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.
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.