Oh, Dan White with your blonde feathered hair parted perfectly down the middle, how I love thee. You’re so dreamy. Those jeans, Gloria Vanderbilt, they make you walk taller. Forget the Guess Who jeans (as I called them at the time because the symbol for Guess jeans had a question mark underneath word Guess, so I called them Guess Who. We were too poor for Guess Who jeans), you look amazing in Gloria Vanderbilt, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
The time came for a musical that all of 5th grade would perform. I auditioned for the part of a ballad. When I auditioned my whole class saw me in a different light. They were like, this quiet girl can sing? Wha? Hours and hours, days and days, of rehearsals followed for the musical called How the West Was Really Won . (Oh the internets, I found a clip of someone else singing the same song.)
The lyrics I remember vividly from the song were, “The white man is coming with iron horse and track, to carry the warrior away. I stand with my eyes at the top of the hill. My people will perish, they soon will be gone.” (My 43-year-old version of what I remember in the sound clip below.) As I hear those lyrics I am immediately taken back to 1982 or so, wearing Native American garb and a wig that my mom put together. Every time I would sing the solo in practices, my spelling teacher (who gave us what seemed like 12 dictation sentences a week and whose attention to detail was unmeasured) who was as strict as a southern Whitehouse, Texas teacher came, would begin weeping. It wasn’t difficult for me to tap in to sadness. I was the Ugly Duckling, remember?
At the end of the musical moment of stardom, I was so happy, briefly giving high fives and celebrating in the classroom that we’d done such a great job on our performance. So much work over several weeks, had now come to an end. This new girl in a new school had made her mark. I was feeling confident. I’m proudly wearing my Native American costume foraged from whatever scraps and change my mom could scrounge up. Dan White, my best crush is standing just a few feet away. (Did he notice me? Did he notice how great my solo was?) He looked over in my direction, (Oh my gosh, oh my gosh he’s looking at me!) He looked straight at me and flippantly said, “Joy, you look better as an Indian*.”
That beautiful moment of triumph at having performed in front of an audience turned in a second, to sadness.
My Joy was stolen. I was still the Ugly Duckling.
There were many more years of trying to earn approval. Many more “Did he notice me?” moments. Being crushed by my crush made my heart close a little that day.
How does this connect to weight loss surgery and food? (Do I need to draw you a map?) Food became a comfort, a way of coping when things were sad.
*Disclaimer: I think Native Americans are gorgeous. The fact is, I couldn’t be one.
WARNING Potty Humor:
Real deal of Weight Loss Surgery (WLS). The first poop: Uber constipated (even without taking narcotics which make it so much worse). I got to relive my first poop out of the womb! Cheer for me! Tar poop. Dark like the darkest night and just ew! So afterwards, I thought, “Oh yeah, that’s why the nutritionist recommended Milk of Magnesia.” Downed a 2 tablespoon shot and I must of looked like a toddler eating her first lemon. Have you ever had Milk of Magnesia? Oh, my oh, my ew! When I bought it at the pharmacy, I thought, “$2.36, what a deal!” Now, I’m like, uh, that is $2.36 wasted because I am never going to drink that again, nor will I subject my family to it. GaWH!
2 thoughts on “Ugly Duckling: Part 2”
So good Joy. The heartache you write of brought up quite a bit of emotion, heart sad for you and……me. I had a very similar 4th, 5th and 6th grades as you. I don’t dare put it in writing as I’m not as brave as you, my dear friend. The emotion of it all would bring me too far down, however, I know it’s there waiting to be delt with at another time. The older I get the better at “stuffing it down” I become. You my friend are my hero, when I grow up, I want to be just like you, Strong, Smart, Brave & Beautiful. Bless.
I cried a bit writing it. The emotion is still there. Love you L.