I spent most of sixth grade sucking up to my teachers by leaving them anonymous thank you notes along with homemade muffins. My social status suffered accordingly. The day before summer break, as I watched the popular crowd milling in the hallways, I promised myself seventh grade would be different. I would prance with the best of them. My yearbook would be so full of signatures I would have to buy extra pages. I was going to be gloriously popular and it was going to be awesome.
Summer zoomed by, and all of the sudden I was stepping into my first class of seventh grade. Big changes were afoot. In the back of the classroom sat the cool girls, radiating indifference and social status, already discussing the coming weekend’s social happenings. Next to them was an empty chair. If I could just sit there, I and the cool girls would be BFFs and giggle together until we died. All of my dreams were coming true.
Suddenly I heard, “Emily! Emily! Sit up here!” It might as well have been the call of the grave. Two friends from my former life as a frumpy nobody sat at the very front of the classroom and beckoned to me, as friends do. They were of my own social class, both of them nerdly and pleasant, but I was completely aware they could not help my popularity level.
Tempted by the familiar faces, I hesitated. I looked again to the vacant seat, longing to be next to the cool girls despite the fact I could almost taste their animosity and knew I wasn’t welcome there. Overcome with fear, I finally turned towards my geeky and less good looking friends.
I wish I could say this was the deciding moment, that from then on I didn’t want to be popular. But I did, devastatingly so, and it was only my blinding cowardice that kept me from palming my old friends in the face and approaching the preening girls at the back.
I made my way to the front of the classroom where my fellow nobodys eagerly pulled a chair up to the head of the table, which jutted directly into the aisle. Mr. Harrington taught right behind me, and the extent of my back damage due to swiveling and craning is still unknown.
But I made the best of the awkwardness, and used my proximity to the teacher to ask an astonishing amount of ridiculously off topic questions, like “What is color?” in the middle of Ch.8: Rocks. Thankfully, because of my location and intense focus on Mr. Harrington, I never felt the weight of the class’s collective eye rolling.
Despite my initial disappointment, I was actually living out my dream of being the ultimate teacher’s pet as well as beginning my life as an attention monger. Soon this opportunity to nerd out mitigated my desire to chase popularity. Why sit in the back and put on lip gloss when I could lead an entire classroom on rabbit trails and goose chases? Though I still occasionally wished to be popular, I believe this class was the point at which I learned I was probably happier as a nerdy and obnoxious student than a social ladder climber. In the end, I couldn’t resist my destiny. Abercrombie would have to look elsewhere for new customers.*
*Full disclosure: I shopped at Abercrombie until sophomore year of high school. Oh the shame……
Ahh, I used to love nerding about, although I was the extremely shy and mousy nerd that you could never really hear. And I used to sit nearer the back so that no one could see me bar the teacher 😛 I was also a massive teacher’s pet. They all loved me for doing my work and drawing as little attention to myself as possible…
You wouldn’t think it to know me now though! 🙂
I’ve also changed my ways. Teachers began to dislike me in high school, when I began to talk. However, I like to think they also begrudgingly respected me.
I completely relate to this! I felt the same way in junior high/high school. While I secretly wanted to be part of the “in” crowd, I never quite made it. It wasn’t until I became an “adult”, i.e., lived a life outside of my small hometown that I realized it didn’t really matter.
On another note: Hey I am nominating you for the Kreativ Blogger Award! Check out my post for more info:
And keep up the amazing writing! 🙂
Thanks so much! I just looked at the other nominees and I have to say I’m honored to be included with such a fun and talented group of bloggers—nerd on!
Too funny. I wouldn’t Abercrombie if you threw it at me. Way after my time. All the cool kids back then wore the straight legged jeans with the rolled up cuffs, and tee shirts with the sleeves rolled up. Me, I was a farm boy with snap button shirts and Levis with cowboy boots. Cool huh? I can probably count the number of kids I remember on one hand. I was too busy back then to worry about being popular or hip, maybe that is a blessing. Because let me tell you, after attending reunions, you see what the “popular’ kids look like now. Yikes.
Maybe it was just my evolutionary instinct for survival that prevented me from throwing it all into chasing them. I just feel sorry for the ones who didn’t make it out.
It’s so much better to be interesting than popular. People that were popular have to deal with what it’s like to no-longer-be-popular. People who are interesting don’t have that problem. I was a solid middle of the roader all the way through college, and now I can’t really say that I felt like I missed out on anything. But the feeling of looking at the gaggle of pretty girls and longing to be one of them is something you never forget.
So true. From where I am now, I can’t believe I ever saw them and thought they were so cool and that I just had to be one of them. I clearly didn’t belong, and that is certainly not a bad thing.
Wow you write so amazingly – super chuffed I’ve found your blog, it’s full of chuckles. I wonder if the popular girls at school ever wish they could go “off duty” and swap roles and play the nerd for a while? Fat chance, they love the glory don’t they.
They probably couldn’t handle the pressure. Thanks for reading!
Reminds me of my school days. That never ending battle that goes on in your mind trying to decide between what you want to do, and what you actually do
I’m new to your blog. Loving it so far 🙂
Thanx for stopping by—feel free to poke around. The stuff before August 2011 is a minefield though. Beware of bad writing.
I understand completely I was a nerd and also fell prey to the abercrombie virus. I blog on the limbo of life after undergrad (I graduated a biology major) and the transition to either medical school or graduate school. I also include daily science/nerdy musings on observations of non-science individuals. Check it out you will enjoy it, I know because I am filled with ebullience after reading yours.
