I decided to read Kick Me before tackling some of the novels that have been patiently waiting in my TBR stack(s) for many, many months. I’m presently not in the mood to read about serious subjects, so the creeping piles of dramatic and tear-inducing books which are threatening to suffocate me as I sleep will just have to wait a little while longer, and no complaining allowed! The other day, my pug jumped up on the couch, and one of the teetering stacks that I placed on top against the wall went tumbling down on his head. He screamed bloody murder (pugs scream like little girls) and dashed under the kitchen table, where he remained in a state of cowering wimpiness for several hours.
Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence is Paul Feig’s memoir of his secondary school experiences, and it’s pretty amusing. Feig was the creator of television’s Freaks and Geeks back in the ’80’s, and he’s also an actor, producer and director. He’s kind of an incredible guy. I had no idea!
Feig hated organized sports and gym class. My favorite story is one in which he has to undress in the locker room for gym while wearing underwear that his mom adorned with a colorful butterfly. His classmates go bonkers when they see the colorful appliqué, and start yelling “FEIG’S A FAG, FEIG’S A FAG,” over and over again. He says, “They had come unhinged. Apparently they’d never seen decorated underwear and the sight of it had turned them into the kids from Lord of the Flies.”
Feig may have suffered daily at the hands of his heartless peers, but they never broke his spirit. He was a self-confident kid and he became a successful and self-assured man. It’s refreshing to read a memoir in which the protagonist is able to take the awkwardness of his youth in stride and recreate his gawky teenaged experiences to his advantage as an adult. Read this–it’s light and fun.
Now for your continuing enjoyment, I’d like to present one of my worst middle-school experiences. We’ve all had them; even the most popular kids have a hard time during early adolescence. After reading quite a bit about this stage in a person’s life, I’ve come to the conclusion that both girls and boys suffer equally, but they suffer in different ways. Boys have to deal with testosterone poisoning, so there’s all that aggressive crap that they have to dole out to each other every day. Girls are mean and snotty, and there’s no meaner and snottier time than early adolescence. During my early teen years, I suffered from an almost overwhelming sense of self-consciousness, mostly due to my height. I was the 2nd tallest girl in school, so it was impossible for me to disappear the way I wanted to. I was also the gangliest, most uncoordinated creature on the planet, and my klutziness haunted me until I finally figured out what to do with my mantis-like limbs after starting high school. Here’s my story:
Chartroose’s Dance of Degredation and Despair
I fell in intense like with a boy when I was in the 7th grade, and this crush lasted until the end of my 8th grade year. The guy that I was crushing on was every girl’s dream. He was one of the few boys who was taller than I was, and he had clear skin and knew how to use deodorant. This was incredibly impressive to me, since many young adolescent boys are greasy, blackhead-riddled, stinky things who make their female classmates shudder in horror if they pass too close to them in the hallways. For the purposes of this story, I’ll call my crush “Bill,” because Bill is a good and wholesome boy’s name.
The dance of despair took place in 8th grade gym class, which, as we all know, is the worst class in middle school by far. Gym is the place where you’re the most vulnerable and exposed. Back in the day, we were forced to wear dreadful bluish-colored one-piece polyester gym uniforms with snaps on the shoulders. They made us feel like we were gigantic infants wearing onesies. Since they were 100% polyester, they’d make us perspire like crazy and begin to smell awful about two seconds after we poured ourselves into them. We also had to wear knee high tube socks without stripes. If we wore striped tube socks, our hatchet-faced pseudotransexual gym teacher would become angry, which really didn’t bother us all that much because she was perpetually angry anyway.
Most of the time, the girl’s gym classes and the boy’s gym classes were separated, but on the infamous day in question, the girls were to perform a special rhythmic dance for the boys. We all knew this was the brainchild of the boy’s gym teacher since he liked to watch our breasts bounce up and down every chance he got. (His perversion was one of the few gym related things I didn’t have to worry about, since my body closely resembled Olive Oyl’s). Several days before the big performance, we were separated into random groups and told to choose our own music and choreograph our own dance. Each member of the group was given a small bouncy playground ball which was to be incorporated into our routines. In my group, there were a couple of those perfect little squealy girly-girls that all moderately intelligent normal girls love to hate. They took over the choreography, and the rest of us just went along with what they said because we simply didn’t care enough to argue about it.
I learned something very important about myself during this dreadful time: I have absolutely no rhythm. I was by far the worst participant in my group. I can throw and catch a ball just fine, but not while trying to move my body in a graceful manner. Even now, I’m about as graceful as a zombie, so you can imagine what I must’ve looked like back then. I would throw the ball in the air and try to catch it while executing a split jump and end up losing my balance and taking a nose dive onto the hard wooden gym floor. I’d try to pass my ball to another member of the group while twirling like a fool and accidentally bounce it off my knee, and it would then zoom across the gym and gleefully interrupt another group’s practice session. I’d try to catch a ball that another member of my group tossed my way while attempting to pose in an arabesque-like manner and fall down with a crash, my gangly arms waving feebly like the appendages of a dying tarantula.
My teammates, appalled at my lack of coordination, held a powwow and decided there was only one solution to the terrible situation I had created: I was to do my own little routine while they did their big one. I would dribble my red rubber ball in a big circle around them while they performed their beautiful dance on the inside. It was all I could do, or so they thought.
The day of destiny arrived, and I was a nervous wreck. The boys were going to be watching, and, to make matters worse, Bill was going to be there. I could barely stand the anxiety, and I broke out in a sweat that dampened my polyester gym uniform more than it had ever been dampened before. I and my glistening armpits took to the gym floor, anxiously awaiting the beginning of the dance. The music started and I began my circle bounce walk. I had dribbled perhaps three or four steps when the biggest catastrophe in the history of my little life happened. The ball bounced off my foot and went flying into the bleachers, where it clipped Bill on the side of the head and bounced off the wall behind him. After a collective gasp from the audience, the entire group burst into raucous laughter. It was the most embarassing moment I’ve ever experienced, and I rushed into the locker room and locked myself in one of the toilet stalls where I sat and wept silently and steadily for what seemed to be an eternity. I could barely look at Bill after that, and my schoolgirl crush was completely and utterly dead.
The funny part of all this is that Bill actually tried to talk to me a couple of times after that dreadful day. I couldn’t reciprocate, though. The humiliation was way too overwhelming. Now that I’m older and wiser, I believe I’ve finally figured out why he developed a sudden (and fleeting) interest in me. It’s very simple: guys like to be bonked on the head. Also, they sometimes need to be bonked on the head in order to become aware of your existence. Men are elemental like that. If I had known then what I know now, I would’ve laughed with the crowd, retrieved my ball, and finished the routine. Maybe Bill and I could’ve become friends, especially if I were to bonk him every once in awhile.