Zebra Garden’s Ashley and The Waiting’s Emily host a newish weekly blog hop that I’ve been meaning to join. This week’s topic is “On The Radio,” which immediately triggered a memory of a slumber party (I know, that was last week’s topic, but I’m kind of glad I saved the story).
I used to have a small, silver boombox that was set to some rock station. I would pop in a tape, press record, and hope for striking gold with one of my many favorite songs. Two faves? Beach Boy’s “Kokomo” and When in Rome’s “The Promise.” I would insert my well-used tape in my Walkman, queue up my jam, and replay one of these two songs over and over again as I wandered around my house or biked up and down my street, often times mouthing the words. What a sight – a preteen silently singing with gusto in her own little world for several hours. Of one of two songs*.
*Side note – the Beach Boy’s video has Uncle Jesse in it. You’re welcome. And I’ve never seen the When In Rome video until today. Oh my goodness, so much boy-hair tossing and unfortunate pant wearing.
I didn’t get invited to many slumber parties. I was a lonely child that attended a private school overflowing with jerkstores. It wasn’t just one bully – my grade was full of bullies. I could count the people that tolerated me on one hand. I’m pretty sure those girls didn’t want to get roped into the bullyfest by being associated with me, but over the seven years being stuck with the same people, maybe I got less weird, or maybe they actually started to like me.
I finally convinced my mom, who taught at said school of jerks, that I needed a fresh start. It was a self-fullfilling prophesy: they expected weird, and I couldn’t help but give them weird. I think it had a lot to do with being too self-aware but not curbing the strange behavior. For example, mouthing my jams with gusto in the school hallway when I was trying to play it cool between classes with my Walkman.
The girls that I finally considered my friends by the end of 8th grade threw me a going away party at one of their houses. I brought my sleeping bag and my tape, of course. The night was particularly memorable because got on the Internet for my first time and I was for some reason feisty in an AOL chatroom, saying I was 14 when I was really 13. The girls and I laughed and did skits for each other, dressed up, and had a dance party, of course. I DJ’d the hell out of my two songs until someone else took a turn and played proper tapes by an actual artist, not having to fast forward between commercials and unwanted songs. It never occurred to me to buy the damn tape. Or I guess by then, it was CDs. Which I promptly played on repeat.
This slumber party was the last time I saw many of these girls. One of them I’ve kept up with because she ended up at UT @ Austin and we were in the same dorm, and her parents taught at the school, too. That’s probably why I wore her down over the years – we had to play with each other because our parents stayed an extra hour to tutor. That’s me – I’ll wear ya down to make you tolerate me. Jokes aside, this night was a turning point for me. I shed my weird image because everyone at my new high school was just that – new. So was I. Kids didn’t keep up with some faux pas I made in second grade, or wearing my shirt backwards, or even saying the wrong thing back to a bully. I still have nightmares about not being able to stand up for myself to them. But I made fast friends at my new high school, who told me if I was being ridiculous, strange, or funny because we were just kids, after all. They helped me be less hard on myself, enough to where I actually liked who I was.
I have moved from song-mouthing to songs-singing, I’m proud to say. Not great singing, mind you, but I don’t really care. When in Rome’s “The Promise” made it onto my wedding mix-tape CD (mix-CD never had the same ring to it), except it was the version from Napoleon Dynamite. The track also has Kip singing about technology in his own wedding vows to Lafawndah. Dance parties still give me great joy, especially with my friends that I keep up with from high school, and nightly with EB showing me her sweet moves and Ans on my hip. Things worked out.
Now go over to Zebra Garden’s blog hop here and play with us! Read other folk’s stories, say “hi” in the comments, and let’s remember the time we all did somethingsomething with the radio.