I suppose when I say that I hated middle school, it comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone. I mean, really, who wants to be awkward both socially and physically? Even the attractive kids tend to not like it so much (unless you're my little sister, who was friends with literally everybody and absolutely loved middle school. Pretty sure she's a mutant or something).
That said, I have a feeling I went into middle school with an already-pessimistic way of thinking. My mom tells me -- I have no recollection of this -- that for the entire year of sixth grade, I wore nothing but baggy black clothes. I probably would have also worn lots of black eyeliner, if I had been allowed to wear makeup. Really, the only thing I truly remember is that I had bangs, and I loved wearing them in my eyes. Then again, that might be a memory from earlier. Maybe I didn't have bangs when I was in sixth grade. I'll have to check some photos.
Of all the things that happened that year, the one I remember best almost didn't involve me at all. It was back when the entire school still did talent shows. A year or two before, my friends and I had done a little sign language/dance routine to an Avalon song. Yes, we were quite adorable. This time, though, someone got the idea that we needed to do a swing dancing routine.
We came up with the idea at lunch, and man-oh-man, were we proud of ourselves and excited. there were three guys in our group, Jeremy, Allen, and Michael. There were four girls. Me, Ariel, Lindsey, and Tammy (at least, I'm pretty sure it was Tammy...maybe it was Ariece?). Guess who was nominated team manager? That's right. Me. Because of all the things that were wrong with me, or right or whatever, the one thing I absolutely could not change made me an outcast.
I was too tall.
Please take a moment to laugh and make a little face of sympathy. I know my sixth grade self would appreciate it. No one said exactly why I didn't get to dance, but I knew. Oh, how I knew. For the next two weeks, though, I whole-heartedly dedicated myself to helping out. I made sure we had music, and a boom box (remember those?), and a room to practice in. Ms. Anderson, the art teacher, was our patroness, and I got Mrs. Foster, my home room teacher, to let everyone practice in her room during lunch.
And then while everyone practiced the routine they'd come up with, I would sit on a desk and smile and laugh with them, and I remember having fun. I have a feeling I may have been faking it, just a little bit. But then came my big chance. Lindsey broke her arm. I felt bad, of course, but I thought, This is it! I'll get to dance! I shouldn't have gotten so optimistic too quickly, because another short girl was quickly found (maybe that's why I thought of both Ariece and Tammy). However, you can't let things like that bother you. So I kept on doing what I was doing.
When try-outs came -- the teachers had to be sure your performance was appropriate and all that -- I sat with the rest of the nervous performers while my friends got up and did their routine. I think it was pretty good. I mean, it was good for a bunch of tweeners who'd taught themselves and who thought they were awesome. Everyone loved it, of course; no one had ever done swing dancing for their talent. We were ecstatic, because that meant that we were definitely in; we were going to perform in front of everybody!
Again, optimism shouldn't happen so quickly. We hadn't even left the room before the teachers started whispering to one another, and looking at us. I got a little nervous, but I knew what they were talking about. You see, our school didn't allow dancing. There'd been a little row that split the entire school a few years before, and dancing had been outlawed. A few high school girls had gotten preggo after the homecoming dance, and the parents blamed the dancing for putting them in the mood. So from the beginning, we had been afraid that they might not let us do the swingdancing. We just, you know, thought that since they were letting us practice, they would let us go through with it.
They didn't. And even though I was sad for my friends, I was also a little glad. Because I hadn't gotten to dance, and neither did they.