I had ridiculously overblown self-confidence.
One of my earliest, most visual memories is from when I ran to be class president in my elementary school. Despite being a smarmy little punk with serious hyperactivity issues who had literally zero friends, I was 100 percent convinced that I had the election in the bag. Seriously, it was no contest. I didn’t know why anyone else even bothered to run. I made big, colorful posters with a huge picture of my face on them that had a bowl of candy attached to it and walked around the playground talking about all the things I would do when I was president soon.
Needless to say, a tall, popular boy named Taylor won and I was crushed. I spent the next few years trudging through awkward, insecure pubescence, but decided one day, as a full-blown Hot Topic-laden greaseball teenager, that I would fake being confident until I believed it. And in reality, it wasn’t that hard. My freakishly overblown self-confidence as a kid evened out into a respectable level of self-appreciation, grounded in a sensible dollop of emo teenage self-loathing.
Organized sports were not for me.
My dad loves to tell the story of my first-ever soccer game. I probably looked pretty cute and innocent as a five-year-old in blond pigtails, but on my quest to steal the ball I viciously tripped, knocked over, and generally dominated about 13 girls – half of whom were on my own team.
After the coach benched me and told me to cut the crap, I never really cared about playing again. Maybe I just enjoyed pushing girls more than actually playing. I think the disappointment of this could’ve taught me two things: either let the kids be pushy (yet athletic) brats until they grow out of it, or (more likely) that I am too filled with competitive rage to actually play organized sports.
I wanted to be a stripper when I grew up.
Embarrassing confession: when I was little, I didn’t want to grow up to be a veterinarian or an astronaut like normal darlings. Although I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, I knew my true grown-up destiny was to be a go-go dancer. Every Saturday on the bucolic drive to my art class, my mother and I would drive past a dilapidated brown barn, the words “Go-Go Girls” slathered on the side in chipping yellow paint. I’d point it out to my poor mother, who, an honest woman herself, decided to explain to me that it was an unfortunate place where women would dance naked for money.
But I think the “unfortunate” part slipped right past me, because after those drives I was determined to become comfortable enough in my skin that I could walk around the house naked, shimmying as I went. I was a mini stripper-in-training. I’d steal my dad’s Playboy’s and gawk at them in curious horror from behind my bed at night. Sex, although a completely foreign concept, seemed glamorous and exciting (and also terrifying).
While I have yet to have my big go-go debut, I think my childhood forays into the surface of smut turned me into someone who loves frank talk and doesn’t believe in TMI. There’s nothing worse than a prudish friend who can’t just get real. To me, only the truest friends are capable of digging out a lost tampon string or helping you compare the details of your friends-with-benefits’ spunk. For that, I’m your gal.
I invented an imaginary place called “Badlands.”
As a preschooler, I had a special place I could go where no one else could join me. I called it “Badlands,” and it was a spectacular world in my imagination where one minute in the real world equaled a whole day. I probably invented Badlands because my preschool, run by angry nuns, was vaguely traumatic to a poorly-behaved Jewish girl.
Badlands kind of looked to me like Gringotts does in the Harry Potter movies — damp caves with one-cart trolleys that rode everywhere on narrow tracks. Sometimes, I would pretend to go to Badlands and just hide under the dinner table to pick my nose, then come back and try to dominate my family’s attention by talking about all the weirdos I met while I was there. If they were lucky and did things for me, I’d let other kids join me for a day-trip to Badlands, where we’d crouch by the rabbit cages and imagine we were cruising around.
Looking back, this makes me feel like I was a pretty crazy kid, and that I should be grateful every day that I turned out relatively normal.