Thursday, January 19, 2006

The shorts that made me who I am.

This Blogher convention and Best of Blogs has created a whirlwind of anxiety amongst us. I'm with WordGirl and SJ; I have no desire to put myself in the middle of all the cloying fans of the rockstar bloggers at the convention, and a quick review of the BoB nomination list has me scratching my head (let's just say I prefer quality over quantity of posts and comments). It's all just too high school. Teebs just posted a hilarious/bittersweet memory of her adolescent attempts to fit in. It's funny, all the people I admire and enjoy now confess to such painful experiences during high school. The other thing I love about my friends now is that we all laugh together at the idiocy of those years. Our misguided attempts to impress. The haircuts? The clothes? The crap poetry we wrote on our PeeChees? When I was a junior I was this close to actually "making it," which is an indication of the colossal effort I made, considering I was in all the nerd classes, didn't have a perm, wore my brothers' old clothes and didn't drink/have sex/listen to Whitesnake. Everything hinged on a pair of shorts.

My best friends in high school were always the exchange students. Doesn't that say it all? I grew up in a blue collar community with a college-sized football stadium and one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state of Washington. We'd moved several times before settling there, which put me at a disadvantage, popularity-wise, but I wasn't ever going to prom queen anyway. If asked, I would have identified myself as a basketball player, soccer player, math lover, rap aficionado, or a hundred other uncool characterizations. Never a cheerleader. Never a dancer (we had a dance team called the Kilties, which most of the school referred to as the Klitties because they were so skanky). Never a partier. So I went to all the proms and formals with Hitachi or Kenji or Frederik or Salvatore. I was actually fine with it, to be honest, and then somehow Aaron started sniffing around.

Aaron was smokin' (they'll be more on him another day). He had frosted hair and was captain of the basketball team. He was going out with the Head Cheerleader, and somehow dumped her to pursue me. Soon after his friends told my friends of this new development, my Swedish friend Maria invited me to a New Years party at her host parents' house. A real John Hughes teen party with wine coolers and lying to mom and dad and boys and girls and everything. Maria's host brother was on the basketball team, so Aaron would be there, along with all of the popular juniors and seniors. My God.

Maria's house had a hot tub, basketball court, an indoor pool and miles of make-out couches. In other words, it was the best over-sexed teenage party pad ever. I hung out in the kitchen with Maria and my friend Shannon most of the time, drinking Coke but pretending it was a mixed drink. I tried to seem drunk, probably copying what I had seen it on Sixteen Candles, laughing uproariously at everything and spilling every so often. Then Maria's brother went running through the house in his underwear, announcing it was time to go swimming.

Maria and I changed in her room with our backs to each other, and when I turned around she was wearing a skimpy, flowered bikini. I was wearing my 4-year-old swim team suit and a pair of soccer shorts. Oh. So we went back out to the kitchen, with towels draped around our waists and just as I'm throwing back another belt of Coke, Aaron walked in the front door with his entourage. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, he looked at me until I looked at him, then he smiled! It felt like Something Big was going to happen that night. He smelled like beer and Polo as he walked by me on the way out to the pool. My friends and I took a deep breath and headed out after him, where we could already hear hooting and splashing. I gave myself a little pep talk, took the towel off and stepped out onto the tiled pool deck and looked directly into a flapping penis.

Maria's brother was jumping off the diving board butt-naked. In fact, everyone was naked. Cheerleaders and Klitties and partiers, naked everywhere. It was a sight to behold, and I stood gaping for a long time. Maria, no stranger to nudity, shrugged, pulled off her bits of swimsuit and jumped in. Aaron was in the hot tub, probably naked, looking unconcerned and drunk. And before I could talk myself out of it, I reached to pull off my shorts, to join in. I was about to make it! I was excited and nervous and scared, not so much about the nudity, but about what it meant for my future. But they were stuck. I had tied the knot too tightly. So I worked at the knot. And I worked at the knot. And I woooorrrrked at the knot. It would not come undone. I tried desperately to wrench them over my butt. I tried to break the string. I tried to tear the crotch out to pull them over my head. Finally, I ran back into the kitchen to get a knife to cut them off. Still feeling overwhelmingly brave I ran back out with my shredded shorts in hand, and everyone was out. They were all packed in the hot tub, in the middle of some kind of game. Them in, me out. I stood there in the doorway, in my 4-year-old swimsuit, and realized I had missed the window. Maria looked at me and waved. I waved back, walked back inside and sat down in front of their big screen to watch the ball drop. Never in my life have I been more relieved. I saved those shorts, fixed the shredded parts and wore them often. I am so grateful to them. Thank you, blue and white canvas soccer shorts for preserving my dignity and innocence.

