Those kids who have nobody to sit with at lunch. They still exist, right? Psyche. I know they do, ‘cuz I see their posts on Reddit. I always give them the same 3 lines of advice, but there’s a motherload where that came from. So here ya go. Part I in a series on how to shake your status as a high school loser.
So, this one kid? Frankenstein in Coke bottle glasses. Complete with the shuffle. And every other kid in the room has a cool haircut, if you know what I mean. Before class even starts I’m cringing for the Frankenstein, knowing that he’s the puck, and the cool guys are the sticks.
The computers are in a horseshoe around the room. All the other guys get on them and start their projects, but not weird Frank. Frank wanders around, talking to himself as the rest of the guys talk to each other. Every once in a while Frank stops, leaning in and watching over someone’s shoulder.
I encourage him to find his own computer, because some verbal sniper is about to lay him flat. How long are they going to tolerate the eyeballs on their work, the mumble in their ears? But Frank comes back with an ironclad excuse: “The program’s still loading.” And because I’m the anti-control freak, I can’t command him, “SIT DOWN.” He’s not doing anything wrong. Plus, the worst thing I could do to the kid would be to call more attention to him. So I sit. And I watch. And I learn.
I’m shocked to see that the cool guys don’t mind Frank. I’m extra-shocked that Frank doesn’t mind himself. And that’s his golden ticket.
It dawns on me like this. When I ask Frank to find a computer, he doesn’t freeze. He doesn’t look down. He doesn’t do any of the terrified-kid-in-the-spotlight moves. Instead, he keeps his eyes on some kid’s computer. As in, “I’m fine with what I’m doing. Got nothing to hide.”
Then, when that kid turns to the guy next to him, Frank doesn’t move along, knowing he’s about to get ragged on. And therefore, he’s right. He’s not about to get ragged on. The kid asks the guy how to graph a rhomboid or something.
All through the class, Frank does stuff that gets other kids ridiculed. And all through class, his classmates don’t raise an eyebrow. Because Frank is cool with his weirdness. That shit is armor.
You know the fat kid who’s picked on for being fat? He’s putting out a Damn, I’m fat vibe. Know that other fat kid who’s wicked funny, who everyone wants to be friends with? He’s putting out a Damn, I’m funny! vibe. That’s the only diff.
So here it is, a nice little vitamin pill. The prescription for losing your high school loserdom. Feel fine about your thing. Weird? Fat? Dorky? Loud? Awesome. Fuck what anyone else thinks, in the friendliest way possible. They’ve got their own thing, you’ve got yours. Both are cool. Believe that, and you’re teflon.
Even cooler? She’s a white chick. How many white girls do you know with the ballz to rock flourescent orange patent leather weejuns? Zero. That’s how many.
Her words: “I like orange.”
All hail the new queen.
Before you go all snot-breath on me–like, all black is a fashion statement, Etler?–lemme tell ya something. This kid goes to a military school. She has to wear all black. So, way to be a fashion Zulu at a military school: AllStars, funky laces, and my blog as an anklet? All hail this kid.
At least, all grownups hail this kid. The rest of you kids can hail your own selves.
Maybe my favorite thing about working with you guys is this: your style blows my skull apart. It’s like, you didn’t get the rules book, so y’all do whatever you want. Examples: I’m doing this memoir-writing class in my stupid suburban town. First chick shows up? Striped purple hair. Purple hair with her old-lady flowered blouse. Next kid? Porkpie hat, big cartoon-red watch, and the world’s oldest t-shirt. It’s the no-smoking sign with the words, “There are cooler ways to die.” Kid blows my mind. How do you get that much style in 13 years on earth?
The next chick’s rocking silver-screen eyebrows and a do-rag, cholo-style. Bobby pins clip it into place. If I put that look together, it’s cuz I’m scrubbing toilets. And this gal’s the most glamorous thing on earth.
How do you guys do it? How do you make this nonsense work together?
I’m driving down my stupid suburban street this morning at school bus hour. Poor little girl, this strange lady–me–pulls alongside and rolls the window down, starts talking to her about her outfit. Scared the crap out of her, but I couldn’t help it: she had this magenta sequined bag, as big as my kitchen, over her shoulder. I’m like, Wait! You can wear a disco-ball bag with a white dress made out of crocheted doilies? And then throw a sailor-striped sweater on, too? My world will never be the same.
So I’ve got to thank you guys. I’m the one earning $ to “teach” you, but I’m the one getting schooled. Every cool outfit I’ve come up with was inspired by you and your warrior style. But it’s a fight, lemme tell ya. Hit 25, and the universe strong-arms you into looking like everybody else. So next time you see some oldster looking fly, tip your porkpie at ‘em. They worked hard to look half as cool as you.
P.S. There is one exception to the rule, one lady who can hail her own self: the mom I saw at Starbucks this morning. The one in the black pantsuit with the sun-yellow flower pin, the sun-yellow heels, and the slicked-back Evita bun. Damn, girl. You look good.