Sunday, January 10, 2010




: to make (something unpleasant or ugly) superficially attractive

this word conjures up more memories of experience than it does of people or objects. the phrase, "come on, it's gonna be fun, i promise," seems to have proceeded many of my most unbearable nights ever. not that the speaker intended to candy-coat what would inevitably been a horrible experience, but more that i really wanted to believe it was going to be better than i anticipated.

one such experience that comes to mind is the first and only school dance i ever attended. i was in sixth grade, which, in my school district, was still elementary school. my friend angelina had moved to another school district a few years prior, and was already in junior high. she also already had her period. and she invited me to come to her school dance.

"come on, it's gonna be fun, i promise," she cooed over the phone, blatantly COSMETICIZING the nightmare that is junior high school dances. i agreed to go for the same reason i still agree to do anything social that i don't particularly want to do: i don't want people to think i am not fun.

i don't totally remember what i wore, although i'm pretty sure it involved capri pants and keds, which was par for the course in the spring of 1992. i also definitely remember hairspraying my unruly bangs that i was trying desperately to grow out. there may or may not have been lipstick involved. i have blocked that part out.

angelina's mother drove us, her sister, and some of their heavily made-up friends to the junior high school where we went into the decorated gymnasium and immediately staked out a spot to sit on the bleachers and observe. one by one, the girls disappeared onto the dance floor, dancing with both each other and with nameless, nondescript boys wearing tucked in polo shirts and braces. angelina sat with me for a while, but she too disappeared into the awkward, sweaty crowd of hormones, leaving me sitting alone on the bleachers. i was a little uncomfortable, but the role of the lonely observer was something i already knew well, even at eleven, and it seemed far less daunting than having to be out on the dance floor.

at some point a polo-clad boy with a mouth full of metal approached me.

"do you wanna dance?"

", thanks."

"are you serious? i only asked cause your friends felt bad that you were sitting here alone. whatever."

he walked away shaking his head. my face was burning and i could feel tears welling up in my eyes, which i fought with every ounce of energy that i could retrieve in myself. angelina stormed over to me a few minutes later.

"what's wrong with you? why didn't you dance with him?"

"cause i don't want to dance, okay? can't i just sit here?"

"fine. whatever. i just wanted you to have fun." she stormed off.

people are always concerned with whether or not i'm having fun. that's valid, because in awkward social situations, i'm usually not having fun, and people can almost always read it in my face. unfortunately, i've never been able to COSMETICIZE my expression. if i find myself stuck in these situations, i truly do have more fun just sitting and observing than i do attempting to force myself to be social with people in which i have no desire to interact. it is my hope that i will one day simply learn to say "no" to the junior high school dances that happen over and over in our lives, and just stay home and watch a movie.

1 comment:

  1. Today I can usually sit contently observing others in situations that Jr. High would automatically term "socially awkward". If only we could put middle school off until we were 26.