I tried to kill myself in Woodshop class.
Quicker than Michael Jackson could Shamone Hee Hee, I pushed the drill bit into my wrist and turned it on. There was only one problem I hadn’t anticipated – it fucking hurt.
Faster than Cyndi Lauper could waffle iron the side of her head, I turned the drill off. There was some blood and I actually managed to drill a small hole in my wrist, but it was nothing a Band-Aid from the school nurse and a Woodshop Incident Report couldn’t remedy.
My scar ended up being shaped like a lightning bolt. Yes, I was the pre-Harry Potter of suicidal kids.
Attempting suicide ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me because I finally didn’t give a shit.
I was ready to smoke at Stoner Wall.
Band-Aid on wrist, this determined badass found her spot on the wall. Months of observational study paid off:
- Lean on wall, do not free stand.
- If conversation ensues, simply turn head to side or stare off into space without looking at friend. (Friend understands protocol and will not take personally.)
- Pull smokes out of pocket, not purse. Especially if you’re a dude. Hard pack is preferred. If new pack, flip pack upside down and beat into palm of hand. This is called “packing.” Then flip one smoke upside down. This is called a “Lucky.” If using a soft pack, be sure to flick out cigarette and put in teeth without cigarette touching fingers. This takes practice.
- Light up with lighter on high. Flame must be a minimum of three inches high. Do not light heavily Aqua Netted bangs on fire. Exception to rule is Zippo.
- Pretend to inhale.
- Extra points for smoke rings.
- Look very relaxed from hit, as if life is so hard that you need to smoke.
- Put free hand in pocket, but not same pocket as smokes.
- Flick cherry off with finger instead of stomping out.
I looked just like everyone else, except I was still wearing ruffled plaid shirts and cords and everyone else wore mullets and jean jackets with Iron Maiden Iron-ons.
Sandy was one of the only other girls at Stoner Wall. She hung out with a mullet-head named Tommy whose eyes were always bright red.
She bounced up to me, far too perky for the stoner crowd.
“Can I bum a smoke?”
I pulled out my stolen soft-pack of ugly-ass brown Mores, aka, the grossest cigarettes ever invented, but when at the mercy of New Dad’s choice of smoke and being cool, they were my only option. And my only connect for Kools, Eve, had moved to Fresno.
“Tommy has Camels. Come on.”
I followed Sandy to Tommy’s spot on the wall, grateful that the lameness of my smokes was unspoken. Could this girl actually be nice? It was doubtful.
She bummed two of the shortest cigarettes I’d ever seen from Tommy. I was used to Mores, which were approximately a foot-long, but these were even shorter than my Kools. And there was no filter.
Pretending to inhale was challenge enough, but now I had the added challenge of tobacco collecting in my mouth. I took Tommy’s lead and picked the tobacco out of my teeth and flicked it.
Flicking was a big thing with the smoking-crowd.
Sandy was super animated and talked really fast. She told me that she and Tommy had been neighbors since they were four, they lived two blocks from school and she could get cigarettes from The Sev with a note from her mom, but she didn’t have any money so she was out.
I immediately offered her my leftover allowance.
She counted it and calculated that we could buy one pack of brand-name smokes, or two packs of generics. Then we’d get one each. And they made generic menthols! This was a good day indeed.
We took off for The Sev. Tommy had detention, so he stayed behind. Of course, he didn’t tell me that. Actually he didn’t speak at all. Good thing he had a friend in Sandy. She talked enough for all of us.
Forged note in hand, the two of us moseyed up to The Sev counter. I hid my trembling hands in my corduroy pockets. The thought of getting arrested was mortifying, but my fear of never having a friend was just a touch larger than my fear of the consequences I may have to endure.
There were 8th graders everywhere, in line, at the Slurpee machine, hanging out in the parking lot – I’d somehow stumbled upon the Mecca of after school cool.
Now I wanted to get arrested. I fantasized about how many ranks of the badass scale I would go up with everyone watching as I was handcuffed and put into the back of a cop car. A sense of calm came over me. I pulled my hands out of my pockets.
