I was not cool in high school. I know a lot of people say but I think it’s a relatable experience most of us share and bond over. (Well, maybe not if you are my brother Patrick, who has always been popular. He sucks.*)
Though I enjoyed my high school experience, I still was uncool. I wasn’t allowed to go to any parties or date, for one. I remember my dad having a Serious Talk with me right before I started high school. “I know what happens at high school parties,” he said. “You will not be going to any of those.” (Presumably, my father had a different high school experience). But I’m not blaming my parents for my uncoolness. I would have been uncool regardless of whether or not I had been allowed to go to parties or date. I wasn’t popular, and boys hardly looked in my direction. Thankfully, I had an inner circle of friends who were late bloomers like I was, so I really didn’t miss out on anything.
More proof of my uncoolness? I was in orchestra. At one point during sophomore year, for some unexplainable reason, I carried two backpacks. I had no fashion sense whatsoever, and I once sat next to a girl who trashed my fashion sense with one of her friends right while I was sitting behind her.
I’m not bemoaning my high school experience; I have to say I’m fairly proud of my dorkiness, in retrospect. And my blatant nerdiness did not stop me from getting an inflated sense of self-worth by my senior year. I think all teenagers go through a stage where they think they are awesome and then are total shitheads about it. Senior year was that year for me. Academically, I was doing very well, which gave me pride. I was in Academic Decathlon and I got like a 102 in calculus for my period grade (it’s not like I was some calculus whiz – this grade only came after a massive extra credit project. That fact did not stop me from gloating about it). These accomplishments gave me an inflated ego. I had started listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (yes, I was one of those teenagers who thought she was so special for listening to classic rock). I started driving. I had also stopped looking like an Oompa Loompa and while my fashion sense still wasn’t quite developed (this is the girl who spent her last day of classes dressed in jorts, after all), I didn’t dress as badly as I had my freshman year.
So at seventeen, I thought I was hot shit.
Which I guess is why I decided to enter a fashion show for prom.
It’s really funny, when I think back on that now. Why on earth did I decide to enter a fashion show? My general rule of thumb now, at 29, is staying away from events that would call attention to myself. The only logical explanation is BOYS. There were boys who were going to be in that audience. This was before I experienced any kind of soul-crushing rejection that would later haunt my later teens and early 20s. Also, like I said above – inflated sense of self-worth. OF COURSE THESE BOYS WANTED TO SEE ME. BECAUSE I WAS AWESOME.
And I was a horrible model. Here is a photo from the fashion show. POSTURE. I DID NOT HAVE IT.
I modeled several dresses that evening, but I was most excited to model the Red Dress. I had tried on the Red Dress several weeks before at a local boutique who was sponsoring this show. What I did not realize at the time is that they were giving all the models the same dresses to try on. This was so dumb, especially when you throw a bunch of teenagers in the mix.
So I was about to put on the Red Dress when my biology teacher, who was in charge of the show, came up to me. “Jenny, can you let one of our other models wear that dress?” she asked, pointing to the model. The model was beautiful and petite, and due to her size, she had a hard time finding dresses that fit her. “The red dress is one of the only ones that can fit her.”
If this had happened now, I’d be like, “Yeah, I’ve already modeled three or four dresses. Have fun.” But this was my FAVORITE DRESS. Also, I was seventeen and a jerk. “I really want to wear this dress,” I protested. “It’s my favorite.” “Jenny!” my teacher said, disappointed.
But I won. I wore the Red Dress.
For years, I was so proud of that story. I put my foot down! I was a Strong Woman! I got what I wanted! GO ME!
But now I think, I was such a selfish bitch.
I know you’re not reading this but I’m sorry, Christina. You should have been able to wear the dress. If it makes you feel any better, college was miserable and my inflated self-esteem took a giant nosedive. Yay?
*Patrick actually does not suck LOVE YOU PATRICK