Prize for best use of the word ebullient that I’ve seen in a while.
Glad you fought the urge to be shallow!
It was a difficult battle, but nerdliness won in the end.
Excuse me, but what is supply side economics?
According to wikipedia, “Supply-side economics is a school of macroeconomic thought that argues that economic growth can be most effectively created by lowering barriers for people to produce (supply) goods and services, such as lowering income tax and capital gains tax rates, and by allowing greater flexibility by reducing regulation.”
Sounds like neo-liberalism to me.
Yeah, I hear ya. My mother was a regular substitute teacher in all my school years and knew most of the teachers —my teachers—on a first-name basis. Even got her as a sub. from time-to-time. Didn’t realize till years afteer that the Chem teacher was going out with the earth Science teacher. so my breaking glassware in Chem lab transferred to the earth Science teacher calling me a “klutz” the following year from the 1st day of class. Did better in that class. Also has Chorus and Theater Guild to help out. A lot of kids “knew me”, but me trying to remember most names—FUGGET-ABOUT-IT!
Names are impossible—I unfortunately struggle also with faces. Not a great combination.
May I reblog this some day in the future? My son starts year 7 this autumn in a completely new school and I’m definitely was one of the nerdy ones in my class… year after year 🙂
Thanks so much and you may certainly reblog this in the future. The nerds usually win in the end anyways.
Definitely look back at that time and giggle! All the “popular” girls I knew in middle high school and either 1) married and then divorced within a year 2) not pretty anymore 3) dropped out of college because it was too hard 4) screwed up their college career in various ways/actions or 5) were just too dumb to accomplish much. Thankfully a good portion of my HS was “smart and nerdy” and being “popular and pretty” was not what the majority cared about. In fact, being in that group made you quite undesirable as it was generally assumed you were just a pretty face and not going anywhere in life.
Yay for being pretty AND nerdy! The winning combination! =)
Preach, preach! I was going to mention where some of those girls ended up, but a. it would have been a lot of exaggeration, and b. they could still be on their way to the bottom, or c. they might be on their way to the top—anything can happen right?
Those girls that sat up the back looking pretty are probably living on welfare with 6 kids by now 😉 Who wants to peak in High School anyway ?
I certainly don’t, and didn’t. Hopefully I’m not at my peak now. That’s a terrifying thought.
Yep me too ! those girls with lip gloss on the other hand ….. 😉
Popeye said it best: “I yam what I yam.” Good on you.
And cue the hankering for yams and spinach.
I think this is sweet–except for the shopping information. Oh, the shame!
Literally my face is on fire with embarrassment.
Ah, a fellow nerd… Consigned to our fates forever. Even now we’re still part of glorious nerdom – writing blogs, travelling for the sake of learning languages, etc. 🙂 Sounds like you were the quick-witted science dork. I was the history dork who knew random dates and obscure facts. Cheers to nerds!
Cheers Cheers Cheers! We’re the ones laughing now I think.
Look back and laugh. A reply to a post reminded me of a particularly wierd girl friend in the past. She earned a place in a WIP. My years K thru 12 were filled with being on of the pack and if I stuck my head up to ask a question someone would hand me a brownie pin. Higher Ed taught me that asking questions won’t make you a teacher’s pet. Instead you’re another reason the instrictor wishes he took the offer teaching at a juvvie facility.
Haha too true—question askers in higher ed occupy a completely different position.
Argh, grades 6-8 were such awkward years. BTW – Your childhood haircut is so cute it makes me want to go bob my hair again.
Thanks! That was the last adventurous thing I did with my hair, except for bangs.
Nerd is the new cool, or so my kids tell me. And being cool took so much effort.
And new clothing. Being a nerd is better because you play better video games and are allowed to read books. I like it just fine.
Nerds got it goin’ on.
Great post! My favorite line, “Why sit in the back and put on lip gloss when I could lead an entire classroom on rabbit trails and goose chases?” Well said!
Thanks a lot. I can’t believe someone didn’t punch me right in the kisser.
I had to transfer schools to be placed in a slightly higher social demographic. Knowing no one at the new school was good for me, although in retrospect the new social caste I became a part of wasn’t nearly as elite as I thought it was at the time.
And I wasn’t nearly as endearing as I thought I was at the time….oh how perceptions change.
Reblogged this on ΤΟ ΠΙΤΣΙΡΙΚΙ.
Oh, school. It was such a pain to me. I never finished, which is something I look back on and wish I had done. But I had the same problems…only I was too shy to even think of sitting near the popular ones, who were actually rather mean.
Yes, ours were a little mean as well. I’m glad I never actually went through my delusions of popularity mongering.
Indeed! That could have been harrowing. I never did understand why the girls always did whatever the popular girls did–I always was “Eh, whatever. They’re mean.” xD. It never got me anywhere.
It’s amazing how sitting in the back is so closely tied to being popular. Back of the classroom? Popular kids. Back of the bus? Popular kids and/or Black People if you’re 1950’s bigot (But that seems unrelated to the point.) Back of the auditorium? Popular kids. It’s as if indifference and distance from the subject/bus driver have a positive correlation.
Either way, great post. I really like your writing style.
PS 10th grade? Come on!
I know I know…I’m very ashamed. And even after those days I still shopped at American Eagle, which isn’t much better. I’m a slow learner.
hey hey! let’s not get crazy! american eagle is a completely legit store for jeans and plain t’s, even at 26. at least i think it is…
Funny, I’d have sat in the back of the class running a betting pool on what you would ask about next, and split the profits with you.
And I would have used all the money to buy one new shirt from Abercrombie.