**WRITER'S NOTE: PLEASE READ TMI PART 1 BEFORE READING THIS POST**
I went to a very small school in Eastern Pennsylvania. It wasn't small because it was an elite private school. It was small because few people really want to live there. Mostly agrarian with a very average state school university, Kutztown, PA is one of those "quaint" towns that harkens back to the glory days of yesteryear. The only problem is for minorities like me, yesteryear was about as glorious as a wedding reception at a fire station. That's literally a thing there! I wish I was making it up, but I'm not. The last time I have been back to Kutztown was in 2011 for my grandmother's funeral, and it was an in and out trip. I tried to look around and soak everything in with Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" playing in the background. Because I knew it would be the last time I'd ever see it again. I have such a mixture of feelings about the place. However, I have no mixed feelings about the Kutztown Area High School. Remember the scene from Forrest Gump when Jenny sees her old childhood house? And, she breaks down and starts throwing rocks at it? My favorite line from that movie is when Forrest says, "Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks." Dammit, if I were to be really honest, I guess I do have mixed feelings about the high school as well, because my grandfather was the principal there and was instrumental to having the new building replace the old high school. So, it's literally a part of my family's history.
American small town high schools in the late 80s just weren't equipped to embrace people who looked like me. Hell, looking back at the picture of me as a freshman, I'M not equipped to embrace people who looked like me. I had a physique and face only a mother could love. A blind mother. A blind mother who is all alone and needs constant care. A blind mother who needs constant care, is all alone, is addicted to watching Jeopardy, and needs someone to provide her answers. I think you're getting the drift. I don't think modern day PC world, diverse, metropolitan high schools are equipped to embrace people who looked like me. I mean, Minkus in Boy Meets World was bad enough, but Chinky Minkus makes that kid look like a Calvin Klein underwear model. You guys all need to remind me to go get the pictures for my posts AFTER I write them, not before. This is hella-distracting and the only word that keeps resonating in my head while looking at my freshman picture is: GROSS.
But, being a freshman is supposed to be horrible, right? Predictably, my freshman year met all of those awful expectations. I quickly realized I better break 100 lbs. in weight, or else I'm in serious trouble in gym class. I learned a new activity in high school: watching other guys shave. I would like to thank my parents for not laughing hysterically when I asked for a razor and shaving cream in 9th grade. I had as much need for those items as Olympic athletes need a bulk box of slim jims. Being a freshman wasn't all horrible, though, I got a firsthand glimpse of high school dating. AND, IT LOOKED AWESOME! Writing notes in study halls to your soul mate you would spend the rest of your life in perfect bliss with! (Or, at least until Homecoming). Waiting in the hallways for your flame to come out of class, so you can make out until a teacher tells you aesthetically, the money shot would look better in a bedroom than on a high school locker. Wearing each other's clothes. And by wearing, I mean having the girl wear your clothes. Although, I was so desperate I would probably have proudly worn a girl's softball sweatshirt, and wouldn't have cared it was the secretly lesbian softball player, who was pretending she had a boyfriend so her social life wouldn't become even worse than mine.
The year crawled by and finally salvation was around the corner. I would no longer be a freshman! My summer vacation was “Operation Makeover.” I started a journey of self-improvement by watching as many teen movies as possible and trying not to repeat the same mistakes that all the dorks were making. Glasses? Gone (probably should have replaced them with contacts, but that didn't happen for another 3 years). Shirts with pockets? Burned to a crisp. Socks? Never again. Bowl haircut? "Mom, I don't know what happened to all the bowls in the kitchen! We must have been robbed by a very particular and kitchen minded thief!" I was going to make a triumphant entrance back at KAHS as a studly sophomore. Aww, it's cute to want things, isn't it? I was so excited for 10th grade to start, I think I already had my first day of school outfit already picked out in July. I may have developed a little addiction to Z. Cavaricci, but the ends justified the means. If looking like a “Guido” meant an uptick in cool factor, I was ready to start wearing gold chains too.
Tenth grade starts, and right away I notice a very clear trend developing. Everyone I knew in my grade was paired up. The lone spotlight of awkwardness was starting to shine intensely bright on me. I had spent my freshman year with the knowledge not even a complete makeover and a Ferrari would get me anywhere with the fairer sex. My reputation as a geek of titanic proportions was too solidly cemented. But, I had fixed that! No seniors, juniors, or my own classmates looked at me with any newfound interest. I was still sexually invisible. However, I had planned for this. It's not pessimism if it turns out true, by the way. It's called realism, and there is a big difference. My plan was structured on not offending the new incoming crop of vulnerable, insecure freshman and snag one of those lovely beauties. And by lovely beauties, what I meant was a girl with a pulse, with all of her limbs intact (definitely negotiable), a willingness to hold my hand, and not deny my claim she was my girlfriend. I spent the entire month of September observing the freshman class. Quickly, I weeded out the ones I had zero chance at. But actually, there were several who said hello to me multiple times and had somewhat of a smile doing so. So, I now had a pool of candidates to start strategizing how to convert one into a girlfriend whom I could call radio stations and dedicate metal band ballads to.
You know those movies that have a date on a calendar circled with a montage of all the events leading up to that day? I had a day circled in early October. It was the homecoming dance. I wanted to go to one for the first time with a girl who I would dance more than one dance with. I was executing my plan with military precision. Maximum top-secret security status meant no one knew what was happening. Also, that would require incredibly close friends, and those just weren't available to someone like me either. Which was okay, because there was no way I would have risked disclosing this for fear of it getting out, and everyone knowing my plan.
So, now you have the setup for what is to happen on THE DAY. The next part will provide a Zapruder-like analysis of my explosive process of becoming the laughing stock of the high school, along with my advice for anyone else attempting to do the same thing. Although, I would strongly urge you to do something a little more realistic and achievable. i.e.: climbing M. Everest naked. Stay tuned!