It is my personal opinion that someone who didn’t have an awkward phase as a child isn’t someone worth spending much time with.
I’m not worried about offending any of you with that statement because I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this website, you had–or, hell, may still be in–your awkward phase. People who live in good-looking bubbles like that Jon Hamm character on 30 Rock do not read Aiming Low as a general rule. And I’m not saying you’re not good-looking now, I’m just saying you were once–for a matter of years or months or maybe even just a few days when your nose decided to sprint ahead of the rest of your face right before 8th grade picture day–not good-looking. Because even if you’re a dead ringer for Michelle Pfeiffer now, just having gone through a period of painful physical awkwardness makes you a club member for life.
I’m talking about the Good Personality Club. Even if you didn’t have a particularly good personality, you automatically got that compliment from members of the opposite sex. It was a way of saying, “You’re not attractive but I am trying to be nice.” It was the best that any middle-schooler could do.
My awkward phase started when I was 6, thanks to a powerful unibrow gene passed down through some mystical chromosome that no one else in my family has. I looked like I was perpetually dressed as Bert from Sesame Street for Halloween, if he had been into wearing puff paint shirts, and if Ernie had been Miko, Tropical Island Friend of Barbie.
I remember one day in sixth grade, a boy I had a crush on informed me that if my personality could be inserted into the body of my best friend Halima, we would make the perfect woman.
I’m not going to lie, I died a little inside. I went home and wept into my cabbage patch doll, Emily Michelle (named after Kristy’s adopted sister from The Babysitter’s Club), and probably listened to the one tape I owned, The Best of KC & The Sunshine Band. Now I’m kind of glad his little pre-pubescent testicles sent the message to his brain that it was an okay thing to say to a girl. Because all of those painful slights, both large and small, made me who I am today: someone with a genuinely good personality, in the body of Michelle Pfeiffer. Okay, fine, more of a wonky cross between Tina Fey and Alyson Hannigan. But still. At least I’ve mastered tweezing
I spent a lot of years in college (when I was still, unbeknownst to me, in my awkward phase, thanks to an unflattering pixie haircut and a predilection for platform sneakers and overalls) attempting to hide all photographic evidence of ages 6 to 16. But now I treasure those photos. The more tragic, the better!
If these photos didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be able to cringe, laugh, and smile at them. If this girl didn’t exist–if she was replaced by a Sloane Peterson-perfect teen with clear skin and long legs and a virginity that would not remain intact until age 20, then who would I be now? I shudder to think.
Excuse me, I have to go listen to “God Only Knows” and sob while looking at my prom pictures, in which my foundation is approximately three shades lighter than the rest of my body.
But seriously, braces, glasses, acne, conspicuous birthmarks, a hairline that started approximately one inch above your eyebrows–whatever your personal cross was to bear, I just want to tell you that I’m so glad you had it. Because it makes you unique, and empathetic, and funny. Because it bands us together against the people who, even though we all left the playground decades ago, still try to make us feel like we’re not good enough. Because apart from The Babysitter’s Club (Claudia Kishi–I want the Yodels from your sock drawer!), there’s no club I’d rather be in than the Good Personality Club with you guys.
Jon Hamm can even come to meetings, if he brings pie. Right? Should we vote on this? Miko and I are at an impasse.