Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My inner geek

I must admit that in my head, I am still 8 years old, with glasses and braces at the same time.

Even as a mature (*snort*) woman with grown children, I look in the mirror and I still see the me that geeked her way through elementary school and most of high school.

Admittedly, I came into my own in college, and I have since learned to be more (although sometimes it's less) comfortable in my own skin.

But I was a goober.

Pale and freckle-faced. Unmanageable hair (not quite curly, not quite wavy, usually with the little halo of frizz visible in the sunlight).

Severe overbite (leading to nearly four years of braces).

Scrawny (at least 10 to 15 pounds behind my peers).

Glasses. You know the kind. The hideous cat-eye things. I had a pair in pink and a pair in blue. *shudder*

Short -- although the ONE TIME that short was supposed to be my advantage (playing Madeline in the third-grade play), I came up a quarter-inch too tall, and some other short girl beat me out for the part.

Put me in a room full of strangers and that 8-year-old with the glasses and braces peeks out. I have learned to push her aside and replace her with the "behave as if" version of a confident, witty, sarcastic, reasonably charming woman.

But sometimes ...

I actually have a name for this syndrome of mine. I can't use it on the internet, because it actually is the real name of a real person who tormented me by her mere presence in junior high and high school. So for the sake of her anonymity (yes, I googled her before I started writing this!), I will call it the Sally Smith syndrome.

(If your name is really Sally Smith, I apologize for maligning you. But at least your name isn't really Sarah Marshall and you had to face those bus signs and billboards every day!)

I know you will know the girl I'm talking about. I think we all must have had one in our lives -- unless, of course, YOU were the Sally Smith in your world.

So, my Sally Smith was a girl who started out drop-dead gorgeous while the rest of us were geeking out. She had long, blond perfect hair. She had chiseled perfect features, a perfect perky nose and perfect blue eyes. She had that perfect sexy head toss to move those luxurious flowing locks off of her face (and the correlating head duck to bring them back).

And if she looked at you, you were immediately transformed into a cockroach that she squished under her perfect shoe.

She tormented me -- either in fact or in my head -- throughout my pre-adolescent and adolescent years.

And occasionally she comes back to haunt me in my old age.

She was back with a vengeance last week.

I found myself in the vortex of my worst nightmare -- at the parents meeting for the high school cheerleading team.

Sixty-five versions of Ms. Smith -- lean, beautiful, perky, mostly blond incarnations of my high school tormentress -- bounced around the room, while parents filled out paperwork and wrote a check that could support some third-world nations for years.

And yes, for the record, I count my own daughter among the Sally Smiths of the world. Not because she has that nasty bug-crushing habit -- because she doesn't -- but because she totally fits the physical stereotype of cheerleader.

Only shorter.

I don't know where she came from, my little girl. Correction: I mean, my young lady. She is graceful (where I am decidedly NOT). She has the blond, straight hair of my dreams (see above for description of my childhood hair). She has large, clear blue-green eyes that pop right out of her face.

You've all seen her picture ...

She is Sally Smith, birthed from my loins and living in my house.

Anyway, there I sat.


But I will say that I got a certain amount of jollies by looking at the parents of these little Sallies.

Some were grownup versions of their daughters -- cheer moms with perfect hair, hard bodies and (ahem) a little too much "work" done.

And some were just like me.

Embracing their inner geek and living a little vicariously through their Sally Smith'ish daughters.


Kelley said...

*snort* I was hardly the Sally Smith. And those that thought they were weren't either.

Moo was a Sally for a while there, but thankfully ditched those 'perfect' friends and found real ones. And whilst I dreamed of being a cheerleader in high school, now my girls are there I am so thankful that we don't do that here in Oz.

Sarah said...

I was definitely on the geek end. I'm proud of it now, back then not so much. My girls so far are turning into Sally Smith's...not in the mean way, but in the looks and personality.

wright said...

Ugh, I was a total geek. But really popular among my little circle of geeky friends! Does that count for anything?!?!?

moo said...

While I was cringing while you were describing Sally Smith (PTSD, anyone?) ... I'm glad you're letting your daughter cheerlead, if that's what she wants to do.

I hope she's the NEW generation of Sally Smiths ... who are perfect and beautiful, but who are NICE to the lesser mortals of the world. ;)

nikki said...

I was the chubby geeky girl who got picked on all the time until I learned to stand up for myself.

Janet said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that does that. Every time I look at a mirror I do a double take because I'm expecting the 12-year-old geeky 4-eyes to peer back at me. I was on the opposite of the height problem. I was 5'6" in 5th grade and everyone else was 4'6". And cute. No glasses. And I was clumsy because I hadn't reconciled my height (and I have always had balance issues). So my posture is atrocious because I spent years trying to hide. Unfortunately, most of the other girls were Sally Smiths. As we got older some of the others started catching up heightwise, but when you go to school with the same people year after year, those early tags never really tear off completely.

