My Awkward Past

Welcome to My Awkward Past

As you may have gleaned from my numerous references, I’m REALLY SENSITIVE about looking “mannish”. Although I’ve been assured over and over that I do not have “oversized, drag-queen, she-man qualities”, I remain skeptical. This is mostly due to a particular incident that occurred when I was in Grade 7.

As you all know, I was not a very popular girl in elementary school.  However, upon turning 13, I fancied myself a “forward thinker” when it came to things like fashion.  So I decided that Grade 7 would be my year to “branch out” and become a fashion-trailblazer in the Grade 7 school yard. This meant I would wear combinations of the following:

  • blazers with loosely-tied ties over a T-Shirt (I stole this gem from Susanne Somers on TGIF’s smash sensation ‘Step by Step’)
  • bright green and bright yellow outfits (I called this my “lemon lime” look)
  • cheap fedoras with those “John Lennon round eye” sunglasses that look horrible on EVERYONE (and are, for some reason, back in style)
  • Bright orange terry-cloth shorts with cuffs and Simpsons T-Shirts

This was an exciting time in the world of 13-year old fashion.  Particularly at my school – if you were a popular girl, there was a “fashion inner circle”…

…basically, all the popular girls would go to The Body Shop in Oakville Place, and would buy those “Body-Shop” T-Shirts that were, like $10.00 with the purchase of a Satsumi Bar of Soap. Then, they would plan with the other popular girls and wear the same Body-Shop shirt on the same day, then tie a knot in the front of it, and they would all skip around happily together, wearing these awful, awful shirts. I was not included in the “Body Shop T-Shirt Inner Circle”, and was shunned for wearing my “Susanne Somers from Step-by-Step” themed attire.

Anyways, probably the most important pop culture event in regards to this particular story, is that the song “Stutter” by Elastica was released. I felt that the lead singer of Elastica had an edgy, coming-of-age look that I wanted to replicate.  SHE would never be caught dead wearing a Body Shop T-Shirt. She wore black oversized bowling-team shirts and had short, choppy hair.  SWOON!

This meant that, in addition to repeatedly listening to their single, I needed to tape their “Stutter” video off of MuchMusic using a VHS tape. I nervously watched the MuchMusic Countdown on Friday night, waiting with my fingers poised on the VCR “record” button. After waiting painfully through UB40’s “Red Red Wine”, Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants”, Snow’s “Informer”, and The Gin Blossom’s “Follow You Down”, I was soon successful. I subsequently watched the video over and over and over and over, learning from Elastica’s wealth of UK-brand style notes.

Hmmm… dressing in oversized, grungy bowling-team-esque shirts didn’t seem like it would provide enough “Elastica”-ness to really demonstrate my ability to be “cool and fashion-y”… HOW could I differentiate myself? HOW, I ask you? HOW?!!?

It was at this particular moment that I decided to cut my hair boyishly short like the lead singer from Elastica.

…it did not look good.

Here is a mock-up of what I imagine I looked like:

The first day after my hair cut, I remember waiting for the bus… thinking “Maybe it’s not as bad as I think…”

As soon as I entered the bus and saw the reaction from my classmates, I knew that it was, indeed as bad as I thought. And that was really, really bad. I blame this haircut for a myriad of problems that bloomed in my adolescent years, the most dramatic of which was my inability to attract any kind of male attention whatsoever. Yeah. Instead of becoming the “cool and edgy 13-year old girl”, I became the “losery she-boy with short hair and a potato nose”.

And yet, despite the fact that this haircut was responsible for preventing any kind of romantic male interaction until YEARS later, this is not the main reason why I am bringing it up here…

About one week after getting my hair cut, we had a school assembly with a guest speaker. I forget the name of the guest speaker. I forget the subject of the speech. I forget the message that the speaker was trying to convey. What I DO remember, was when she ended her presentation with a Q&A, I raised my hand to ask a question.

She politely looked down at me, sitting obnoxiously in the “losery front row”, and said “Yes, you. The LITTLE BOY sitting in the front row.”

The entire school subsequently erupted into laughter. Any silver of a chance of getting a Grade 7 boyfriend was annihilated.

No amount of Body Shop T-Shirts could dig me out of this horrible, isolated, ‘she-boy’ grave.

I immediately dug down into my psyche, and crystalized this moment in the central lobe of my brain, and made a promise to myself to NEVER EVER EVER cut my hair short ever again.

