The Goddess Speaks
It was a drag being
uncool, and it still is
I haven't the slightest idea what it means to be cool. When I was in intermediate school, I must have been the uncoolest girl on the block. I wore clothes I sewed for myself in a summer sewing class, from which I was eventually expelled, and suffered from at least three bad perms in one month.
And thanks to the popularity of Cybill Shepherd in "Moonlighting," I thought tennis shoes paired with long skirts was a superb fashion decision.
I remember three of the popular boys calling to me as they lumbered toward Zippy's after school. At the time it sounded like, "Hey! Gen! What's up?! Hey!"
I waved back excitedly with my right hand while pushing my pink wire glasses up my nose with the left. I found out, much to my chagrin, they had actually been calling out, "Hey! Ugly! Weirdo!"
I learned then that in intermediate school you win some, you lose some. Recently, I learned that intermediate school really hasn't changed.
Last year, my husband, Derek, decided to take his middle-school orchestra to orchestra camp. Like a good wife, I agreed to be a chaperone.
"Wow, the kids are lucky to have me," I told Derek. "I listen to Christina Aguilera, I watch the WB and I can totally relate to boy problems."
Like a good husband, he agreed that I was great and that the kids were most definitely fortunate. Teachers can get pretty desperate when it comes to getting chaperones.
WHEN IT WAS time to visit Camp Kokokahi, I was revved to go with my chic Banana Republic jacket, insect repellent and my stash of little chocolate bars.
"Hi, Mr. Suzuki's wife!" the kids called out.
I gave a nonchalant wave.
Things went pretty smoothly on the first day. I watched supportively as the kids practiced their music, was sufficiently concerned when insects attacked, and snickered as Derek the Teacher scolded them for talking past Lights Out.
I was the cool chaperone.
And then it all went terribly wrong. All I know is, the next night, after the kids played their games, Derek summoned me and said, "Can you take care of these girls? They're upset right now. Find out what's wrong."
Easy, Cheezy, I smirked.
As the two girls and I walked back to their room, they told me the other girls in their cabin were upset at them.
"For what," I asked.
"I dunno. The boys hang out with us and stuff," they said. "And then, they blah blah blah."
"Pssh," I dismissed. "Don't worry about it. These girls will forget what they're feeling in a week. I mean, it's not like you don't have money to pay your mortgage. That can really be a hassle. Mortgages suck!"
THE TWO GIRLS stared in silence at me.
"OK, Mrs. Suzuki. Thanks."
We sat in their cabin for a little while before said girls returned. They stood there plaintively looking at each other for about a minute. Suddenly one started crying. And then the other. As soon as you could say "teenage hormonal imbalance," the entire cabin was having a bawl-fest.
"Uh, you know, you guys, these times don't mean a whole lot when it comes to the big picture. You know, forgive and forget? Uh, stop crying because it's not like you have a mortgage and bills to pay."
"Mrs. Suzuki, no offense, but we need to do this without you."
"Yeah, you're, like, an adult and you really wouldn't understand."
But I did understand! They were lucky to have me! I was like an oracle offering the future! If only I had been so lucky when I was mooning over popular boys and crying over broken friendships!
"Trust me!" I cried. "Mortgages are so much worse than anything you're experiencing right now! Enjoy living free!"
The girls shoved me out the door and said they would fix the situation themselves.
I had been relegated to uncool status all over again. As I shook my head at the situation, I turned to another student gaping at the spectacle.
"Hey, you think I'm cool, right? Do you like this jacket? It's Banana Republic!"
"Oh, wow!" the student exclaimed, looking at my jacket in fascination. I knew it! I was cool! "My mom totally shops there!"
Genevieve A. Suzuki is a freelance writer in Honolulu.
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