The young teenagers gather in Lisa Fruda’s basement family room. I don’t remember the color of the carpet but it was probably burnt orange shag. It was about 1975 after all. It’s a mixed group of girls and guys I have spent most of my childhood with. We played together on the playground in Kindergarten and learned to read together in First Grade. We watched each other grow, completely unaware of the changes that were taking place day-by-day, year-by-year. Today we are in 7th grade. The girls wear halter tops and bell-bottomed jeans and have their long hair styled so that it swishes around their shoulders as they laugh and flirt with the boys. They look so cool. I have long, frizzy hair that no hair dresser seems to know how to tame, and I look like my mother – a 45 year old woman – in a polyester blouse with a long tie at the neck that I can make into a bow. It’s impossible to look cool in 7th grade wearing a polyester blouse with a bow at the neck, but here I am, fighting that losing battle. I wish myself to be at home writing in my journal, but it doesn’t work. Instead a game begins, and my humiliation is complete. The game is “Wink.” We sit in a circle and watch carefully for someone to wink at us then pass it along without anyone else in the group noticing. I want the earth to swallow me whole. It’s like that nightmare where I am in gym class and I am chosen last and wearing only my underwear. I dread being winked at. I dread not being winked at. I hate being at this party. I am doing what Mom has told me is good for me – socializing with my “friends” – but they all somehow morphed into movie stars. I am frumpy with frizzy hair and a body that would never look good in a halter top. I just want to go home. I can be cool there, with no one looking.
I am a single mom and jack-of-all-trades from Richmond, VA, living the writer's dream...rejection notices and dwindling bank account included.