I Was A Weird Little Kid

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. TC mark

image – bokan


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  • http://raymondthimmes.com/ Raymond Thimmes

    So the line “being a smarmy little punk with serious hyperactivity issues who had literally zero friends” describes my childhood perfectly.

    Other aspects of what you described really feel pretty specifically related too. Especially that organized sports are more fun when you’re just acting in pure anarchy. Then again, that seems to be how I approach the internet. Sex was definitely something I have issues with because of my early interactions with porn. Very relatable, Rachel. Thank you for this piece.

    • http://twitter.com/rachelzarrell Rachel Zarrell

      thanks raymond! these idiosyncrasies really only skim the surface….

  • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

    I cut half of my cat’s whiskers off when I was 7, just to see what would happen. 20 years later and I still haven’t forgiven myself.

    • guest

      …..err what happened??

      • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

        She ran into the wall for awhile. Apparently whiskers help them keep their balance. They grew back though and she was fine.

      • Muggleborn

        this made me laugh so hard!! hahahaha

  • Martian

    My next door neighbour cut my earlobe when I was 5 during a painting session in Preschool. I have no idea why, but I clearly remember myself instigating the events that led up to my earlobe being cut. That said, we just laugh at it now… its been 15 years and we are still neighbours.

  • Sophia

    I loved this. I was weird, too – I had no friends, too, as that girl who actually liked school way too much and asked and answered every question and totally nerded out and had no interest in recess. I cringe a little thinking about it, but man what I’d give to go back.

  • alexa

    The part where girls who know how to get real by digging out lost tampon strings and comparing FWB’s spunk? Yeah I’m your gal too. My middle name is TMI.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a place on world of warcraft called “badlands” lol.

  • Guest

    There’s a place on world of warcraft called “badlands” ..

  • Guest

    Don’t worry, I was a ‘kritter keeper’ every recess a.k.a. feeding the lizards and snakes live worms and maggots every day instead of recess all throughout elementary school

  • Ava

    I really, really pity everyone I played netball against in high school. I was terrifying.

  • http://twitter.com/alainalatona alainalatona

    The bit about “Badlands” had me laughing out loud at work. Awesome read.

  • Jen

    I think roller derby is the sport for you.

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