The L Word

“So, who are the losers here?” asked Girl from the West.
We were seated on a wooden picnic table decorated with balloons, under a narrow sliver of shade in an otherwise sun-soaked waterfront park. As we nibbled on submarine sandwiches and sipped ice water, we both scanned the crowd of beautiful people gathered for Mr. Husband’s class reunion.
Losers? Here? Why, we’d just learned that one of the group had invented a very popular electronic device owned by nearly everyone in the world. Invented. Translate: rich and famous.
But I felt I had to address Girl from the West’s pointed question.
I thought for a moment as I looked around at all the beautiful people: Each one a success story, with enviable addresses, youthful figures and faces, rows of brilliantly white teeth, gleaming diamond settings, and children gorgeous enough to grace the cover of J. Crew catalogs. Did I mention the clothes? Did I mention that one of them invented something amazing that has turned him into a millionaire?

“The losers? My dear, they are the ones who stayed home,” I replied, stuffing the rest of my sandwich into my mouth to prevent myself from saying more than I should.

You see, I don’t do reunions. I have not attended any of mine. I’ve come close, at the pleading and cajoling of friends and one former boyfriend, but ultimately I’ve chickened out at the last minute, feigning a sore throat or some such ailment.

Class reunions to me are the equivalent of beauty pageants: Strut your stuff and be judged. No, thank you. Reunions have me feeling like Mary Catherine Gallagher: hair and clothes all wrong, prone to awkward hand gestures and explosive high-pitch giggles at inappropriate moments, saying too much and overreacting to everything.
Renunions have me feeling like Mary Catherine Gallagher in a room full of these people:

Conjuring up memories of times like these:

And people like this:

Being the sharp tack that she is, Girl from the West asked the next logical question: “Why didn’t you go to your reunion, mom?”
This is the moment when an entire snack-sized bag of Lay’s potato chips found its way into my mouth.
“Well, partly because none of the people I wanted to see were going,” I said. Knowing this would only beg the next question: “Mom, were you a loser?”
Well, it was bound to come up. No one wants to be called The L Word. Those of us who lived on the fringe prefer to call ourselves rebels or non-conformists or artists.
Girl from the West doesn’t get this stuff. She’s pretty and popular and makes friends wherever she goes. She’s a people magnet. She’ll probably be a reunion organizer some day.
Her mommy dearest, a.k.a. MomZombie, was not like that at all in high school. I was more like Darlene Connor from “Roseanne”:

Some of it was not my fault: We were “from the wrong side of the tracks” according to those who made such designations. I was too moody and brooding. My mom didn’t believe in putting me on the medication that may have resolved that issue.
Some of it was my fault: I was too moody and brooding. I had issues of inadequacy and anger management problems. Rather than conform or try to conform, I just aspired to go as far in the other direction as possible. If Goth were a group when I was in high school, I’d have been Goth.

I conclude to Girl from the West that all we can do is be who we are. Some of us are so lovable we are embraced by hordes of people. Others of us are more of an enigma. It takes time to discover the wonderfulness of us. And maybe we’re pickier about who we share it with. Life isn’t high school and high school isn’t life.

I really believed all that until I discovered the Internet. And blogging.


8 thoughts on “The L Word

  1. Ahhhh…. a zombie after my own heart… I love Darlene, just by the way…

    That said, I was so happy to leave my own group of Heathers that I have never looked back or attended a reunion. Its funny how profound those experiences from many years ago are in shaping who I have become.

    I think having some rough teen years of my own made me into the person I am today and gave me the empathy that propelled the first part of my professional life – working as a therapist with homeless folks, people living with HIV, and other marginalized groups.

    That said, I am completely in touch with the people I went to undergrad with.

    Liked your post and enjoy your blog.

  2. This is an awesome post Mom Zombie! I loved it!! I don’t mean to kiss up, but I will because you’re a great writer. I loved Mary Catherine Gallagher. I used to watch SNL with my son and do an imitation of Mary Catherine. He thought it was funny, but we shared the same sense of humor. Bloggin can be sort of like high school in some circles can’t it? I just kinda Nerd Goth my way through. I would probably be Goth also if I were in school now.

    “This is the moment when an entire snack-sized bag of Lay’s potato chips found its way into my mouth.”
    Too funny.

  3. Well, I’d hang out with you, if this were high school, Mary Catherine. You’d know me right away, because I’d be the one in a Japanese happi coat, fatigue pants, Birkenstocks, no makeup, one long thick braid down my back, and braces.

    Oh, wait — that was college, sorry. I was nerdy in high school.

  4. fell here from foolery, and glad i did. excellent post.

    FWIW, i am avoiding my 25th HS reunion this month. i know that i, too, would have my mary catherine moments. only now, i put on my big girl panties and open my big mouth and say what i *really* think instead of doing what i did in high school, which is just think those “delightful” thoughts about the heathers of the world. it would be a laff riot, i’m so sure.

    yep. for the sake of world peace, i’m not going. someone just needs to direct those nobel peace people my way 😉

  5. In high school I was a PROUD member of the Academic Decathalon team.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Great post, although somewhat depressing. I find a certain amount of clique-iness still prevails even among adults.

  6. Funny. Today I was feeling like a blog “loser.” I used to think I was pretty cool for my age, so tech savvy and up to date with fashion and pop culture. But I’m not as funny as the other girls. My sister even told me so when she left a comment the other day and I’m regretting telling her about my blog. Boo Hoo.

    I love your writing. I was sure you were the cool girl.

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