Throughout my childhood & adolescence girls flummoxed and mystified me as much as the series finale of the TV show Lost. Now this may be partly ascribed to the fact I never had sisters. But it was mostly due to the fact I never spoke to girls unless absolutely necessary. As an obese child most girls treated me as the token leper from the New Testament. (But you know what happened to that leper?…Jesus healed him!)
So I’ll cover my experiences with the opposite sex through each period of my youth.
In elementary school, the girls spoke to me. Why? Very young kids don’t know prejudice of any form yet; they treat everyone the same. As Aristotle stated all children are tabula rasa or possess “clean slate.” It is only later when we instill that prejudice, plus the inexorable pressure placed on them by media outlets do they change.
In general I had a pretty normal psycho-sexual development. I knew I liked girls at a very early age. “No Homo” here as Lonely Island would say. “Not that there is anything wrong with that…” as Seinfeld would say. (Too much pop culture references.). Most of my elementary school years I had crushes on girls in my class. Veronica in 2nd grade…Tracy in 3rd….Elizabeth in 4th & 5th.
I would leer at them in class, in recess, and after school. I would gaze at their yearbook or class photos for a time that most would describe as indeterminably creepy. But honestly I don’t think that was any different than most boys 9-12 years of age, aside from the fact that I defecated in my pants in 1st grade and vomited on a girl accidentally in 3rd grade. But c’mon that is normal, right?
Though my young female classmates spoke to me I rarely spoke to them aside from the perfunctory “Please hand me the paint marker (very popular in the 80’s) or pass back a test.” Birthday parties I didn’t attend. Not sure at this point if it was because I wasn’t invited or my mom just didn’t tell me about it. (Likely the former.) Valentine’s Day was especially awkward since it was mandatory to give everyone a Valentines. So the girls in the class would give me one, but even at the time it struck me as odd. I knew these girls didn’t like me romantically…and even at this young age, I felt they never would.
As I ascended elementary school and certainly in middle school the sweet honeydew of halcyon innocence morphed into the histrionic milieu of cliques & in-fighting. I have dealt with the kids in my school quite in-depth in The Locker Room, The Gym Class, The Presidential Fitness Test, and The Bra. The bullies were out-and-out sadists. My memories of the girls are faint aside from the incremental ostracism that was placed on me starting around 5th grade.
All girls, even the outcast, feeling the unyielding pressure to fit in, began to talk less to me and the other geeks. They didn’t want their nascent stock to drop lower. I was essentially the same kid as I was a few months earlier but the shuns and the chiming in on the group “Fat Albert” references ensued. I began to hear a little more female laughs mixed in with with the males. Maybe it was because they saw how hideous I looked with my shirt off in gym class, or how I smelled like feces and baby powder or how I sweated all the time.
In the remainder of my middle school years. I remember going only to one middle school dance where I spent the entire time in a bathroom stall aside from walking in and out of it as fast as I could (“If you Leave” by OMD made famous by Pretty in Pink played. Funny how how I still remember that). I knew that these tweens were having birthday parties and inviting their classmates, but I was never invited. In retrospect I understand why…I would bring down their “cool quotient” but at the time it was very hurtful.
I do remember having one female friend in middle school. Her name was Joyce…she was a Filipina. After school while waiting for our rides, we would talk about 80’s music and movies. Mostly discussing the John Hughes movies, Growing Pains & Saved by the Bell TV shows, and discuss the never-ending fight as to who was better: Debbie Gibson or Tiffany. (It’s Debbie!) She was nice to me. She was one of those rare-breeds who didn’t care if her character was impugned by hanging out with an outcast.
As I mentioned in The Popular Brother my middle brother was girl crazy and spent hours/day crafting his “Game.” Having a brother like that helped later post-weight loss because I accrued all his information and tried to put it to good use. But in my youth, it frustrated me because I just didn’t know how to talk to the girls. I couldn’t parlay her friendship & my brother’s counsel into any meaningful relationships with girls…platonic or otherwise.
I thought high school would be different. I would be going to an all-boy school with an all-girl school next door. This was ideal in my mind because now I could avoid girls altogether! I ruminated “Stay in your enclave and let me be the slobbering food garbage disposal in peace.” At least I wouldn’t have to worry about embarrassing myself around the opposite sex.
Though in the short-term it was a nice respite, in the long run it certainly hindered by sexual development. I literally would never see girls…on occasion a few of them would come to our campus for a mixed class and we, nerds, would ogle them with our small binoculars like they were prey on the Serengeti. Even better we would have joint masses if a very important person came to the schools. It was amazing and mesmerizing to see so many girls together!
The nerds and I even viewed the all-girl school across the parking lot like a No Man’s Land from WWI. We were petrified to go into the all-girl school after school. We would watch all these uniform-clad girls come out but we were terrified to go in. We felt that if we went in after school for even a legit reason like a extracurricular club meeting the girls would tell us to get out because we didn’t belong.
Needless to say I was not invited to any high school parties. I heard about them. Later when I drove, the nerds and I would drive by the house where the popular kid party was occurring. Wondering what crazy alcohol-fueled sexual shenanigans was going on in there. Visions from scenes from Weird Science, Porky’s, Sixteen Candles, and Revenge of the Nerds reverberated in our minds. We just drove back and forth. Always ducking when we passed the house.
In closing I had resigned myself a few years earlier that I would never kiss a girl…much less have sexual relations with them. As my weight was burgeoning so diminished my prospects. And this mindset wasn’t just reserved for high school; I literally thought I would NEVER in my life have any sort of intimacy with a girl. Ever… My life would be just pining over women from afar and living out my dreams in movies.
The sad thing is that at the time, I likely could have gone to one of the school dances and approached a nerdy/overweight girl and they might have danced with stinky, fat me. But I wasn’t interested in them; like all boys I was interested in the pretty to average girls. Irony abounds of course. How could I get angry at girls for not wanting an obese nerd like myself when I didn’t want the female equivalent? In retrospect, I can’t blame them.
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A. Gregory Luna