As I sat here trying to think of what to blog about today, I fell asleep a little at my desk. So this is going to be a really exciting one, let me tell you. I procrastinated a bit by digging through old files on my computer. Came across what was maybe the beginning of a long-forgotten short story? Not sure. But hey, it’s an except and cut and pasted here means it’s also a blog post. So, without further ado, I present today’s offering: An excerpt.
Teen age abandon swept over my prepubescent body rendering me helpless to the shakings and shimmering of my youth. In a circle of six girls, we protected each other from the sixth grade boys, in case they wanted to, or worse didn’t want to, dance with us. Men at Work, blared through the speakers, echoing off the gymnasium walls. My shoulders thrusted forward, my pelvis became perpendicular with my torso and I started to shake. Side to side, hair following, jerking and shaking my bee stings of a chest in time to the music.
The girls stopped, gawked. “Julia,” they said. “Oh my God”.
Oh my God was right. What had I done? I was bad. All bad. I wasn’t loosening up, I was just plane loose. I embarrassed them. I had embarrassed me. I was exiled, temporarily. My reputation was skiddin into a slush covered curbside. I needed to be quick here. Save yourself! my subconscious raged.
“I wasn’t really dancing like that,” I said. “I was imitating her!” My finger jerked from it’s socket leading all eyes Kristi Cocchi, leaning against the basketball net, gnawing on the sleeves of her sweatshirt.
I was in no danger of being dubbed easy, loose, slutty. I was too quiet and had way to many turtlenecks with hearts and whales on them to be considered dirty. Kristi Cocchi got branded with that title. Simply because she had that air bag of a name. Cocchi. It simply reeked of sex. Plus she was small and thin, had eyes shaped like almonds and colored so dark you couldn’t see her pupils. She also came from a single parent home (still a novelty in the days of middle school). But mostly it was the name. Four syllables of sticky sweaty boy juice. Cocchi. Coochy coochy coo. She was damned from then on.
My mom insisted that all the girls in my class be invited to my birthday parties. Everyone got a Winnie the Pooh invite asking mothers to please allow daughters to spend a lunch period with me, boiled hotdogs and goodie bags filled with Tootsie pops and hockey cards. She also specified “no gifts” please. My mom never appreciated last minute trips to Woolworth’s to pick up Kermit the Frog jigsaw puzzles or hair bands with knuckle size plastic balls on the ends. I didn’t mind. I had a terrible guilt complex about people giving me gifts. I loved to give them. Couldn’t wait to tell the person what I got them, spoiling the surprise weeks or even months before it was due, but getting them was a different story. Even seeing them, in their pretty pastel wrapping paper with colorful raffia tied tight around their middles made me anxious. After I got through the terror of opening the damn thing, I admired it briefly before handing it back to the giver.
“Don’t you like it?” they always asked. Who ever heard of an eight year old not accepting a present.
“Uh huh, I do,” I said. “Please take it back. Please. Thank you.”
This undoubtedly turned into quite the scene when the giver, polite and baffled, refused my unselfish sacrifice. I got angry. I cried. I hollered. I kicked my guests out. My mom outlawed the gift giving thing before I hit double digits and instead let me go shopping on my own and pick out the things I wanted. Although it was her money, I was under the impression that because I actually handed it to the cashier, it was gift to myself, and I couldn’t return a gift to me.
My twelfth birthday fell on a Friday. It snowed the night before and I slept little that night fearful we might have a snow day on my birthday. As much as I didn’t like getting presents, I loved being in public places, like school on my big day. I liked the teachers announcement, the singing, the smiles and “happy birthdays” from boys who wouldn’t have said ever duck, duck or goose to me normally. And the anticipation of lunch time, taking the girls back to my house where my mom would be waiting for us, table set, ceiling decorated and the smell of wet bologna greeting us at the door was enough to drive me wild. The girls shared my excitement, whispering the countdown to each other, passing exclusive smiles to one another. When lunch time finally arrived, we gathered up our back packs, pulled on our boots and headed in one happy herd to my party. We locked arms with one another, laughed at nothing but our voices bouncing of the snow banks and felt powerful and loved because none of us was Kristi Cocchi walking a standard twenty paces behind.
“Why is she here?” someone asked.
“My mom made me invite everyone or we couldn’t have a party,” I answered.
We shrugged our shoulders, shrieking loudly and fell deliberately into the snow banks never letting go of one another.