PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Is That A Ketchup Bottle In Your Pocket?

I think one of the worst things you can say to me is, "You don't look happy." It elicits a knee-jerk reaction in which I feel I must convince you that I am, indeed, happy, even if I'm not, and even if I cannot convince you of this, I still must look ugly, u-g-l-y, yo mamma say you ugly.

What it boils down to is that this was said to me A LOT in high school. "Are you ok? You don't look happy." Hey, newsflash: I'M NOT. I'm in a punk-ass backwards town where I'm on the outside looking in, EVERY DAY, I'm suffering from hereditary chronic depression, even though it hasn't been named yet, I encounter stupidity at every turn, I have to correct my teachers' spelling, and I am not only the reason squeeze bottles for ketchup & mustard are no longer on the lunch tables, I'm the reason there was a moratorium on dodge ball for years, because a senior hit me in the EYE with a half-inflated ball & much to my chagrin, made me cry. I was in 8th grade and EVERYTHING has amazing importance when you're 13. (I skipped second grade.)

So by about Junior year, I learned to be "peppy", and I can still bring Pepster to the surface, but now I can at least laugh to myself, because I always mutter under my breath, "And the Oscar goes to....." But I was reminded about those early Pep days, and how even the guidance counselor was so stupid. This man was concerned about me, to his credit, but he did not really have the ability to go beyond what you gave him on a plate, and so I learned to present my plate with a lot of flourish and Pep, and he left me alone & didn't call my parents out of concern I was going to kill myself. He did, however, ask me if I'd please reconsider getting back together with the boyfriend I had for all of 2 months, Joe (also an outsider) because Joe was so distraught over our breakup, that HE was threatening to kill himself, or (worse) kidnap me on a motorcycle & go away with me. And the guidance counselor thought I should give him another chance. Just so's he wouldn't kill himself. Uh, yeah. Because I hear relationships formed out of guilt really rock the Casbah and are successful long-term. When I think about my reaction & decision to "stay the course & shoulder the entire town's blame for Joe's death" (which did not happen), I am proud of that person, because that was at a time in my life where I wasn't independent, I was completely driven by my parents' goals & dreams, I was so malleable & influence-prone, but my core person within turned one eye up and said, "YO, that's f-d up, no WAY!" Besides, Joe didn't even have a motorcycle. And we all lived, Joe moved away, lucky bastard, and I affected school policy changes until I, too, got to leave.

The ketchup bottle incident happened when Tom got into a food fight & threw food on my best friend, DeeDee. I'm a fiercely loyal person, and that was too much for me. So I grabbed the closest thing (are you KIDDING? I'm not sacrificing MY LUNCH), which happened to be a red plastic ketchup bottle. And I used both hands & squirted an awesome flourishing silly-string pattern of ketchup all over Tom.

Our punishment was to eat lunch together for a week, in the principal's office. Which didn't matter a bit, because in general, we were friends, we BOTH loved Duran Duran and it was just an inconvenience to balance our lunch trays on our laps. And for as finely-tuned as my gaydar has become, I had NO IDEA Tom was gay. (He didn't, really, either.) Because eyeliner and poofy hair and dance music did not signify gayness in Northern Iowa, it was just Suspiciously Different, which meant I loved it, it was just like me, and perhaps explains the how & why of how much I love gay men now.

This afternoon, I did not look happy. I didn't even try to hide it from the person asking. She really cares, and that makes all the difference in the world. So does eyeliner. I just put some on & look 100x more awake and happy. Are you glad to see me?
posted by PlazaJen, 6:01 PM