Note: These won’t be in chronological order or anything, but I thought by putting “part 1” it would force me into writing the rest of them.
So there is this section of everyone’s life where you become this ugly offspring of yourself and your body seems to be forcing you into social awkwardness. No, not high school. I’m of course talking about middle school. Now since not everyone has middle school let me explain: it’s a space between elementry (k-5) and high school (9-12) . Forcing the most awkward years of your life into this cooked down grade six through eight. In our district we were bused across an entire town and pushed into a crumbling high school with a couple other elementary schools.
Now for me. I was as awkward as they come, nerdy, but not brainy , strange, but not funny – a real floating log in the toilet bowl of the hard and fast ‘clique’ society that is school. I wore stained tighty-whities under two year old pairs of corduroy with over-sized t-shirts that billowed when I walked. Yes, even back then corduroy was not at all cool, but I wore them out of choice. Kids my age wore Jancos and had chain wallets, nice jeans, baggy cool polos and the like. I had deep skin patterns on my hips where the pants I wore so tight from my spurting growth, but I didn’t buy bigger. As for my physical self, I had a bowl hair cut that looked like the head of a penis had landed squarely on top of me and not a strand of body hair to show off in the locker room before gym.
So I’ve set the scene.
I had a friend that was much older than me: Johnny Schaefer. A real cool dude who happened to be my neighborhood buddy. He told me to join chorus because thats how I’d meet girls. I thought this was great advice and took his word for it. I showed up to practice – because you don’t try out for seventh & eighth grade chorus – and there were a couple of other dudes. A real bunch of knuckle heads that seemed to have been fiddling with each others balls, because they were giggling and in a real happy mood. I found out the next week that they were part of the show choir, an eighth grade only singing group, one of the only things in the school (besides jazz band) that you had to try out for. This meant that the chums that had tired to carry me along while we sang five year old ‘top 10’s weren’t there the following practice. I showed up to a room full of growing breasts and uneasy looks.
I sang quietly and on the far side of the room with my back to all the girls. They’d sing high and a couple off key. After the first song, the beautiful chorus teacher stopped for a second and asked all of the girls if there was a volunteer to sing in my key. I guess even at that age my voice was being pulled into the depths of Mordor. The room was silent. I turned and scanned the room; all of the girls were looking at each other or the ground. One of them nearby raised her hand reluctantly, it was one of the ‘better’ singers. She was pulled aside, which happened to be two feet from me. Our chorus teacher asked her little shining star, now draftee, to try to sing near me and in my octave.
It only made things worse. I sang quieter than ever before, the start of my downfall into becoming a social shadow rest in the hands of this single brown haired menace. The girl kept pushing me to sing, which shoved me farther away. She scooted up close, I could smell her shampoo, even after a whole day of school and mandatory gym. Her knees just inches from mine and the horror of being the only guy in a room full of potential penis touching ladies spread through my mind thick as afternoon peanut butter. At the speed I was going, I wouldn’t get a smooch from a single one of them in that room – I wasn’t getting anything I had joined up for.
I came back a few times for practice, never really finding my voice. I was in a show, but made sure the show choir guys were going to perform with us – there was no way in hell I was going to be the only baby faced lad in a sea of maturing vaginas. I eventually stopped going all together.
The end of the year come around and it was yearbook photo season. When you are in a club or sport you are sent a piece of paper with an invitation to leave class and be in the forever marring photo with the rest of the awkwards. I got one of these notes in fifth period. I knew this would be the only time I’d be in the year book besides placed in the squares with the rest of them. I stood on the far side, just like in practice, the only guy in seventh and eighth grade chorus.