Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Warped Memories from My Past: The Tale of the Short Strange One

There are interesting memories that come out of living in a small town your whole life, and growing up with the same classmates year after year. New faces to our school were treated one of two ways upon setting foot on the campus--they were moved immediately to celebrity status with the in-crowd kids or completely ignored for the rest of their schooling, along with the other unpopular kids.

Thankfully, I found myself right in the middle. Actually, I probably veered more towards the popular crowd than the unpopular one, because I played sports (a prerequisite at my school for a popular girl). But, I was also in the band and a baton twirler, rather than a cheeleader, which instantly set me a level down among the in crowd. So, I was accepted socially and occasionally invited to in-crowd things, but not fully welcomed into the pack. And, this was exactly where I was happy to reside. I never pined to sit on someone's pick-up truck tailgate and drink beer on Friday or Saturday nights, acting bored with the whole scene and ignoring the scads of boys who were hitting on me. Neh, I'd prefer a good movie, pick-up game of basketball or game night at someone's house.

But, I digress. As I said, I did get to know everyone in my class. EVERYONE. That means, the scary kid that sits at the back of the room. Yeah, I knew his name, his family history, and where he lived. But, that's not the worrisome part. That part is that he knew all of those things about me too. Booger pickers? Yes, I could name them by full name. Drug heads and drop outs? I knew most of them as well.

There is but one benefit to all of this. And, that is that I have a blog and can now share some of my experiences with the underworld of small town U.S.A. So, today I'll give you a peek at one of these characters. Later on, I'll touch on a few more people that made a strange mark in my mind as well.

The Tale of the Short Strange One

Linda was by far the strangest person in our class, and probably in our whole school. Thinking back, I know she had some heath reasons for her short stature, but I cannot remember what it was. It did not matter. Linda made up for her lack of height by an overwhelmingly obnoxious personality. Outspoken and even arrogant, she made her views known without any concern to who that might offend or who might not care to hear them. But, it seemed many times that all the cylinders were not always firing in Linda's mind. And, she seemed to like confrontation, almost inciting it whenever she could. Looking back now, I think perhaps that was her way of preventing her invisibility in our skewed school social scale. (And, how's that for alliteration? My English teacher mother would be SO PROUD.) Picture Ally Sheedy's character on The Breakfast Club with even more annoying tendencies, like nose picking and freakish staring at random people during class, and you have Linda.

The worst part of this was that alphabetically, our last names were quite close to one another. So, this meant that our lockers were always next to one another. I was 5'8. On a tall day, Linda was maybe 4'8. Yet, in some cruel irony, her locker was always assigned to be directly ABOVE mine. You know how in movies the bizarre kid in school opens up his or her locker and all sorts of things fall out onto the floor? Well, this was Linda's locker...every TIME SHE OPENED IT. It had an odd smell and was packed with papers and peculiar things. I tried to avoid looking in that direction whenever possible, and also avoided my locker if I could most days. But, aside from the massively packed locker, Linda also carried around a huge gym bag with here everywhere. It too was jam-packed with God knows what. The bag, quite seriously, was almost as large as her body.

Linda hated my mother, who had been our homeroom teacher in the 8th grade. She never hesitated to let me know this whenever she could. "I hated your mother so much," she'd say, "and I really hated her hair. She always wore that stupid big clip on top!" She said this as if this would bother me. I was a high school girl who had just broken away from having a Mom as a teacher and being labeled all through middle school because of that. I could have CARED LESS who liked my mother at that point. And the fact that the most strange and annoying soul in our class abhorred her did not make me stay up worrying at night either.

So, our high school years went by quickly and I was fortunate to have fewer and fewer classes with Linda thanks to an advanced diploma curriculum. The locker thing was always an issue, but I learned to cope with it by getting to my locker at warp speed after each class and then blazing away before Linda even had time to heave her heavy gym bag over her shoulder and start on her trek down the hallway.

