Creeping ever closer to the finish line on two – no, three – books I’m writing, I thought I’d share a little politically incorrect snippet from Deconstructing Tracy. I’ve been seeing/reading a lot of these “Rags to Riches” stories lately. Stories of how people came up from nothing to make something of themselves despite their humble beginnings seem to be really popular. Of course, MY story is kind of the opposite of that. It’s more of a Riches to Rags sort of tale, but that’s literally a story for another day. So, without further adieu, here’s that snippet;
Seriously, the 70’s and 80’s were a great time to be a kid. We had the best music ever. And the clothes? Legwarmers? The big hair? Come on, that was a fun time to be a kid.
It was a little less fun as a really awkward kid.
I was socially awkward, I was physically awkward. I was a little too tall and a little too developed at a young age. In junior high there was this kid who was a year younger than me who just tortured me relentlessly. He called me “Jugs”. Just a couple of years ago he actually sent me a Friend Request on Facebook. I was like, no, dude. Just… no. I deleted the request and he sent it again. He sent me a message after the second time I deleted the request, accusing me of not accepting his request because he’s gay. Yeah, he’s gay now. I wrote him back that I deleted the request not because he was gay, but because he was a dick.
Speaking of gay – gay didn’t exist in Ridgefield in the 80’s. There was no such thing. I mean, we said stuff like, “That’s so gay,” and “you’re so gay” but we didn’t know what it meant. At all. I didn’t know gay was actually a thing until I was in my mid-twenties. And that was gay men that I found out about. I was in my thirties by the time someone told me that women were also gay. I was shocked and confused. I couldn’t figure out exactly what the point of that was. Vaginas were creepy. Whatever.
Years later I ran into an old friend, a girl I used to hang out with in high school. She told me she was gay. I asked her when that happened, because I didn’t know. She told me she’d always been gay. I didn’t know what to say, so I asked her, “Hey, all those times we were hanging out in school, we weren’t dating, right?” She laughed and called me an idiot.
When Facebook first became a thing, I looked up a bunch of people from high school. I found one of the guys who’d graduated a few years ahead of me and friended him. His profile said he was married, so I started clicking on pictures because I couldn’t wait to see what kind of woman married him. Yeah, it was a dude. Another one I totally missed.
So, sheltered much? Want to know how sheltered? I didn’t see a real live black person until I was in junior high and we took a field trip to NYC. Sure, I’d seen them on television, but I guess I thought that was makeup or something.
I understand how politically incorrect that all sounds, but I’m being honest about the bubble I grew up in. Now, in high school there was one black kid per graduating class. It was like a rule or something, I don’t know, but every class had one. Their parents usually worked for IBM and this was where they were transplanted for work. None of them stayed long. There was even an incident where one family had a cross burned on their lawn in the early 1980’s.
It wasn’t just that we didn’t have black families in town, we had like one Jewish family, maybe two Asian families, I don’t think there were any Hispanic or Latino families at all. We didn’t have anyone around whose first language wasn’t English. Of course, we knew that people in other countries spoke other languages, most of us just didn’t realize that there were people in our country who didn’t speak English. We were taught about world history, we just didn’t actually see any kind of cultural diversity in our daily lives.