16 Comments:

Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

OMG, you owe those shorts your life!

1/19/2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Mignon, this is a SCREAM.

You and Teebs were so brave!

My high school days were spent wearing black and watching Carrie.

I'll tell you other stories, but not in writing. At B-List Blog Chicks '06, after a few cocktails.

1/19/2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

I LOVE this story. LOVE it. Thanks for sharing it. You're a great writer...

1/19/2006 10:40 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

Fan-fucking-tastic story! Those shorts were woven by fate girl. LOL The "Klitties." I read that as "Kitties" first and couldn't figure out what was so bad with it.

1/19/2006 11:16 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Oh Mignon, I'm guessing you were cooler than any of them. Shorts, or no shorts. Viva la nonconformity!

1/19/2006 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

That's a GREAT story. I love it! If we were still in high school, you would be my hero. :-)

1/19/2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger DoctorMama said...

That was hilarious! I had no idea where that story was headed.

Frosted hair! A real catch.

But what are PeeChees?

1/19/2006 1:32 PM  
Anonymous kathie said...

Awesome post. It's a great example of the way details bring a piece to life...just a word here, a phrase there and I'm back in highschool, identifying with every word you wrote. So funny the way things work out. I never drank in high school and never went to parties. Great strategy to pretend to drink mixed drinks. It's such an obvious tact, yet I bet most kids wouldn't think of it...maybe there's a survival manual in this for you.

Wouldn't it be great to be the person who convinces kids they don't have to play the game? Get on it, sister. I'm sure you're not busy or anything! Thanks for the great read.

1/19/2006 3:07 PM  
Anonymous kathie said...

Also, I'm cracking up at one of your favorite movies--Beautiful Girls. I too come from a blue collar town and I'm sure its the grittiness of that movie (yet heartwarming predictability) that appeal to people. sorry to put thoughts in your head...I'm going to link to you if you don't mind and advise my visitors read this post!

1/19/2006 3:11 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Thanks for all of that Kathie! I appreciate the feedback and the link. I love Beautiful Girls for the cast, the music, the dialogue, and yes, now that you mention it, the gritty, something-familiar-about-it quality.

Doc - PeeChees are cheap yellow folders that have pictures of sporting events all over them. They hold class papers and such for about a month, then disintegtrate into a pile of inky-pulp. And everyone draws all over them. This is as close as I can come to finding a picture.

1/19/2006 5:06 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Well, it's official! I'm too damned old to know what a PeeChee is or was. I just revealed to Coffee and Varnish's readers that I carried a Monkees lunch box to school. My nostalgia is everyone else's ancient history. But that lunchbox just gave me an idea for a post. But first...ER is on. Better not be a re-run.

P.S. Mignon...you turned out great!

1/19/2006 6:52 PM  
Blogger The Queen Mama said...

Great post, Mignon. You spin a mean tale.

1/19/2006 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Your mum said...

OMG

1/19/2006 8:28 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

Sorry, I was going to say something, but I see your mother posted a comment and just the thought of her reading this is sending me into fits of laughter.

Never has so much been credited to so little *hooray shorts*

And the mother in me is shouting, "where were Maria's parents?"

1/19/2006 9:26 PM  
Anonymous 1 of 2 Dads in Dresden said...

Please do not stop writing. Your writing seems to compel self-reflection of similar times - perhaps because it captures the feelings so well! And with such prompting...

I must confess to a bit of jealousy. I was only able to dream of those HS guy jocks naked and in the hot tub (repeatedly, and in-spite of all tearful prayers to be freed from such wicked-wonderful dreams). Toward senior year I had earned some rather odd admiration from the popular crowd. "They" had decided I was the most dangerous person in our class - due to the intersection of high intelligence and criminal behavior. At the time I felt so validated by this "recognition". Now it seems a total mystery just why this approval was so achingly longed for.

1/19/2006 11:19 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

No way would I get nekkid in front of a bunch of people - now or in high school!!! Smart shorts, smart girl.

1/20/2006 4:06 AM  

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