The clerk looked over the note, looked up at Sandy, and handed over the cigarettes without question.
I knew this was when Sandy would bolt, but once we got out of eyeshot of the 7-11 clerk, she handed me my change and a pack of smokes.
“I owe you a pack when I get my allowance.”
I knew she’d never repay. I knew this was the end of our friendship. I knew she’d probably start bullying me tomorrow.
“You wanna come over and watch Days?”
I fought the urge to look behind me for the real friend she was talking to and to ask her what the hell “watching Days” meant.
Five minutes later, I sat in Sandy’s den on my very own Lazy Boy watching Days of Our Lives and chain-smoking generic cigarettes. There was a huge overflowing crystal ashtray on the small table between us. I occasionally gasped or pretended to tear up so she’d believe that I’d been following Days for years.
Through the smoke-haze, the figure of a tall, middle-aged, redheaded woman approached. Oh my God, it was Sandy’s mom! I mashed out my cigarette immediately. We were so busted.
“God dammit Sandy open a fucking door for Christ’s sake!”
Then she pulled a smoke out of Sandy’s new pack.
“I thought you had a carton, why are you bumming mine?”
This was unlike any home I’d ever been in. I wanted to live here. Yesterday.
Sandy looked at my wrist. “What happened?”
“Oh, nothing. It’s stupid.”
And that was the beginning of my 10-year friendship with Sandy, my addiction to Days of Our Lives and my love of smoking indoors.
 Zippo’s were so cool that flame length didn’t even come into play. Unfortunately, I was never rad enough to even figure out where to purchase one until I was about thirty. Zippo protocol was also very complicated. It included, but was not limited to, flipping open AND shut without using one’s fingers. One either had to open the lighter on one’s jeans, or simply with the power of a forceful flick. The opportunities for dorking-out were far too many for this new smoker, and Bic disposable lighters came in three-packs. With savings like that, Bic won out.
Last week, I was so excited to wear make-up to school on my 11th birthday I could barely sleep. Will I wear the purple eyeshadow to school the next day? Or will I chicken out? And why the hell is this blog called Scooby-Don’t? As promised, all of your questions are answered here!
(Part 2 of 2)
When I don’t sleep, I get really gnarly bags under my eyes. It was no different when I was eleven.
I piled the shadow onto the little foam applicator to make sure I had enough and spread it thickly across my eyelid. The awesome thing about eyeshadow, especially 99 cent eyeshadow, is that if you go overboard, tons of powder falls down under the eyes. Even better, when you go to wipe it off, it simply smears all over right where your massive eye bags live.
Let me remind you that the color was “plum.”
An hour later and brimming with denial, I entered the classroom with my new amazing eleven-year-old make-up face. I knew I was going to get attention. I just didn’t foresee what kind of attention I’d be getting.
The laughter started immediately. Shit. Marie asked me in all earnestness if I’d fallen on my face.
I literally looked like I had 2 black eyes. I thought I looked hot. In all reality, I looked injured.
I quickly realized that ditching the high heels was a damned good idea. At least I could walk. Although wearing heels would’ve at least explained my deep eye bruises.
The teasing was unrelentless. This day couldn’t get worse.
At least it was kickball day.
Kickball was the only sport I was actually good at. It always came down to me and Marie and the fat kids to get picked, but at least I knew I was contributing to whichever team I ended up on. I was an asset to a team. But only at kickball.
At least I’d get a chance at retribution and to rule with my 2 black eyes. It was on. After all, it was my birthday. My luck had to turn around.
Waiting to kick, I noticed the random, huge, straggly, sheep-looking dog that lived across the street strolling around the school grounds. I knew that dog, he always barked furiously at me when I walked by his house. Obviously he’d gotten out somehow.
Time for me to kick. I had a mean kick, I’m not gonna lie about it. The ball rolled toward my feet perfectly. I mustered all my right leg strength and KICKED THE SHIT out of that dark red rubber ball. It was the farthest and raddest I’d ever kicked that ball. Victory was bliss.
