Ah, middle school: the bane of everyone's existence. Filled with pimples, bad mustaches, armpit hair, bad haircuts, growth spurts so your pants never fit and kids discovering that B.O. is a real thing (but are in denial that they have it).
I have this one moment from middle school that I try to repress, but it creeps up ALL the time - especially when I'm wearing the same outfit as somebody else.
Because one day I matched outfits with Peter the Pervert.
Ah yes. That's another thing middle school is full of: degrading nicknames that are hilarious but you know you shouldn't laugh at them.
(Disclaimer: I changed Peter's name. I don't think anybody deserves to know the names people gave them in middle school.)
If you're wondering why Peter was dubbed "the pervert," it's because he said . . . things . . . that made people feel uncomfortable. Like one time (when I had the privilege of sitting in front of him in English class) he and this kid got in an argument over this stray pencil and whose it was and then, out of nowhere, he said, "You wanna whip out penises' and measure our size to see who the real man is?"
And I remember a clear, audible, "Aaaaaaagh, seriously Peter?!" coming from the surrounding students (myself included).
I had a class with Peter every year, and eighth grade I was blessed to have three classes with him. So I heard many of his perverted comments (mostly about his penis).
And that's how he received that nickname.
So anyway, I was blessed to sit next to Peter the Pervert every day for three years. I DON'T KNOW WHY BECAUSE OUR LAST NAMES WEREN'T EVEN CLOSE IN THE ALPHABET SO IT MUST'VE BEEN A JOKE FROM GOD.
(Caps lock to emphasis irony.)
Anyway, 8th grade was particularly a horrible year for me. I had a haircut I hated, pimples right between my eyes that people felt the need to point out (because you know. I wasn't already painfully aware of them), clothes that girls made fun of me for wearing, clothes that didn't match and last but not least I didn't realize I needed to shave my armpits until I raised my hand to answer a question and saw hair growing there that was WAY too long.
Anyway. My favorite outfit was the following: a brown polo shirt from Old Navy with a small pink deer logo to the side of the buttons, and a small, pink stripe lining the collar. I usually accompanied this was some sort of jeans that were baggy around my butt (for some reason I have a curse of ALL jeans sagging around my butt. No matter how tight they may be around the other parts of my legs, the butt is always baggy #whitegirlproblems).
I sat down at the long, brown desk that seated three people. I sat on the end, Peter the Pervert sat in the middle between me and one of the popular guys.
Peter the Pervert took off his coat and jacket, sat down . . . and that's when I saw he was wearing the exact same shirt as me. THE EXACT SAME SHIRT. Small, pink dear and small, pink stripe around the collar and everything.
What a cruel thing it is to merely exist in middle school.
I almost cried. But instead I slipped my jacket on, left it on the rest of the day and vowed to never wear it again. Which I didn't. I did NOT want to risk matching Peter the Pervert again. That would be social suicide to the social life I already didn't have.
So the other day I ran into my cousin and we were matching outfits. Naturally I laughed, and thought about this story. As I did so, I was reminded of other painful and hilarious moments I experienced in middle school and I realized . . . they all took place in science class.
So that was in eighth grade. Let's take a moment to talk about seventh grade.
I really liked my science teacher this year, and I was confident with my hair and clothes and didn't have to worry about armpit hair yet so my life was pretty good.
My teacher was from Wisconsin and had a thick Midwest accent. I thought I had a step ahead of the other students because my relatives are from Wisconsin and share the same accent. So I'd totally be able to interpret him, right?
Eh. Sorta. But mostly no.
One particular instance I remember is when we were talking about "solid, liquid, and gas." Because of his accent, our teacher pronounced it "salad" instead of "solid."
Well any dummy could figure out that by saying "salad, liquid, and gas," he really means SOLID, liquid, and gas. It's really not hard to figure out.
But we're in middle school. And possibly the most powerful (and possibly only powerful) tool middle schoolers have is, their self consciousness is so powerful, they can make themselves feel better by somehow KNOWING everyone's biggest insecurity and bringing them down by pointing it out. Nobody is immune to this power. Not even me (I still get squeamish and self conscious whenever I walk into a middle school). Not even adults. Not even leaders. Not even my science teacher.
Naturally the whole class started giggling at his pronunciation of 'solid.' Some said they didn't know what he meant. I don't believe them but, whatever; the stupidity of humans continues to impress me every day.
He seem confused. I don't remember if someone pointed out what he was doing, but I do remember him having to pause and put great focus on saying, "Saw-led. Saw-led."
Back to eighth grade.
This was humiliating.
We were playing a game in class. It involved throwing an eraser into a trash can like a basketball.
Now here's a hidden talent I have: I am VERY good at shooting baskets. Any other part of playing basketball I'm mediocre at best, but shooting baskets? BAM. I rock.
In seventh grade gym class, my team would have me hover near the basket at all times. Then they'd toss it to me and I'd shoot and make a basket.
I'm basically an amateur Michael Jordan.
Anyway. We're playing this game.
As I said above, we had to shoot an eraser into a trash can like a basketball.
I hadn't missed a shot yet.
And then the two teams were tied.
The final point came to me.
People were yelling, "DON'T MISS!" and "DON'T SCREW THIS UP!"
Thanks for your confidence in me, guys.
I tossed it.
And missed it.
The bell rang to leave class.
Our team had lost.
They lost because of me.
I burst out in tears.
To this day, I still cringe at that moment.
(Good news guys. I've smiled a lot since then.)
Now I saved a happy memory for last.
