fourth grade maybe), I was convinced that a ghost touched me this one time that I was sleeping in a sleeping bag on my sister’s floor (why was I doing this anyway?)
I don’t believe in ghosts, but I would like to.
It continues to this day, but you could really not find a girl that was any more awkward around boys than I was. At around age 15, my church’s youth group took a weekend trip down to Wildwood for some… I don’t know, youth group convention. Anyway, I had a HUGE crush all weekend on a friend of a friend. His name was Adam Jones and he looked just like the lead singer of Eve 6, who was my other ultimate crush. My friend mentioned something very casual to him about us getting together to hang out, and all I could do was blurt out to the poor boy’s face, “BUT I’M A LESBIAN.” I think later I got his email address and tried to write him, but never got a reply. Adam Jones, I probably still love you.
We took an Amtrak train down to Florida instead of driving one year. At night I fell asleep in my seat and had a weird dream that all of these woodland animals were telling me to pee. So I did, both in the dream and in real life. Upon waking, I freaked out and tried to dry my seat with my pillow, but I mostly just lived with it. I never did tell anyone.
I don’t remember the specifics, but my family came to be in possession of a lovebird, which we named Kiwi. He was trained to eat out of your hand and sit on your shoulder, and he was basically the best bird in the world.
One night, my mother had gotten up to walk to the kitchen. She didn’t turn the hallway light on, because it would have woken everyone up. Anyway, while walking down the dark hallway, she felt something under her foot and heard a sickening crunch. Poor Kiwi had gotten out of his cage.
Soon after, we got a new lovebird and named it Kiwi II. It was the worst and meanest bird in the world.
As I have mentioned before, I used to have a cool aquarium in my room. It was filled with a bunch of little fish, and those guys that stick to the side of the tank and eat all of the algae or whatever. At one point I thought it would be awesome to get a pair of tiny angelfish. They were small, so it was cool. They eventually grew a little bigger and ate all of the rest of the fish before turning on each other, so I guess that wasn’t really cool. Anyway, the one that was left kept getting bigger and bigger, even though I had lost interest by now and only fed him when I remembered to, and never ever cleaned the tank. I forgot what his original name was, but he was so huge and scary that I just started calling him ‘Beast.’ I really just wanted Beast to die so that I could get some new fish, or maybe a turtle.
Anyway, the day after I finally cleaned his tank, Beast did indeed die. He lived for about two years. I had no idea what to do in terms of getting his dead body out of the tank, as he was way bigger than my dinky little net. I left that one up to my dad to work out.
The first crush I can ever remember having was on Wayne Arnold, Kevin’s older brother on ”The Wonder Years,” played by Jason Hervey. Anyone who I have ever told this to has scrunched up their face and had been like, “Really?”
I don’t even want to post this one, really. It still makes me feel sick. I was maybe 9 years old, at the playground near my grandma’s house with my friend Sue. There was another kid playing near us and I whispered (at least I thought I did) to Sue, “Is that a girl or a boy?”
In a moment I heard, “I’m a girl” from behind me, and was met with a stuck out tongue. It was the ultimate in kid insults, and it haunted me for a long time.
I never got asked to school dances, but during middle school I went to a few with my friends. They were always weird, but I thought it was something I had to do to be a normal teenager or whatever. Anyway, I went to my 8th grade dance, which was a big deal. I was wearing a knee-length gold dress with white platform shoes (this was the mid-nineties, and I thought the mod look was cool). I got asked by Andrew Musser to slow dance, and I am almost entirely sure the song was “A Whole New World” from the Aladdin soundtrack. It was weird and OK at the same. Afterwards I thought he was going to ask me to dance again, but I was still completely afraid of boys, so I spent the remainder of the dance holed up in the girls bathroom, where my classmates were crying over dates that broke their hearts.
When the old lady that lived next to my grandma got moved to a retirement home, my grandma gave me and my mom the key to the house and told us to go ahead and find some good stuff to sell on eBay. So we did.
1) During my first visit to the orthodontist, the assistant tried to take a mold of my teeth, but I threw up on her.
2) Once, my orthodontist said, “You’re looking handsome today!” I had short hair, and okay, I was a tomboy. I have an androgynous name. Anyway, I didn’t correct him.
3) At one point, I had those awful rubber bands that kept my jaw half closed. I was talking to a boy I liked in school and one of the rubber bands snapped and shot him the face.