I ran toward first base, knowing I’d make a homerun for sure. I was hauling balls. High-tailin’ it. Jammin’.
That is, until that damned dog ran after me and tackled me to the ground before I could even make it to first base. I went down hard, leaving far too many layers of my skin behind. I hit the crunchy dirt with the side of my face, scraping off some plum eyeshadow for sure.
I was traumatized. Mr. Lohman came to my rescue and sent me off to the nurse’s office to get bandaged up. I was sobbing. It really hurt. That dog was really fucking big.
After getting all cleaned up and anti-bacterialized, I returned to my classroom. At least I’d get some sympathy votes. I mean, I was literally attacked by a monster in front of my whole class. And I had the wounds to prove it. I was the victim here.
I opened the door.
The peals of laughter confused me greatly. Then I overheard words like “dog-fucker” and “Scooby’s new girlfriend.” Somehow the dog attack turned into a live sex act to rival the donkey show. Ends up what I considered an attack was actually a romantic encounter. As I lay on the ground bleeding, that fucker was humping me. He threw me down to the ground to HUMP ME.
I never wore plum eyeshadow again.
(Part 1 of a 2 part series)
I was totally ready to kill myself, but then there was a glimmer of hope. Halloween was coming up and Marie and I had a plan to turn our losing streak around. We’d been planning for weeks, (months, years) – we were going to go to school dressed up as Madonna. Marie and I were nerds, yes, but we had rockin’ bods and were both quite striking. The world just hadn’t had a chance to notice yet.
Dana was ugly and fat and would always be ugly and fat. She would only get uglier and fatter with time. She would torment me for two more years and then I would transfer to the farthest away high school and never, ever have to see her again.
I, on the other hand, would always be beautiful.
I knew I would grow into a total hottie someday. I just wanted everyone else to know so they would start treating me appropriately.
Marie and I wore a black mini-skirts, lace halter tops and a grazillion rubber bracelets. I added a huge crucifix back from when we lived in Mexico. I was determined to wear only a black bra under my lace top, but my mom didn’t have the same vision.
I had to wear a tank top under it. If I had it my way I would’ve dressed like a whore everyday.
But Mom did do my make-up like Madonna and I totally looked like someone else. I was someone else. I felt only the invincibility the beautiful know.
I rocked it. None of my bullies messed with me as Madonna. My confidence grew exponentially. I figured out the key to survival; dress like a total hooker. I just had to break down my mother and the world would be my bitch.
The subject came up at Maytan Music Center. I bought some new rosin and sheet music after my weekly violin lesson. The girl working the register was wearing high heels and glittery blue and purple eye shadow all the way up to her eyebrows. I was in awe. I wanted to look just like her.
And I told Mom all about it outside Maytan Music Center that very day. She thought the girl looked like a “slut and was wearing too much make-up.” I vehemently disagreed.
I was on a mission now. Break. Down. Mom.
And the fight was on. Through my masterful use of guilt and manipulation, I beat her down to my upcoming eleventh birthday (November 9) as the-day-I-could-wear-make-up-and-heels-to-school day.
It was time to shop. I walked the six blocks to Shop-Ko with my birthday money I asked for in advance crumpled up in my pocket.
Heels were first, but they were all really high and hard to walk in. I realized that no other girls wore heels to school and I felt like a total lameass trying to walk in them. Badass was the goal, no lameass heels were going to foil my ruse.
I wouldn’t wuss out on make-up though. I knew all that my big, round face needed was some Wet n’ Wild to instantly turn me from nerd to supermodel. Everyone would see how awesome and gorgeous I really was. Make-up was the magical thing that would bring out my inner beauty.
There were so many colors, but my choice was easy. Purple. Just like the Maytan Music Center girl. The name of the color I chose was “plum.” I only bought eyeshadow. Why? I’ll never know. No lip gloss, no mascara. Just eyeshadow.
The next morning was my eleventh birthday. I was so excited to wear my new make-up, I could barely sleep the night before.
