We never really escape high school. It only takes one word, being left out of one conversation or one sneer before BAM!! You are suddenly 15 again. Fifteen and gawky. Fifteen and aching to fit in. Fifteen and acutely aware of your social status –or rather lack of social status—in a clearly defined hierarchy. Fifteen and pudgy. Fifteen with braces. Fifteen and pudgy AND with braces. Fifteen with a bad perm—a really bad home perm, an-at-home-bought-off-the-clearance-shelf kind of bad perm. Fifteen, pudgy, braced, frizzed and wearing knock off jellies. Fifteen, pudgy, braced, frizzed, wearing knock off jellies and NOT wearing Gloria Vanderbilt jeans because GV obviously had no tooshie AT ALL because her jeans were ramrod straight and in no way compensated for a single curve. I digress. Okay. Fifteen and: awkward, braced, frizzed, pudgy, with knock off jellies and Lee Jeans (oh God save us from Lee Jeans). Standing in the cafeteria, alone, realizing that no one of your social level shares this particular lunch schedule. Life doesn’t get any rougher then this moment. The world stops. The air sucks out of the room. You know you have to take a step forward but you are unable to make your knock off jellies encased feet move. The step forward means stepping by the ‘cool table’ full of muscles, letterman jackets, real jellies and GV jeans and long hair with bangs teased up to the stratosphere. Another few steps and you would have to step by the wanna be cool table with letterman jackets, smaller muscles, a few more pimples, real jellies, tighter GV jeans and bangs teased and sprayed until they resemble weapons. Further on you would have to pass the table fool of the aloof kids wearing black with sharpie tattoos on their hands. The bow in your badly permed hair would serve as a bulls-eye for a rapid attack from the super-rebellious crowd. Being mocked by them would cause wanna be table turn and stare secretly happy that their social status was one notch higher then yours which saved them from the verbal torture. The cool kids wouldn’t lower themselves to look but they would be the first to ask a wanna be what the commotion was all about as soon as the lunch period was over.
This little walk down horror lane could continue indefinitely. It was painful enough the first time. Why re-live it on purpose? Oh yeah. My original statement that for each of us there are things that immediately send us back to that high school feeling. How sad is that? How sad that at 41 year old woman I can be reduced to that low point in my life with a single slight? How sad that no matter how old you are there is always a place where you don’t fit in? There will always be a table that you can’t join. Always a group that doesn’t want you as a part of it. Always. As adult women we just learn to navaigate away from those tables/groups. We move on. But I don’t think we ever move away from that adolescent girl. Not far away anyway.