Wednesday, June 20, 2007

6th Grade Dance

Statistics show (or I guess I think they would show since I'm not sure I have ever seen statistics on the subject) that the vast majority of us were not the cool kid in school and even if you were the cool kid you might not have known it. Who looks at themselves in the mirror in 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grade and says, "Yes! I look GOOD!"

I certainly didn't and never was this feeling of inadequacy highlighted more than at the grade school dance. I believe times have changed but our grade school dances were themed as in 'square' or 'sock hop'. We would learn how to do these dances in gym class the months prior and then the same music plus extra would be played at the Friday night dance.

It sounded good in theory to all of the adults making these decisions but what happens to the tall girl in gym class when everyone is paired up and there are more girls than boys? Say it with me: She is forced to partner with another girl.

This is not exactly a good way to give the self confidence of an awkward pre-teen a boost.

And so you go to the dance because you don't want your parents to know how big of a loser you are (by high school I didn't care that they knew and I didn't go) and you stand along the wall with the rest of the grade schoolers - girls on one side, boys on the other with a few brave souls dancing in the middle.

This is bad enough.

But when the song turns to one that everyone knows and has been practicing in gym class and everyone runs out to partner up but you... and a few other tall girls... you can feel the tears burn in your throat and the nausea slowly wash over you.

Brutal. Absolutely brutal.

I hate it that there are still things at the age of 37 that can make me feel like that awkward middle schooler standing against the wall at the sock hop all over again.

19 comments:

reverendmother said...

As someone who never dated anyone taller than I was until R came along, not to mention the lack of coolness... I hear you. Loud and clear.

Alex said...

Oh gosh, that is a good post. Yes, I was 5'9'' by age 13. I love my height now, but definitely wished I was cute and petite when I was younger.

Listing Straight said...

Yep. Never cool.
Until I became a HCC, that is.

lutheranmom said...

I was at Toys R Us the other day when I turned the corner and ran into a "friend" from middle/high school. This was a someone who had at times been my friend and at other times picked on me relentlessly. Even after all these years I felt like an insecure adolescent. I didn't say a word to her and she didn't say a word to me...
(Is it petty for me to point out that I have aged a bit better than her? and to feel good about it)

Lorna said...

hey Rev Gals is just cool :) and there's room for the over 5' and unders which is just wonderful since I fall into the under bracket and yeah I suffered from it too.

Why is it that people still think it's funny to pat a shorter person on the head and say "how's the weather down there?"

there is NOTHING anyone can do about their height ...

will smama said...

lm, I had a similar moment of Zen when I returned to my hometown quite a few years ago now. I ran into some former classmates at what used to be the popular pizza hang out and although we did talk I was quite pleased with myself that I had moved on and yet there they were living out the lyrics to 'Glory Days'.

If you peak in high school you've got a long, long life ahead of you.

Kathryn said...

Eeek...I was so not cool that just thinking about dances at junior school makes me shudder..thankfully they weren't part of the programme in my part of the world. But I do identify too with those moments at (say it quietly)47 when I still have that feeling.... Hope they are thin on the ground for you.

zorra said...

"...I was quite pleased with myself that I had moved on and yet there they were living out the lyrics to 'Glory Days'."
ZING! I confess that I feel that way every time I visit my hometown. And that I know that living well is the best revenge, and that I would not trade my life for any of theirs, for anything. And that I simultaneously feel guilty for my attitude, and thankful that things worked out as they did.
I am amazed when I look around at my extremely cool friends and loved ones, and consider that [20, 30, 40] years ago they were thought of as uncool, just like me!

Nerds rule! (eventually)

more cows than people said...

just the title of this piece took me to a body-loathing, socially awkward, SOOOO insecure place. the only dance in my elementary school was at the end of sixth grade and it was a BIG DEAL. i was briefly in the cool girls circle until getting dumped early in sixth grade- pretty brutally. so when this dance came around i knew i had to have the right outfit- something from benetton- i picked a plain and boring (and not flattering) pink outfit because i couldn't stomach making my parents spend more money for something more attractive. i did have a "date", but... yuck. yuck. yuck. YUCK. save for a few months- i was not a cool kid-ever (and probably not even in those few months). so i was very surprised when i learned that some folks call me a sexycool pastor. i'm inviting any who wish to join the sexycool pastor club!

thanks for the thoughts on the burdens of height too. i actually didn't gain my height until late, so i got picked on in sixth and seventh grade for not having had a growth spurt. but all the girls who picked on me stopped at their sixth or seventh grade heights and i soared past them to 5'9".

cheesehead said...

I will be on somebody's "Not Cool" list until the day I die, I'm sure.

LadyBurg said...

Yup, even the short girls were uncool. I didn't have anyone to dance with either. Ugh. I can remember those "dances" like they were yesterday. Is that some type of tortured experience we must all go though in order to make it to adulthood?!

Reverend Dona Quixote said...

You know, regardless of our height, we just can't win.

If you're tall, you're too tall and people expect you to change the light bulbs and get things off top shelves.

If you're short, you're too short, and Randy Newman writes possibly offensive songs about you.

And if you're in between ....

...well then, you're "average".

See what I mean?

Songbird said...

Oy, the dances were cruel and inhuman, even for those of us who skipped the 6th grade.

St. Inuksuk said...

Short, rotound, geek and nerd, the proverbial square peg in round hole, I, too was a wall flower, gracing the gym walls. of course, I was also a bit of klutz and not super coordinated. I still can't dance today and I'm still somewhat socially awkward. However, I was an Ester Williams in the pool and I dance and sing for my greys, who look at me adoringly!
Thanks for hitting the nerve for several of us!

esperanza said...

Don't envy those of us with partners...I was seen as such a "nice girl" that they made me be partners with the boy with the unfortunate name I will not type here. Rumor had it, throughout elementary until 6th grade, that he picked his nose and ate his boogers. And he had to touch me! With those hands! Ew.

Once I could escape from the poor boy, I was actually relieved to stand at the wall. I'd still prefer to be there, sometimes...both at dances and metaphorically.

Thanks for the memories, WS!

Teri said...

oh, how I longed to be cool.

Now I discover (via facebook) that I'm way cooler than the cool kids ever were....

...and I wish I would have known that was going to happen back when I didn't get asked to dance.

Mary Beth said...

For me it was the 8th grade dance. It is one of my most miserable moments.

Thankful I am not there any more.

tribalchurch said...

Me: Short and against the wall.

What could make it worse? I was always best friends with the most beautiful girl in school.

My daughter had a dance in KINDERGARTEN this year. What crazed PTA mom thought that up?

Let the awkwardness begin!

will smama said...

Kindergarten? OOF-dah!