Did Courtney wear the purple eyeshadow to school the next day? Or did she chicken out? And why the hell is this blog called Scooby-Don’t?
These answers AND MORE will be revealed in the final part of Scooby-Don’t next week!
This is Part 2 of a 2 Part series. For Part 1, go here: Thug Life – My First Teardrop Tattoo.
The obvious choice was right in front of me – a knife. I wouldn’t need monster truck strength and I could easily walk down the street with one hidden up my fake Members Only jacket sleeve without the fuzz getting suspicious.
Yes, you did just read, “fake Members Only jacket.” Soak that reality in. You’re welcome.
I just had to select a knife and be done with it.
I loved and feared our meat cleaver. It was serious. I always thought I would just accidentally kill my parents with it in the middle of the night. Kind of like an uncontrollable reflex that would be inspired by the sheer awesomeness of the knife. I couldn’t take that risk.
Just your plain old run-of-the-mill kitchen knife was the winner. Now that I had that out of the way, I just had to figure out how to do it without getting my ass kicked or looking stupid or getting caught. Damn this murder business was advanced. Criminals on TV always seemed so dumb. I had a newfound respect for my fellow thugs. Maybe I would make up my own gang sign?
I lay in bed strategizing. It had to be at night. All bad things must happen at night. Less birds chirping I suppose. More sinister. Dark. Yeah. It couldn’t be at my house, so I’d have to kill her in her house. But I couldn’t be sleeping over because then, duh, her parents would totally know it was me. That is, unless I framed CHB.
Brilliant. I painted the scenario. I’m already at her house. I wait until she starts snoring – come on, of course she snores, she’s a disgusting beast of a girl – and then I stab her repeatedly in the chest, then put the knife in CHB’s bed and put her blood all over his hands. Genius!
Just one problem with this plan – tweekers don’t sleep. I totally forgot. CHB stayed up all night playing video games in an orange beanbag in the living room. Foiled.
Okay, so that was out. The only option left was that I needed to sneak in, kill her, and get out, without any noise. Easy. Dana’s bedroom window didn’t have a screen, as the entire house had a whopping total of three, so I just had to go over to her house after school and crack her window just enough for her not to notice right before I left. Then I would go home and wait the wait that only we hardened criminals know.
At midnight, I’d sneak out of the house with the knife, walk the eight blocks to her house, quietly open her still unlocked window, enter said window, stab her repeatedly, exit said window, walk the eight blocks back home, wash knife, return knife, and then have sweet, sweet dreams knowing that the most evil person in my life was finally dead.
It was the perfect plan.
Well, it was… until I started thinking of all the things that could go wrong.
She could wake up from me opening the window. Then what would I say? “Oh hey Dana, what’s up?” all casual like. Yeah right. Or what if the first stab didn’t go through, like it hit her ribcage, and now that I was thinking of it, how do you stab someone through the heart with all that bone in the way? I’d probably have to stab her in her fat stomach and hope she bleeds to death. But then what if she cried out for help?
And then there was CHB. So true to life, he would end up ruining everything. They were like the Corsican Brothers. He would feel her pain and run into her room. And there I would be, crazy killing eyes, hovering over her blood soaked bed – busted.
“Mom! Dad! Dana’s stupid friend stabbed her in her stomach!”
I’d run, but the cops would come to my house and wake up my parents. It would be so embarrassing. Then I’d have to go to prison forever and stupid Dana and CHB would probably visit me and torment me as much as possible for the rest of my life.
I just couldn’t win. My confidence was shattered. I was a sucky killer. Unless it could be perfect, I couldn’t do it.
And then I realized that I couldn’t stab someone, not even her. I was no badass. I was no thug.
I was a failure.
Since I couldn’t kill Dana, I’d have to kill myself.
Did Courtney kill herself? What weapon did she use? How is she possibly writing this sentence right now since she’s most likely totally dead? Tune in Thursday for more rad answers.
This is Part 1 of a 2 Part series.