My senior year, one particular government class had a lot of the seniors back together in one classroom. This class has stayed in my memory for the really odd mix of people, which made classroom disruptions and arguments quite frequent. Our young teacher/coach did not help with this, as I think she actually enjoyed watching these vastly different social groups of people be forced to do projects together and sit side by side. It was like some big social experiment for her, I suppose. I sat on a row with the other "girl jocks" and Linda's desk was adjacent to this row.

On one particular day, I distinctly remember Linda marching into class quite proud of herself. Slowly, we watched as she started at the far end of the room and walked desk to desk, dramatically distributing to each classmate a larger wallet size picture of herself. Each picture was addressed with a special note to the recipient on the back. We tried to not chuckle too openly at her gesture, so as not to hurt feelings. But, a few of my friends had made it obvious they did not care for Linda and she was aware of this. As she got to our row, she handed me my picture and gave me a knowing look, which puzzled me.

As she approached my friend Kari's desk, she paused and with a devilish look muttered, "hmmm...NOPE" and then walked to the next person happily, snubbing Kari completely. Now, Kari was voted almost every year as the most friendly and most popular girl in our class. Well, this was just too much for us to contain. I came as close as I could to falling out of my desk from laughter and I looked up to see our teacher exiting the room quickly, tears in her eyes and she held back hers. As I looked down to read the back of my picture, I realized that Linda had obviously thought she had gotten the last laugh on me as well. "You are a pretty nice person, even though I really hated your mother in class."

Linda did end up graduating with our class, though I have no idea how. The last I heard, she was working at Luby's restaurant. The thought of this person serving up cafeteria style food still gives me pause today. Although, I can completely see her wearing the hair net and gloves. I just wonder if there is room for her gym bag beneath the buffet warmers.


Blogger Lisa said...

Oh man, I was hoping the story would end with Linda running IBM or something! I was rooting for her.

I'm bummed that you guys have Luby's. They've shut the majority of them down in North Texas.

9:55 AM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Whoa. She sounds like a total weirdo! You should go to that Luby's some time for blog fodder.

12:44 PM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Actually, Lisa, if you'd met this chick you might not be rooting for her. She was really obnoxious! (Lucinda pegged it with weirdo!) But, i know what you mean though...there were some people who had rough times growing up where I did that I did hope ended up on the top. Maybe I'll find one of them did and can blog about that one day!

1:51 PM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Babs said...

Wow, I love this story! You've nailed it... she sounds totally like the Ally Sheedy character in Breakfast Club! It amazes me that she thought you'd give a crap in HS about what she had to say about your mom. um, Hello. And totally makes sense that she'd end up at Lubys. She's basically a cafeteria lady! SCARY!

3:24 PM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Masked Mom said...

I love the small town thing. Even though I moved around quite a lot growing up, most of the places I lived were small towns and the place I live now is, too. Anyone who thinks weird is concentrated in urban areas really has no idea what they're missing!

5:04 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Angela said...

"hmm... NOPE"

That was the best line!! As obnoxious as she sounds, I've always wished I had the kind of confidence to pull that kind of stunt, lol!

6:59 PM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Viamarie said...

I think all of us have experienced having one just like Linda as a classmate. Many though turned out to be very successful in their chosen careers.

7:08 AM, February 03, 2006  
Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

I, too, come from a place similar to that and I, too, was in the middle socially. I think every class and school has their Linda...

10:42 AM, February 03, 2006  
Blogger Shelli said...

That is disturbing and hilarious. I didn't live in a small town, but I went to a private school, which is kind the same thing. We had very small classes and we were all pretty close, like family. That doesn't mean that there weren't some odd ducks! There were.

Have a great weekend.

12:54 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linda sounds like a lot of people. probably just wanted to go to the top too herself. Small towns, I grew up in one. I'm in the middle myself. Hope that Linda makes it.

1:27 PM, June 23, 2008  

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