I spend a good part of every each day coming up with fake blog titles. As I clean, as I drink orange juice – constantly trying to get something to stick. Often I will think of little ditties that I’d like to write about that don’t really seem like they would hold much weight on their own. Weird little stories that need to be part of something more.. with a point. After all, I want to be a good writer. I want to write with purpose and give a call to action and stir up some crap.
But sometimes I can’t.
So here’s the story of an awkward thing that happened to me.
I wasn’t outrageously cool in middle school. I wasn’t outrageously anything, except maybe gawky. And it’s weird that I wasn’t and I’ll tell you why: I spent most Friday nights eating Chinese food with my parents at home and they always said I was a riot. Seriously like, my mom could. not. stop. saying how much fun I was. So why those punk kids I went to school with couldn’t see that was beyond me. But they couldn’t. And to quote my dad, that was their loss. If I had a mic in my hand right now, I would drop it.
But then I’d have to pick it back up because I’m not finished with my story and that’d be a weird thing to have to watch, me fumbling with a microphone cord which I’ve undoubtably gotten myself tangled up in.. I digress.
Here’s a question though, can anyone REALLY be cool in middle school? I know that lots of tiny instagram middle school babies think they’re cool, but can such a thing actually exist in the three most bumbling years of adolescence? No. There’s no such thing. Not only because cool is subjective and all that mumbo jumbo, but also because no one in middle school knows anything about anything. Except maybe like Justin Bieber and how to use way too many hashtags. No offense. But seriously. It’s not an insult, it’s just science.
Problem was, no one told the mean kids at my school that the “coolest” middle schooler is, well, still just an awkward middle schooler. They seemed to very much believe that their braces were somehow acceptable while everyone else with braces was a dweeb. Middle school logic. They swore a lot, thought no one knew they were in middle school when they attended the high school football games (no you guys literally everyone knew), wore clothes from aeropostale*, and were my nightmare.
*Now, okay. Obviously not every person who wears things from aeropostale is mean. I’m just saying that at my middle and high school, the students who were the rudest tended to wear clothes that sported the store name as the main design (why are people paying so much money for these clothes? I’ll staple a walmart ad to a shirt and give it to you for free – same thing). True, for every mean aeropostale wearing classmate I knew, there was a nice aeropostale wearing classmate. Wear whatever you want. Just be nice.
I digress again.
So one weekend when I was in 6th grade, I went to the mall with a new friend. Now I’m sure that sounds like a given, what mall isn’t overrun with middle schoolers every weekend? But I honestly never went in middle school. I didn’t get clothes from the mall, plus that chinese food that my parents picked up wasn’t going to eat itself. But this new friend of mine did go to the mall. She didn’t attend my school, so she had no idea how lame I was and I certainly wasn’t going to inform her of her mistake.
It was like nothing I had ever seen before. The colors were so bright – store signs and carrousels and window displays. The smell of Auntie Anne’s pretzels wafted through the air as acne faced teeny boppers tried to flirt with one another. Kelly Clarkson’s Miss Independent blasted over the speakers as I stepped foot into an out of this world boutique called “Rave”. Oh how I hope you remember Rave. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist anymore, and really it might as well not.
Under the influence of my new trendy friend, I purchased a shirt that first of all, I just shouldn’t have. Because it made zero sense in general, but especially for me. It was a white shirt with a blue brick wall painted on it. “New York” was written across it in that typical gangster font and then behind it in smaller, but as just as gangster, writing was “Queens”, “Harlem”, and “The Bronx”. Because what white suburban 6th grade girl DOESN’T find her style defined by New York themed street graffiti? I know I sure did. True, it didn’t really go along with a single other piece of clothing that I owned from K Mart, but this shirt was the epitome of ME.
I wish, OH HOW I WISH, I could re-watch the moment I showed my mom that shirt when I got home. She must have been so confused. That poor woman..
I was so excited to wear that shirt on Monday. “This shirt will change everything!” I thought, “People will finally see how interesting and charismatic I am! And hey! Maybe they’ll stop making fun of my clothes!” I had a lot of hope in people and their ability to change opinions back then. So naive.
Monday morning on the bus, I got a few compliments. ..From people who were always nice to me anyway, but still. They knew a cool shirt when they saw it. I felt it was a great start for what was obviously going to be the best day of my entire middle school career.
The bus arrives. I gather my things, raise my head high, and step off. Not even 10 feet from the bus and I get stopped. “Ah, someone wants to know where I got this awesome shirt. To be expected”, I think to myself. I turn around. Instead of an eager fashionista dying to know how I dressed so cool, I see probably the meanest girl in my middle school. Wearing the same shirt. And scowling at me. I remember her exact words on account of I wanted to die:
“You need to wear a sweater or something today because I bought this shirt to impress and you’re going to ruin everything if you’re wearing it too.”
And that’s the story of how I was a spineless idiot and wore a sweater all day so some mean 13 year old girl wouldn’t yell at me.