Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I remember high school like it was a kind of phantasmagoric nightmare peppered with the occasional rise to glory. I was not popular. But I did things popular girls did and then I did some things popular girls dreamed of, but were denied. Regardless, I would forever be a square peg in a round hole. Up until this very minute I still am, and truth be told, I abide well with corners.

But back in the day, and in spite of my extremely humble rung on the prosperity ladder and complete lack of social status, I did manage to do a few remarkable things. I was a good student, first and foremost. I routinely made the AB honor roll and then in high school became a member of the National Honor Society. I had a few extracurricular victories too, making cheerleading all four years I tried out. Sometimes even beating out a few popular girls. In my Sophomore year I was elected Captain of the JV Cheerleading Squad by my peers. So it wasn't all bad. Unless you count having to cheer with some first class bitches. Not all, but some. Okay, better than half. 

Yet, in my Junior year, I was sponsored by the Varsity Cheerleaders to compete in our high school pageant:  Miss Terry Parker, which I won. This catapulted me to the next competition: Miss Senior High of Duval County, which I also won. A thing as surprising to me as anyone, since the pageant was participated in by all the winners of all the high schools in my extremely wide county. It was a heady experience. Being unaccustomed to winning anything - I was beginning to like breathing the semi-rarefied air of teenage success. Suddenly, I was developing some street cred and was ever closing in on touching the fringe of popularity. It was a good time. People were nice to me for the most part. I also got a little bit of attention which, for the first time in my life was a very nice, albeit unusual, thing. I went on to win the next competition that I was obliged to participate in: Jacksonville Junior Miss. And from there, I traveled to Pensacola to perform in the state competition: Florida Junior Miss. This being the only title I was even remotely interested in capturing, since the winner received a fully paid four-year scholarship to the Florida college or university of her choice. I came in third.

So, it was back to high school and to the limited shelf-life of my small and fleeting fame. The closer I got to graduation the more quickly it swirled the drain. At least I went out somewhat of a success, but I can't say I wept any bitter tears leaving it or my classmates behind. Because, aside from those brief respites, high school was still torture.

You will not catch me at any high school reunions either. I went to two, when I was still naive enough to think it was a good idea. I remember my five-year reunion as awkward since, beside the pregnant former classmates who finally found their calling, there was nothing of any magnitude we'd accomplished quite yet. The trade of interesting stories was sorely lacking. But give it another five years and that awkwardness morphed into the full-blown horror of realizing at my ten-year reunion, that I was a miserable failure by comparison. Boring too. No one gave me the time of day or any length of conversation at all, apart from the rehearsed bulleted talking points of their personal good fortune and a quick gotta go. It didn't help that I was alone. My husband at the time, who was a good 13 years older, had nothing in common with the babies of my alma mater, so I didn't press him to accompany me. It was a disaster. I probably don't remember accurately since it was so long ago, but I do remember my tear streaked makeup upon arriving home and a vow to never return to another reunion. I haven't and I won't. Even after, quite by accident, bumping into a former classmate at the grocery store and being admonished for "not represent'n." Emphasis on resent. After all... I was Miss Terry Parker!

Now, at almost 53, I'm happy to be done with all that. Happy to be done with caring about and being miserable over high school and all its peculiarities. Like not/being popular. Not/being accepted. Not/being good enough. And yet, even in the comfort of my lovely life with my amazing second marriage and two grown children, with my extended family who I love quite a lot, I still get tripped up now and again about who I am and how I fit into the world. About what I've accomplished or not accomplished. About how I stack up. How I compare today.

I look at magazines and acquaint myself with the newest host of celebrities and "it" people. They're all infants. Infants making untold fortunes, but for what exactly? Because they learned how to beat box a rhyme in the ghetto (isn't that marvelous!) or received surgical breast implants big enough to choke an elephant (that's hot). Or best of all, are famous for nothing more than scandals or sex tapes or being born into an exceedingly indulgent family that groomed them into fame whoredom, à la Kardashian. I see who our youth are looking to as heros and idols and examples and it's quite frightening. I see how little it takes in this world to become the adoration of the masses. Popularity, it seems, still rocks. It's still the barometer of success whether you're in school, or college, or out in the world trying to make your mark. To be liked. To be accepted. It's still a dangerous drug. And yet, I still wonder...

I wonder what it's like to wake up as George Clooney or Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Or to live one day as Julia Roberts. To be yes'ed all day long and have throngs of adoring fans love you no matter what. I wonder what it's like to live inside the head of Madonna where the world in general is but a nuisance. I wonder what it would be like to be whisked here and whisked there, to dine in the finest restaurants, to be put up in the finest accommodations, to fly 'round the world on a private jet. I wonder what it would be like to be so popular that you almost forget you're human, or worse - subject to the same laws of limited longevity.

Then it hits me all over again that I am so very blessed to live a quiet unpretentious ordinary life. With correct balances and good Karma. With love and respect and ups and downs and normal things. I am so happy to be the un-est of unpopular. Then, now and forever.

Maybe it's better to be unpopular after all. 


  1. Oooo, I wanna see pics of you as a cheerleader! Even if they are black and white.

    What a deep post. I miss you, now get cracking on some old embarrassing photos.

  2. Jeez, I miss you and your writing. You are good and this is a fabulous write. I could relate to so many of the things you said about high school and reunions and the likes. I was so happy to get out of high school and have yet to participate in a reunion.

    Life in the Anonymous Lane is just fine with me.

    Hope you're doing GREAT!! xoxoxo jj

  3. Loved it, lady! I, too, celebrate the"un." It is funny, though, how long our highschool days haunt us. Oh...those heady days of pain and reinvention!

    I applaud your writing here...a gorgeous read.

  4. I want to see the cheer pix too!

    I went to my 5 year reunion and never even heard about any others.


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