Saturday, July 19, 2008

Smells Like Teen Angst

Supergirl #4 is going to be 12 soon; the last of the Supergirls to hit adolescence. I shudder in empathy at the very thought. With the single, notable exception of cancer, adolescence was the most excruciating time of my life. Everything I said and did and wore and thought was 100% WRONG. Everything seemed a matter of life and death, and I died a thousand deaths DAILY. It was horrible, more horrible and worse.

You want a f'rinstance?
Here's a beaut. Somehow I was invited to a pool party at Betsy's, one of the Cool Girls. At first I thought it must have been a mistake, but then I realized that Betsy's mom made her invite me because I was in her carpool.

A pool party means wearing a bathing suit, and I was very slow to "develop." In fact, a boy in my class described my figure as "two pennies on a parking lot." (Yeah, couple thousand deaths there.) So I badgered my poor mom into taking me bathing suit shopping, and then I harangued her into buying a suit with little molded cups, because without a little help, I had no shape at all.
Ah, but then I thought...what if, in the midst of all the frolicking that will no doubt take place, someone bumps into me? My little molded cup would just dent inward, there being nothing behind it to support the shape! Anticipated horrors! But's an easy fix: I will just stuff the little molded cups full of kleenex, rendering them undentable. BRILLIANT!

Sort of. There we were in the pool, me and the Cool Kids. I was sure the frolicking would break out at any moment... and... do you know what happens to kleenex when it gets wet? Yes, there on the water, in concentric rings all around me, were little gobby bits of wet kleenex! And before I could even try to begin discreetly collecting it, Betsy shrieked, "WHO PUT KLEENEX IN THE WATER? OHMIGOD, IT'S GOING TO CLOG THE FILTER!"

In my memory, I'm sure all the gobby bits were pointing at me, like one of those overhead shots of Dean Martin's Solid Gold Dancers. I've sort of blacked out whatever happened next; I probably slunk out of the pool, made excuses, and ran home, leaving a soggy little trail. And I'm sure Betsy and the others figured out where the kleenex came from and why, and probably laughed so hard they threw up.

And THAT is a pretty typical experience from my adolescence. The funny thing is, when I tell that story now, I laugh so hard I can hardly get it out; but at the time, oh, lordy, it was an agony so intense and engrossing, I was sure that I would die.

Things like that happened almost daily, and it went on for two years. There just was no relief from adolescent angst. Another time, I tried to sneak an anonymous valentine into one of the textbooks of my Massive Crush, Tony C. Yeah, talk about asking for trouble. Not only was I caught, I was caught by Tony's cool, beautiful girlfriend, Gail, who thought it was hilarious, and made sure everyone in the whole class saw it. And I died ten thousand deaths.
The only reason I didn't try to commit Hari Kari that very night was that naughty, swarthy, bad boy Tony C. came up to me, held my hand (!!!!), and said, "Thanks, that was real sweet." I don't care if he robbed banks, kicked kittens and ate babies; for that sentence alone, he will go to heaven.

So, even though all 4 Supergirls are so much smarter, confident, more poised than I was, I still cringe and wince and want to hold my breath for them the whole time. Supergirl #4 is now finishing her first stint at sleep-away camp, and will begin middle school in the fall. I want her to know that everything that seems so earth-shatteringly important now, really doesn't matter at all. At all! It's just part of the growing-up, trial-by-fire process, and nobody gets to adulthood without going through it. I want her to know that the very incidents that seem so horrifying now are the very ones that, years later over a glass of Cabernet, will seem pants-wettingly hilarious. I promise!

I know SG4 will have plenty of friends, because she is smart and funny and caring. If she just follows her instincts -- if she is kind, and doesn't worry about what anyone else says or does -- she will be just fine. I wish someone had told me that's the way to survive adolescence.

That, and staying away from molded cups.


mbinto said...

Aw! You should have asked your cousins. We thought you were pretty cool.

Michelle said...

You crack me up--I think everyone feels that way about the teen years (rumor has it, even the cool kids)...climbing up the stairs to the second floor of my high school, my tennis shoe fell off. Who should retrieve it? the football QB. It was very cinderella (he put my shoe back on, from a few steps below, I'm sure there was a hole in my sock), but I died a billion deaths that moment!!

Beautiful Mess said...

Happy ICLW!

I had to pick a favorite of yours to read as I'm new to your blog. This one was a MUST read for me as my daughter just turned 12 *EEK* I've told her many embarrassing stories of what happened to me when I was her age and thereabouts in the hopes that she will be spared. I am doing my best to give her a good image of her body. Trying to teach her to love who she is. Doing my BEST to allow her to make mistakes and be a little independent but it is not easy. I just want to wrap her up in her "lovie" and snuggle with her becuase I kn ow all too well this world can feel so big and bad.

The good part is that middle school was not as bad as I thought it was going to be! YAY there's hope, yet!