Growing up, I was a tomboy. I think Daddy wanted another son, so when I was born instead, he just made do. I learned how to play baseball instead of softball and, while I wore dresses (this was the sixties, you know), I never did get into the whole “ruffles and bows” thing. They just got in the way.
Somewhere along the line, I was proclaimed to be gifted. Geekdom, here I come! I went to special classes and took advanced math. And yet, I never fully embraced the egghead lifestyle. That was never my identity.
During the growing years, I was also heavily influenced by my mom, a classical musician and volunteer librarian. I think I was genetically destined to love and adore books. She also introduced me to the world of violins, and I eventually wandered into the realm of bassoons and even glockenspiels. Yeah, I’ll wait here while you look that one up. Back already? Weird, huh!
Mom was horrified during my disco years and was actually happy to see my eventual turn toward heavy metal music in the early 80s. Even though it was a bit loud and radical at the time, at least it had something other than thumping bass.
(This is the point where I admit I actually spent cash money in an airport music store, of all places, to purchase a full price 2-disc CD set containing the entire soundtrack to the movie Saturday Night Fever as a full grown adult around the year 2000. And now I have it on my iPhone.)
So let’s head back to the early 1980s. Here I am, 100% tomboy and just starting to learn that boys might want a girl that knew how to clean up, god-only-knows-what-food stuck in my braces, enrolled in the nerdiest of nerd classes, hanging out in the marching band room after school, practicing my glockenspiel. If that doesn’t make for homecoming queen material, I don’t know what does. Being on the tennis team was a bit of a mitigating factor, but let’s face it, I was never going to be a cheerleader.
And for some reason that bothered me. Really, it did. Despite the fact that I had next to nothing in common with those girls, I hated the thought that there was any possibility of being stamped “Denied!” before I even had a chance to try. I could do anything, right? Isn’t that what we were all told as kids?
So I decided to give it a shot. Only I wasn’t in high school anymore. I was in college. Yes, the talent pool was a bit more saturated at that point, and I had never cheered a day in my life. Add in that I was now in full-blown heavy metal mode, and you can see where this is going.
It was 1984, a year filled with pink and angora. The sounds of Duran Duran floated through the air. Girls did their best to look like Madonna in the early virgin years, before the sex book and the veiny arms. And here I stood, among the virgin-est of them all, the college cheerleaders.
Look here! Now we see our heroine (moi!) enter the room in a pair of tight, acid-washed jeans, exquisitely torn at the knees and accompanied by dirty white high top sneakers. The jeans are adorned with a belt that is both functional and attractive – a chain. Topping this fabulous display of fashion is a black Iron Maiden shirt with the sleeves violently torn out of existence. The words “Piece of Mind” and Eddie the Head as a lobotomized mental patient chained to his cell wall grace this delicate wearable art piece. And as the cherry on this cheery sundae, our graceful girl has stylishly chosen to apply the maximum amount of mascara and gray eye shadow, in amounts so large that keeping her eyes open is next to impossible due to the sheer weight of the product. Such a fashion plate!
Needless to say, having never cheered before in my life, being a life-long tomboy/nerd, and bearing the ultimate in “Screw you!” apparel, I didn’t make the team. Shocking, right? But it sure was fun seeing the looks on those girls’ faces. And that’s when I decided I loved being the odd one, the unexpected one. Thirty years later, that’s still me.