Tuesday, February 04, 2014

By Invitation Only

I have been invited to join this group by Splenderosa and by my blog (and someday, I hope, in person) friend Tish Jett at A Femme. Below is the little explanation she wrote on her January post. She explains it beautifully, so the only thing I will add is that the February topic is "What is challenging to you?"

 It's the first Tuesday of the month which is the day the international members of By Invitation Only come together to discuss the same subject. Each of us takes our "assignment" -- this month it's "Changes, Moving Forward" -- and expresses her thoughts and feelings on the topic. So, welcome to our world and thank you for reading us.

I feel so flattered to be invited because I am never sure a group wants me. When I was a kid, I was horrible at sports.

Me, being Not Cool.
 Wait. I still am. It's just that now, I don't let me lack of coordination stop me from playing tennis. I just want to have fun and because my main idea of fun is eating, my second main idea of fun has to be exercising. Even with that, tennis is fun, even if you are a crummy player like me who can't play when the sun is too bright or else I get a headache, but I can't play when it's dark and we're under lights because the glare of the lights gives me a headache. A slightly overcast day - that's the perfect time for me to play tennis.

Now I am getting depressed thinking about tennis because the courts are covered with snow and it's grim and cold and icy out there and tennis is so far away I can't even imagine it.

Where was I?

So I was horrible at sports, which meant I was always the last one picked for any team. The one time I actually hit a baseball, I hit it late and smashed it into my mouth. I didn't even have my friends picking me because they felt sorry for me - I was always the new kid in school, which meant I didn't have a lot of friends.

Which brings me back to never being sure that a group wants me. When you move ten times before you finish high school and you are a bookish, slightly chubby kid with glasses who straps her violin to the handlebars of her bike to ride to school, you are not one of the Cool Girls.

You are Out. You are Not Cool.

Which is why I am so flattered to be invited to join this group. The Cool Girls! They want me in the club!

And they want me to talk about what is challenging to me.

That's simple. I have never been cool and I have never been able to figure out how to be cool. I never know the right thing to say to impress people. In seventh grade, I gave Brenda S an unnecessary review of her haircut - "I liked your hair better the other way," I offered. Wrong thing to say. I thought I was complimenting her, but after someone has had hair removed from her head with scissors, an opinion that the old way was better is not welcome.

I don't know the right thing to do. Again in seventh grade, we had to choreograph a dance routine to a song of our choice. The only thing that saved me from being the biggest goofball in the class with my awkward jumping around to Neil Diamond was that blessherheart Nancy H. had done her routine to Lawrence Welk.

NB to anyone who might think that Neil might hold some hipster street cred today. In 1975, Neil Diamond was Not Cool.

I have never known the right thing to wear. Back to seventh grade as my touchstone.

Let me interrupt here to say that as seventh grade goes, so goes the nation. Yes, seventh grade was a while ago, but is there not inside all of us a seventh grader in dorky glasses? Or maybe you were a cool seventh grader with windowpane jeans, a Farrah Fawcett cut, and a wraparound sweater. If you were, you were not seen with the likes of me. I was the kid in the bright orange doubleknit polyester pants with the elastic waist that my mom had made for me. Don't laugh - she got a great deal on that fabric, along with several other colors, and I Would Not Shop. She couldn't let me go to school naked, so she made pants for me.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us was the fact that the orange polyester, despite being a thick fabric, was see-through. So my waist-high flowered cotton undies, which were nothing like the silky matched bra and panties that Elaine M wore --

I had loved the name Elaine until I met Bra Elaine. She was very snooty, just like Jennifer B in fifth grade who had her aviator glasses and her yellow and white checked polyester outfit. I had wanted Elaine to be my confirmation name. But she ruined it for me. And I just looked up Saint Elaine and guess what! There isn't one! So I couldn't have even had that name anyhow!

-- my waist-high flowered cotton undies were perfectly visible through my orange pants.

I was not cool.

I am still not cool. I wear fleece-lined tights to work. Over the tights, I wear sweatpants. Sometimes I think my outfit rocks (without the sweats) and then I see myself in the full-length mirror at work and I wince.

My husband and I went to an Englebert Humperdink concert. Not a cool thing to do. (But the man can sing! You should go!)