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Welcome to My Awkward Past

When I was in like, Grade 6 or something along those lines, I was a huge, huge loser. Like, epic huge. Like, I spent weekends playing “cheetahs” by myself in my backyard with no friends.

In the game “cheetahs”, you spend the entire afternoon pretending you’re a cheetah and walking around on all fours in circles in your backyard, trying to be all slithery like a cheetah by sticking out your shoulder blades, and crouching down in tall grasses to hide yourself. If you want to spice things up, you can pretend that a you’re being chased by an elephant… this is an acceptable modification to “cheetahs”.  You can also play “Princess and Cheetah”, but you have to have a sister who is willing to walk around the backyard pretending to be the princess, while you walk around pretending to be her pet cheetah.  This is also acceptable.

But the basic point here is that I was a loser with no friends. Overweight, self-conscious, awkward, cheetah-obsessed… you know. Just a huge epic loser.

Epic losers do not often get invited to parties or sleepovers or anything along those lines. Usually, you just hang out at home with your parents, pretending you’re a cheetah. So on the very few occasions when I DID get invited to these things, I would get pretty excited, and try really hard for people to like me, which would actually intensify my losery characteristics, and would further solidify my status as “epic loser” in my Grade 6B homeroom class.

This one time, a bunch of girls were having a sleepover, and they had the generosity to invite me. Let me tell you… I was pretty excited to be included in this event. Although Grade 6 “Dancing to CeCe Peniston in the Unfinished Basement” parties usually cast a wider net when it came to invitations, SLEEPOVERS always had a carefully edited invite list… which meant I rarely got invited to them. So I was excited.

This particular girl had a hot tub and a pool, which made the status of the sleepover skyrocket… I mean ME? Awkward, fat cheetah-girl? At a pool-party-SLASH-sleepover? Wow.

For anyone who doesn’t know, here is the mandatory schedule for a girls’ Grade 6 sleepover in the late 80’s / early 90’s:

6:00 – 7:00: Discuss boys you like
7:00 – 7:30: Order and eat Kentucky Fried Chicken
7:30 – 9:00: Discuss boys you like
9:00 – 10:00: Play the board game Girl Talk while discussing boys you like
10:00 – 11:30: Watch the movie Grease
11:30 – 12:00: Discuss boys you like
12:00 – 1:00: Make up complex dance to Backstreet Boys/*nsync song
1:00 – 5:00: Discuss boys you like
5:00 – 9:00: Sleep

So, naturally, we decided to sit in the hot tub during the prescribed 7:30 – 9:00 pm “Discuss boys you like” timeslot. Now – since I had virtually no friends, I was not used to being open and honest with other girls about the boys I liked, so I was resistant to this whole discussion. However, as time passed, I started to feel more and more included… and more and more cool… so I finally, after months and months and months of keeping it a secret, told a bunch of other girls which boy I had a crush on.

SIGH! What a release! I had been able to confide in some friends! They accepted me! I was one of them! Be still my beating cheetah-heart!

So, the next Monday in 6B homeroom, I’m feeling pretty good. You know… slightly less losery… slightly more included in the social landscape of the 6th Grade. My teacher asked me to help her “hand out papers”. Basically, you walk around, handing out scrap papers to the class for them to write on. This was a coveted position – it gave you a higher degree of access to the boys in the class as you walked by their desk and accidentally brushed their arms while handing them their paper.

Suddenly, one of my newfound sleepover friends walked up to me and whispered aggressively “I WANT TO HAND OUT THE PAPERS”. I was feeling overly confident… you know.. being newly cool and all, and I said “But teacher asked me to help!”

She paused, looked me straight in the eye, and squeaked “If you don’t let me hand them out, I’m telling EVERYONE that you like [name of the boy I liked, who I now forget]”

I could feel the combined shock-hatred-disappointment in my throat, seeping through my body. I was devastated. The ONLY time that I had EVER told anyone who I liked, and it was about to blow back in my face like a horse’s fart.

My cheetah hunting instinct started to bubble in my solar plexus. I was SO mad. SO mad. I wanted to fucking kill this girl. So I did the next best thing.

I took the huge pile of scrap paper, pulled my hand back to wind it up and gain momentum, and slapped her across the face with them SO hard that the pile of sheets exploded and separated upon impact, blowing into the air and fluttering throughout the entire classroom dramatically. Everyone looked at us.

Yes. I hit that bitch.

