Thursday, March 08, 2007

Some Loser-ific Tales of High School Horrors

I want this book. I do. I don’t remember doing anything particularly embarrassing in high school, but that may have more to do with some sanity-saving mental blocks than reality.When I Was a Loser: True Stories of (Barely) Surviving High School, edited (and contributed to) by John McNally. Writers (and bloggers) Maud Newton, Tod Goldberg, Owen King, Julianna Baggott, Will Clarke and others provide tales representative of the defining high school moments that we all experienced in some way (even if they happened to the brother of a cousin of a friend of that one girl who works at the Dairy Freeze that met Joey Ramone that one time, maybe).

There’s a reason that very few of us look back on high school as a golden time in our lives.

Hey, which reminds me of a high school horror—I knew I could think of one eventually—although on the scale of some of these tales it probably doesn’t rate very high. Back when I used to do high school theatre, I played one of the main doctors in Brian Clark’s Whose Life is it Anyway. (An excellent play that you should all read because it really makes you think about the different sides of the assisted suicide debate. Also, with a character that is restricted to only being able to move his head, it’s a great study in human as object.) It was decided that my figure was too slender to look mature enough for the role, so the director and the costumers decided to gift me with a set of D-cup breasts. Just for the record, 32 inch rib cages and D-cups should never meet, and girls who develop this naturally have my sympathy. The additional cuppage—besides giving me back problems—changed the flow of all my costumes and made me look fuller figured. Oh, and they also made me stink to high heaven of bird seed.

“Why bird seed?” you may ask. Or you may not, but I’ll tell you anyway; bird seed when placed in little cloth baggies, it turns out, has a comparable weight and movement to real flesh. And every time they shift and move they release a little puff of bird seed dust. I felt so bad for the guy playing the quadriplegic lead because a scene in the play called for my character to lean over him and accidentally put my boobs in his face. This meant not only did have to breathe bird seed dust, but if I’d ever tripped, I would have smothered him.

While the boobs themselves were pretty embarrassing for these facts alone, I didn’t really see the far reaching ramifications that appearing on stage suddenly chesty would have—i.e. people feel the need to see what was real and what was Memorex. Since we put on a pretty good show, offered a matinee for students (which meant they got to get out of classes and therefore guaranteed a full attendance), and a couple of ethics classes required the show for a discussion, my bird seed boobs were noticed by a lot of people. And since bird seed does such an excellent job of mimicking flesh a lot of those people (read: the male half) were a bit confused when they saw me in the hallways later sporting a much-more-appropriate-to-my-size rack.

What I’m saying is my chest got stared at in the hall. A lot. Waaaaaay to make a girl self-conscious.

Still I probably wouldn’t have noticed these looks at all (I was pretty oblivious) if it hadn’t been for the lovely little conversation I had with a recently graduated alum on preview night. After we finished changing out of our costumes, it was tradition to go back into the Cafagymatorium to see our parents and anyone else who’d stuck around. The alum was waiting as we walked out, and after congratulating us all on a job well done, he pulled me aside.

“So I wanted to tell you something,” he said.

Great. I was sure I was going to get some sort of critique on my performance. Some note on how my timing was clearly off on that one monologue in comparison to the cue music.

“I brought a friend with me, and when you walked out on stage he was all, ‘Wow, look at the rack on that one.’”

Oh. Hell. “So, what did you say?”

“Unless something has changed in the last year, those aren’t hers.”

And at that moment, hyper-consciousness to much decreased everyday “rack” was born.

Oh, high school. I don’t miss you at all. And it's good to know that others feel that way as well.

So now that I’ve spilled my guts—or in this case, my bird seed—spill yours. Remember something embarrassing about high school or just some social aspect that you don’t miss? Tell the world. Free yourself from the good, the bad and the ugly. Let others commiserate with your pain, these people did.

Maybe I can rustle up some sort of a prize for the story that makes me laugh/cry/nod my head the most.


Robin Brande said...

Oh, Bookseller Chick, how dearly I love this post. Thank you for sharing. What a great story.

And thanks for the heads up about that book. Sounds fabulous!

Shanna Swendson said...

I could probably write a whole book of high school humiliation stories, thanks to the fact that my dad was a teacher at my high school. To make the misery even more clear, my dad started teaching at my school during my sophomore year, so people already sort of knew me and I couldn't just hide. And my dad went into teaching after retiring from the army, so he had rather unique ways of maintaining classroom discipline, to put it mildly. He's also a practical joker with a bizarre sense of humor. Are we getting the picture here? For the final bit of fun, he was one of my class sponsors during my junior year, which means he chaperoned my junior prom (guess who didn't stand a chance of getting a date because nobody was willing to risk getting within ten feet of me while in front of the steely-eyed glare of my father).

The real introduction of my dad as teacher to my classmates (since the subjects he taught meant he hadn't directly taught most of my classmates yet) came during the first class meeting my junior year, when we were supposed to elect our homecoming duchess. The little old lady teacher who was one of the other class sponsors was trying to get the group to settle down by clapping her hands and saying "People!" in that very schoolteachery way, to no avail. My dad then stepped into the middle of the room and bellowed "At ease!" in full-on colonel voice. The room came to absolute silence. And in that absolute silence, every single head in the room turned to look at me. That was just the start of the fun.

Then there were the times he played practical jokes on my teachers, while I was in their classes, the times he followed me down the hall in his "hunchback" posture so that I didn't know why people were looking at me and giggling, and, of course, the time I had to go to the junior prom with my dad, since I was on the committee and had to help set it up and be there to run it, but I didn't have a date, and I had to stay to the very end because my dad was my ride home and the chaperones had to stay to the end. On the bright side, staying to the end meant I got to snag and take home all the leftover chocolate covered strawberries from the buffet table.

Eileen said...

Oh I have to have this book too- although it might cause PTSD. I've tried so hard to forget