I am better about saying the Right Thing. Wait. No, I am not. I do not know the Right Thing to say so much, but I know the Wrong Thing and I am usually able to keep it in my head and out of my mouth, although sometimes those words escape and hang around my head as I try desperately to call them back but by then it is too late. Now that I am under pressure, I cannot think of a single example. I will think of one tonight just as my feet are finally warm and I am about to fall asleep and there is no way I am getting out of bed under those conditions, so you will just have to use your imagination.

So it's a challenge for me to be cool - and it will continue to be a challenge. Should I just accept my not-coolness?


Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Hi Annette and welome to our ' By Invitation ' family !!
… and, what a wonderful first post and perfect for our subject this month. It is a great read and, I really hope that you will enjoy doing the monthly posts. I love it because someone gives me a subject and I have to write about it !!!!
It's great to have you on board. XXXX

Jen on the Edge said...

I've long held a theory that it's impossible to become cool. Either you're born with it or you're not.

But, having said that, I think that cool is overrated. We all are who we are, which makes for a lot of wonderful individuality in the world.

greatbleuheron said...

I too was a seventh-grade loser.

And I don't know a single person whom I like and respect as an adult who was NOT a seventh-grade loser.

LPC said...

Oh I've met you and you are as cool as you need to be:).

That is a really cute photograph.

Charlene said...

Love your post and I can relate. I was very skinny with dorky glasses, braces on my teeth, and a bad perm. Seventh grade isn't a kind year. I think even the cool kids had plenty of issues.

lisa thomson said...

Great story! Keep being un-cool. Un-cool is the new cool!! You sound like an adorable 12 yr old. When I was 12 I was taller than all the girls in class and very self conscious. I wore a Starsky and Hutch t-shirt. I remember having a sweater with a belt that I wore everyday. :) I found you from French Essence. Vicki sent us on a blog hop. Nice to meet you!

Marsha Splenderosa said...

Aha! You are most definitely one of us, and one who has amazing wit, which I so admire. What fun reading this missive of yours. And, too funny, I think Neil Diamond is one of the coolest people ever, a sincere, gifted, cool person. But, now it's Justin Timberlake, so wanting to be cool, you must get on board with him. Welcome welcome welcome. We shall all await you posts each day, as I know I will be entertained X10.

Heather Robinson said...

Welcome to the BIO group! I have to say you are mighty, mighty brave to have put up that photo of yourself. More power to 'ya.
With my Best from Provence,

Tish Jett said...

Listen, Sugar Plum, you are super cool.

Welcome! xo

webb said...

I'm so un-cool still that i hesitate to comment with all these cool girls from By Invitation. But i will say that you absolutely deserve to be there. Your take on life and marriage is wonderful and i love the way you write.

So enjoy your new group and let them stretch your boundaries.

Marilyn Leslie said...

You are so funny. I love your dry humor- to me you have always been cool.

D. A. Wolf said...

Oh, you're fun! What a pleasure to meet you!

(Some of us celebrate our inner geekiness that we never quite lose.)

Englebert Humperdink. (I'm shaking my head.)

My claim to fame as a 7th grade loser was (a) white pointy glasses - very Winnie on Wonder Years, and (b) hair nearly to my waist... like Cousin Itt.

Glamour Drops said...

Celebrate your "not coolness" !!

An absolutely thought provoking and fabulous first post…there will be many interesting insights from you on this monthly journey with the BIO i rather suspect.

Oh, and any kid who rides a bike with a violin strapped to the handlebars is SUPERCOOL in my book!

Catherine Robinson said...

Hi Annette and welcome to our blogging family...
I love your post...ah, the school years!!
I was unable to join the monthly post this time around see you in March :)
Lovely to meet you.
Catherine xx

rubiatonta said...

I think 7th grade was when I made the purple, tie-dyed, brushed denim mini skirt in Home Ec (a class I really enjoyed). My hair was totally out of control and I had buck teeth (no money for orthodontia until later in my youth).

You are my people, oh Uncool One. :-)

Maryanne@The Garden said...

It seems we were not alone in 7th grade! Love the humor.


Class factotum said...

You guys, you are so nice! Thank you for your sweet comments. I am so glad to know that I am with My People - People Who Were in Seventh Grade! And I am so happy to have all of you over here!

Anonymous said...

This cracked me up. Around the same age, I hastily changed my planned confirmation name of Regina because of the tough redhead by that name who threatened to beat me up if I chose it.

That's one thing that died down shortly after junior high -- the regular threat of bodily harm by other girls. Except now these people want to Facebook friend me...