Did you know geek parties really happen? I thought it was just a cheesy sitcom plot until I attended one as the guest of honor. It was not a fun night.
Early Senior year, I broke up with my first real boyfriend. I say “real” because of the ones I created before he came along. And the friends I deluded myself into thinking of as “practically dating” even though it is technically not accurate that I described them as friends.
I went to one school for K-12. There were less than 40 kids in my graduating class, and our mascot was a confederate soldier. See, there’s a perfect example of that cliche redneck thing.
Sophomore year, some friends took enough pity on me to teach me the basics of makeup. If Mom wasn’t the type to warn me about my period, she really wasn’t the type to explain, “Ok you need to wear makeup, shave certain places, and practice basic hygiene.”
Things improved a little after that. I wasn’t pretty, but I wasn’t freak-show ugly anymore. Thankfully, I was skinny. Some girls had to be fat and ugly.
Makeup was my first leg up in the game since 7th grade when one of the boys caught me with stinky pit stains and told the entire school I didn’t wear deodorant. Sure it was a horrible moment, but he solved a major problem. I just needed to figure out how to get some deodorant.
I began sweating profusely when school started that year, but no clue why. Since I got off on this tangent I’ll skip to the part where I learned another wonderful part of my anxiety. I sweat profusely when I’m around people.
I knew which item it was in my parents bathroom, but not what it was for. They used the rolly ball kind, and for some reason it amused me as a toy. I knew it tasted bad, serious nail-biters eventually taste everything. Next time I had a chance, I went to their bathroom, read the instructions label, and gave it a shot.
When I used the deodorant before school, I made it through the entire first hour without sweating. Then I was back to square one before the second class ended.
My magic potion wore off. I developed the habit of clinching my arms to my sides so no one would see the pit stains. I would not be able to buy the strong stuff until I was making my own paycheck. I was too awkward to say anything to my parents.
Back to the original point: Sophomore year, first break up. Handled it like the true-blue, emo bitch I was. It took less than an hour to have my friends ignoring my calls. I was the drama queen of the universe, telling everyone my life was over (and believing it). Thank goodness Facebook wasn’t much of a thing yet, I’m afraid to know what I would have posted.
I was so sure I was going to kill myself, a complete calm came over me. I stopped crying, none of it mattered. I would never have to go home again. I called a friend’s brother and told him I wanted to learn to shoot a gun. I didn’t care what kind, but nothing too heavy. I did not want to be slow or clumsy trying to turn it on myself in case someone tried to stop me.
Again, it’s the south, he had a wide assortment to choose from, and plenty of land to shoot on, but no interest in teaching me. I offered to pay him $50 if he would teach me right now. He agreed.
I fully intended to get there, let him show me how it worked, then pretend to aim at the target, but turn it on myself instead. I did exactly that. Up to the point he shot it to show how it worked. Holy cow it made a big boom. It was not like on tv.
I decided I would actually shoot at the water bottle a few times first. Just to get a feel for it. Then that big boom felt even bigger when it was coming from me. All that perfect “nothing matters because I’ll be dead” logic disappeared. I was petrified at the thought of being on the other end of that barrel. Hell no.
Then something absolutely amazing happened. I shot this rifle type gun that had a lever you pulled down to to cock it for the next one.
** This is how little I know of guns. Anytime I mention this part to someone, they roll their eyes and say what kind of gun that is, but I still can’t remember. The number 22 comes to mind. Maybe that’s the bullet size. **
I actually hit the water bottle. It was on the ground roughly 10-15ft away from me. I don’t know how, but I’m certain I could never do it again. I expected a total miss.
My awkward ass pointed that rifle at the ground, squeezed the trigger, and the bottle flew into the air with a beautiful pop sound I can still hear. I raised my head to watch it and the gun raised with me. I shot at it midair and pop! It went higher, and I hit it a third time.
I was speechless. If I would not have had witnesses no one would have believed me. Not that it was a big deal to anyone else. I felt like I climbed a mountain or crossed an ocean, I accomplished something. But apparently this is something every child can do, they would have been more impressed if I could stand still without tripping.
I was already an outcast for belonging to a family that does not hunt. Excuse me for not finding fun in slaughtering poor animals that have no clue you’re coming for them.
Even in The Most Dangerous Game story, the crazy hunter is like, “Alright chaps get moving, I’m going to be chasing you down. Chop chop now.” But I digress, I’m paraphrasing and this is not the time.
So within a few minutes of leaving the fun boom sticks behind, I remembered how much I wanted to die and began working on plan B. Several hours and a bottle of Tylenol PMs later, I came home to my parents already being informed of my shenanigans. They wanted to provide me with a new top Worst Awkward Moment Ever. I said the things I knew I would have to say for it to end and finally made it to AIM, that AOL instant messenger thing we all used before we could text.
Tales of my adventures had also made it to the popular crowd. Miss Popular started talking to me. Weirdly enough, in contrast to the usual cliche, our popular girl had nothing to do with cheerleading or dancing.
I thought she was being nice because she felt sorry for me. Not because she had a soul, but because our mothers were friends. If my mom knew, her mom knew. She has to be nice to me. Either that or I was in the Twilight Zone. Although, that would explain how I shot that water bottle.
I had enough reputation for crazy so I thought it best to proceed under the pretense my first assumption was correct. Miss Popular said if I wanted to kill myself that was my choice, but I should wait until after the party this weekend.
For the many faults I find her, this was probably the best tactic anyone could have used. It put my defenses down. She acknowledged it was my choice, my power.
It also gave me an out that still saved face. I could also choose to postpone it, which got me through that night. Best of all, it still allowed me relief from the thousand spears puncturing my chest while I drowned in pain.
It was the best win I was going to get and I took it. “Yes, those terms are agreeable”. I’m not being cute. I was such a nerd that’s literally what I told her. I remember because the words would be thrown back at me often in the near future. Teenagers are barbarians.
FF to the weekend party. I’m sure it’s obvious to anyone who might see this, but I was not aware I was at a geek party until a shameful amount of time passed.
At the start, someone gave me a beer and people talked to me, asked me questions, and laughed at my jokes. But after that first beer no one was offering a second. It did not take me long to figure out groups dispersed because of me, not coincidentally. I finally settled next to a guy who was so stoned he was falling asleep. Unfortunately, I later learned it was misconstrued as me trying to get in his pants.
After the 5th or 6th attempt at conversation to end the suffocating silence, I noticed it had gotten strangely quiet. When I looked around I saw everyone gathered in a single group several feet away behind a cluster of trees.
They were watching us and laughing. Not only was I stupid enough to come here, I was the only one stupid enough. No one else they invited came. Apparently no one had ever thought of me enough to try before, but when I started flashing the look at me sirens, they thought “why not.” Fml.
When I finally got home that night I was emotionally dead, but also in one hell of a pickle. I knew my mouth ran me into a corner. I swallowed so many Tylenol PMs I couldn’t guess at a number, but I didn’t even get sick. Guns were out of the question. Worst of all, I had time to psyche myself out. What happens when we die? What’s next? Are you sure? Willing to bet forever on it?
I was already a pro cutter by then. I knew how deep I could cut and the marks it left. If I made that attempt not only was I practically guaranteed to wake up in a psyche ward, I wouldn’t be hiding those scars with my little sweat band under my elbow. I had the rest of the weekend to face the fact I would be in school Monday with those people. It was as bad as I feared.