Friday, January 25, 2008

Play it Cool

Do the cool kids know who they are?

Remember the popular kids in Junior High School? We all knew who they were. They sat with the other popular kids at lunch. When I sat with them, I felt a little unsure of myself. I mean, what if they suddenly realized I wasn't part of their crowd? What if I said "Hi" to the wrong person and gave myself away?

Here are some ways I could tell a girl was more popular than I:
  1. Her mother didn't make her wear socks, even when it snowed.
  2. She wore a two-piece gymsuit instead of the one-piece blue jumpsuit.
  3. Her hair was in a perfect flip.
  4. She wrote notes to all the cute boys.
  5. She knew to take cold lunch.
I felt very unsure of myself in those days. I was short, flat-chested, and my mom still cut my bangs. I didn't have an older sister to advise me on music, dancing or plucking my eyebrows.

To top off my nerdiness, I have an old-fashioned first name. In 7th grade when the teachers called the roll on the first day, I was too shy to tell them my nickname, so throughout Jr. High I had an un-cool name.

I walked to school with a popular girl who was a year older than I. She didn't have to wear a coat--all winter! What was my mother thinking?

I occasionally walked home with two of the popular cheerleaders, and I couldn't bring myself to swear, emphasizing the fact that I was a complete dork. (I can't remember the 60's word for dork.)

Over my almost sixty decades, I have talked to numerous people who also went to Jr. High. They have the same recollections of the popular kids. My own children recognized them immediately, and immersed themselves in books called How to be Popular With Boys, and Advice for Teenage Girls.

So where are all the popular kids now? Does the same crowd just hang out in the cafeteria laughing and tossing their hair forever? Did they become the movie stars or the country club set, rich and famous?

I recently ran across one of the girls I envied in Jr. High. She was beautiful, and knew to shave her legs. The smell of Jergen's lotion has reminded me of her throughout my life, because she put it on every day in Mr. Neff's history class. It's interesting to find out she's got insecurities of her own.

A boy who was the dreamboat of the school turned out to be a regular guy--in fact we share some grandchildren!

There are a lot of folks who think they are pretty neat, who really aren't. And there are a lot more who don't realize they are. I wonder if Jr. High made the difference.

10 comments:

Suzz said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane ... I had forgotten about the popular kids.

gab said...

I'm glad being a total nerd runs in the family.

Rebecca said...

Man, when I was in junior high school, I was completely clueless. The popular kids wore the Farah Fawcett flip, heels, Jordache jeans and Pro Keds. I was tall, gangly, flat chested all the hair in the world, but not a flip in sight. Marching to the beat of your own drummer is great in college, but in Jr. High it is a death knell. I, too, wonder what became of the popular set. They traveled in packs that I was too shy to approach...

Bridget said...

Junior high was awful for everyone, no? Over the past couple years I have met some people who have hinted at the fact that they were very popular in junior or high school. I think its very sad that they still have to hold onto that identity after so many years. I think the popular kids had insecurity issues just like everyone else.

Nancy said...

In our high school, everything was about the BAND!!!!All the cool,popular people were in the BAND..

Once, I was walking down the hall in school and a girl said "hello" to me, then suddenly swung around and in a very accusatory voice said, "ugh!YOU'RE not in the band."

She had made the mistake of speaking to someone way beneath her status in life.

That was in 1945. Things haven't changed much,have they?

Sheri said...

Marty,
Everyone at OJH was a GEEK even the ones you privately admired! I had the nickname NERD and it stuck through high school. Do you remember Circle pins? The first day of Junior High I wore one and everyone laughed at me. I was told by a ninth grader that it meant you were a virgin. So what I said, "I am a virgin." Then I went and asked someone what a virgin was! What a nerd!

Celia Fae said...

First of all, you don't look very nerdy in the blue jumpsuit in the trailer. You look sophisticated. And I like your short hair.

Second, if I find out someone was popular in HS, it changes my opinion of them. I think it's called reverse discrimination.

mama jo said...

hopefully i wasn't a nerd...i had you and polly plucking out my unibrow! but, i know i wasn't popular...so what does that make me?

Polly said...

When I was in 8th grade I ran for the school office of secretary. There were a bunch of kind of nerdy kids running for all offices and really popular ones running as well. For some reason that year the kids at our jr.high decided to go with all nerdy school officers. I won! So that tells you where I stood.

MissKris said...

My Dear Hubby and I are a few years younger -- we're both 54 -- but the word for a 'geek' that we came up with was 'square' if you wren't 'hip'. HA! I was popular in grade school...then moved to a different, much-bigger city. Went to 3 different junior highs and 3high schools before graduating. At the tender age of almsot-13 I went from being everyone's friend to being nobody's friend for the most part. It was devastating to me and it took years to recover. I wouldn't go back to school for all the money in the world!!! Oh, and some of the kids I went to school with ended up being a judge, a Las Vegas show girl, and the one voted Most Handsome got into drug trafficking. He was caught in Colombia and I think he's still rotting away in a prison down there. He's been there for over 20 years...more like 30. You just never know, do you, Marty? And some of the so-called geeks like me ended up having a wonderful life. Go figure!