That was the last sleepover I ever got invited to.

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Welcome to my Awkward Past

Being sick earlier this week reminded me of another story about when I was young and awkward, so I thought I would use it to entertain you on this sunny Friday afternoon.

I enjoy eating, as is evident by the layers of insular fat strategically-placed around my body.  However, when I was young, I enjoyed eating even more than I do today.  I had a HUGE sweet tooth, and loved chocolate SO much and ate SO much of it ALL the time.  One time, my mom bought a bag of those Halloween-sized Hershey’s Cookies and Creme chocolate bars, and hid it in the Dining Room, behind our fancy china (because I was a monster and would have consumed the entire thing in minutes if it was visible). 

This was no match for my well-honed “Choco-Spidey-Sense”, so I found it the next day.  Then, I spent the last two weeks slowly consuming the entire bag in small waves, constantly convincing myself that my mother wouldn’t notice.  Here is my thought pattern:

  • First Two Chocolates:   Well, I’ll just open it and have two.  It’s insane for my mom to think that I wouldn’t open this if I found it, and if I only eat two, she’ll be impressed with my restraint!
  • 3rd and 4th Chocolates:  She’s not counting this whole bag.  I could probably take two more and she’d still think that I only ate a couple.
  • 7th and 8th Chocolates:  I’m already in trouble because half the bag is gone.  Why not just enjoy myself in the eye of the chocolate-bar storm?
  • 12th Chocolate:   This is the last chocolate in the bag.  I should probably just finish it and throw the bag away, then if she asks me, I’ll say I never saw it, and she’ll be convinced that she is crazy and forgot where she put it.

 ANYWAYS.  I totally did NOT get away with it.  My mom’s too smart for that.

But that isn’t my story.

One time, when I was like, 10 or something, I was looking in the cabinets for something to eat, and I saw the following item:

 

Since I was a small child, I did not know the difference between MILK chocolate and unsweetened, or DARK chocolate, so I took out one huge chunk and stuffed it in my mouth.  I quickly spat it out, disgusted that my mom would try to fool me into thinking that Baker’s Chocolate was some sort of huge delicious chocolate bar, instead of the chunk of bitter poisonous hate that it was.  I learned quickly and never ate it out of the box again.

 HOWEVER, my mother likes dark chocolate, and one day she decided to be “creative” and “make up” a “recipe”.  Granted, this was many years ago, but as I recall, this is the recipe:

 Horrible, Horrible Chocolate Cups

 Ingredients:

  • Digusting bitter anus-y Baker’s Chocolate
  • Gross-ass maraschino cherries

 Directions: 

Melt the gross-ass chocolate in a pan.   Pour the disgusting hate-liquid into mini foil cupcake tins.  Press the barfy maraschino cherry into the center of the melted pool of chocolate horror.  Put it in the fridge.

 
My mom makes what seems like about 1700 of these gross things, and they’re sitting on the counter on a plate.  10-year-old me walks by… and my “bordering-on-sexual-desire” for chocolate is suddenly put aflame by the appearance of what seems like a huge platter of delicious chocolate cups!

So I eat about 5 within 20 seconds.  The outer chocolate shell is horrible.  It’s like eating the soul of a serial killer, mixed with rotten grass.  Then comes the GROSS maraschino cherry surprise, which is sweet and syrupy and horrible.   Then, FOR SOME REASON, I continue to eat more and more and more.  I can only rationalise that my brain, in shock from the horrible flavour of the seemingly delicious chocolate cups, cannot understand why they don’t taste good, so I continued to eat them, eager to finally get to a delicious-tasting cup.

I’m preeeetty sure I ate 25 horrible chocolate cups before my mother came into the kitchen and I scurried away like a spider when you turn on the light. 

Later on that night, this happened:

 
Yes, I upchucked all of the horrible chocolate cups, all over my bedspread.  It was like that scene from the Green Mile where John Coffey heals that woman and all of the sickness demons fly out of her mouth like bees.

I was as classy then as I am now. 

Posted in Delicious Food, My Awkward Past 1 Comment »

Welcome to My Awkward Past

The very first time and very last time I ever asked a boy on a date was in the 12th grade. 

As I may have subtlety alluded to in some of my past posts, High School was not a pleasant time for me, for a multitude of reasons, mostly this one:

  

But really, the main reason that it sucked was because I was apparently a pariah to all men in the entire school. I have come to the conclusion that I must have had a deformity that was only visible to others, and/or I smelled like garbage baking in the sun, because there is still no tangible reason why I was so consistently rejected. 

