When I was six years old, I drew a picture of a tyrannosaurus rex, walked up to the front of my first-grade class, and proclaimed that I was going to marry a T-Rex one day.
When I try to pinpoint a single moment my classmates could seize upon as evidence that I was different, I sometimes think that one is as good as any.
I’ve been seeing a professional about relaxation. Should my profuse profanity not make it abundantly evident, I’m not a very relaxed person. Here’s more evidence: I’m a professional proofreader (should you find errors on this blog, it is because I’m human, motherfucker). Sometimes, in that twilight that is both sleep and not, I half-dream about proofreading my own thoughts.
I grind my jaw at night. It’s really my only source of headaches. Luckily, I have weirdly low blood pressure despite being a stressmonkey, or else I probably would have had twelve strokes by now.
My relaxation guy asked about my sources of stress. One of the questions was, “How was school growing up?”
“Well, I can’t say I was bullied, but people definitely made fun of me a bunch.”
Oh, because I wanted to marry a carnivorous dinosaur, for one. I was also your standard socially awkward, chubby, greasy, frizzy, four-eyed, poorly dressed nerd girl.
When I was in fifth grade, I abandoned my late cretaceous infatuations in favor of a new crush, this time a celebrity: Mozart.
I had no chance of being cool.
I always felt behind. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be wearing until the other girls told me, and reminded me it was pretty much the opposite of the weird stretchy pantsuits my mother made me wear. I also really wasn’t allowed to leave the house much, so my social prospects were nil. The other girls were fascinated by all the things I wasn’t allowed to do. “You’re not allowed to shave your legs? You’re not allowed to go to sleepovers? You’re not allowed to have a boyfriend until you’re sixteen?”
Of course, according to my mother, doing any of those things would guarantee that I’d be knocked up thrice and addicted to crack cocaine before I could even wrap my head around algebra.
Add this to my awkward, prematurely developed body: I started wearing a bra when I was nine, I sprouted my big ol’ childbearing hips at the same time, and my bone structure was thick. I had linebacker shoulders. My weight was in the triple digits before I could multiply and divide triple digits. I was the opposite of the little dainty girly girls who prodded me like the curious freak I was.
I was miserable. I had a handful of friends, and I was lucky for that, but even that camaraderie didn’t make up for the teasing I underwent daily. At least I had Mozart. Symphony 25 in G Minor was my jam, because it was dramatic as hell, and seemed to be perfect for my dark, moody soul. (I hadn’t discovered death metal yet.)
To get through the day, to make people like me — or just treat me civilly — I always had to barter. I had a reputation as being one of the two smartest kids in school (the other was another chronically picked on kid — and a fucking badass cowboy who is now married to a blond bombshell and doing fabulously well for himself. Little kids don’t know shit), so helping kids with their classwork was a reliable token.
And then Pokemon came along.
Finally, there was a social trend I got. I played the games. I watched the show every day before school. And, best of all, I was the best damn Pokemon artist my elementary school had ever seen, and everybody wanted to be a Pokemon artist.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo
I was Michelangelo, motherfuckers.
Suddenly, boys (boys!) were consulting me about their drawings. I showed them where to apply the chiaroscuro shading on their Charizards. Where the stripes went on their Raichus. The girls all wanted me to draw them Eevees and Ponytas (fallin’ lockstep into that gender essentialist garbage early on, ya see!), and I obliged.
I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story. That kids are ruthless capitalists who only give a shit about you if you have something to offer them, and then expect you to be happy with what meager social gains you get? I don’t know. But Pokemon was pretty much the best part of a decent chunk of my childhood. Thank you, Japan.