By sixth grade, Tammy called herself my “best friend.” Befriending my lead bully seemed like a good idea at the time. In hindsight, it ended up being the pre-Facebook way to guarantee that I’d be bullied not only at school, but in my own home. Who needs technology when you have stupidity?
Tammy’s after school visits were horrifying on many fronts, but the most painful part was when she brought her little brother over – who I will refer to as Crack Head Bob, (CHB).
CHB had what doctors referred to as Hyperactive Disorder, but as far as I could tell he was just an asshole. Dana was in charge of him basically all of the time, since her parents worked swing and he couldn’t be left alone due to the constant flood of Ritalin in his bloodstream. He was essentially my first experience with a tweeker.
Even when I was a tweeker, I couldn’t stand tweekers.
Dana adored her brother. Why? I will never know. I’m no doctor, but I think Quaaludes would’ve faired much better with young Bob than Ritalin. He would do precious things like chew on my parent’s furniture so we had to play outside whenever they came over, lest CHB eat my parent’s entire house.
Relegated to the front porch, I endured gladiator-esque battles of Whack-a-Courtney. Dana vacillated between terrorizing me, hitting me, and being scary sweet to me, while out of nowhere, CHB would just straight-up sucker punch me. While Dana kicking my ass was embarrassing, having a 10-year-old beat me up brought a whole new level of humiliation to my plight. It didn’t help that Dana laughed her fat ass off whenever he slugged me.
This went on and on. I felt like I was trapped in one of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell – the bully Circle. If I told her she couldn’t come over after school, she would force me to go to her house, where there wasn’t even the safety of any parents nearby. I felt stuck in an eternal hell of bullying. I had to take action. Drastic action.
Yes, someone had to die.
That someone was either going to be Dana or me. I quickly decided the death would be hers.
So I did what any amateur murderer does, I hatched a plan.
First, I needed a murder weapon. I waited until the witching hour of 8:15pm, at which point both of my parents were fast asleep, then scoured the house for instruments of bully destruction.
Mom’s art studio was the first stop. Paintbrushes? Maybe the really skinny ones could work as a knife, but then why not just use an actual knife? Now I had two weapon ideas! There was a stack of firewood by her wood-burning stove. I could bash her head in with a log. Now I was up to three and hadn’t even cleared one room – I was turning out to be a fine murderer indeed.
In the back room, there stood Mom’s band saw. I knew how to turn it on and everything, but it would require me to:
- Get Dana in the back room.
- Find a reason to turn it on.
- Murder her with it.
Number three was the issue. The blade only allowed about a foot of murdering possibility, and then what would I do? Cut off her hand? That would only make her stronger and angrier. In my mind, she had horror movie monster powers. I couldn’t just stab the shark; I had to blow it up.
The only other viable option in the studio was a matte knife, which is basically a razor with a handle. Now a razor could fuck a bitch up, but it felt like too much work. I wanted to get in and get out and be done with it.
I knew the answer was in the kitchen, after all, Mom would notice right away if her matte knife or paintbrush went missing, but a frying pan? She wouldn’t notice for weeks.
I needed a weapon that would lead to immediate death. While I was enjoying the notion of beating her head in with a frying pan, I had teeny tiny beetle arms. Did I have enough power to kill in one stroke with toothpick arms? Not a risk I was willing to take.
This also ruled out our 800,000 pound marble rolling pin. If circumstances warranted, I could kill the hell outta someone with that thing. That is, if I could actually pick it up and get it over my head and then not fall all the way over backwards.
Another grim reality sunk in – clean-up duty would be all mine. It’s not like I could ask Mom to grab a mop. If I murdered Dana in my house, I’d have to clean it up and get rid of her ugly fat body, which would prove very difficult.
Damn, this killing business wasn’t easy.
The first time I went over to Debbie’s house, it was obvious why she ate. Her mom and dad were both really big and her house was really small. It was rented, not owned, and on a street that was one lane away from having “interstate” in front of it. The sound of cars whizzing by at German engineering speeds competed with the deafening cry of airplanes landing and taking off at the airport that was mere blocks away.