There was actually a point where I asked myself “Am I a lesbian and everyone can notice but me?”  But then I assessed my level of attraction to Christian Slater and determined that this was not the case.

ANYways, I had a crush on this older guy because we were both literature nerds and he was tall and liked T.S. Eliot like I did, and he was in drama class like I was.  Sigh. 

Keeping on that nerd path… our school was in this super nerdy drama competition that was like, a very big deal in drama-nerd circles, and I decided that I was going to be all nerdy and go to the competition to watch the play and support the school, like a giant nerd.  So I think to myself: “Should I try to overcome my apparent deformity and/or baked garbage smell and ask him out to see the play?”

So I muster up all of my teenage-girl courage, and decide to wait for him outside of his Spanish class.

Let’s just set the scene here:  I have never ever ever really talked to a boy about anything remotely close to dates or dating or having a date, nor has anyone  ever asked me on a date, nor have I ever been on a date.  I am waiting outside his classroom by myself, wearing a Flosport Hoodie that is too big for me and Silver jeans that are too big for me and are all ripped at the cuff and Airwalk blue suede sneakers.  Everyone in his class is a year older than me and thinks I’m a nerd.  There is no one else in the hallway.  The bell rings and the class starts pouring out into the halls.  He comes out of the class, and I step in front of him:

Me: “Hee-eeeeeee-eeeee-eey”  (my voice oscilates through at least 20 different tonal levels in order to feign the appearance of “casual Natalie”)

Him: *pause* Hi.

Me:  “Hooo-oo-w’s it goooo-oo-ooin’?”

Him: *pause* Fine.

Me: *pause like an idiot*

Him: *pause*

Me: “Soooooooooo.  Are you going to that play thing tonight?”

Him: *pause* I dunno.

Me: Oh. Okay. Well.  There are some people going to watch. 

Him: *pause* ok…

Me: You should come!

Him: *pause* sigh *pause* Ummm maybe.  I guess so.

Me: OK!  SEE YOU LATER!!!!!!!

You see, in my mind, his non-committal “Umm maybe.  I guess so,” meant “YES I WOULD LOVE TO GO ON A DATE WITH YOU NATALIE.  YOU DO NOT HAVE A SECRET PHYSICAL DEFORMITY THAT IS VISIBLE TO EVERYONE BUT YOU, NOR DO YOU SMELL LIKE BAKED GARBAGE.”

So I was pretty happy.  Like retard happy.  Like, I actually ran down the halls dancing in a haze of glory… not unlike this:

Sooooooo I think you can guess what happened.  I spent about 3 hours getting ready, trying on my whole wardrobe (and obviously settled on my OTHER Flosport hoodie and OTHER Silver jeans), I went to the venue… and he was no where to be found.  We went into the theatre… he was no where to be found.  The play started… he was no where to be found.  I spent the entire night craning my neck around to look at the back of the theatre… he was no where to be found.

Then I went home and listened to The Smiths all night long and cried, trying furiously to wash the phantom smell of baked garbage off my body.

And I never spoke to him again.

The End.

Posted in Illustrated, My Awkward Past 6 Comments »

Welcome to My Awkward Past

 

When I was in first year University, I decided to take a summer job at a local tourist attraction called Fort Henry, which is a Canadian military fort from the late 1800s.  Essentially, it was a big hole cut into the ground with some flags thrown on top to fool foreign countries into thinking that Canada has any kind of military presence at all.

In the present day, the fort had been transformed from a dank, ugly and diseased military base into a dank, ugly and diseased tourist attraction for children, complete with “privies” (i.e old-fashioned poo houses), “prisons” (also, essentially old-fashioned poo houses), and a “pet goat” who always seemed to be on the verge of dying at any given moment.

 

Due to my 8 years of in-depth theoretical and practical musical training on the classical piano, I was able to secure the much sought-after position of “Fife Player” in the “Guard”.  Meaning I was basically hired to dress like a man, play a child’s recorder and walk around in organized circles all day in the parade square under the beating hot sun, wearing a heavy wool uniform.  Since, in the 1860’s,  no one actually ever attacked Forts that were situated in Southwestern Ontario, they would spend their time making up Fife Dances and prancing around the parade square playing the Fife and tap dancing with their spit-polished boots all day, so that was what we had to do, too:

 

The only thing that made the whole experience worthwhile was this one hot guy who was an “Edson” I think, which is a wicked-high position and he got to wear a super-sexy black uniform, and he didn’t have to wear the same embarrassing pillbox hat that we all had to wear.  He was so brutally hot, that it made my Fife Dancing in the stifling heat somewhat bearable.