At basically any other school, ninth grade was in high school. But in my area, ninth grade was technically high school, but we just had all our classes in a school labeled "middle school" with all the seventh and eighth graders. I actually enjoyed this year. I liked my haircut and clothes, cared less about what people thought, and had a good group of friends that I loved.
Our middle school had a recycle system where ninth graders would sign up and volunteer to go collect recycling from all the classrooms in one giant box then, well, throw it in the giant recycling bin outside.
One day, my two best friends signed up for recycling at the same time. I, however, couldn't sign up at that time because there weren't any more openings then.
"It's okay," they said. "You have science then, right?"
"Ugh. Yes. With Mrs. Glass. She's the worst."
"Cool, we'll come get you out of class then," they said.
I had the greatest friends ever.
Let's take a moment to talk about Mrs. Glass. She was one of the worst teachers I've had, simply because she didn't teach. I remember a few times she tried, but she was distracted very easily, which we took great advantage of.
Picture an old, heavy, grouchy lady with thinning hair pulled up in a pony tail that sat on the top of her head, glasses that had been out of style since the 80's, while wearing a white polo shirt with white pants and pink underwear.
Yes. She wore white pants and pink underwear once. My table discovered this after she did that thing all teachers seem to do - talk to the kid next to you by bending over so you get their butt right in your face.
Hello, white pants and pink underwear.
Now, picture this woman going to the whiteboard and writing "Mrs. Glass" on the board, only to have a student erase the G and the L every time. Every. Time.
Now picture her turning around and starting to teach when a student raises their hand and says, "Tell us about your butterfly collection!"
50 minutes later, the bell rings and the only thing we have learned is an extensive overview of Mrs. Glass' butterfly collection.
Repeat this process the next day. Mrs. Glass writes name on board. Student erases the G and the L. She turns around to teach and -
"Mrs. Glass! Tell us about your bug collection!"
50 minutes later, I'm heading to my next class with a great knowledge of the other bugs that Mrs. Glass collected and which ones are her favorites.
Fun fact: I no longer remember what her favorite bugs were.
Repeat this process again. Mrs. Glass. G and L erased by student (why didn't she stop this? Why did she keep writing her name on the board?!), and then a student yells before she can get started on her lecture:
"Mrs. Glass! Tell us about how dinosaurs aren't real and they're just a government conspiracy!"
She got really heated with this topic. And it confused me because I thought, generally, scientists believed in dinosaurs? Well, clearly I'm wrong, because Mrs. Glass didn't.
So you could see why I wasn't too torn up about my friends getting me out of class that day.
The day came, and my friends walked in. I don't know what we were doing in class, but I do know that I was listening to my iPod (I miss those being a thing), and reading the sixth Harry Potter book.
This particular day, Mrs. Glass was wearing a headset so that she wouldn't have to yell for us to hear her. Unfortunately, she was so in the habit of yelling she kept doing it even after the headset was on. And she'd always turn it up all the way. I saw multiple staff members come into her classroom and tell her to turn it down because they could hear her.
I also was a secretary for the main desk that year, and got to witness one occasion where a teacher walked through the main room and say, "Mrs. Glass' headset is up all the way again." before going into the principals office and closing the door behind her.
(I also saw a few students get arrested! Whaaat!)
To be frank, I'm not sure she ever turned it down. Ever.
She probably thought they were part of a conspiracy. Ha ha . . . . ha ha . . .
Anyway, I'm sitting there having my own bit of fun, when I hear her yell through the microphone so loud that it's especially exaggerated:
I turned and saw my two friends standing uncomfortably by Mrs. Glass, holding a small recycling bin.
"RECYCLING!" she screamed again.
I nodded, closed my book, and scampered away with my friends.
When we got out to the hallway, they explained that they had to repeat "We're getting Carmen for recycling" three times before she understood them, and that her yelling had startled them as much as it did me.
We started making our rounds for recycling, and it soon became clear that - because recycling had also been done yesterday - there wasn't anything to be collected for today.
We still had 20 minutes left of recycling time, so we were rebellious and headed to our favorite teacher's office - Ms. Laymock. She had lunch the same time as my two friends did, so her classroom was empty.
"You girls doing recycling?" she asked us as we we walked into her classroom and took a seat.
"We were, but there's no recycling to do," my friend said.
"Are you kids missing class?" she said.
"We have lunch," my two friends said, and a guilty smile spread across my face.
"Carmen!" she scolded me.
"Come on, it's Mrs. Glass' class," I moaned.
"Oh. Well. You can stay then," she said, turning back to her computer. "You'll learn more about osmosis from just sitting in my classroom than you would in hers."
And we all definitely burst out laughing.
I'm still in touch with Ms. Laymock, and when it was teachers appreciation week(? Day? Month?) I texted her a thank you and specifically about this experience.
First of all, her response was, "I actually said that?!"
She then told me that Mrs. Glass had always terrified her. I don't know why this surprised me so much - I keep forgetting that teachers are human and sometimes they don't like the same teachers students don't like. Weird.
Anyway, I hope that you can tell from these stories that I love not being in middle school anymore - particularly eighth grade. I now know how to do makeup and hair (for the most part), am confident in myself, and am through puberty. What a relief.
But I do miss having lockers.
Except the only thing I used mine for was to store a jacket for when I got cold and forgot to pack one.
But still. I miss it.
K guys. Please take this time to message me on social media or comment below on your horrible middle school experiences. Everyone's had them, and I want to hear yours!
Okay my friends. Go thank a teacher and your parents for putting up with you during your crappy middle school years. And enjoy your day. Embrace awkwardness.