She wasn’t even zoned for Agnes Risley, but her parents let her switch because she was having huge problems with the bullies in the school for which she was originally zoned. I changed my mind about her parents right away. They cared about Debbie; they were just so poor that they had to move wherever job opportunities presented themselves.
Her dad was a janitor at the school she left. I guess the only thing worse than being a mid-school-year transplant and six-feet-tall was having your dad be the custodian. My empathy grew for Debbie almost as quickly as my pant sizes were about to.
Her parents made me dinner every time I came over. I had liver and onions for the first time there. I actually didn’t know it was liver because I always thought it would be all jello-y wiggly like in the store. I didn’t realize that when it’s cooked it, well, cooks. It was alright, just not good enough to freak out over so much that I’d go so far as do something dramatic like actually eat it again. And I had a layer of grease stuck on the roof of my mouth for about a week.
My first sleep over was on a Friday night that, luckily for me, was allowance night for Debbie. Her dad handed her a crisp five-dollar bill and we were off and running.
“I’m going to show you what I do on Friday night,” Debbie said, mischief beaming out of her dark brown eyes.
I followed her out the front door and onto the practically-a-freeway street. My belly welled up with butterflies. Where was this strange Michegonian taking me? Would guns be involved? Should I have worn two pairs of underwear?
“Where are we goooooooooooiiiiiing?” was muffled by the cars whizzing by coupled with the foot-shorter-I-was-than Debbie. Instead of grabbing a bullhorn and attempting a repeat performance, I hurried my little legs up because that girl hoofed it good. Especially when she was on a mission.
The alarming chirp-chirp accompanied by the heavy glass doors heaving open, Debbie introduced me to my soon-to-be-favorite-place in the world, the Sev. At least that’s what we tweens-trying-way-too-hard-to-be-cool called it long before the word tween was even a glimmer in the American vernacular’s eye.
My love of the Sev was so serious that every single dream I had for an entire year featured a 7-11. Besides simply being a sweet-ass convenience store, the Sev contained a world of consumeristic possibilities from cigarettes to tampons to No-Doz to Slurpees.
She sprinted to the candy aisle and practically lay down on the shiny fluorescent-lit floor.
“Pick out five dollars worth of anything on this bottom shelf. I like everything so I’ll let you pick.”
Everything I learned in math class came into play. On the bottom shelf were all of the penny candies, which really cost anywhere from a nickel to a dime, but nickel candy sounds about as lame as a dime bag, and are all about as extinct as beepers. Jolly Ranchers were three for five cents. Tootsie Rolls were five cents apiece. Ring pops, Laffy Taffy, Sweet Tarts, Jawbreakers, and these weird skeleton candies in an actual little coffin were all a dime apiece. Anything with banana was out because I hated banana-flavored things. Banana is about as subtle as rape. It takes over any other fantastic taste with its “hi-I’m-banana-I-suck-because-I-taste-like-ass” taste.
Little beads of sweat formed on my brow. I could tell this could be a pivotal moment in our friendship and I didn’t want to lose a friend. I did the math and tossed candies onto Debbie’s stretched out sweatshirt which she, once full, folded in half to transform into a remarkably crafty go-go-gadget candy pouch. When finished, she strongly resembled a crack kangaroo. She hopped up to the counter and dumped our booty out. We waited in frothing anticipation for the clerk to count out every-single-candy that, of course, equaled exactly five dollars. Yay, awesome math student extraordinaire!
This was the Friday night ritual:
- Race back home, giddy with anticipation. No candy eaten in transit, even though we both really wanted to.
- Arrive and dump out all the candy onto coffee table.
- Put ultra gory horror movie in VCR (yup, they too had a VCR – how was it that only my poor friends had VCR’s?)
- Devour all the candy during the movie. One at a time.
- Go into full sugar coma.
- Rinse. Repeat.
The next morning ill from a gnarly sugar hangover, I devised a way to double our sugar intake for next week. Mom picked me up that afternoon.
“Mom, Debbie gets an allowance of five dollars a week,” I said, batting my eyelashes.
And with that, we doubled our prize money.