So, when you start at Fort Henry, there is a, like “boot camp rookie” hazing-type period, where you work like a durty dawg for 2 weeks prior to the Fort opening.  On my second day of said hazing period, I remember that I had to wake up really early that day for some reason, and I didn’t have time to consume my typical nourishing breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and a Diet Coke, which was usually enough to sustain me until we had our lunchtime gruel in the staff cafeteria.

The first “exercise” of the day was “Carbine Drills”.  If you don’t know what a Carbine is, then you’re in for a treat! 

They are basically gigantic guns with big knives attached to the end, so that we can shoot AND stab all of the thousands of foreign intruders who come to Fort Henry to interrupt our Fife Dances.  They are also REALLY heavy.  Especially the ones made in the 1860s, when guns were basically made out of lead or cast iron or melted-down viking helmets or some heavy-ass shit like that.  Heavy enough that a breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios would have provided the essential nutritional support to carry them around for the 2 hour drill.

So, we start walking onto the parade square and I start to think again “Holy shitty BALLS, this Carbine is REALLY heavy!”  At this point, I should also mention that I have really low blood pressure, so I am susceptible to fainting at least one or two times per year, and I tend to know what it feels like.  You get all light headed and feel like you’re floating, then you start getting tunnel vision, and everyone’s voices start getting all echo-y, then you faint.  So, I’m assuming that the combination of the sun, the heavy Carbine, the lack of nourishing Honey and Nuts in my stomach all formed the perfect storm, because my tunnel vision started. 

Since being a Fife Player in the 1860’s was such an important and disciplined profession, us Fife Players were not allowed to address our “Head Fife Player” without raising one hand up at the forearm and screaming “FIFE MASTER!” or something along those lines.  So, since I was pretty sure I was about to faint, I mustered up all of my energy and screamed out to my Fife Master with gusto.  Then I blacked out.

The rest of the story was pieced together for me through eye-witness accounts of the other Fife Players and other guys in the “Infantry” unit (i.e. those individuals who didn’t have the useful background of multiple years of classical musical training in order to appropriately coax notes of yearning beauty from a child’s recorder).  Apparently, after I addressed the Fife Master Guy, I let out a HUUUUGE snort, that echoed and ricocheted against the walls of the Parade Square with the pitch, volume and violence of a Terodactyl protecting its young.

Then I took one step forwards, and my knees buckled like origami paper, and I turned and did a full 360 spin-out, with both arms flailing out as if I were doing a Russian spin-dance, and my Carbine shot out of my hand like a pointy projectile directly AT the Fife Master.  He had to jump out of the way in order to avoid being stabbed in the heart by the 200 pound, rusty knife-mounted weapon.  Then I collapsed on the ground in a heap.

I envision the whole parade square, populated with at least 50 employee/soldier/fifers standing in complete silence, looked at my snorty, deformed heap of a body on the ground in disbelief.  Of course, the one individual who was certified in First Aid ran to my side to help revive me.  I think you can guess who it was.  Mr. Hot Edson in his sexy black uniform.

I remember waking up from my mortifying collapse, and I could hear his voice pulling me back from the brink of darkness with the lilting tone of a dove, cooing in my ear.  I let out another loud snort.  Then, my eyes opened, and it was like that scene from The Little Mermaid, where Ariel saves Eric from drowning, and he wakes up and she’s beautiful, all surrounded by light, and she’s singing this song and he’s mesmerised, and she’s all like “ahhhhhhh, ahhhhhh, ah-uh-ah-uh-uh-ah-ah-ah!”. 

 

Except I was Eric and all snorty, and he was Ariel, but even brutally hotter.  Incidentally, while looking for this photo, I found this one of Eric playing the Fife, which is, I believe, what I looked like when I played the Fife (i.e. like a complete idiot):

So I wiped my sweaty face and got to my feet and hobbled over to the first aid tent, where the goat mascot was hanging out, chewing on dirty hay, on the verge of death, baaa-ing like he was mocking me.

So I quit my job the next day.

The End.

Posted in My Awkward Past 4 Comments »