Beckie said...

Oooh - I had a Sally Smith in my life and she was a real bitch to me for years. She had perfect everything - I thought.

I was the too tall, homely, a little over weight girl. You know the one.

monkeysandmarbles said...

well, i was tall, thin with stick-straight blonde hair, but i was definitely not a Sally Smith! but i knew a couple of Ms. Smiths...i'd rather be a fun loving geek-type than a Sally Smith with a rotten personality any day!

anglophilefootballfanatic said...

My Sally Smith bothered me from preschool through 7th grade. She was the main reason I begged to go to private school. Isn't it amazing what one person can do to your self-esteem. I think it's okay to live a little thru Roo, but those moms who live a little too much thru their kids freak me out.

Burfica said...

I was the total loser/nerd/geek/dork in school. I mean it was bad, the teasing was horrid. I married a guy who was the same way, and we embrace our dorkiness now. We love it.

Only regret. Our poor son is the one getting all the horrid teasing and torture, and I feel so bad for him and want it to all go away for him.

Immoral Matriarch said...

I demand a photo!

HRH said...

My Sally Smith came in a pair--sisters. *shudder* They followed me to graduate school in another state years after I had "gotten over it" ( I got over it) and tossed their perfectly groomed hair over their shoulders when they recognized me with upturned noses. I was so irritated they were there. The funny thing was that I had been there a year and ended up teaching a lab with one of them in it. I liked the sudden shift in power. I only abused it a little...

A Mom Two Boys said...

In my opinion, the word "goober" is not used often enough.

Sally Smith's suck.

Jenni said...

Oh, hey, I see "J" hit your blog, too! Gee, that makes me feel so much less...special.

On to the post at hand! I am so in the geek corner with you, Janet. Since I moved around so much when I was in school, I came to realize there are Sally Smiths everywhere. And now, now I am a gym mom, which is very, very much like being a cheer mom. It didn't freak me out so much at the old gym. Most of those moms were like me. When we moved to the new gym, it seemed I was surrounded by Sally Smiths. Oh how I hated, feared, and occasionally mocked them!

In the past year or so I've begun to realize something about the Sally Smiths of the world and about myself, too. Most of them really aren't so bad. Most of them have the same sort of fears and insecurities that I do. Even if some or all the things I thought about them are true, the nasty things I thought are more a reflection of how I see myself than how I see them. Why should I hate them because they're beautiful or rich or always perfectly dressed unless it's because I hate and fear what I think of myself, that I am unattractive, lower class, and frumpy? This is something I've been thinking about for some time and there is a loooong post in it that I haven't yet taken the time to write.

Janet, whether this is me projecting my own thoughts and feelings on to you or you actually feel as I do, let me just say this. You are beautiful and smart and talented and altogether wonderful in your very own way. Perhaps it isn't in that cookie cutter perfect Barbie kind of way, but you have something better. I have no doubt some of the Sally Smiths of the world look at you and secretly think, "Why can't I be more like her?" We each need to learn to see the beauty within ourselves and worry less about how it matches up with someone else.

BTW, that beautiful daughter of yours--just who is it you think she looks like? Silly;o)

K said...

I know an actual Sally Smith (well, she was Smith before she married). And she is gorgeous and talented - if cheerleading was big in Australia she's be on a team.
But she's also really,really nice. Its hard to dislike pretty talented people who are lovely. It ruins everything.

But you know - its the people who struggled in their chooling years who are interesting. I'd choose an interesting person over a beautiful person any day.

Junebug said...

I too wore cat-eye glasses in grade school and finally got contacts at sixteen. Too late though the psychological damage had been done (always looking around the room and counting the few people who were wearing glasses). Not many, I discovered years later that they needed glasses and some had glasses but just did not wear them. I desparately needed glasses or I couldn't see at all. I too looked at allt those Sallies and Susies from a distance. Then I grew up and had my own little cheerleader for eight years and I wondered where she came from too. She's so much bolder than me. She got that from her father.

Al_Pal said...

Here via Room 704.

I wasn't popular, but not quite a geek. "Other". Chubby, short[ish], bookish. At least a few of the popular girls were nice! :P

Great post!

Momisodes said...

Oy, I can SO relate. From the 4 years of braces, to being the skinny, lanky girl.
I believe I may have the same syndrome. Only I don't remember the girl's name, because there were too many of them. In preschool, they shoved my head behind bookcases and tormented me, and your roomful of cheer-moms, reminds me of every mom group I attended in SoCal.

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