Two Embarrassing Episodes

In high school, only one kid sat lower on the social totem pole than I did. He made boogers out of rubber cement and stuck them up his nose.  Back then I picked my nose, on occasion, in public, but I was never so socially inept as he.  Came close a couple times, though.  Let me tell you about them.

My parents, blissfully unaware of fashion trends and shockingly forgetful of my social status, bought me these multicolored “crazy pants.”  Imagine if Jackson Pollock, in a Grateful Dead inspired psychedelic frenzy, vomited all the colors of the rainbow upon a pair of polyester pants.  I wore those.  To school.  To high school.  A very large public high school.

I should have worn Hammer pants.

The realization that I’d goofed came almost immediately.  Students who arrived before the bell were to go to the gym and sit on the bleachers.  I was in band, however, so I had to drop my trumpet off in the music room before taking my seat and chatting with possibly no one.  To get to the music room, I had to cross the gym at a diagonal.

When I first entered, the gym was packed with students talking noisily.  As I moved into view I felt the room staring at me.  Steadily all the talking ceased and the gym became dead silent.  I had goofed. Bad. Laughter erupted, and I closed myself off from the world for that day.  I didn’t wear those pants again.  To school, anyway.

So that was high school, in the early to mid 90s.

In sixth grade I had a different sort of goof, but one I remember just as vividly. I had a serious crush on this lovely girl named Jeanie who I knew from church.  She lived in a town a few miles north, so I didn’t get to see her as often as I would have liked, but we both attended the same religious ed class on Wednesdays.  She liked me too, which was strange because I was the type of boy who would wear crazy pants to school.  One day, during class, she passed a note to me, asking me if I’d like to go out with her.  I wrote back “No.”

You see, I didn’t know what she meant.  The expression was alien to me.  I thought she wanted us to leave the classroom in the middle of learning about God and stuff.  Being a rule-abiding, hell-fearing youth, I declined.

I acted stupid again later on, when a boy in the class teased me about liking her, and I loudly denied it, going so far as to move myself to a seat away from her.  For years later I felt really bad about my behavior, especially since I wouldn’t get a shot at having a girlfriend until college.  I was such an ass.  A naive little ass, but an ass nonetheless.

So, friends, if you like, tell me of your embarrassments.

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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11 Responses

  1. Stephen McCalley says:

    I want to appologize. There were times I was less than friendly to you because of the pressure to not be in your social group. It certainly was not very Christ like of me. I knew was it was liked to be picked on as well, and it’s not like I was a whole lot higher in the pecking order than you were. You were the first friend I made because we had both moved to that town at the same time and ended up in the same 5th grade class. Sometime I wonder how things would have gone for me if I had finished High School in there.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      No worries, Stephen. 🙂 You were an excellent friend, and I’m actually grateful for having been so low in station. It taught me both self-awareness and self-confidence. I’m much more extroverted and sure of myself than I was in those days. I learned to laugh at myself, ego-maniacally so. Obviously I’m still a geek, a nerd, and a dork. And I still bounce when I walk. Somehow that all became something offbeat cool.

  2. Tod Kelly says:

    That sixth grade story sounds like every other sixth grade crush story ever, if that makes you feel any better.

    I’ll have to think about an embarrassing story to share. My most embarrassing is out, as I will never put it in writing and it takes many, many drinks to dislodge.

  3. Rodak says:

    I realize today that I was in that bland category somewhere in the vast middle of the social pecking order. I was neither picked on, nor particularly popular; I was just kind of there. Today I am not remembered by people with whom I’ve had no contact since high school. The memories that embarrass me most today are those memories of me and my acquaintances in grade school, picking on the unfortunate kids who were somehow “different.” I am shamed by how cruel I could be at that young age. By the time I was in high school–even middle school–I knew better. But still…

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      My social standing seemed to improve as time went by. Elementary was very harsh, middle school was a little better, but by high school I was beginning to see some upward mobility (at least within the freaks and geeks class).

  4. Kimmi says:

    *snerk* you think you had it bad! You wore crazy pants to school. Once.

    I wore an afro. In the mid to late 90’s. (What’s worse is that my dad, whenever he heard someone say anything about it, would say “it’s not an afro, she’s not black.”). That was my hairstyle from seventh grade up through twelfth grade [in fairness, I was “trying to grow my hair long” — so i wouldn’t look exactly like my mom]. I wore clothing that looked like it came from Star Trek, I wore zebra stripe pants, I wore stretch pants (still can’t stand jeans).

    I was in the “outcast” group. Meh, we got along. I’d bounce around to all the more popular groups after lunch — being an awkward and inept extrovert. I knew everyone — even if I only hung out around a couple of them after school.

    Some people hated me, I got teased a lot (sometimes to the point that I was in tears).

    Every single style looks better with confidence — and that’s what most low status kids in high school lack. I’m just lucky I wasn’t one of those who thought having sex was gonna magically make me popular.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      In a way, we were all slaves to prevailing social norms. I learned not to care about living up to the in-crowd’s expectations. And by the end of high school, I had become aware of how stressful their lives were. Never having gained popularity, I had nothing to lose. They did.

  5. In eighth grade, I wanted to attend a semi-formal dance, which I understood to mean wearing a suit. I did not own a suit, and so prevailed upon my mother to buy one for me.

    My mother, God bless her, is not one who has a keen eye for fashion trends, much less those of younger generations. (At another moment in the same year, I essentially had to beg her to take me clothes shopping, since people had started making fun of my wearing the same three shirts and sweater vests in various combinations.) Anyhow, off to the sore we went. Sadly, “the store” in this case was the local second-hand store (my mother is thrifty that way) and the suit that was selected was a profoundly out-of-style brown polyester number. Nobody would have been able to pull it off, certainly not someone of my (looooooow) social status.

    I walked into the school toward the gym where the dance was being held, and will never forget the other kids turning and laughing. Hard. At my brown polyester suit.

    Anyhow, I somehow managed to ascend the social hierarchy in high school, and by my senior year was actually popular enough to get elected a class officer. (No mean feat for a closeted-but-fooling-nobody kid in the early 90s in middle America.)

  6. Miss Mary says:

    I once wore a plaid skirt and white stockings in middle school not long after that dang Britney Spears video came out. I got teased for months.

    About a year later a cruel boy (who I have a sneaking suspicion liked me) called me a puppy kicker. That stuck for like 6 months.