Thursday, February 14, 2008

Geek Stories 1: The Worst Valentine's Day Ever

If you didn't know me before about 1994, you may not know that I was a pudgy, bespectacled, poorly dressed, dorky, friendless little know-it-all. My childhood was either a tragic comedy or a comic tragedy in those days, mostly through my own invention. Now, my parents have never been into holidays-- if I wanted the house decorated for Christmas, I had to by God do it myself. But for some reason, my dad always thought Valentine's Day was a nice day to give small presents to my mom and me. One year, he gave me a camera, which I mainly used to capture our dog in all her smushed-face Boston Terrier glory, because I had no friends Another year, he gave us a countertop stereo, which he later used to torture us with Pink Floyd. But that's another story for another time.

One year, possibly the most terribly pathetic year of them all, I was caught in that puberty limbo, where hair sprouts in all the wrong places and you can't decide to wear a bra and have it snapped during Social Studies, or not wear a bra and be the butt of pithy itty-bitty-titty jokes. I hadn't quite figured out how to dress yet, and I was growing out a horrific haircut called a "wedge". The thought was that if it was good enough for gold medalist Dorothy Hamill, it was good enough for 13-year old fat kids who refused to take showers and wash their greasy hair. I was mostly wearing clothes from Target before Target was cool, and I had hairy legs and wore stupid fake Keds. I still thought shirts with zebras on them were cool, whereas the actual cool kids shopped at The Gap, which I thought had something to do with teeth.

I came home from the usual torturous day of 7th grade to find that my father had a big surprise for me: he had gone to K-Mart and bought me $80 worth of clothes as a Valentine's Day present. And if you thought I, myself, was unstylish, I can't begin to describe to you the clothes that my father had chosen for me from the K-Mart Misses section. Old Lady Central. There was a teal and white poofy shirt and long, shapeless skirt set with diagonal striping, white piping, and small triangular designs that made me look like a vacuum cleaner. There was also something mauve that even my grandmother wouldn't wear, kinda like a short-sleeved sweatshirt with a waistband, and I seem to remember jeans with stirrups. Even with my limited fashion sense, I was horrified.

If I wore these monstrosities to school, I was totally and 100% going to get my ass kicked.

The true issue became clear: did I wear these clothes to school against my best judgment and allow myself to become the butt of the painful jokes I was finally outgrowing, or did I ante up and break my dad's heart by telling him that the clothes sucked and I wanted to return them, thereby shedding my childhood and becoming an adult?

I had to compromise. And lie. I thanked him, hugged him, told him how great the clothes were, and chose the least harmful ensemble to go out to eat that night, and then I let him know that everything else was the wrong size and would have to be returned. I took my stylish best friend with me for the grand return and had a great time choosing the acid-washed jean shorts, glittery t-shirts, and shapeless gunny-sack dresses that were then in style. My hair grew out, I quit wearing blue eyeshadow, I got some decent razors, and I eventually grew out of my painfully hideous stage, like a large, ungainly caterpillar turning into a slightly less abrasive moth.

The next year, he gave me a clock radio for Valentine's, and the past faded into a haze of Nirvana (the band), Lemonheads (the candy), Pixie Stick sandwiches, miniskirts, and an ongoing string of geek stories that, I admit, continue to this day.

And that was my worst Valentine's Day ever.

5 comments:

delilah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
delilah said...

1 comment, and it's been removed by an anonymous author. Dude, that's gonna bug me all night! =(

stinestrain said...

omg that will drive me crazy too! anonymous comment poster bedamned!

this story made me feel the uncomfortable embarrassed feeling for your dad. you know, the one that you feel when Baby says "I carried a watermelon"

my worst valentine's day ever has words like "drunk", "ex-husband", and "lecherous" in it.

I can totally relate to little chubby badly dressed delilah. I totally would have been your friend back then too. someone started a rumor that I stuffed my bra, they called me "tissue tits" for years.

now we're the coolest though and all the cool moms want to be in our club ;)

delilah said...

Turns out the "comment deleted" was my own husband posting to say, and I quote, "My worst Valentine's Day was when she dumped my ass," but the comments showed up under delilah, because I was still logged in, so it didn't make sense. Otherwise, I probably would not have slept. Although watching Resident Evil Apocalypse before bed didn't help on that front, either.

Yeah, we totally rock.

elaine said...

I think this post needs a couple of pictures from the bygone days to better illustrate the traits you are trying to describe. :D