Wherein the author checks in to reality central

So tonight I spoke on the phone for the first time with D-fav J. He is everything a girl could want in an internet boyfriend and then some. He's got the goods, ladies. Plus--added bonus--he finds both my accent and southernisms exceedingly cute. Few men find D all that cute these days so he wins BIG TIME for that. It's refreshing. So shut up already if I pine on about my IBF.

But anyway, our conversation got me thinking about some interesting things. For some reason, earlier today I was thinking about Jennifer Salyers. She was my locker partner in 7th grade. OK, in those days there was a thing called junior high school and it was a place they warehoused 7th, 8th and 9th graders before shipping them off to high school. And home rooms were organized by last names, so Salyers and Saunders were in the same homeroom. So Jennifer was a CHEERLEADER. And D was a swimmer. I think I asked her if she wanted to share a locker. I recall not really knowing anyone else in my classroom and she was a girl and she was close by. Things were great for a while. I was happy to have a popular locker partner. She kept her blue and white pompoms in the bottom of our locker and I thought they were pretty neat. However, I apparently didn't meet overall CHEERLEADER criteria for acceptable locker partners and soon I was made to feel awkward as Jennifer and her CHEERLEADER friends shot me disapproving looks every time I went to my locker at homeroom time. After a few weeks of that, I made sure I only went to my locker when Jennifer and her cronies weren't around. It seemed that for no apparent reason the shine had worn off D. I tried to make the best of it. But being made to feel like an untouchable for an entire year takes its toll on a young, developing psyche.

Now why would I think of that today? I think there are events in your life that shape you and believe it or not, I think that is one of mine. I was brought to the pinnacle of popularity and failed. I think that single moment labeled me (in my own eyes if not in the eyes of the "in crowd") as less than. I suffered from "less than" syndrome throughout high school. I didn't think boys would like me. I didn't think I was attractive. I didn't think I was smart, or talented or distinguished in any way. I was fairly good at athletics, but there were others who were better. I had a small group of peers who I entertained with my antics. But all in all, I didn't think I had whatever it was that was needed. I was second tier. The problem with this thinking is that it came to define me. When I started thinking about colleges, I didn't think I had the money or the brains to get in a top college so I didn't try. I went to the state college. I was interested in things that weren't supposed to interested women and early in my college career I had encountered several misogynists that led me to believe that the world wasn't ready for a female Quincy. I decided it wasn't for me to change the system. I tried business, but had no interest. I needed a major and had one supportive professor so I picked English. I tried to fit the mold of what I thought English majors were and came to fancy myself some sort of creative type (I'm not sure that any self-analysis resulted in a more skewed result). I even took a Briggs-Myers test and was smart enough to realize how to manipulate my answers to feed into the perception I had of myself. And WOW, when I got my results, it told me that I would be good at exactly what I thought I wanted to do.

My life has been hancuffed by this second-tier belief. It's funny. I applied to the University of Illinois and was accepted. I applied to the University of California-Irvine and was accepted. In fact those things mean more to me than I think my doctorate will. Because I applied to top tier schools and wasn't found lacking. I chose to go where I am, and sure, I am FED THE FUCK UP with grad school most of the time, but no one can take away the fact that I measured up.

As we entered high school, it became increasingly apparently that Jennifer Salyers was destined to pursue the "dumb blonde" stereotype. She grew up and married a guy who developed a drug problem and held up a store and landed in jail. I ended up divorced and pursuing a Ph.D. I'm not happy about the course of Jennifer's life, but I'm just pointing out that popularity in high school doesn't mean squat in real life. I wish that locker-partner thing had gone differently. Perhaps both of our lives would have turned out differently.

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