That was me. I was horrible. And to top it off, I never felt like I belonged, no matter what group of friends took me in. Like a homeless, mangy dog, I drifted through my childhood with wide eyes and uncertain steps. First, I worked to avoid the wrath of my parents. Second, I was pretty certain I was invisible. And third, I just wanted to be happy -- which was something I didn't achieve until much later in life.
But boy-oh-boy was I hideous. It's not that I was always ugly. No, when I was three, I was pretty cute. Unfortunately, as I got older and bigger, the Buddha belly grew and my thighs started rubbing together. It was particularly worse when they got a heat rash on them and my mother had to put cream on it to sooth my tubby leg rolls. Of course, to console myself I'd eat sandwich meat with mustard and mayonnaise inside, rolled into a tube. Food in tubes were always my favourite. Licorice, freezes, pixie sticks. All the best foods came in tube form.
Part of me wishes I could blame my parents. I got my father's sweet tooth and my mothers taste for salty things. On top of that, I was told to always clear my plate. Don't be thinking we had dessert either. We rarely ever got sweet treats, which is why, when faced with licorice or chips, I went completely insane around things I knew I shouldn't be eating. But in my defense, they tasted so damn good. To further me down the disastrous path I was on, I wasn't placed into any recreational sports or teams or anything!
What did I do in my free time? I listened to oldies and lusted over Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall. "Ohhh That Brad Pitt is simply delicious." And he was. At least I had good taste in men when I was twelve. Perhaps my parents shouldn't have put a television in my room. Another one of my most favourite pastimes was reading the dirty parts in my sister's novels. I vividly remember reading a sex scene from The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. Couldn't for the life of me tell you what actually happened in the book though.
Eating poorly and being fat was just the tip of the iceberg. From grades three to seven I don't think I brushed my hair once. Of course, in grade seven there was the lice incident and my father cut my rat's nest off with a knife. There is nothing I can say in the defence of my poor hygiene. I think it just went unnoticed by my family. By looking at me, you would have thought we lived in squalor, but the house was actually pretty clean and dinner was on the table every night. When I got older, around twelve or thirteen, I started cooking family dinners. I really enjoyed mushroom pork chops and honey garlic chicken legs. Thinking about that now turns my stomach. Meat. Gross.
To be honest, I think I flew under the radar because I was the second youngest. My brothers were little bastards who got up to so much trouble that I could conceivably not change my underwear for a month without my mother noticing. Okay, okay. That was a joke, it never got past a week. Although, now that I think about it, I don't really remember bathing at all. Except that one time that I shaved my stomach with my sister's pink razor she left on the bathtub.
Thinking back on the little girl I was makes me cringe. I wore colored jeans, a goofy shirt, never brushed my hair and was always dirty. It wasn't as if I rolled around in the mud outback, but it didn't help that I ran around with my brothers. Here's the truth, I just didn't care. Correction: I didn't know I was supposed to care. I gladly accepted those hand-me-down clothes and wore them proudly. My sister used to wear them, they had to be cool, right?
One would think it got better as I grew into my teens, but the cold, hard fact was that it sort of got worse. Granted, I did start to bathe and brush my hair, but my awkward phase took over. I know what you're thinking, how could this scraggly, dirt encrusted, pot-bellied child possibly get any more awkward? Well, I did. And to be blunt, I did it rather magnificently!
I owned my awkwardness. Pulling into my teens, I had nothing really going for me. I didn't do poorly in school but I didn't do amazing either, I hated gym, my best friend was my dog, Patches, I honestly didn't want to be a part of my family, my friends were ever changing (especially in grade seven when I slapped one of the popular girls...oops) and I didn't understand the importance of flossing my teeth. Rest assured, I do now.
The truth is, I longed to be noticed. Just to be noticed, by anyone really...though it would have been wonderful if it had of been by a boy. I was unremarkable and unworthy. That was, until I hit junior high.
So there I was, thirteen years old, starting grade eight. Green Day and Smashing Pumpkins were playing on my Walkman and I decided it was time to be a little more feminine. Ha. Kidding. Instead of dressing in skirts and tube tops like my fellow classmates, I started wearing men's dress pants and gas station attendant shirts. Yeah, you know, the ones with Ted or Bill or Frank over the breast pocket. I wore a choker around my neck, died my hair with smelly felts and Kool Aid, and painted my fingernails black with sharpies.
Every teenage boys dream gal. Yep. That's me. The fellas just LOVED me.
I'm not going to lie, there's no point now, people thought I was a boy. I didn't sound like a boy, I suppose I may have looked like a boy, but my name was feminine! That should have been enough of a hint. During my years in high school, I never came into my own. You know how there's that Ugly Duckling story that turns into a swan? Well, I read that story and it gave me hope...
...unfortunately, I am still waiting to turn into a swan.
The only positive thing I can say about being a beastly little girl is that I really got the chance to develop my personality. In some respects, I am thankful for being the ugliest kid on the block, for being the fat friend, for always being two feet taller and fifty pounds heavier than everyone else, because I was able to perfect who I am. While all the girls in grade twelve were scrambling to figure out who they really were, I already knew.
I was the girl who never smoked or drank or did drugs. I was the the girl with the razor-sharp wit and self-deprecating sense of humour. Emerging from high school, I knew what my strengths were and my weaknesses and I knew that I never did something just because everyone else was doing it. Sure, I was different. And sure, at times it was hard. I cried many tears into pillows and spent countless hours ridiculing myself, but I have character! I have awesome comebacks and a thick skin! I am a good judge of character! Not to mention, I have three binders full of the most angst-riddled, depressing poetry any teenager has ever written. One day, I might share it with you!
Now, even though my breasts stick out further than my belly and I don't have to shop in the plus size stores, and I can actually stand looking in the mirror, I am still that little girl. I am the butterball, the boy, the weirdo, the geek, the nerd, the bitch, the jerk, the girl at the back of the class, the one who has the snide remarks and the one who just doesn't care. We hold onto who we were as kids because the things we went through and the things we did molded us into who we are.
And when I think about it, that fat, ugly little girl was pretty fucking cool.