Dear Popular Girl on My 5th Grade Soccer Team

15 Jan

Sorry, I don’t remember your name. Probably just as well because I’m going to generously assume you have grown up into a lovely person.

Here’s what I do remember, though. You had a slumber party at your very cool house with your cutting edge Atari game, and a swimming pool, and fancy store-bought cake and deli trays. Tall cotton, I tell you.  And your very PC mom told you you had to invite everyone on the team.

So I got invited. Even though my fifth-grade self was actually pictured in the dictionary next to “awkward.” That was the year of cutting my own bangs the night before school pictures. So awesome. Of course, I couldn’t stay the night because your party was on a Saturday and nothing supplanted church in our family. Unless we were on vacation, in which case we found a church there to visit. Unless we were camping, in which case the hymnals went in the back seat pockets of the car next to the Bibles and we packed our own communion. So let’s revise that decision to “awkward fundamentalist” and throw in a helping of “who totally thought everyone was like that.”

With 20-something years hindsight in my favor, I see how the land mines. At 12, not so much. Just honored to be nominated, as they say.  And the party started out just fine.  No one was really talking to me, but I could just hang on the periphery of little clusters and pretend.

Then, someone decided it was time to crank up the stereo and start dancing.

Remember that “fundamentalist” addendum? We didn’t dance, either. And I have the natural rhythm and grace of a drunk hedgehog. But giddy with forbidden brand-name caffienated soda,  I decided to rock it out. Well, it was the late 70s. So actually, disco boogie it out. Throw myself into it. Go whole hedgehog, as it were.

At some point, I became aware that you and your posse had stopped dancing and were just watching my spastic gyrations. And laughing.

And before I could play it off, you said, loud enough for me to hear even over the Bee Gees, “don’t worry, my mom made me invite her but she can’t spend the night.”

I don’t remember much else but sitting on the shag carpet and waiting for my mom to pick me up. Funny, the details we keep. Your carpet was rust and brown and goldenrod all mixed together, and I braided little strands of it together to keep from crying.

I’d like to say I’m totally over it, it’s all good. But since I’m telling the internet, maybe  not so much.

There remains a little part of me that would always like to retreat to the carpet and braid the strands together rather than get out there.

This week, when I decided to go ahead and press “publish”  on this blog, it felt a little like standing on the edge of the dance floor, wondering if I had any business being there. And so, to my beautiful real-life friends who came to read and asked “what were you waiting for?” and to the strangers who visited and posted kind things, this awkward spastic hedgehog genuinely thanks you and hopes you’ll come back.



21 Responses to “Dear Popular Girl on My 5th Grade Soccer Team”

  1. simply anonymom January 15, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    Are we the same person? Well of course not as my parents did not let us partake in sorts because that promoted rivalry. Otherwise our lives sound eerily familiar.

    Anyway I am still very hurt by what happened to me before I was in HS and am tryinhg my best to not let my kids turn out the same way.

    Than kyou for sharing an obviously hurtful experience.

  2. nik January 15, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    OH, I’ll be back.

  3. Kristy - Where's My Damn Answer January 15, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    I’m glad you hit publish – and glad that I saw a link to ya :D. I love your voice that comes through the words. Keep it up.

  4. Kathy January 15, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    It was my plan to just lurk and enjoy your blog just as I would a handful of M&M’s hidden in my sweater pocket but, darn it, I’ve been one of those kids who was on the periphery and braided strands of carpet so I wanted you to know that there was one more person who has subscribed to your blog and is enjoying the hell out of it!

  5. Stephany January 15, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    Ahhh nothing like awkward childhood “Mom made me invite her moments!” I think I’ve got a few hundred of those in my collection!

  6. Kathie January 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    You have every business being on this dance floor! You are an excellent writer with a delightful voice.

  7. Elle January 15, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    I was that kid, too. Still feel like it, most days. It’s not easy to put yourself out there every day and hope people like what you have to say. But it helps to have friends like you, that’s for sure.

    I love you.

  8. ingrid January 15, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    While I wasn’t that kid I was the kid that would have defended you. I hate a bully, think they’re “all that” kid.

    I have 12 yr old identical twin boys one of which is considered a really cool popular boy (yikes) and the other not so much(YIKES!). It’s awkward to say the least. We have talks all the time about how we need to treat people and while I’ve instilled a generous amount of sensitivity in them the same can not be say about many of their peers!

    Btw, I will be back!

  9. dawn January 15, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    Elle told me to come here or she would kick my ass.
    I’m glad she did because this place rocks.

    I love kicking my gray hair to the f** curb too.

    I can’t relate to the 5th grade story as my parents sent me to boarding school since I was practically born. But trust me, we had plenty of those barbie types at boarding school with hoardes more money.

  10. lettergirl January 15, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    dawn, elle was totally a mean girl. She really would kick your a$$, so I’m glad you came.

    Thanks to all of you for stopping in. We need to have a blogosphere slumber party. Kathy, bring a double pocket full of M&Ms, please.

  11. jlhpisces January 15, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, I thought I was the only one that went to that party when I was a kid. But now I know better. 🙂 And believe me, you can get out and boogie with the best of them! I’ve got my dancing shoes on now, too!

  12. Ooohlala January 15, 2009 at 6:54 pm #

    I recently took a classmate off my friend’s list on facebook when my sister called me and reminded me that “Jenny” (name has been changed) was the same girl that told every single person in her 5th grade class not to come to her birthday party, and throughout the year harassed, embarraced and made her life hell that year. Not one single girl came to the party, only a handful of boys. I was a year ahead of my sister, so I barely had memory of this. I clearly remember only about 3-4 boys at her birthday party though.
    It affected my sister so much, that this girl’s 5th grade evilness helped her mold her own children into what they are today… 3 great kids.
    Hopefully your 5th grade sleepover girl left her bullying ways in school and didn’t carry that into adulthood. And if she did, hopefully she’s dirt poor, living in squalor, has a severe case of foot fungus and has seen your famous face on TV. You know she’s crying with envy.

  13. LGV January 15, 2009 at 7:21 pm #

    It takes courage to share nakedly painful memories – regardless if there is humor to be mined. Thank you.

  14. canarygirl January 16, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    Oh my Gawd, I swear I have braided strands of carpet too, praying that they would grow into gigantic billowy trees and swallow me right up. You are one of the most amazing people I know, and this blog is just one more (of the infinite number) reason to love you. Now let’s put on our dancin shoes, sistah!

  15. Rachel January 16, 2009 at 9:58 am #

    Your writing is so entertaining–I’ve put your blog site on my bookmarks bar so I can check it daily! Thanks for the great read!

  16. Jen January 16, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    I think that we all have those moments don’t we.
    She is so jealous of you now!

    I am loving that you are writing, you keep me smiling, my sistah!

  17. BMoreSweet January 16, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    I hope she has an incurable disfiguring (but not lethal, just uglyfyin’) disease. p.s. Elle sent me.

  18. CHERYL IN AL July 15, 2009 at 7:44 am #

    The comment section is reading a little like AA (awkward anonymous). I was that girl too. I am still that girl inside. I fight with the feeling that no one wants me around.

    But I have made my strides to break out of that shell. I stepped out of my comfort zone and made some friends who like me and think I am funny (snarky, smart a**, whatever)

  19. charzy July 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    ouch that unearthed an emotion….dance on


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