The next Friday double sugar coma was so intense I was unsure we would ever recover. Our stomach’s ached. Our head’s ached. We felt death approaching.
We couldn’t wait until next Friday so we could do it again.
Not for a moment did either of us ever consider doing anything different with our 10 dollars. We could’ve gone to the movies, which I’d only been to about two at this time. We could’ve gone to Park Lane Mall and bought fifty pairs of earrings at Claire’s. Each. Or we could’ve bought twenty-five pairs and gone to Sparro for pizza and Cokes.
But no, we were addicts. We saw only candy.
The Slippery Slope Theory postulates that an unassuming action or event inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating into some significant impact, particularly one of the shitty kind. It’s a lot like this Laurel & Hardy movie I saw where this little pebble got loose at the top of a mountain and turned into a monster rock avalanche almost destroying everything in its path on its way to the bottom.
This is the story of how I tripped and fell right into a huge pile of white powder.
“Debbie is… big,” Mom replied after I enthusiastically asked her what she thought of my new friend.
That’s not exactly what I meant by thought when I asked. I was hoping for “smart,” or “sweet,” or perhaps “nifty,” but most definitely not “big.” “Big” is how one describes a sofa or perhaps a T-Rex, but not a human. At least, that is, if you’re me.
I liked Debbie. We met in Mr. Loman’s sixth grade class. She had pimples and boobs and was approximately six-feet-tall. Yes, she probably could’ve been a linebacker, but I saw in her less football player and more puppy who hadn’t grown into her feet yet. She was like a Chihuahua trapped in a St. Bernard’s body. Puberty was not kind to poor Debbie.
So, of course, I liked her immediately.
I added her to my awkward friend collection the second her huge frame appeared in the sixth grade doorframe, shadowing most of the classroom like Godzilla. Mr. Loman lifted the needle off the class record player, (which is how we hit pause in the 80’s), as we’d been listening to his favorite Beatles song, “Revolution 9.”
“This must be Debbie, our new student who just moved here from Michigan. The painted turtle is Michigan’s state reptile,” and with that, he went right back into “Revolution 9,” as he believed it to have all of the answers to all of the questions of all of the worlds. Every time the number nine came up in conversation, he would repeat, “number nine, number nine, number nine,” about 25 times. Some would consider this annoying; I, on the other hand, believed him to be possibly the coolest human ever. Let’s just say I had an affinity for eclectic types.
Mr. Loman also wouldn’t put up with bullying the classroom so even though most of my bullies were in class with me this year, I was safe during classroom hours. It was actually hilarious to see Tammy get so busted bullying me that she never even looked at me during class for the rest of the year.
Debbie arranged herself into the empty desk kitty-corner from me. She unpacked the contents of her tattered gray backpack into her new desk. She seemed nervous. It was right in the middle of the school year, so I assumed her parents were probably given the same parenting handbook mine were. I think these handbooks were most likely given out wherever alcoholic beverages were being served.
Marie and I shared a secret eyeball moment to confirm Debbie’s acceptance for membership to our underground network of transplants. Our underground was so underground that we didn’t even know we had an underground.
Here’s the new kid chronology since the fourth grade:
- Marie = new kid. Weirdo. All alone. Boo.
- Marie + Courtney = two. Better. Two is better than one.
- Courtney + Marie + Debbie = three. The triumvirate of cool, so cool there must be laser beams and stuff.
It was entirely apropos that The Beatles were playing as she entered, because this, my friends, was destiny.
Note: There was no hierarchy in our movement. Actually, the new kid was the most important because the new kid brought power. Power in numbers. The more of us, the less we’d get bullied. At least in theory. I would later name this the “Bullshit Theory” or “Courtney’s a Delusional Freak Theory,” although the latter is much more fact than theory, but please don’t pull me aside and tell me so because I will vehemently oppose said fact as merely speculation and words may be exchanged. Consider yourself warned.
Nothing spells awkward more than getting stuck in a group of humans who’ve shared history that was B.C. (before Courtney). How many times can one retort, “oh yeah, I’m sure that was really funny, especially if I was actually there?” This later led to my obsession with never missing any event ever, lest something totally awesome happened that I missed that would be recalled at a later time.
My fellow members of the network had also experienced the Waldo-Von-Duchenheimer feeling of getting stuck in a circle jerk of kids sharing memories from when Billy farted in first grade or the memorable second grade field trip to the planetarium. We knew what it was to be uprooted. To have no history. To these kids, we were nothing more than evaporated vapor from Billy’s long lost fart before we appeared on their rearview.
And Debbie and I had sugar.
“Where are you going?” Eve yelled as I ran. She was brave. She was also left alone by bullies, probably due to the fact that they’d have to get within smelling range to appropriately intimidate her.
“I, uh, I forgot I told my mom I’d be home right after school today!” I lied as I sprinted toward the crosswalk.
Once I reached the street corner, I pressed the crosswalk button about 400 times in a matter of five seconds. Unfortunately, my fixed attention on said crosswalk button distracted me so I completely failed to notice who was on the other side of the street and about to head my way. Yep. Not one, not two, but all three of my new bullies. And they had not only already spotted me in their territory, but they were already laughing at me.
“Hey Egghead! Did you get lost? Are you running home to Mommy?” They intermittently barked at me between peals of laughter.
Then in perfect fashion, the glowing white walking man suddenly and almost mockingly appeared in the crosswalk box. This was markedly the first of many times that the man I’d longed for so desperately finally showed up – at the entirely wrong time. I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen. Just then, Eve caught up with me and grabbed my arm.
“Just walk. Don’t look at them.” She coached me under her breath.
“Oh look at the lesbian lovers! Eve and Courtney sitting in a tree, K I S S I N G…” They continued taunting us as we met in the middle of the crosswalk. At least I knew we couldn’t be there forever. Eventually the light would turn green, right? Or maybe a semi would magically run the red light and tragically (and hopefully quickly) squash me like a bug? Should I be so lucky.
Because of all of the excitement of the day, my guard was down, so much so that the fancy dodging-bullies footwork I’d honed over the past few hellish months was thrown out the window. Tammy pulled her signature move and stuck one hefty freckled leg out in my direct line of travel, sending me crashing to the ground. One knee, then both, met with the black asphalt, tearing my corduroys and leaving small black granules in my bloodied skin. Next to hit was my chin, which caused a domino reaction, slamming my jaw shut which in turn clamped right down onto my tongue.
I don’t know why and I wish it wasn’t so, but these moments are always in slow motion. It’s like the moments that suck so bad you wish they’d go by super fast tend to go at the pace of molasses. A minute becomes like 800 years. That’s just an estimate, but I think I’m pretty close.
At a slug’s speed, not one, but both packs of cigarettes flew out of my little purse onto the street. This was the defining moment. It would all be worthwhile – the blood, the bruises, the years of therapy to come – if these smokes would’ve incited a fear in my bullies like no other. A trembling. An understanding of how truly psycho the little girl they tormented every day was and the lengths she would go to prove as much.
Tammy, Lisa, and Gina, who were already laughing hysterically, started howling at a decibel which only rivaled Def Leppard.
“Oh my name’s Egghead, I’m a smoker now. I’m so retarded!” The choir of doom sang through their laughter.
“You think you’re tough now? We’ll show you tough tomorrow when we kick your ass!” They bellowed. Perfect, now I had something to look forward to at least.
The light turned green as we piled the intestines of my purse back in its little body. When it couldn’t get any more humiliating, the honking began. Sparks was a cruel city. No pausing for downed weirdos. I prayed they would just put me out of my misery and run me over. Just make it fast. Knowing my luck that would be in slow fucking motion too.
Eve picked up the pieces and got me safely across the street. My knees, chin, and tongue were bleeding, snot was dripping out of my nose and I was sobbing. A car of teenage boys slowed down to stare as they drove by. Through my tears a blurry bumper sticker came into focus which read, “Reno is so close to hell you can see Sparks.”